NYT Columnist Dowd Has Bad High, Makes Dumb Anti-Pot Arguments

Any willing adult can go to a Colorado dispensary and purchase marijuana. They don’t have to disclose to the vendor that they are a newbie or ask for specific directions, and the dispensary really has no legal responsibility to warn them of dosing, side effects, or potential dangers. When paired with the fact that these dispensaries are selling marijuana and marijuana edibles with sometimes very high levels of THC, there are bound to be some negative experiences. But those experiences, even when published in the New York Times, shouldn’t be fuel for the anti-marijuana advocates.

Maureen Dowd, a highly visible and frequently criticized NYT columnist, decided it would make a great piece of journalism to document her first experience with legal marijuana.  Dowd went to a Denver dispensary and bought a chocolate bar. It seems from her resulting experience, however, that she didn’t talk to the dispensary employees about recommended dosage. Either that or she did and excluded that conversation from the column to make a more sensational story (that’s exactly what several people who met Dowd that day in Denver allege). Regardless, as an edible novice, she ate the whole thing.

Meet The PressDowd’s night was unpleasant.

“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 was paranoid. Extremely paranoid. This wasn’t the happy, laugh until you hurt, munchies-eating, kind of high she had expected. Far from it. But it was her own fault.

“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,” Dowd writes. “As my paranoia deepened, I became convinced that I had died and no one was telling me.”

Most people who purchase edibles know how much they can handle, or they have the sense to talk to the dispensary workers about how much they should eat before they walk away with goodies in bag. Dowd didn’t ask until after the fact, the following day, when she was told chocolate bars like the one she ate should be split into 16 servings for edible-novices.

This isn’t the first time a journalist has delved into marijuana edibles for the sake of a hot story, and come out looking like an advocate for pot warning labels and tighter laws. But if anything, these stories should serve as a reality check that marijuana experiences can be negative, but are still rarely dangerous.

Over at Vice, the article titled “Maureen Dowd freaked out on weed chocolate because she’s stupid,” pretty much sums it up. Dowd’s position of privilege as a relatively prominent, respected white woman hardly makes her a target for the police she’s worried will arrest her for not “being able to handle her candy”, while giving the 800,000 Americans arrested annually for marijuana offenses absolutely no attention in her “insightful” and “risky” article. Further, Dowd leads readers to conclude marijuana can be a scary ride, without offering any advice on how to avoid the same bumbling path she went on.

Negative marijuana experiences do happen. You can get too high. But while getting too high usually results in a relatively uncomfortable night, getting too drunk can kill you. Popularizing stories of novice  users taking way too much marijuana, whether out of ignorance or thrill-seeking, should, if anything, serve as a reminder that this isn’t your mother’s marijuana (it’s much more potent) and requires you to make intelligent and informed decisions about usage. What they should not do is fuel the fire of marijuana-opposition.

About Elizabeth

Elizabeth Renter is a freelance writer and editor who writes about criminal justice issues.

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