One day after the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, the Daily Currant – a known (or possibly not well-known) satirical website – put out an article claiming close to 40 individuals died of a marijuana overdose in Colorado on the first day of legal pot sales.
Readers must hit the hippie lettuce hard, because the story torched up with over one million (and counting) Facebook likes. Over 8,000 tweeted it out, and an unfortunate majority thought the story was spot on true.
In response, the Huffington Post on Friday ran its own story, completely debunking the article for what it is: sardonic gobbledygook.
How many individuals have actually died from a marijuana overdose? Zilch.
The fact is, it’s medically impossible to OD on marijuana, and a web site called sincethismorning.com tracks the stats. The site lists the numbers of people who die each day from alcohol, versus those that die from smoking up. As you might guess, it's never close.
But that didn't stop the goofy story from going viral. Per the Daily Currant:
"It's complete chaos here," says Dr. Jack Shepard, chief of surgery at St. Luke's Medical Center in Denver. "I've put five college students in body bags since breakfast and more are arriving every minute. We are seeing cardiac arrests, hypospadias, acquired trimethylaminuria and multiple organ failures. By next week the death toll could go as high as 200, maybe 300. Someone needs to step in and stop this madness. My god, why did we legalize marijuana? What were we thinking?"
Fans of the show Lost will recognize the good doctor. Hypospadias is a medical condition where the opening to a man’s urethra is on the underside of his penis, and trimethylaminuria is also known as Fish Odor Syndrome – a condition where the body cannot metabolize an organic compound in fish and you end up smelling like an opened can of SunKist tuna.
And the currant is a berry. Not like "current" news.
But let’s go ahead and lap up the article, post it, tweet it, pin it, etc. and write “See, this is what happens when they legalize pot,” as one erudite commenter said.
The Huff Post sarcastically wrote: “Here's a GIF that accurately shows all of the people who have died after overdosing on pot,” and then showed some pandas rolling over one another.
In other words, no one.
“Yeah, not a single person has ever died from a weed overdose. We don't have numbers on pandas, but we're guessing it's about the same,” writes Huff Post.
Marijuana’s main active ingredient is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, found in most parts of the cannabis plant. Studies have shown that a marijuana smoker would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times the amount of THC in a joint in order to be at risk of dying.
In other words, you’d have to smoke about 1,500 pounds of reefer – at once.
Of course, knuckleheads who smoke pot and then go for a Doritos run and crash their vehicle into oncoming traffic may die, and one could argue that marijuana caused it. Or perhaps you’re thinking of Newt Gingrich, who back in 1997 proposed the death penalty for pot possession (even though he admitted to smoking it).
Either way, the argument is feeble. The SinceThisMorning numbers represent people who have died from alcohol ingestion or poisoning, versus the same for marijuana. One will always be at zero.
Last summer, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the federal government wouldn't intervene into states that have implemented laws legalizing marijuana for adults.
Weed sales in Colorado have since exploded, with the state reporting over $1 million in sales on the first day alone.
Pot shop owners said enormous amounts of people turned out to purchase recreational marijuana on New Year’s Day. Thousands braved brutal winds and cold to stand in line at pot dispensaries, awaiting their share of the now-legal drug.
And no, you won’t die from it.