Maureen Dowd's Bad Trip Inspires Ads for Responsible Edible Use

Maureen Dowd's Bad Trip, Vanity Fair Cartoon

Illustration by Alex Robinson, courtesy of Vanity Fair.

When Pulitzer prize-winning New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd went to Colorado to research the booming legal weed industry, she decided, “When in Rome...” The 62-year-old writer purchased a weed-caramel chocolate bar, settled into her hotel room for the night, and proceeded to trip the fuck out.

Instead of asking the seller (or anyone in Colorado, for that matter) how much THC was in it or what an appropriate dosage would be, Dowd bit the bullet (literally) and consumed two large bites. When nothing happened, she shrugged, ordered room service, and poured herself a glass of Chardonnay. One hour later, she was curled into a ball on her hotel bed, wondering where she was, what she was wearing, and if the world was coming to an end.

Dowd made a classic newbie mistake when it comes to edibles—hell, practiced stoners still make this mistake. She ate too much. Nearly everyone who enjoys marijuana edibles has had at least one experience when they've gotten too high. Dowd’s telling of this experience is actually hilarious, especially when you visualize the put-together, respected, polemical writer marveling at the exposed brick in her hotel room while rubbing her green corduroy pants.

The column Dowd writes includes not only her personal experience, but also a call for the marijuana-food industry to better label, warn, and inform new users about dosage and possible side effects. She references the two edible-related deaths that mainstream media has been using to condemn the legal weed experiment since they tragically occurred. She remarks that “some kinks need to be ironed out with the intoxicating open bar at the Mile High club.” And some marijuana supporters are pissed.

The National Cannabis Industry Association’s tweeted in response, “If @NYTDowd drank a handle of whiskey and ended up in the ER, would anyone consider a column blaming Jack Daniels credible?” This is a valid argument, used even by myself in the case of the student who fell off a roof after consuming a 65mg-THC edible. When it comes to all substances, it is ultimately the responsibility of the individual to research the right dosage and to know one’s limits. At least if you overdose on an edible, you’ll only think you’re going to die, as opposed to alcohol and almost every other drug, where you probably will die.

Though I do see the danger of an uninformed user with wide readership and national reach sharing her ‘horror story’ and blaming the people who make the bars instead of those who misuse them (namely, herself), I can’t bring myself to find anything in this situation but joy. Maureen Dowd tripped out on an edible and wrote a column about it. It’s like a story your favorite drunk aunt tells at Thanksgiving, and I find this entire situation—misinformed column and call to action included—to be simply delightful.


The Marijuana Policy Project, which helped legalize recreational weed in Colorado, has launched an ad campaign to remind people to use edibles responsibly. The ads are inspired by what was once the number-one pain in The Project's ass: New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd’s well documented freakout on rocky mountain weed chocolate.

The Project’s campaign will feature billboards offering advice to tourists who have come to enjoy the state’s greenest pastures: “Don’t let a candy bar ruin your vacation.”

Dowd’s column about eating too much weed chocolate and tripping out in her hotel room for eight hours went viral back in June. Anti-weed activists pointed to it as proof that the public wasn’t ready to be trusted with recreational weed. (And college students across the nation aren’t puking themselves to sleep every night. Right.) Anyone who's ever eaten an edible giggled at the concept of a bad trip being chronicled in the New York Times. However, some pro-weed groups took a more active stance and started developing stricter labeling regulations for edibles and billboards like this one.

Dowd doesn’t seem to mind her likeness being used as the (literal) poster-child of responsible edible consumption.

“I love the billboard,” Dowd said. “I’m going to make it my Christmas card.”

Whether she’ll be sending it out attached to a tin of festive weed cookies, we can only hope.