No, The Feds Won’t Pay You $3,000 Per Week to Smoke Marijuana

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The federal government’s top drug research agency really wants you to know: It will not pay you thousands of dollars a week to get high and watch TV all day long for six months straight, despite what several online marijuana news outlets are reporting.

In a series of tweets on Tuesday, the National Institute on Drug Abuse broke the news to excitable stoners who had hoped to take advantage of the opportunity to cash in on their love for cannabis.

The tweets are a response to a satirical web article that fooled a number of outlets into spreading word of a fake government study that would people $3,000 a week to stay at one of seven research facilities across the nation for up to half a year while smoking lots of marijuana and having their everyday activities observed. You know, for science.

“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,” the fake report said. “Researchers are hoping to gather over 300 recruits into their facilities to begin this study.”

Even though Snopes, the urban myth-busting site recently weighed in and ruled the study a hoax, many people are still trying to find out how they can participate.

Several online marijuana news sites fell for the prank too, including Green Rush Daily and The Joint Blog, which quoted made-up researcher Michael Gregory as saying the study “will finally reveal the answer of the age old acquisition that stoners are ‘Just Lazy.’ It’s an exciting new study that may push the legality of marijuana to all 50 states.”

To its credit, The Joint Blog did later add a correction to the bottom of its post after NIDA contacted the site to debunk the story. But the false headline, “Federal Study Will Pay You $3,000 Per Week to Consume Cannabis” remains plastered across the top of the article for now.

The sites’ spreading of the fake news came more than a month after NIDA posted an initial round of tweets debunking the rumor in late October.

A friendly word of advice to fellow marijuana news outlets: If a story seems too good to be true, be responsible and do a little investigation before you spread misinformation to your readers. In this case, the sites should have done a few things prior to posting, any of which would have shown running the story to be a questionable move:

  1. Look at the context that the original “report” you are quoting is couched in. In this case, it’s on now8news.com, a site currently running other articles titled “69 People Dead After Drinking Tainted Coors Light At Funeral,” “Atlanta Lottery Winner Dies After Gold Plating His Testicles” and “Deadliest Black-Friday in U.S. History Kills 4,312 Shoppers, Youngest Victim 4 Years Old.” If your original source seems like a satire site, it probably is.
  2. If you’re still not sure, check to see if any known and reliable news organizations are also running with the story. While Marijuana.com and other online outlets often publish important marijuana policy developments prior to the mainstream media picking up the news, if the story seems really impactful and you can’t find any mainstream reporters even tweeting about it, there’s probably a reason.
  3. Ask the subject of the report for comment. If the other marijuana sites had attempted to verify the report with NIDA before running with it, they’d likely have gotten a response just like the people in the embedded tweets above did and would have known the story was fake.

Reports about the fake NIDA study come just weeks after several other marijuana outlets were duped into spreading fake news that singer Rihanna was launching a personal marijuana brand based off a short, unbylined blog post on a site called 18karatreggae.com.

Last year, a police chief in Maryland falsely testified before lawmakers that 37 people died of marijuana overdoses on the first day of legalization in Colorado. His source? The obvious satire site Daily Currant.

So next time you’re thinking of sharing a link on Facebook or Twitter about some exciting marijuana news, first ask yourself if it seems too good or crazy to be true. If so, at least do a minute or two of simple online research attempting to verify the report.

Remember, only you can prevent fake news.

About Author

Tom Angell covers policy and politics for Marijuana.com. Separately, he serves as chairman of the nonprofit organization Marijuana Majority, which works to ensure that elected officials and the media treat legalization as a serious, mainstream issue. Marijuana Majority led the effort to get the U.S. Conference of Mayors to pass a resolution telling the federal government to respect state marijuana laws, and orchestrated the first-ever endorsement for marijuana legalization by a U.S. Supreme Court justice (John Paul Stevens). Previously, Tom worked for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (All organizations are listed for identification purposes only.)

3 Comments

  1. Yeah ummm cannabis is good for you. Why on earth would a government hell bent on destroying us and our lives actually study something good for us. DUH!

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