That Was Pretty Stoopid, Chief

I’ve learned that expecting the general public to be able to tell a parody from the real thing can sometimes be a lot to ask, but shouldn’t we all be able to expect better from a police chief?

Annapolis Police Chief Michael A. Pristoop thought he came prepared when he testified before a Maryland state Senate panel on Tuesday about the perils of legalizing marijuana.

In researching his testimony against two bills before the Judicial Proceedings Committee, Pristoop said, he had found a news article to illustrate the risks of legalization: 37 people in Colorado, he said, had died of marijuana oversdoses on the very day that the state legalized pot.

“When he said it, everyone in the room dropped their laptops,” Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montgomery) said in an e-mail.

Trouble is, the facts were about as close to the truth as oregano is to pot. After a quick Google search on his laptop, Raskin — the sponsor of the legalization bill that was the subject of the Senate hearing — advised the chief that the Colorado overdose story, despite its deadpan delivery, had been made up for laughs by The Daily Currant, an online comedy magazine.

“I had not seen the spoof before, but it was self-evidently a parody,” Raskin said. “In the absence of real data, Internet hoaxes are becoming marijuana Prohibition’s last stand.”

Chief Pristoop apologized for falling for what he called an “urban legend,” which is one way to look at it, I suppose. I always thought urban legends were things that could possibly have happened in real life and not blatant satire, but perhaps I’ve been tricked by something in one of those stupid dictionaries. Calling this an urban legend is a bit like saying that Weird Al has made his living urban legending the popular music of the last 30 plus years.

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