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New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is among the most leftist, snarky, better-than-thou writers extant. On the rare occasions when I’ve been compelled to read her scribblings as research for an article, I’ve often asked myself, “self,” I’ve asked, “what is she smoking?” Now I know. Reader Warning: this is a self-parodying story. 

The caramel-chocolate flavored candy bar looked so innocent, like the Sky Bars I used to love as a child.

Sitting in my hotel room in Denver, I nibbled off the end and then, when nothing happened, nibbled some more. I figured if I was reporting on the social revolution rocking Colorado in January, the giddy culmination of pot Prohibition, I should try a taste of legal, edible pot from a local shop.

What could go wrong with a bite or two?

Everything, as it turned out.

“Giddy,” eh? I had more than enough of marijuana during my police days. I’ve never tried it, or any other drug for that matter. In fact, I don’t drink and never have. All of the wine I’ve had at dinners over the years merely to be polite probably wouldn’t fill a single bottle. There’s nothing religious about it; I just never liked the taste. That, and humanity’s hold on sanity is tenuous enough without pushing our brains over chemically-induced cliffs.

I’ve found the common slang for marijuana–dope–to be quite descriptive. With few exceptions, I’ve found regular marijuana users to be unreliable, at best. Unmotivated, lazy, paranoid, lacking in ambition, and sometimes, basic hygiene, pot users are losers, and when driving or using power tools, knives, and other sharp implements, actively dangerous. I’ve known several highly educated people that managed to amputate fingers while high. One nearly killed himself from blood loss because he found the blood spurting out of the stump of his index finger hilarious. Dopers are not among my favorite people. Let’s see why:

Not at first. For an hour, I felt nothing. I figured I’d order dinner from room service and return to my more mundane drugs of choice, chardonnay and mediocre-movies-on-demand.

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.

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.

It took all night before it began to wear off, distressingly slowly. The next day, a medical consultant at an edibles plant where I was conducting an interview mentioned that candy bars like that are supposed to be cut into 16 pieces for novices; but that recommendation hadn’t been on the label.

Spoken like a true statist. “Why doesn’t the federal government mandate warnings on marijuana laced candy bars?” After all, isn’t it government’s job to make ingesting mind-altering drugs safe and mellow? Who is going to save me from myself?! And 16 pieces for novices? Does that mean that more seasoned dopers, people steeped in paranoid psychosis, can take more? What is the safe dose for a psychoactive drug that is not at all well understood by science? “But pot is safe man! A little weed never hurt anybody!”

I reckoned that the fact that I was not a regular marijuana smoker made me more vulnerable, and that I should have known better. But it turns out, five months in, that some kinks need to be ironed out with the intoxicating open bar at the Mile High Club.

Colorado raked in about $12.6 million the first three months after pot was legalized for adults 21 and over. Pot party planners are dreaming up classy events: the Colorado Symphony just had its first “Classically Cannabis” fund-raiser with joints and Debussy. But the state is also coming to grips with the darker side of unleashing a drug as potent as marijuana on a horde of tourists of all ages and tolerance levels seeking a mellow buzz.

In March, a 19-year-old Wyoming college student jumped off a Denver hotel balcony after eating a pot cookie with 65 milligrams of THC. In April, a Denver man ate pot-infused Karma Kandy and began talking like it was the end of the world, scaring his wife and three kids. Then he retrieved a handgun from a safe and killed his wife while she was on the phone with an emergency dispatcher.

As Jack Healy reported in The Times on Sunday, Colorado hospital officials ‘are treating growing numbers of children and adults sickened by potent doses of edible marijuana’ and neighboring states are seeing more stoned drivers.

“Karma Kandy.” Like, heavy Karma, Dude. Like, wow man! Who coulda seen any of that comin’?

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.

“Director of Marijuana Coordination?”  There must be an Assistant Director of Marijuana Coordination, and a Secretary to the Director of Marijuana Coordination too. And what, exactly, do they “coordinate?” Apparently, how to get people high–heavy users and neophytes anxious to damage their brains–so as to create a really mellow high, Dude, like, wow! It’s all about feelings, man!  Paranoia to the People!

The whole industry was set up for people who smoked frequently. It needs to learn how to educate new users in the market. We have to create a culture of responsibility around edibles, so people know what to expect to feel.

Fortunately, Colorado’s Democrat Governor is all about public safety:

Gov. John Hickenlooper and the Legislature recently created a task force to come up with packaging that clearly differentiates pot cookies and candy and gummy bears from normal sweets — with an eye toward protecting children — and directed the Department of Revenue to restrict the amount of edibles that can be sold at one time to one person. The governor also signed legislation mandating that there be a stamp on edibles, possibly a marijuana leaf. (Or maybe a stoned skull and bones?)

Unfortunately, Hickenlooper (Hickenlooper, Hickenlooper, Hickenlooper–sounds like something a room full of stoners would find endlessly hilarious) only recently created the pot labeling “task force.” One would think that was something that should have been sorted out before Coloradans made pot legal, but everybody was probably too wasted to think of that.

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.)

Well, I can’t think of anything more important to the average consumer than ensuring the weed is spread evenly through the product.  Yum!  Paranoid, psychotic goodness in every bite!  I can just see the Colorado State Marijuana Testing Laboratory:

Technician #1: “Hee, hee, hee! Wow, Dude, that’s some heavy shit!”

Technician #2: “Hey, hey–did I eat 10 milligrams or 100? I can’t keep that shit straight, man. Wow, Dude! Like, your head is turning purple!”

Technician #1: “It is? Cooooool! Aren’t we supposed to warn somebody about something?”

Technician #2: “I dunno. Have another bite…”

When kids used to ask me if marijuana should be legalized–the obvious stoners always asked the questions and were very enthusiastic about that, but virtually nothing else–I always used to tell them that if the negative effects on society of legalized marijuana were only half as bad as those of alcohol, we didn’t need it.

I suppose Dowd considers her little dosage experiment “research.” As paranoid as she became, she’s fortunate she wasn’t making the NYT obit pages as a balcony diver. Even today, I’m still slightly surprised–and disgusted–by the number of adults that still use pot. When they’re parents, my disgust is virtually without limit. What is their irresponsibility telling their children?  If you can’t rely on your parents…

To be fair, Dowd does–sort of and in a glancing fashion–imply that maybe pot use isn’t all it’s cracked [get it?] up to be, or at least there ought to be better labeling, because not everyone is a really experienced doper.  I mean, to what higher state of existence can human beings aspire?

Remember gentle readers: Maureen Dowd and the New York Times are the people smugly telling us who is best qualified to “lead” us–from behind in foreign affairs and way out in front of the Congress and the Constitution domestically–and to tell us how to live socially just lives.

My advice to Dowd and a considerable portion of Colorado: grow up. Become an adult. Learn to deal with reality. Get a life. In the meantime, stay away from cars and hotel balconies.