New York Times’ Maureen Dowd Eats Pot Candy Bar In Colorado And Totally Freaks Out

(Brett Levin Photography)

(Brett Levin Photography)

When well-known New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd eats edible marijuana in Colorado and freaks out about it, you better believe she’s going to write about it. You’ve might’ve heard of her tale of paranoia and extreme anxiety, because it seems like everyone else is freaking out about it, too. Of course, that’s not the actual point of her opinion piece.

It’s no secret that regulators in Colorado are trying to stay ahead of the new legal marijuana industry, but when it comes to figuring out how much marijuana should be in each kind of product sold — especially edibles like candy, cookies and oils — it gets a bit tricky.

That’s what led to the reefer-induced trials and tribulations of Dowd, who wrote that she started by nibbling on the end of a caramel-chocolate candy bar laced with marijuana. When nothing happened at first, she kept on nibbling.

Fast forward an hour later, to when the you-know-what hit the proverbial fan:

But then 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.

She forgets where she is, what she’s wearing, and is convinced she died, an experience many college-age people (and beyond, obviously) have experienced first-hand, or perhaps second-hand (there might’ve been a roommate claiming her life was the Matrix and none of this was real somewhere in my past). Eventually the ill effects wear off, albeit “distressingly slowly.”

While her peers in the media and her readers scampered off to social media to gleefully hashtag any and all jokes that can be made (#420, anyone?), the actual point of her Op-Ed seems to lie in the fact that there hadn’t been a recommendation on the label that candy bars should be cut into 16 pieces, as medical consultant at an edibles plant later tells her.

And that is exactly the big problem facing regulators — most people who were involved in the marijuana industry before it was legal for recreational use were pretty well-versed in the ways of the pot world. With a newly legal industry comes new consumers, and there’s the rub, as well as the possible dangers of consuming too much.

“We realized there was a problem because we’re watching everything with the urgency of the first people to regulate in this area,” said Andrew Freedman, the state’s director of marijuana coordination. “There are way too many stories of people not understanding how much they’re eating. With liquor, people understand what they’re getting themselves into. But that doesn’t exist right now for edibles for new users in the market. It would behoove the industry to create a more pleasant experience for people.”

It’s a good point — no industry serving consumers can stay the same if its target audience is changing. It’s either time to adapt to those new customers or suffer the consequences, which in this case is a famous columnist writing about her freakout in a newspaper read worldwide.

Colorado’s new task force is working on plans for packaging that would tell people that an edible treat contains marijuana, and isn’t a regular candy bar in order to keep kids from eating it. There are also plans to start testing to make sure the weed is consistent throughout the product, so one bite isn’t more potent than any others.

But until all those rules and regulations are firm, it seems newcomers to the world of marijuana should exercise caution before chomping away at anything new. Meanwhile, my college self wants to just sit Dowd down on the bed, pat her back and tell her that it’s okay. You are not Keanu Reeves, this is real, and you’re not dead. Shhh. It’s okay. It’ll be over eventually.

Don’t Harsh Our Mellow, Dude [New York Times]

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