What I Learned From My Christmas Edibles Nightmare

On the day after Christmas, while on vacation with my wife and her family, I tried one of California’s medical marijuana edibles — a Rice Krispy treat that a friend of mine had bought legally at a dispensary in Los Angeles.

Although I ate the recommended amount — one-fifth of the Rice Krispy treat — I quickly spiraled into a world of paranoia and sickness from which it took almost 24 hours to recover.

Though I fully support legalizing weed, I believe the pro-legalization crowd is largely unaware of the damaging effects of the drug, and that the legal weed industry must be properly regulated in order to protect people.

So here’s what happened to me: My wife Adele, her family and I were out to lunch at a restaurant in southeastern California. I suffer from migraines, and I felt one coming on that day. In the past, a hit or two of weed has helped ease the pain. So I broke off about one-fifth of the Rice Krispy treat that my friend had given me and ate it.

That’s the size of the bite I took.

Within 25 minutes, I started feeling nauseous. I tried unsuccessfully to vomit in the restaurant bathroom. By the time the food came, I had lost my appetite and was quickly becoming seriously stoned. I was suddenly incapable of small talk, and imagined that everyone was looking at me and thinking what a degenerate I was.

I stared at my plate and prayed for the meal to end. It eventually did, but my situation didn’t improve. On the car ride back to our hotel, I asked my father-in-law to pull over so that I could vomit on the side of the road.

I felt slightly better afterwards, but not much. While the sickness was unpleasant, what was more worrying was my mental state. I was completely withdrawn from what was happening around me. When asked simple questions — like, would using the hotel sauna make me feel better? — I was unable to answer, because the pros and cons of both sides seemed so great they overwhelmed me.

By dinner time — a full seven hours later — I still felt hollow. I was a shadow of my normal self. Even the next morning I felt numb and groggy, though it had been almost a full day since I’d had a bite from the Rice Krispy treat.

I’m an experienced stoner who has regularly smoked pot two or three times a week for the past 15 years. And as someone who has written extensively about the legal marijuana industry, I was fully aware of the risks of overdose when eating weed.

So what would have happened if a less-experienced person (or someone smaller than I am at 5’11” and 165 lbs.) had eaten a bite of that same Rice Krispy treat? Or someone with mental health issues?

This industry needs to be regulated. First of all, the amount of THC in a serving size of that Rice Krispy treat was too large. Secondly, the serving size itself was too small — who eats one-fifth of a Rice Krispy treat? If the serving size must be that small, make it one-quarter (or even one-sixth) of the full bar, which are both easier quantities to measure.

In addition to having universal standards for edibles, more research must be done into the damaging effects of pot on our brains — and that research must be better publicized. Some of the preliminary studies on how cannabis affects our brains is already troubling: regular pot use can increase the risk of psychosis and schizophrenia, especially in people already prone to such conditions.

Go ahead and laugh, but I have a good friend who once spent a week in the psych ward of a North Carolina hospital after taking a single hit from one of those “Volcano” vaporizers.

Though my friend admitted to having had a few psychotic symptoms in the months leading up to that day, he told me his mental state never would have deteriorated so rapidly if it hadn’t been for the weed.

Those who argue in support of legalizing weed often say that pot’s not as dangerous as alcohol. But do we know that for sure? From experience, I can tell you one thing: That even one hit from a joint — especially if it’s good weed — can be far more intoxicating than drinking a couple beers.

I’m not saying cannabis doesn’t have medicinal value. It helps a lot of people cope with medical conditions that would otherwise cause them a great deal of pain. All I’m saying is, weed is a strong drug that’s affecting our brains in ways we don’t yet fully understand. By legalizing it, the U.S. is setting an example for the rest of the world. So let’s make sure we do it the right way.