Claim: The federal government is currently paying people $3,000 per week to smoke weed as part of a study.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, November 2015]
There is a internet rumor where you could get paid to smoke Marijuana. This paid survey is said to pay 3000 dollars for testing use of smoking.
Origins: In late November 2015, several marijuana blogs reported that the federal government was currently recruiting subjects for a study on marijuana. According to the rumors, participants would be paid $3,000 per week to simply puff the magic dragon for six months. One of the most popular versions of the claim was published by the Green Rush Daily on 28 November 2015:
United States National Research Center (NRC) has been commissioned by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) to conduct a medical study for research on the effects of marijuana on the body. “This is one of the first, very promising studies, that will finally reveal the answer of the age old acquisition that marijuana users are ‘Just Lazy’,” said lead researcher Michael Gregory. “It’s an exciting new study that may push the legality of marijuana to all 50 states.” Each participant will be required to stay at the facility for six months, while doing various chores such as cleaning, reading, and watching TV, as they are evaluated by medical staff. Researchers are hoping to gather over 300 recruits into their facilities to begin this study.
Similarly, a 25 November 2015 post on The Joint Blog originally concluded by stating:
Researchers looking to gather over 300 recruits into their facilities before the study begins; these recruits will be paid $3,000 for every week they take part in the study. At the moment, the NRC isn’t accepting new applicants for those wanting to take part in the study, though that’s expected to change in the near future; we’ll update this article when it does.
However, a note later appended to that article noted that such reports were false:
[UPDATE: NIDA has reached out to us to let us know that, in fact, they aren’t currently conducting the above-mentioned study, as has been misreported by a number of media outlets. We apologize for the confusion.]
Iterations of the rumor published in November 2015 neglected to cite any sources for the claim. the rumor’s first appearance looked to be an early September 2015 article (now inaccessible) titled “Clinical Study Will Pay You $3,000 Per Week to Smoke Marijuana” published by the fake news web site Newswatch33 (and previously to similar fake news site Now8News):
NewsWatch33 is known as a purveyor of fabricated news (arranged to look like a real news web site). Prior hoaxes spread by NewsWatch33 include false claims that supporters raised $4 million for the defense of Charleston shooting suspect Dylann Roof, that a girl died of electrocution due to her iPhone’s earbuds, that Jay-Z and Beyonce purchased the rights to the Confederate flag, that the federal government embedded inexpensive cigars with listening devices, that fifteen days of darkness would occur in November 2015, that an xBox disc killed a gamer upon ejection from the console, and that a Star Wars fan committed suicide because black actors appeared in a film.
On 2 December 2015 a representative for the National Research Center (which has addressed the claim on its web site) contacted us regarding the rumor to say:
I am with National Research Center (NRC) and I would like to also confirm that this marijuana study is fake and we are in no way conducting any research related to marijuana.