(Photo of Maureen Dowd by Patrick McMullan/PatrickMcMullan.com)
I hate to say it, but Maureen Dowd is right. I'll say it right to her. You, madam, are correct: The edibles in Colorado are way too god damn strong. But you didn't have to be a dick about it.
I personally love edibles. I eat them all the time and have written about my fancy-free experiences with them in my VICE column. For those stories, my focus has not been on the debilitating effects that too much edible pot can have. I don't deny that it exists. I just choose to focus on the positive aspects of weed in the hopes of humanizing potheads like myself. I have colleagues that fight the dirtier battles, those against the organized ignorance that has plagued our favorite plant for so long. Those guys and gals have had a rough road, but their efforts prevailed at the opportune moment when public opinion revealed a new preference and the federal government shrugged its shoulders and looked the other way. Since that moment, Denver became the petri dish for legal weed, and an industry took form in a relatively neat, orderly fashion. Any less would have been disaster for the movement. The burgeoning industry continues to bare its growing pains for the world to see, but the consensus strives for legitimacy. These are not the renegade activists that Dowd paints them to be when she complains, "the reefer crowd gets mad at the suggestion of any regulation, no matter how small or helpful." In fact, the reefer crowd wants its industry to succeed for more reasons than Ms. Dowd wishes to consider when she uses her platform to detract from its progress.
Are the edibles too strong? Yes. Sorry. When you consume a lot of weed regularly, you lose track of how little it might take to ruin a novice's evening. A cookie probably shouldn't have six regular doses in it because, seriously, who the fuck eats a sixth of a cookie? Also, making weed products in the likeness of children's candy is probably not a good idea. Kind of like how it's irresponsible to have toy guns and real guns in the same house. Of course, the worst of those two situations result in entirely different 911 calls.
Maureen Dowd suffered a pitfall of inept dosage regulation just two weeks after the state acknowledged that it was a problem and put measures to control it into action. She overindulged and had an awful evening, and she wants the whole legal weed industry to suffer for it. After inviting peoples' ire for blaming her own miserable experience on "kinks" in Colorado's regulation, she swung back around to rebut, invoking sensational images like, "[The] mother who found her 2-year-old daughter eating a pot cookie in front of their apartment building." Yes, kids have accidentally eaten edibles. As of May 2014, Children's Hospital Colorado has seen a spike in such instances. It's all the way up to nine (out of over a million minors in Colorado state). All of them lived.
But you're right, Ms. Dowd, the edibles are too damn strong! And earlier this year, it became fatal. I personally acknowledged this in an article for High Times about the tragic death of Levy Thamba Pongi. "The poor kid got too high, went to a dark place, and probably didn't realize he was doing something irrevocable when he jumped off that balcony. He walked into a Denver dispensary a total pot virgin, ate one cookie containing six doses, and lost his grip on reality. It was a reality check for the entire industry, as well as the tourists coming in to have their first taste. You might say that after a tragedy like that, you'd have to be pretty stupid to trifle with the same substance without asking the right questions from the licensed professionals selling it to you (my colleague, David Bienenstock, actually did say those very things).
But what about that other guy that Dowd mentioned, Richard Kirk, who ate edibles and shot his wife? That story was definitely huge because, well, pot-related deaths are almost non-existent. Maybe that's why so few recollect that the Denver police reported that Kirk was also on prescription drugs when he shot his wife. If we're going purely on correlation here, it was probably the pain pills, ma'am.
Who am I to say, really? I am just a stoned storyteller who wants to see weed legalized and reasonably regulated, and for a responsible and truly competitive national market to rise out of it. I have my reservations about legalization, but none of them outweigh the injustice that has come out of prohibition for so many decades, nor the vast potential medical benefits, nor the prospect of having a milder alternative to a legal poison like alcohol. In the larger picture, outside of my reservations, outside of the kinks in the industry that need to be worked out, and outside of Maureen Dowd's one shitty night in a hotel room, the world will be a better place when weed is legal. It took a long time to quell the panic to make way for this reality. Let's not rile the naysayers up with bullshit all over again.