In Defense of Maureen Dowd's Risible Col About Her Bad Trip on a Pot-Laced Candy Bar


Last night, a good chunk of Twitter was abuzz with the release of a new New York Times column from Maureen Dowd. The Pulitzer Prize-winner had traveled to Colorado, chowed down on a chocolate bar packed with legal pot and…had a real bummer of a trip:

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.

Other than sharing, it's not exactly clear what the point of Dowd's column was. There was the snide headline which she probably didn't write ("Don't harsh our mellow, dude") and a lot of lines about the rise in emergency-room visits from new-to-edibles customers such as Dowd. And then this:

The state plans to start testing to make sure the weed is spread evenly throughout the product. The task force is discussing having budtenders give better warnings to customers and moving toward demarcating a single-serving size of 10 milligrams. (Industry representatives objected to the expense of wrapping bites of candy individually.)

"My kids put rocks and batteries in their mouths," said Bob Eschino, the owner of Incredibles, which makes candy and serves up chocolate and strawberry fountains. "If I put a marijuana leaf on a piece of chocolate, they'll still put it in their mouths."

He argues that, since pot goodies leave the dispensary in childproof packages, it is the parents' responsibility to make sure their kids don't get hold of it.

"Somebody suggested we just make everything look like a gray square so it doesn't look appealing. Why should the whole industry suffer just because less than 5 percent of people are having problems with the correct dosing?"

Does he sound a little paranoid?

Whole piece here.

It's easy to make fun of Dowd as an aging baby boomer hipster who doesn't know how to handle her own dosing. For instance, former Times man Nate Silver dug up a 1921 Times story headlined:

New York Times headline: "MEXICAN FAMILY GO INSANE.; Five Said to Have Been Stricken by Eating Marihuana"

— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) June 4, 2014

He followed that up with this one:

I hope she expensed it.

— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) June 4, 2014

I myself was more than happy to sling some snark at Dowd and her Times colleagues, who often come across so square they're more like hexagons.

But Dowd's column—and her admirable willingness to talk frankly about her experience in all its inglory—raises real issues about the process by which pot legalization will be vetted. The fact is, there's a societal learning curve that's every bit as real as individual learning curves. It takes a while, and oftentimes a lot of trials and errors, for a society to figure out how to deal with major changes (divorce, gender and racial equality, etc.). 

The sooner we acknowledge that the end of pot prohibition will require a lot of conversation about what works well and what doesn't, the faster the new normal of "marijuana on Main Street" will be accepted for the huge leap forward in freedom and peace that it really represents.

Related: Reason's brand-spanking-new special landing page of original articles, videos, and resources about every aspect of pot legalization.

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  1. Lightweight.

    1. Cheap date.

      1. Nah, the cheap date is when you can hear the girl in the next apartment crying in horny frustration because her boyfriend didn’t come to town for the weekend. “Are you OK? … Can I help somehow?”
        A good move too. I seriously considered following her to Oregon.

    2. Yeah. I tried pot in HS and then in college. It just wasn’t my thing. With her description, though, it makes me wonder if what she got was really something else.

      1. No.

        It makes me wonder whether she actually ate any at all.

        You don’t fucking hallucinate from eating pot.

        1. No, you don’t, which makes me call bullshit on the whole thing. She’s not describing being high on pot, even from an edible – it sounds more like she dropped some acid.

          1. Neither of you know what you’re talking about. Go to’s vault on cannabis and you’ll see that it is classified as a psychedelic. I personally can attest to the fact that, at high doses marijuana can become quite visionary. When I was younger, I would get closed and open eye visuals from smoking high doses.

            As for the paranoia, read some bad experience reports, also on Erowid and you’ll see that it can get pretty intense. Your personal experiences don’t make you experts.

            1. Here, I even made it easy for you:


              This is the effects list (positive, neutral, and negative) for cannabis. You’ll see that closed-eye visuals are listed as an uncommon side effect, as well as fear and paranoia, when consumed in high doses (like a brownie).

              1. I drank some Wild Turkey 101 when I was 17, I saw some wild turkey shit that night man. I don’t blame Wild Turkey for it, I blame me for drinking it like cool-aid when I was still getting used to beer. Because Dowd acted like a teenager with a gallon of slurpee isn’t the drugs fault.

          2. Strong brownies/edibles can give you a buzz that borders on the psychedelic. You don’t get acid or shroom style visuals, and you certainly aren’t going to break on through, but you can momentarily forget where you are and get some very mild visual/spatial effects.

            That said, I think Gillespie is aiming in the right direction with his take. Dowd is probably a typical control freak, and has no idea how to roll with a buzz, fighting it and trying to maintain control during the entire experience. This almost inevitably results in a bad one.

            And I have no idea how Dowd managed to make the experience last 8 hours — if she could share this, it might save her article from being little more than a modern equivalent of Reefer Madness.

  2. Someone needs to tell Maureen that thanks to prohibition what is given to you as “pot” is sometimes that and a few other things. So it may not and probably wasn’t pot that gave her her “bad trip” such as it was. Also, judging by her writing and what I have heard about her life in general, having a bad trip once on pot is the least of her problems.

    1. She should experiment and see if dope improves her columns.

      1. It can only go up from where it is.

    2. My, err, impression is that the pot in the medpot industry is locally grown, with no reason to dose it with anything else.

      Nah. She OD’d on pot. Difficult to do while smoking, very, very easy to do while eating.

      Why should the whole industry suffer just because less than 5 percent of people are having problems with the correct dosing?”

      Does he sound a little paranoid?

      Since when is saying that everyone shouldn’t be penalized because a few people are idiots paranoid? And since when is noting that entire industries are beaten bloody by regulators on a regular basis “paranoid”?

      You aren’t paranoid if they really are out to get you, Mo.

      Whole piece here.

      1. She didn’t OD. You can’t with weed. She got way higher than she wanted to be, which often happens with edibles, and it lasted a long time, which always happens with edibles.

        As I said below, had she smoked and gotten way too high she’d have been over it in an hour. Doing edibles your first time is unbelievably retarded.

        1. I can see that, but pot is such a mellowing high, how can anyont think “being higher than I want to be” is a bad experience? Just lay down and go to sleep if it is that bad.

          Maybe Dowd is such a fucked up control freak that any perceived loss of control of her thoughts is terrifying to her. That would be consistent with her politics. I mean if she gets stoned enough she might start thinking non Progs have a point or something.

          1. Loss-of-control paranoia is extremely common with weed. I have to watch for it myself, and I don’t like to get “too” high (at least not without building into it). Her experience is extremely typical of a person who hasn’t ever smoked pot or hasn’t tried it in a long time and has way too much right out of the gate.

            It’s also common in people who smoked weed with abandon in their youth, stopped, and then try it again years later. These are often the people who whine that it’s gotten so much stronger. No, you just forgot how to handle it.

            1. That makes sense. I really think I just have the sort of mind that is really resilient to that stuff. I never got paranoid on it. In anything but really big doses it slowed my mind down enough to make things seem more normal. I can honestly say I produced some quality academic work while stoned. Being that way got me to slow down and think things through more. But that only went so far. If I got too stoned, I was hopeless and would just hang out and stair at turn table spinning or something.

              1. Weed improved your spelling! 😉

                1. A bit EDG. I would still go back and edit after I sobered up. But it generally worked for me. It worked really well in economics. It worked like ADHD medicine but better. I slowed down and worked the problems but also was still creative enough to see them in different ways. My friends used to tell me that there needed to be some kind of study done on me because it was not natural what I could do when properly lit.

              2. One theory I read that resonated with my experiences was that it enhances introspection, so people who do not usually attempt to look at themselves from another’s point of view are the ones that freak out. Especially if they have problems they refuse to recognize.

                1. Protogormous,

                  That makes sense and it really makes sense when you apply that to someone as repressed and dogmatic as Dowd. The one thing I will say for myself is that I am often wrong but I am an absolutely fearless thinker. There is no where I won’t let my mind go. So increased introspection never bothered me.

                2. “One theory I read that resonated with my experiences was that it enhances introspection, so people who do not usually attempt to look at themselves from another’s point of view are the ones that freak out.”

                  I’m late to this thread as usual, but I thought I’d interject…I’m extremely introspective but in general I dislike the high from pot. I also wouldn’t classify it as increasing introspection, more as increasing the tolerance for boredom. While those might seem similar in that they both look the same to an outside observer, the latter doesn’t result in a corresponding increase in thinking or soul-searching. I don’t count “WTF is this annoying shit happening to my brain” as thinking about yourself. You’re reacting to a chemical change. It’s not you.

                  1. While substances affect individuals differently, it definitely has increased my level of introspection.

                    Never before smoking weed regularly did I realize how bizarre and counterproductive was a lot of the behavior I’d gradually come to accept as “normal.”

                    And never before smoking did I chastise myself so much about my personal failures. A lot of unpleasant realizations came about, which really helped me make necessary changes in my life.

                    I realize that this won’t be the case for a lot of people, but in my case, it definitely made me more introspective.

                3. Do you have a link where we can read more on this? This makes a lot of sense to me and jibes with anecdotal experience.

              3. “I can honestly say I produced some quality academic work while stoned….If I got too stoned, I was hopeless”

                Be careful with that…Pikkety once smoked several bowls of premium Jamaican weed, and when he sobered up he said, “I wrote *what?*”

                1. If only it had caused me to go full Marxist retard, I would have tenure somewhere right now.

              4. I would suggest that maybe you never got as high as you thought.

                Go find a gram of good quality sativa, and smoke it alone in your bedroom and see what happens.

            2. Episiarch nailed it. +1

          2. I can see that, but pot is such a mellowing high, how can anyont think “being higher than I want to be” is a bad experience? Just lay down and go to sleep if it is that bad.

            A friend of mine, an Episiarch level stoner, once took a THC tablet provided by a friend of a friend. She spent the entire evening in the corner sitting on the floor saying “I’m so high it hurts, I’m so high it hurts” and crawling out of her skin. I don’t think she could’ve gone to bed if she wanted to, although I think some of the problem may have been THC without some of the mitigating effects of other cannabinoid, and some of it was she had no clear reference point to set her expectations against her previous highs (Epi’s going straight to edibles scenario cranked up a notch).

            1. Plus you can just get “stuck” on a couch or something even in semi-normal circumstances and the loss-of-control paranoia sets in if you let it.

        2. I kind of get your point. But, then wouldn’t “over-dosing” be the term that would describe “getting way higher than you wanted to be”?

          1. It is. An overdose is defined as “ingestion of a drug in greater quantities than what is recommended or generally practiced.”

            No one ever said overdose had to be lethal. It can just be really bad. I accidentally OD’d on benadryl once, and even though that stuff has a really high LD50, that doesn’t mean that the experience (replete with hallucinations, anxiety and restlessness) wasn’t a nightmare.

        3. Not only that but she took 16 times the recommended dose! Incredibly stupid.

        4. Doing edibles your first time is unbelievably retarded.

          Saying she was retarded for doing that implies she should have known better. She’s never used the stuff before, so she couldn’t have known better. The retarded thing was not asking someone about it first.

          1. She’s a statist. She doesn’t believe in personal responsibility. It was someone’s (the government’s) job to protect her and stop her from doing something stupid, not her own.

            1. In Colorado it wasn’t prohibited for her to do it, so it must have been mandatory.

            2. right – there is no sign on that bridge saying it is prohibited to jump, so I am going to do it without considering the consequences. That is the government’s job. Woooo!

              1. right – there is no sign on that bridge saying it is prohibited to jump, so I am going to do it without considering the consequences. That is the government’s job. Woooo!

                +1 Don’t spill McDonald’s coffee on your lap

                +1 Don’t go in the back of your RV and make breakfast while cruising down the highway

                +1 Any other stupid thing that people have actually done and had laws passed because of it

              2. That’s how a Brit friend sees Americans. We were at a castle walking up the path to the “back” entry through the wall. One curve had a particularly long drop off the edge. There were a few stakes in the ground, maybe 2.5 feet high, with a loose chain draped just high enough to keep these little paperback book size signs from dragging the ground reading “Mind the edge.”
                She commented that “Yanks” would have a wall so high she couldn’t see the next mountain, plus a net for anyone who jumped the wall.

        5. Doing edibles your first time is unbelievably retarded.

          Yeah, if this was her first time AT ALL, that was seriously retarded.

          But also pretty fucking hilarious.

          Because…well, I can relate. And it’s funny! I mean it’s not like you are going to be permafucked from a bad trip on pot.

        6. unbelievably retarded.

          Well, this *is* Dowd we’re talking about.

  3. Ban it!

  4. I drank a fifth of Jack. I got all lightheaded, I stumbled around, slurred my speech, fell down and couldn’t get up, then I puked all over the dog. My kids started playing with the dog and got my puke all over themselves.

    We need to have a talk about dogs.

    1. Father of the year!

    2. That’s wasn’t a dog, that was your mom.

    3. “Hi Mr Whipple!”

      Wait… is this not the AA meeting? what room is this? jesus, you people are freaks!

      1. Br00talists!

  5. Dowd really is in a bad way. Green corduroy jeans???!!!!

    1. I’m glad someone else caught that.

      A lightweight and questionable fashion sense. You’re a real catch, there, Maureen.

  6. I once tried pot brownies and it was awful. Kind of almost nauseas.

  7. The NYT link was behind a paywall so here’s a copy of the MEXICAN FAMILY GO INSANE story.

    […] according to doctors, who say that there is no hope of saving the children’s lives and that the mother will be insane for the rest of her life.

    I’m sure they wrote a timely retraction the following day when everyone was fine?

    1. At least that family didn’t turn into negro Jazz musicians and start corrupting our women.

      1. If only. I wish pot would turn me into a jazz musician, irresistible to women.

        1. I’m something of a jazz musician. When does that irresistible part kick in?

          1. You have to time-travel to the 50’s.

          2. Just because something involves scat doesn’t mean you can call it jazz.

    2. How long before Bill O’Reilly and Co. cite this article in support of their anti-pot stance?

  8. “I can’t handle my shit, so… DRUG WAR!”

    1. “If they need to burn babies to save me from myself, that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make!”

  9. Anyone who goes straight to edibles after never having smoked at all or not having gotten stoned in a long time is fucking retarded. It’s like breaking out the Bacardi 151 and mixing it with random amounts of Coke for someone who’s never had a drink in their life. It’s actually worse because ingested THC lasts way the fuck longer. If she had just smoked an entire joint and gotten way too high, her ordeal would have been over in an hour.

    It would have been nice if someone had seen she was eating the whole fucking thing and warned her, though. Never, ever eat a whole edible at once. You don’t know the potency.

    1. I admit up front that I inherited my mother’s constitution, which is that of a Rhino. In all of my experiences with the stuff in college, and there were a few and some of them with some pretty potent crap that I am still not convinced wasn’t laced with something else, I never once had a single bad thought or feeling on it. The worst I can say about that crap is that it made me more boring than usual and made stupid people more interesting. And I say this as a person who is emotional enough to have had any number of bad experiences with alcohol where getting drunk just made me more angry, more mean or more depressed than I already was.

      I just call bullshit on anyone who claims a bad trip on Pot beyond the usual “it gave me a headache and just made me sleepy”, which it does to a lot of people.

      1. Well call bullshit on me then. I’ve had a “bad trip” and the problem was that I couldn’t just sleep it off and it really does suck when it won’t just wear off. Of course that’s why you don’t eat a whole fucking edible your first time. Different people have different reactions and you should always start with a small dose until you know how well you can handle it.

      2. Read what I said above, John. It’s actually very common. If you can get as high as you want and not have a problem, that’s pretty cool and you’re lucky.

        1. It is true. Sadly, it is a pretty worthless gift that I can’t ever use thanks to my government service. But if pot were ever legal, I doubt I would ever get drunk again. Pot doesn’t make you fat, doesn’t make me angry or mean like alcohol sometimes will, and never seems to give me a hangover.

          I defer to your much more extensive knowledge on this stuff. I only have my own and a few close friends’ experiences to judge from. Regardless, Dowd is still a moron. I have had terrible experiences drinking too much. But I would never blame those experiences on alcohol. I had those experiences because I was stupid and let my desire to get drunk get the better of my judgment. Personal responsibility is such an amazing concept, you know?

          1. John: read this


    2. It would have been nice if someone had seen she was eating the whole fucking thing and warned her, though. Never, ever eat a whole edible at once. You don’t know the potency.

      Don’t you hate people who don’t know when they need a babysitter? Ain’t no shame in that.

      1. You know what you need, nicole? A worstsitter. Someone who can help guide you to not being the worst.

        1. I actually think Maureen Dowd is worse than nicole.

          1. Pfft. Don’t make me laugh.

    3. It’s like breaking out the Bacardi 151 and mixing it with random amounts of Coke for someone who’s never had a drink in their life.

      My first drinking experiences were in Russia. Sadly, so was my first hangover.

    4. “It would have been nice if someone had seen she was eating the whole fucking thing and warned her, though. Never, ever eat a whole edible at once. You don’t know the potency.”

      Decent enough advice, but she never actually says she ate the whole thing.

      Sitting in my hotel room in Denver, I nibbled off the end and then, when nothing happened, nibbled some more.

      What could go wrong with a bite or two?

      So either she “nibbled some” or she ate “a bite or two”. Or something else, because she is so incredibly vague about what she bought and how much she ate that it seems like it had to be on purpose. I wasn’t there, obviously, and I don’t know what she bought and how much she ate, but what I do know is MoDo’s writing history, which strongly suggests to me that she’s hamming it up for effect.

    5. Close, but I’d say it’s closer to going from a teetotaler to injecting 151 directly into a vein a la Motley Crue.

  10. The bottle of whiskey I bought didn’t have dosing instructions on the label so I drank the whole thing. I got sick, puked on the rug, talked to the lamp for a while, didn’t know where I was and finally blacked out. I’m missing 8 hours of my life now. We should go back to alcohol prohibition…..

  11. “The Dowd Abides.”
    — Instapundit

  12. can’t handle pot. can’t get a man. can’t write above a Heathers level. her lack of skills are legion.

  13. Want an even greater revelation of the NYT’s perspective on this issue? Just look at the comments at the Dowd piece — the “NYT-Picked” comments are 95% anti-pot, 5% anti-“Dowd-bashers”

    1. The New York Times – Control Above All Else.

    2. Because some repressed aging boomer hag can’t handle a huge dose of the stuff, we must continue to throw people in prison for using it. That is NYT thinking at its best right there.

      1. ^this

        I tried saying as much below.

  14. I feel I should get a hat tip for this.…..nt_4551849


  15. “The sooner we acknowledge that the end of pot prohibition will require a lot of conversation about what works well and what doesn’t,”

    I sort of wish the ‘conversation’ among urban-elitist liberal-‘lectuals were less about “OMG Corporate WeedBrownies might give children autisms!”, and more about how maybe they should acknowledge the failure of drug prohibition writ large and how their anxiety has been complicit in jailing millions of young black men and destroying the lives of generations.

    1. It is all about them Gilmore. If sending a bunch of black kids to prison is the price of making them feel comfortable, well that is just a price those black kids and their families are going to have to pay.

      1. As a bonus, they can still trot out their impoverished families for hand-wringing photo-ops, who are still impoverished, in part, because of the drug war.

  16. Here is the other thing about this piece, what is the big deal? Did Dowd almost die? Throw up? Have to go to the emergency room? Try to chase cars on the GW Bridge? If the worst thing you can say about pot is that if you take a huge dose and for whatever reason don’t have much of a tolerance for the stuff you will spend the night miserable and a bit paranoid, I would say it is way safer than alcohol or about everything else that is approved by the FDA.

    1. Indeed, John, indeed.

    2. John, She doesn’t chase cars on the GW Bridge because she’s high she does it because she’s a bi[This is why there are no libertarian women]

    3. Yes, I want her to chug a 5th of hard liquor and compare the experience. And especially the following day’s experience.

  17. I dosed about like Maureen did the first time I smoked pot. My roomies thought it would be funny if I did 13 or 14 hits. And you know what, I hallucinated the hell of that evening, but it was actually rather fun. In fact, the real downer was the next time I smoked pot in a normal dose and discovered that it was mostly just feeling mellow and dull. What a comedown.

    My guess is that the paranoia and fear Maureen experienced was simply an extension of her lovely personality.

    1. Yes, Protagoronus called it above. Marijuana produces introspection. Someone like Dowd can’t handle that. It is pretty horrifying the amount of neurosis and self hatred she has but manages to repress. All the pot did was take away her ability to repress it and that was not a pleasant experience for her.

      If you took Dowd, Jessica Valantie and that other evil feminist chick who went to St. Edwards in Austin and now lives in New York whose name escapes me and put then a room and dosed the shit out them with pot, you would probably have an emotional train wreck worthy of the greatest reality show ever produced.

    2. Amanda Marcotte. That is who I was thinking of. I want a reality show where we take Dowd, Marcotte, and Valante and put them in a room and feed them the strongest pot brownies on the North American continent. The resulting self loathing and paranoia would be made for TV entertainment.

      1. I’d watch that.

      2. Screw giving them pot. I recommend Ayahuasca or Ibogaine.

  18. Took a trip and never left the ground.…..he-ground/

  19. I was kinda wondering what her stool looked like after.

  20. Can I compare my experience to Dowd’s as a counterexample?

    For years I went to the bar almost nightly and got drunk. I was working dead end jobs, went through a series of bad long term relationships, spent everything I made, and just generally leading a directionless life.

    Started smoking/eating pot once I got my med card. Since then, have opened a business, am happily married, have suffered zero bouts of depression, and enjoy my home life so much that I almost never go out to the bar anymore. I credit smoking weed with allowing me the introspection I needed to get my life on track and achieve a happier and more stable life than I probably would have ever had without it. In all honesty, I believe I was behaving in a lot of very immature ways before the nightly introspection let me get a much better perspective on how bad I was handling things and what a mess my life was.

    1. “leading” should be “led.” Duh.

  21. Wasn’t Candy Bar a stripper? That might explain a LOT.

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