Overweening Generalist

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Maureen Dowd's Edible Cannabis Freakout: Another Drug Report

Maureen Dowd was warned about ingesting THC and other psychoactive compounds derived from cannabis. Still, she ate the whole candy bar. And had what will go down as one of the Famous Bad Trips. (There's already a section on her Wiki about this.)

Okay: I did the same thing. I know exactly where she's coming from. My aunt had a boyfriend (this was around 20 years ago) who grew his own, and it was good. My sweetheart and I spent the Fourth of July with them. The aunt's boyfriend said I ought to try his brownies, which he'd just taken out of the oven. I tried one. Then he said have another. I ate that. You know the rest: about 45 minutes later, I feel IT come on. And on. And on. And more. More. I start to feel very uneasy. The level of stoned-ness was increasing, it seemed, so quickly, that it was like the feeling you get when the stereo radio was on very low and you're talking with your friends, then some song comes on that you all love and the conversation stops, you turn it up loud. And someone says "Louder!" and pretty soon the windows are shaking and you and your friends are smiling, rocking out, laughing inaudibly.

I got so stoned that, on the drive home, I confessed to my sweetheart I was freaking out. She said - she was driving, thank goddess - that I'd seemed sorta weird. I just let loose and described The Fear.

So he is putting down junk and coming on with tea. I take three drags, Jane looked at him and her flesh crystallized. I leaped up screaming, "I got the fear!" and ran out of the house.
-very early tableau from Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs. ("Tea" here is cannabis.)

I remember expressing regret. Sweetheart said it would probably subside in a few hours. Meanwhile, "Witchy Woman" by the Eagles came on the car radio and when the solo came up, I "saw" the guitar being played: a Gibson Les Paul with a sunburst finish. It just had to be. Yea, you read that correctly: I was trippin' balls so big-time I "saw" the guitar I was hearing on the radio, a tune that was recorded 25 years earlier. I'd heard the song a thousand times. Now, the dude's vibrato was overwhelmingly psychedelic. At the same time, this was a Bad Omen: I'm trippin' on "Witchy Woman"? At this rate, Bartok would probably melt my brain. The Mahavishnu Orchestra would flatline me. Liszt would lay me out; the Goldberg Variations could prove grave. Maybe Terry Riley's In "C" could calm me, but I didn't have it and couldn't cop.

Home, sweetheart asked me to air out our camping tent, because we were due to head out to the Sierras and the Sequoia National Park the next day. It's one of those tents that are lightweight hi-tech and so easy to put up a 12 year old could do it in 90 seconds. I gave up after what seemed like an hour. I couldn't figure it out. Cannabis is really really RILLY bad - for me, at least - in executing step-by-step "rational" action. This was ridiculous.  Later, I sat in an empty room in the dark, trying to enjoy it all, wishing I had some sort of antidote. I tried listening to Ustad Shujaat Kahn doing a raga, but it was too intense.

I woke up the next day still stoned. We drove four hours into the Sierras, and I was still stoned. What a nightmare! The amount of quality bud that was dumped into the brownie mix must've been just insane.

The next day I'd returned to something like my "baseline" "normality." But I felt adrenaline-poisoned, because of the stress of having to cope with the world stoned, because clearly, I hadn't planned for such a series of psychological hurdles.

Now: I've read four or five articles about Colorado's first few months of legalization, and this seems a significant problem: the word must get out about edibles: you cannot titrate if you're new to the stuff. Of course we must keep this away from the chilluns. You think you know what a candy bar is; they've always been such comfy familiar friends.

Ingesting cannabis seems completely different to me than smoking it, and ever since this Bad Trip, I've stayed away from edibles.

I want to jump all over Dowd - who I admit I have disliked since around the Lewinsky scandal, when I first became aware of her - for being a typical East Coast pop-liberal NYT overrated pretentious idiot-journalist. She and David Brooks and Thomas Friedman make me long for a speedy, agonized Death of Giant Corporate Journalism, or their kind, at least.

Dowd was TOLD to watch it with edibles. But her Bad Trip resonated with me; I felt a sympathetic kinship when I read about her fear in her hotel room. We need massive education about this stuff. You smoke too much really good weed and have a panic attack? It will be over in an hour or two. You EAT too much powerful weed? You might be in for a doozy, friends. Eat a teeny, tiny bit, and then wait at least an hour before deciding whether you need more.

DIGRESSION: In Terry Southern's short story, "Red Dirt Marijuana," a young white kid from the South is talking with his much older friend, a black man. They have found a big flowering pot plant on a farm. The kid has tried pot before but it made him "sick"; the wizened black man tries to explain to the kid why he couldn't handle cannabis before, but might be able to now:

"Now boy, don't you mess with me," said C.K., frowning, "...you ast me somethin' an' I tellin' you. You brain is young an' unformed...it's all smooth, you brain, smooth as that piece of shoe-leather. That smoke jest come in an' cloud it over!" He took another drag. "Now you take a full-growed brain," he said in his breath-holding voice, "it ain't smooth - it's got all ridges in it, all over, go this way an' that.' Shoot, a man know what he doin' he have that smoke runnin' up one ridge an' down the other! He control his high, you see what I mean, he don't fight against it..." -Terry Southern, Red Dirt Marijuana and Other Tastes, pp.8-9

[This seems neurophysiologically suspect, but poetically true: both Dowd and I probably needed more ridges in our brains to handle it. - OG]

The other problem in Colorado seems to be exploding houses, because of people trying to make hash oil, and butane volatility. This part seems maddening to me: are you trying to tell me all the smokable Dogshit Orgasm and Jack Herer and Purple Kush isn't doing it for you? You need to risk your life and your neighbors' houses to get that righteous buzz from "dabbing"? If so, you've probably got a problem, pal. Seek help. Get outside. Stop getting high for six months, and feel the "high" of your short-term memory roaring back; dig all the complex nuances and edges of "everyday life" that you hadn't realized you'd gradually caked your cerebral cortices up with bong resin thicker than manhole covers. I've done it. When you come back six-ten months later and take a small hit of something like Kali's Shaven Vulva Grapefruit Surprise sativa (I actually made that one up...I think?), you'll really enjoy it. And you'll be acting like a decent - if freaky - Responsible Citizen.

So far, the Colorado experiment seems a smashing success, and the winds are blowing in our favor in other states. The problem with edibles is about public education. The problem with ditzy hash oil explosions seems more troubling to those of us who want more political gains with cannabis, not a roll-back. Hash-oil house explosions are bumming me out. Quit it you guys! (<----Do you think this will work?)


Unknown said...

edibles certainly do seem to have a very different effect than smoking. I had 1/3 of one of those little chocolately "cheba chews" and while I wouldn't really call it a "Bad trip" it was just bizarre enough that I knew 1/3 of one of those was far too much.
I'm wondering how the vaping thing is. Those are seeming to get more popular and also might be a better option for those who don't enjoy the act of smoking.

Eric Wagner said...

Funny post. I remember Mike Gathers commenting on Colorado's hipness when he moved there a few years.

The next few years should prove interesting. I wonder if the Republicans will take over the Senate in 2014. Will marijuana legalization play a role in the 2016 presidential election? In the 2020 election?

Giordanista Heliopoleos said...

My only experience with edibles was at a party where I got into some spiked chocolate fondue. The problem wasn't the high, it was the fact that the fondue--unlike the brownies, which were labeled as to octane rating--was not so marked, and I was supposed to be one of the Designated Drivers. Oh well.... .

michael said...

@ Unknown-

I've never had a Cheba Chew. I think I would love them if I were going through chemotherapy or had rheumatoid arthritis or something else like that, where anything that diverted the nervous system from the awareness of chronic pain or general Really Lousy Feeling-ness was just what the Doc ordered.

There's this doctor who works in Berkeley who writes funny books about being a doctor. He coined the term "pandynia": pain everywhere. I'd use edibles for that, too.

I've had vaporized weed. It's pretty cool, but really not much different from smoking the stuff straight. I think maybe it brings out the unique flavor of the strain a little better. Dr. Donald Tashkin, a pulmonologist at UCLA, has found that cannabis may PREVENT lung cancer. I wonder why Diane Sawyer and Brian Williams haven't been reporting this story?:

Thanks for commenting!

michael said...


I think Gathers increased the overall hipness of CO when he moved there; he's still there, from what I can tell.

I expect the "Blue" states to continue on the road to decriminalization/legalization; I can't see Texas or Louisiana coming around anytime soon. I'd love to be wrong on those two states.

I'd like to see more famous brainiacs come out and say that pot helps them get creative ideas, helps to reframe old intractable problems, lends insight and a special perspective...like what Carl Sagan did, only we found out after he died.

michael said...

@ Giordanista Heliopoleos: you have the coolest name of anyone who's ever commented at the Overweening Generalist, and I don't see anyone topping you soon. Congrats!

Driving while very stoned is nerve wracking for me. Others like it and swear they're better drivers while stoned. Some people are so used to functioning while high they don't have any problems at all. I know a guy who smokes incredibly powerful weed all day long; he drove me from San Francisco to Berkeley and I felt like I was on acid his stuff was so strong. It was nothing to him.

I read a study once that showed stoned drivers were safer than non-impaired drivers - and WAY safer than drunk ones, of course. But I haven't seen the study replicated or updated. I found/find it hard to believe.

I do enjoy riding my bike while stoned. Walking in the woods while pleasantly high is like going to my own version of Church. Taking the BART whilst baked is fun, too.

But mostly I like being alone, late at night, reading, playing guitar, listening to music, sipping IPAs, going out and looking at the moon...Writing and cannabis go really well together for me. Any one of us may be entirely different in our setting preferences.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

PQ said...

I've had two nightmare trips from edibles. Once on a medical California hash cookie, consumed too much before going to a baseball game, eventually thought everyone in the ballpark wanted to kill me. Thank god for my (ex)girlfriend who dragged me out of there with spirals twirling in my pupils.

Another time I baked my own brownies and ate one then gradually went from ecstatic joy and psychological vistas to a psychotic paranoid painful neverending nightmare. It felt like I could hear the thoughts of all the neighbors around me inside my head and it was frying my synapses. Brutal headaches and vomiting, complete batshit paranoia, and now I'll never touch edibles again.

I prefer vapor. Very smooth, subtle, doesn't burn the throat. Doesn't hit the brain very hard.

Michael, I tend to prefer the same sort of solo peaceful scenario you describe in your comment. But I've also consistently found that, although being stoned makes me write like crazy it also makes it very hard for me to organize and focus those energies into any kind of formal piece. Usually just pages upon pages of notebook scribbles. So I tend to stay away from it these days unless I need a renewed spark of ideas.

michael said...

@PQ: I have found that my love of baseball and basketball clashes with getting high; I keep the two separate. I think the aspect of professional, spectator sports that Chomsky (exempli gratis) criticizes is something I agree with, so I'm an ironic "fan." But I can't keep my irony separate when I'm stoned and watching sports: I see billionaires and millionaires and territorial squabbles and egos and fandom as toxic false consciousness and quasi-fascism too clearly when I'm stoned. (Ever see Patton Oswalt in the film Big Fan? THAT - and WTF, Frederick Exley's _A Fans Notes_ too: it all comes through too clearly on THC.)

When I'm straight or only on beer I can compartmentalize all this. Your story about being at an event thinking people wanted to kill you: I understood that immediately.

RAW talked about a sufi writing technique: write stoned, edit straight; write straight, edit stoned, through as many drafts as you need.

Giordanista Heliopoleos said...

Thanks for the complement on the nom du blog. I was afraid it might be too pretentious.

I've not had a bad experience with any form of cannabis that I recall.

I find listening to music--usually mellow non-vocal Classical music-- while lying down the best experience for me. I just focus on the music and let it carry me along like a piece of wood on a stream. I avoid popular music as it is usually way too busy for me to have a pleasant experience from it while stoned.

I did once listen to the second act of Goetterdaemmerung (Solti recording) while under the influence, and did have some interesting visualizations of the action, as well as almost aurally overloading on the orchestration. (I don't remember if I used headphones or not, but it was a vinyl recording, not a CD.)

Giordanista Heliopoleos said...

TO get back to the initial reason for your post, Maureen Dowd, David Brooks and Thomas Friedman are three of many reasons why the New York Times doesn't rate cat box liner these days.

michael said...

At the risk of sounding morbid, I've been collecting examples of the elevated vapidness of both Brooks and Friedman for years; files overflow. The idea that these two ASSHOLES are taken seriously as "idea men" is something I find truly nauseating. Sorry to vent, but mein Gott! How many times can someone be so pretentious AND wrong and weasely-apologetic for State crimes and Business Criminals and still be aired in the NYT and all over corporate "news"?

When Chomsky writes about the "commissar class" in Unistat, I can't help but see both of these fucking twits at the top of the list. I'd write a few long blogspews nailing both of those jackasses, but it wouldn't fit the tone of the OG. Maybe somewhere else. Or maybe nowhere: substantive minds on the progressive Left have been chronicling both blithering idiots for years. You are I are in good company, Giordanista.

Dowd seems more like Arianna Huffington to me; I can't take her seriously at all, she's so light and dull and floating in her bubble of money, High Society and whatever passes for "liberalism" today. I find her pretty horrible, but nowheres near the maddening levels of Brooks and Friedman. Their very presence on the national stage as people to be taken "seriously" offends my sensibilities.

Anonymous said...

Once we made some brownies for a roadtrip from Montana to Denver, CO. Those brownies gave me what can only be called "weed farts" - every time I passed gas, it smelled like someone exhaled a fatty bongrip except, well, not out of their mouth. Only problem was that I had to stop by my uncle's house in Wyoming, and he's a cop with his own drug dog. That dog was on me like a hawk. Luckily, my uncle was off-duty is a nice guy.

Edward@cannabisdelivery said...

Marijuana helps to alleviate the pain caused from many types of injuries and disorders.

Anonymous said...

I don't do dabs or any of that kind of stuff. I actually quit weed again for that matter. But one thing I can tell you for sure is that, since it became legal, the potency sure has dropped. When it wasn't legal it was more scarce and there were fewer strains to choose from, so people sought out the best quality stuff they could get. Dealers only accepted the best quality for their own stock. Now the market is flooded with weak stuff, and the shops charge ridiculous prices for the good stuff.