Maureen Dowd's marijuana-induced freak out

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd in New York on 4 April, 2006.Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
No one told New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd not to "go Cookie Monster" on a pot chocolate bar

Maureen Dowd travelled to Colorado in January, ate a bit too much of a marijuana-laced chocolate bar and proceeded to have a Valley-of-the-Dolls-style meltdown in her hotel room.

Here's how she describes the experience in her Wednesday New York Times column:

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.

Dowd pivots to talk about the dangers of pot overdoses and 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".

She says there are current efforts in the Colorado legislature to regulate the potency and consistency of marijuana products, as well as to ensure that packaging of pot-laced candy and cookies can't be accidentally eaten by children.

Dowd follows in the footsteps of fellow Times columnist David Brooks, who wrote in January about how he used to have fun smoking pot as a teenager, but he grew tired of hanging out with stoners. He then took a position against marijuana legalisation.

Brooks was mercilessly mocked for that column - and Dowd is getting a similar reception. There's just something so tempting about imagining straight-laced paper-of-record columnists high as kites.

"Honestly, I assumed Dowd was always curled up in a hallucinatory state while writing her columns," tweets Circa editor Anthony De Rosa.

"Working on a piece for NYT op-ed page where I pound a litre of vodka and talk about how terrible I feel afterwards," tweets ThinkProgress's Judd Legum.

Writer Sarah Jeong has perhaps the most inspired response to the Dowd column, with an 18-part Twitter post in which she imagines what Times columnist Thomas "world-is-flat" Friedman would write after eating a pot brownie:

Countries with McDonald's don't go to war with other countries with McDonald's! Until they did. I could sure use some McDonald's right now.


Silicon Valley is like an upside-down-reverse Venezuela and it won't stop watching me from the shadows.

The Huffington Post's Jason Linkins says that Dowd "went Cookie Monster" on the marijuana chocolate bar and partook of some out-of-date concern trolling. Colorado, he writes, already has made progress in addressing Dowd's concerns about regulation of the pot industry.

Pot is not without its dangers, says the Daily Caller's Jim Treacher. "I don't buy the 'gateway drug' scare tactics, but you don't want everybody driving around stoned to the bone," he says. "They should Dowd it out in their luxury hotel rooms and then write hilarious columns about it."

Salon's Katie McDonough writes:

Maureen Dowd's column did not send me into a hallucinatory state for eight hours and leave me questioning whether or not I was dead. She just wrote a kind of confusing editorial that used a really long anecdote about her experience of being too high on pot chocolate as a way to make a point about the apparent dangers of legal pot in Colorado.

She says that while Dowd makes a reasonable point about the need to understand the nature of drugs, "it's common sense".

Several other commentators pointed out an interesting word in the ninth paragraph of Dowd's piece:

I reckoned that the fact that I was not a regular marijuana smoker made me more vulnerable, and that I should have known better.

Not a "regular" marijuana smoker?

Uh-oh. Don't let David Brooks find out.