Louisiana has a very limited medical marijuana program and this week the state took another step to expand their program when a House Committee vote to approve it won 8 to 4. During the debate, a medical cannabis opponent, Rep. Dodie Horton claimed that according to an article from The Daily Currant, 37 people died from marijuana overdoses in Colorado on the first day cannabis was legalized. The article was entirely false but citing a piece that had been entirely disproved four years ago is drawing a lot of attention.
Rep. Dodie Horton (R-Haughton) cited the information from the satirical news outlet during a discussion before the committee voted on the bill. She later replied to a tweet from an Advocate reporter identifying her source as a satirical outlet, saying she received the story from “a so-called ‘trusted’ source,” before blocking that reporter from her account. She acknowledged in the tweet she now realizes her source was not credible.
Several online articles, including those from The Huffington Post and Snopes, identify the post as false. Rep. Ted James (D-Baton Rouge), the bill’s sponsor, returned to the podium to close the discussion and said he wished to address Horton’s remarks. At that point she acknowledged the information to be false, but declined to address it to onlookers or correct the public record.
Many who observed the exchange on Twitter were quick to criticize Horton for her remarks and her response. Some cited the other headlines on The Daily Currant, which include fake stories like “Obama Nominates Abortion Doctor to Replace Scalia on Supreme Court” and “Sarah Palin Licks Frozen Flagpole in Iowa, Gets Stuck” to poke fun at the lawmaker.
While Louisiana legislators are working to expand their medical marijuana program, cities like New Orleans have decriminalized possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana. Reports have been that over the last 12 months the police have arrested just 1% of those they have encountered possessing cannabis. If southern states are able to see the benefits of marijuana legalization, how much longer will it take the rest of the country?