The Dangers of a Marijuana Gold Rush

Pot legalization is coming. What we can learn from Colorado and Washington.

My neighbor’s son packed up his car and headed west to find his fortune, like thousands of other people who heard about a modern day gold rush.

But it isn’t a pot of gold they seek, just pot. Specifically, the business of pot.

The hope of those filling the west-bound highways in a modern wagon train is that they will learn the business of legalized marijuana in Colorado and Washington and then come home to open their own businesses as more states see the tax benefits of legalization.

Early reports from the West are positive, or at least they were. Both Washington state and Colorado report a huge tax influx to the treasuries and a strange side benefit – crime is down: win-win.

Not quite.

One of the media interlopers who ventures west to find out what this whole pot craze is about was the terminally acerbic New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. Dowd decided to try some legal pot-filled chocolate in her hotel room and ended up temporarily paralyzed in a fetal position on the hotel room floor, fearful she had died and no one told her.

The next day Dowd was told that the chocolate bar she ate should be broken up into 16 pieces for novices.  She was given no instructions and there was none on the packaging. A website called The Cannabist took the time to interview the people who sold the chocolate to Dowd. They say Dowd was given a thorough explanation of how to ingest the chocolate pot. Dowd did not answer The Cannabist’s request for a response.

 The Dowd column has gone viral and has provoked a slew of reaction columns because it gets to the core problem with legalized pot.  People who are not regular pot users will try it, may overdo it and then have an adverse reaction: adverse reactions like falling off a balcony to your death or shooting your wife.

There seems to be little question that pot will be legalized in every state because of the immense tax benefits and the fact that the benefits have thursfar outweighed the risks.

But we cannot and should not ignore what is happening in Colorado or Dowd’s column, even if she did ignore long and explicit warnings not to eat the whole bar. Colorado and Washington are doing every other state in the union a favor by being the beta testers.

The problems are easily fixable, but there are many:

– Warnings and instructions should be put on the packaging of legalized edible marijuana. The pot dispenseries are fighting this, but should want it for legal reasons alone.

– There is really no good reason to sell pot-laced candy that is attractive to children. The Colorado legislature is dealing with this now and the practice is expected to end.

– Finally, there have to be some standards and maximums for the THC level, the chemical in pot that causes the user to get high.

I should point out that I am not a pot user.  I tried it in college and ended up in a Dowd-like state.  It’s just not for me.  But I clearly understand that the arguments for its legalization far outweigh those for its continued prohibition.  I also see the same thing happening with legalized pot that happened with state lotteries, casinos and legalized gambling: Morality crumbles under the weight of government greed.

Pot is coming.  And we should all thank Maureen Dowd’s claimed near-feels-like-death experience for sounding the alarm that should make it safer.

Follow @LarryMendte on Twitter.

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  • claygooding

    Poor Maureen,,how many people drink too much alcohol and puke their guts up daily?
    And she forgot to mention that after sleeping she woke up with no hangover or drugged feeling.
    Eating marijuana as a first experience is not recommended,,even some long time smokers don’t know how much cannabis to ingest and too much is easy to do.
    Take a toke from a joint and wait 5 minutes,,,take another and repeat until you feel you have smoked enough..simple as hell.

  • phillysportsfan

    “Morality crumbles under the weight of government greed.”

    so it’s moral to imprison people and ruin their lives because they smoked some pot (just like you admittedly did in college)? because you can shove that morality. and some of us don’t want the government enforcing morality, since who decides what’s moral?

    • phillysportsfan

      is hacking a co-workers e-mail, moral, for example?

    • Larry Mendte

      I am not certain you got my meaning. It is false morality if it is for purchase. If you read the article, I agree that pot should be legal.

      • TPath

        I got your meaning Lar, good post.

  • Taj

    So other, more responsible users end up suffering the consequences of one dumb*** who should’ve read up more on what she was covering/ingesting? Seems like a fair basis for criticism.

  • George.herbert

    Another stupid article that trots out one or two widely reported “bad experiences” to suggest that a cautious approach to legalization is warranted. BS. The only thing this writer does is make a good case for his not pursuing a job as a writer.

    • Victor

      So a cautious approach is not warranted? I though the writer made a great case to keep an eye on Colorado and Washington and learn from their mistakes. For example – Marijuana in Candy = Very Bad Idea!

  • Victor

    Those who support legalized marijuana would do well to heed this article instead of the knee jerk reaction to lash out at the hint of criticism. The author makes a wonderful point that we need to learn from mistakes. He is not arguing against legalization, just that we be smart. Proper labeling and removal from candy are solid ideas and will only help legalization not hinder it.

    • YOU learn from her mistakes, it seems when asked by the Cannabist, all the folks involved say she was instructed. Just like asking a wine retailer about a fine wine. Ya can’t fix stupid and ya can’t keep folks from Not listening.
      Now hand me one of them Dowd candy bars, I’ll show ya how it’s done….

  • Samson

    Does it say on a bottle of vodka not to chug the whole case, No…. know what you are doing moron.

  • Youssef Ismail

    Labels that detail strength and serving size are definitly needed. But a ban on sweets? A THC limit? Thanks but no thanks, that’s just mindless stupidity. We don’t ban vodka be some halfwit claims they drank an entire bottle and suffered a bad reaction. Why on earth would marijuana be any different?

  • Falling off a balcony Or shooting your wife? I’ll take the wife shooting Any day?
    Really, Larry, That’s our choices? Just like drinking, as Dirty Harry would say ‘A man’s Got to know his limitations.’ I didn’t drink a whole bottle of bourbon on my 21st birthday, nor would I ingest Dowd-size pot. SHE screwed up and now You are making a case about it. C’mon Larry, Stop trying to rehabilitate your reputation with thee nonsense articles. And stop Bogarting that joint!