DENVER, CO - A satirical website fooled some people with its hoax story headlined: "Marijuana Overdoses Kill 37 in Colorado On First Day of Legalization January 2nd, 2014."
"Colorado is reconsidering its decision to legalize recreational pot following the deaths of dozens due to marijuana overdoses," read the spoof story by DailyCurrant.com , which attributed the death toll to the Rocky Mountain News, the Denver daily newspaper that closed in 2009.
The Daily Current website's "About" section states: "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."
The story quoted a fake "Dr. Jack Shepard," claiming he was "chief of surgery at St. Luke's Medical Center in Denver."
"It's complete chaos here," the fake doctor ranted. "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," the doctor raved. "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?"
"Dr. Jack Shepard" was a character on the TV show "Lost." The spoof story forced the real Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center to issue a news release clarifying that "there is no such doctor as 'Jack Shepard' on our medical staff and that there have been no deaths due to marijuana at our hospital. The article is a completely fabricated work of fiction created by 'The Daily Currant.'"
In case you're curious about the medical conditions cited by the fictional doctor: "Hypospadias" is a birth defect affecting the penis; "Trimethylaminuria" is a genetic disease formerly known as "Fish Odor Syndrome," because it is causes an offensive body odor that some compare to the "smell of rotting fish," according to MedicineNet.com .
The bogus story also tweaked the goal of Amendment 64, the ballot measure passed by Colorado voters in 2012, that recreational marijuana possession and sales should be legalized "regulated like alcohol and heavily taxed."
"One of the principal arguments of legalization advocates was that cannabis has long been considered safer than alcohol and tobacco and was not thought not to cause overdose. But a brave minority tried to warn Coloradans of the drug's dangers," the story said.
Another fake Daily Current quote: "We told everyone this would happen," says Peter Swindon, President and CEO of local brewer MolsonCoors, "Marijuana is a deadly hardcore drug that causes addiction and destroys lives."
"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," the fictional beer company executive declared.
The real President and Chief Executive Officer of Molson Coors Brewing Company is Peter Swinburn.
Many people clearly got the joke, but some people on social media were fooled.
One stunned man said in a YouTube video commentary: "This story just blows me away. Thirty-seven people died in Colorado on New Year's Day when marijuana was legalized…Doctors say they expect hundreds more imminent deaths. This is more deaths than an average day in Iraq and the Afghanistan wars combined."
The man later posted on his YouTube account: "This story ended up being a hoax! I got sucked in by a 'news article' published in The Daily Currant, a satirical web site that falsely quoted The Rocky Mountain News as its reference source about the (fictitious) 37 deaths from marijuana drug overdoses."
Another man tweeted, "So do we blame pot, or do we blame the users? Do you blame alcohol for alcohol related deaths including DUI, or…" one man tweeted.
"I have to reconsider my statement b4. #marijuana kills around 37 people in the 1st time legalization due to #overdoes," tweeted another guy.