Civil Liberties

Vice Magazine Co-Founder No Longer Sure We Should Legalize Marijuana



"I am obviously still incredibly high," Gavin McInnes writes toward the end of his latest piece for Taki's Magazine. "I'm so high, in fact, that I no longer see legalization of marijuana as such a no brainer. The debate has shifted to, 'Should we legalize a really, really heavy drug?'"

McInnes not only helped found Vice, he built his reputation on being a very naughty boy. So why's he having second thoughts about legalizing marijuana? Because he tried some of the stuff people are growing these days, and he didn't like it:

I spoke to some young pot-smokers, and they all agree things have gotten out of hand. An intern named Dan told me he has to dilute his joints with 75% tobacco. Another said that she had to give up joints and that even one small puff of a one hitter can be too intense.

That's all fine and dandy, but to really understand how intense marijuana has become I can't merely harass kids all day. I need to try it. So I had a friend of a friend hook me up with a very strong strain called "Master Kush," and I'm going to smoke it right now.

A half hour has gone by and this is what happened. First of all. It's very hard to type. I don't think I could write with a pen. I had a big rip off a bong (I sound like a narc) and had a huge coughing fit that got so intense I honestly thought about calling 911.

I felt like I was going to throw up or maybe just have diarrhea so I went to the bathroom but nothing happened.

So, I come back to the couch and then things get really bad. I was panting and having a slow tortuous panic attack that made both my hands go numb with pins and needles. I took my shirt off and lay on the cold floor to cool down but then my feet went numb too. It was hell. And it kept getting worse. I was writhing around on the floor trying to find a position that didn't feel like the world was going to end.

I wouldn't wish that experience on anyone, but I can't bring myself to feel bad for McInnes. He hadn't used marijuana in years, and yet he intentionally chose "a very strong strain" and to consume it by taking a "big rip off a bong," not in spite of his colleagues telling him pot is stronger than it used to be, but because they told him that. If he just wanted to take this new marijuana for a spin, he could've nibbled a bit of edible, taken a modest pull off a vaporizer, or bought a milder strain. Instead, he chose the equivalent of butt-chugging two shots of Bacardi 151, and then turned that bad decision into a disjointed screed against legalization, when really it's just a cautionary tale about over-doing it. 

His column is comparable to a slightly less dramatic story from another reporter, the Center for Investigative Reporting's Michael Montgomery. Two years ago, Montgomery, who covers marijuana policy and culture in California, was reporting on a brunch hosted by a medical marijuana provider who used the event to share samples of different strains.

The woman told Montgomery that some of the food was laced with pot, while some food was not. Montgomery says he got distracted while recording the scene and ended up eating some of the laced food, then having a panic attack at an airport a short time later (flying Virgin Airlines apparently didn't help).

Like McInnes, Montgomery had way more than he should have: two full pot brownies, as opposed to the quarter of a brownie that patients were advised to try their first time out (try–and then wait two hours before trying again). Consuming eight times the recommended dosage made him unpleasantly high and paranoid, but that's about it. Consider this: If he'd taken eight times as much Acetaminophen as he should've, he would've been on the cusp of liver failure.

The experience, which he talks about in the below video, led Montgomery to believe that medical marijuana should be much more heavily regulated than it currently is, and that more should be done to keep it away from teenagers. Somewhat ironically, he closes his tale by saying that his brownie experience makes him anxious to this day, and that nothing helps that anxiety like a martini.

I can't help but wonder what McInnes and Montgomery would say in an alternate universe where the former used marijuana responsibly and the latter used it intentionally.