Half Baked

Did dozens of people die of marijuana overdoses on the first day of legalized use in Colorado or Oregon?


Claim:   Dozens of people died of marijuana overdoses on the day recreational use became legal in Colorado or Oregon.


FALSE


Examples:

[Collected via e-mail, January 2014]

Marijuana Overdoses Kill 37 in Colorado On First Day of Legalization? Any truth to this?
 

[Collected via e-mail, November 2014]

I find this extremely hard to believe!

Marijuana Overdoses Kill 46 In Oregon During First Week Of Legalization
 

Origins:   On 2 January 2014, the Daily Currant published an article positing that over three dozen people had died of marijuana overdoses on 1 January 2014, the day recreational use became legal in Colorado:
Colorado is reconsidering its decision to legalize recreational pot following the deaths of dozens due to marijuana overdoses.

According to a report in the Rocky Mountain News, 37 people were killed
across the state on January 1st, the first day the drug became legal for all adults to use. Several more are clinging onto life in local emergency rooms and are not expected to survive.

"It's complete chaos here," says Dr. Jack Shepard, chef 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.

"When was the last time you heard of someone overdosing on beer? All these pro-marijuana groups should be ashamed of themselves. The victims' blood is on their hands."
By the end of the day links and excerpts referencing this article were being circulated via social media, with many of those who encountered it mistaking it for a genuine news item. However, the article was just a bit of political humor from the Daily Currant spoofing the controversy over the issue of the legalized recreational marijuana use. (A "marijuana overdose" is virtually a medical impossibility.)

As noted in the Daily Currant's "About" page, that web site deals strictly in satire:
The Daily Currant is an English language online satirical newspaper that covers global politics, business, technology, entertainment, science, health and media.

Q. Are your news stories real?

A. No. Our stories are purely fictional. However they are meant to address real-world issues through satire and often refer and link to real events happening in the world.
After Oregon passed Measure 91 in November 2014, which legalized some forms of marijuana use and possession in that state, the nearly year-old Daily Currant article about Colorado was slightly rewritten and passed off as a spoof of Oregon:
Only four days after Measure 91 passed, Oregon is reconsidering its decision to legalize recreational marijuana.

According to a report in the The Oregonion, 46 people were killed across the state since weed became legal earlier this week. Reports from MSNBC indicate there has also been 23 deaths in Alaska, and a staggering 89 in Washington DC.

Several more marijuana victims are clinging onto life in local emergency rooms and are not expected to survive.

"It's complete chaos here, I've never seen anything like it," says Dr. Steve Perkins, chief of surgery at Riverbend Hospital in Springfield. "I've put six college students in body bags since before noon, and more are arriving every minute. One young man came in extremely hungry and even started gnawing on his arm, until he collapsed in the emergency room."
Last updated:   11 November 2014


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