From Grey Lady To White Widow: A Guide to Getting Maureen Dowd High
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From Grey Lady To White Widow: A Guide to Getting Maureen Dowd High

In Denver, a NYT columnist makes a rookie mistake.

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd got blazed recently, according to a report from New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.

In a Tuesday story, Dowd described how, on a recent trip to Denver, she ate a marijuana-laced candy bar in her hotel room. Afterward, Dowd settled in for the ride:

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’s all too easy to laugh at Maureen Dowd. I know I am. But as weed goes mainstream, we’ll probably be reading many more stories like Dowd’s, of would-be cannabis connoisseurs who can’t handle their green. This is somewhat exasperating for stoners, since “that time I got so high” stories are about as common and repetitive as stories about 21st birthdays. However, as a responsible journalist, I feel obligated to impart a little wisdom to the public, because this is a teachable moment.

What happened to Dowd is what’s known in the marijuana community as “getting way too high.” Sometimes the sudden rush of cannabinoids to the synapses of the brain causes anxiety, paranoia, mild fantasias, and mortal dread. For example, here’s a video of a poor kid who smoked concentrated hash and got stuck in his own head for several minutes.

This happens to even experienced stoners occasionally. One too many brownies or an ill-considered bong-rip, and the fear sets in. There are some simple steps you can take, though, to avoid or at least mitigate that dark night of the soul. So for Maureen Dowd and other weed tourists making the trip to the Centennial State, here’s what you need to know about getting way too high.

Don’t start with edibles

Many first-time or curious marijuana users gravitate toward edibles because they’re simple and don’t require inhaling harsh, carcinogenic smoke into your lungs. The problem with edibles is they take a long time to take effect, at which point you’re locked in. If you ate too much or got an especially strong batch, well, you’re gonna have a bad time. Which is exactly what happened to Dowd.

The advantage to smoking weed, rather than eating it, is that after one toke, you can immediately judge the results and say, “I don’t want anymore,” or, “Let’s watch Adventure Time.”

If you just can’t resist buying adorable weed-laced cupcakes or whatnot, find a clearly labeled product, then ask the dude at the counter how much you should eat. Or consult the Internet.

Use the buddy system

Dowd made the classic mistake of using an unfamiliar drug alone. Although she describes herself as “not a regular smoker,” by which we can infer this wasn’t her first time, Dowd should have had a buddy, like, say, Tom Friedman. A buddy keeps your brain from lapsing into recursive thoughts and instead focused on things like China and mustaches.

Overall, Dowd erred by getting stupid-high in a bad setting. Seriously now, there’s no reason to get high— alone—in your hotel room in Colorado. It’s legal, and the state is gorgeous.

Oops, I still got way too high

You’re trying to hold a conversation but your voice sounds weird, and you’re sure everyone else can hear it, too. Are you even making sense? Everyone can tell how high you are. They can see it in your face. They know. What else do they know?

Excuse yourself and go lie down on the bathroom floor. I can’t explain why, but a bathroom floor when you’re way too high is like chicken soup when you have a cold. The bathroom floor is nice and cool. The bathroom floor doesn’t judge. Take as much time as you need.

Now that you’ve got a hold of the situation, are your buddies still there? Go hang out with them, because some stoned people, left alone with their own thoughts, start thinking weird things.

Oh God, I’m going to die.

No, you’re not going to die. I mean, sure, you’re going to die eventually. We’re all going to die. One day all the energy in existence will dissipate, the last star will gutter out, and the sky will roll up like a curtain. Everything will be cold and empty. But let’s not focus on that. What’s important is that you’re not going to die from being high. That is literally impossible.

And while it may seem like the existential horror of the human condition is just too much to handle, I can assure you it is not. Again, go hang out with your friends. Put on sunglasses and take a walk. Nobody can tell you’re high when you’re wearing sunglasses. It’s like being a secret agent on a mission to the Circle K.

Remember, you’re not in a Ketamine-induced fugue state. You’re not tripping balls on acid, staring at the supreme godhead of the universe (AKA the light fixture on your ceiling). You’re not even having a bad mushroom trip. You’re just way too high.

There ought to be a law!

Just like guns, knives, bleach, alcohol, pills, and chocolate cakes, marijuana edibles should be stored out of reach from children and pets. If you need help figuring this out, I don’t know what else to tell you.

P.S. If we’re discussing the genre of “columnists doing drugs,” I would be remiss if I didn’t mention its greatest entry: Jefferson Morley’s 1989 column, in which he describes going on an all-night crack binge. Ball’s in your court, Tom Friedman.

Follow C.J. Ciaramella on Twitter.

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