I must confess I’ve never ingested marijuana in chocolate form. From what I’ve been reading lately, I’m not sure I’d ever want to.
It turns out the cannabis baked into pot brownies and other such “edibles” is far more concentrated and potent than we inexperienced noobs had previously grasped. One need hardly take more than a small nibble to become buoyantly blazed for the better part of the evening.
With my relationship with sugar being what it is—I take a few bites, everything goes dark, and suddenly the whole box of Tagalongs is empty—I would be liable to inadvertently gorge myself into a stoned oblivion from which I might never completely return.
A sugar high is disorienting enough. One need not pile an actual high on top of it. (To say nothing of pot’s well-known ability to direct one’s hand deep into the cookie jar.)
But of course many people do exactly that, and with Colorado having become the first state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, the buying and selling of cannabis-infused baked goods has entered the legal free market for the first time. As such, the country has been compelled to think more critically and carefully than ever before about precisely how this new industry should operate.
While this question has myriad angles—many of which mirror those about the regulation of legal marijuana overall—perhaps the most essential involves the wide dissemination of basic scientific facts. Namely, how much pot does one need to eat in order to achieve the desired effect?
It’s a rather important piece of information to possess if one has even the pretense of wanting to make intelligent consumption decisions. And yet, an alarmingly high number of potential marijuana users are completely clueless.
They can’t be blamed too much: When a substance is totally banned, discussions about proper dosage tend not to pop up all that frequently. (Much like how abstinence-only sex education doesn’t bother teaching how to operate a condom.) And so, when it then becomes legit, there is a lot of catching up to do.
(We should also not fail to note that, thanks to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, the prohibition of a particular drug effectively prevents the scientific community from conducting all kinds of research into how the drug works.)
In any case, the pot edibles debate barged into the mainstream press in the last week after New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd recounted a recent evening in a Denver hotel room, during which she unwittingly ate several times more chocolate weed than necessary (at least for a first-timer like her) and proceeded to experience something resembling Leonardo DiCaprio’s Quaaludes adventure in The Wolf of Wall Street. (Thankfully, she did not get behind the wheel of a car.)
Dowd’s column went viral, thereby alerting the masses to what is an entirely legitimate critique of the pro-pot push: Widespread legal marijuana will necessarily invite its use by a sizable pool of new customers—perfectly intelligent in all other respects—who have no idea what they’re getting themselves into, and who will very predictably make highly regrettable decisions that will not be completely their fault.
That is, unless the marijuana-smoking-and-eating community makes a considered effort to educate the public about exactly what its product does. Do pot proponents not have an obligation—moral, if not legal—to not simply assume that everyone else is as informed about the powers of weed as they are?
This wouldn’t seem to be an especially arduous challenge. If the wrapper of a regular candy bar is capable of quantifying a “serving size,” then why can’t a weed-laced version of the same bar? It may be true that marijuana, like alcohol, affects everyone in a slightly different way, but surely it is possible for a label to explain, “If you eat this whole bar at once, terrible things will happen.”
I speak from relative ignorance on this subject, owing to my aforementioned lack of interest in patronizing the “edibles” industry myself. (Honestly, can’t y’all just smoke it from a pipe like everyone else?)
But then I might change my mind one day, and I would rather the relevant dosage information be planted directly in front of my nose—not to mention the noses of my countrymen, some of whom are not nearly as cautious or clever as I.
Plus, it would clearly be in the interests of the marijuana industry overlords to see that this happens. It would, after all, relieve them of most of the culpability for when their customers ignore the warnings and eat the whole brownie anyway.
Stupid people can always be counted upon to do stupid things. But when smart people start doing them, too—well, that’s quite a high risk to take.