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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Indiana Didn’t Legalize Marijuana

Q: Did Indiana legalize marijuana?

A: No. That fake story comes from a website that invites visitors to “Create A Prank And Trick All Your Friends!”


A story on Channel23news.com proclaims that “after 2 and 1/2 years of medical research, Indiana government officials have passed the bill to legalize Marijuana in Indiana.” It further says that “dispensaries and clinics” in the state “will be opening in October of this year and begin taking new patients.”

Facebook users flagged the story as potentially fake news. They’re right; it’s bogus.

Readers may have noticed that the header on Channel23news.com is an illustration of a man laughing with the text “You Got Owned!” superimposed over his head. The sidebar of the webpage says “You’ve Been Pranked!” and urges readers to “Create A Story & Trick Your Friends!”

Also, the homepage of Channel23news.com doesn’t feature any other posts. There is only a form that allows the website’s visitors to create their own made-up stories. It has fields to enter the title and content of the fake article, as well as a photo. Once done, users can share the stories on Facebook and other social media platforms.

A disclaimer at the bottom of the page says: “We do NOT support FAKE NEWS!!! This is a Prank website that is intended for Fun. Bullying, Violent Threats or posts that Violate Public Order are NOT permitted on this Website.”

In April, Republican Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb did sign House Bill 1148, making cannabidiol, which comes from the marijuana plant, legal for patients with “treatment resistant epilepsy.” The legislation creates a registry for those able to use the substance.

Holcomb distanced the bill he signed from broader legalization efforts, saying that “this does not put us on a slippery slope to legalizing marijuana, quite the contrary.”

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to help identify and label viral fake news stories flagged by readers on the social media network. 


Indiana Legalizes Marijuana.” Channel23news.com. Accessed 17 Jul 2017.

Home.” Channel23news.com. Accessed 17 Jul 2017.

Cook, Tony. “Marijuana extract could soon be legal for Indiana epilepsy patients.” Indystar.com. 21 Apr 2017.

Sheridan, Jill. “Governor Signs Indiana’s First Medicinal Cannabis Bill.” Wyfi.org. 27 Apr 2017.

House Bill 1148.” Iga.in.gov. Accessed 18 Jul 2017.

Silverman, Craig, and Spary, Sara. “Trolls Are Targeting Indian Restaurants With A Create-Your-Own Fake News Site.” BuzzFeed News. 29 May 2017.