Maureen Dowd, the New York Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning op-ed columnist, recently traveled to Colorado to report on the legalization of recreational marijuana. And when in Rome, er, Denver, Dowd decided to do as Denverites do: try edible marijuana in the form of a candy bar and chronicle her trip for the paper.
"What could go wrong with a bite or two?" Dowd writes in the column (titled "Don't Harsh Our Mellow, Dude"). "Everything, as it turned out."
According to Dowd, she didn't feel anything at first. But an hour later, while the 62-year-old was relaxing in her hotel room with a glass of chardonnay, things began to deteriorate:
I felt a scary shudder go through my body and brain. I barely made it from the desk to the bed, where I lay curled up in a hallucinatory state for the next eight hours. I was thirsty but couldn’t move to get water. Or even turn off the lights. I was panting and paranoid, sure that when the room-service waiter knocked and I didn’t answer, he’d call the police and have me arrested for being unable to handle my candy.
I strained to remember where I was or even what I was wearing, touching my green corduroy jeans and staring at the exposed-brick wall. As my paranoia deepened, I became convinced that I had died and no one was telling me.
After Dowd's near-death experience, she says she interviewed "a medical consultant at an edibles plant" who told her marijuana candy bars "are supposed to be cut into 16 pieces for novices," but that "hadn’t been on the label."
Not surprisingly, Dowd's bad trip has already become something of an Internet meme, with Twitter users mocking her column.
@NYTimesDowd Did you ever really look at your hand? I mean *really* look at it?— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) June 4, 2014
@NYTimesDowd Just because it's legal doesn't mean it's mandatory to do. Geez— Dufus (@dufus) June 4, 2014
.@NYTimesDowd It might be "legal" in Coloweedo, but you won't be laughing when the devil puts your soul in a SuperMax in Hell.— rob delaney (@robdelaney) June 4, 2014
Dowd isn't the first op-ed columnist to chronicle an adverse reaction to Colorado's edible marijuana. Earlier this month, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Mackenzie Carpenter wrote about a recent trip that included a visit a Boulder, Colo., emergency room.
Mocking aside, Dowd's experience is one reason legalization advocates say edible pot products should be labeled.
"Novice consumers should be able to intuitively understand how much marijuana they should and can consume," Dan Riffle, director of federal policies with the Marijuana Policy Project, told Yahoo News. "There will be hiccups and lessons learned, as the experience so far with edible products shows. I'm confident that new packaging requirements and other changes being considered will prevent future experiences like Ms. Dowd's."