ANOTHER WEEK, another story of someone eating weed and going bonkers. The latest: the unsuspecting fiftysomething man in Omaha who found mystery brownies in the backseat of the family car, ate several, and spent many hours navigating a brutal highness.
The story is not without its remarkable elements. Unlike 98 percent of people surprised by brownies, our protagonist didn’t begin shoving them in his mouth right then and there, with his torso still dangling in the backseat. No, he carried the brownies inside, ate a sensible dinner, and then enjoyed three or four of the brownies for dessert. (Why I highlight this: Delayed gratification is one of this week’s Important Motifs.)
Also of note: As reported by the Omaha World-Herald, the drugged brownies found their way into both the car and the man thanks to the man’s adult children, who’d used the car earlier in the day and failed to remove their laced cargo. Nevertheless, the father was forgiving, telling his apologetic daughter, “There’s nothing to be sorry about” (and highlighting another of this week’s motifs, personal responsibility). Most significantly, the man got into a news-making feud with his cat, denouncing the feline to paramedics as “a bitch” that kept giving him judgey looks.
At best, calling a cat a bitch is factually inaccurate. At worst, it’s trans-species misogyny. But in this case, feeling judged by an allegedly bitchy pet is just another expected cliché in another “OMG I ate weed and got waaaaay too high” story.
To be fair, the story above is a cartoonish example of the genre, with its accidental consumption by an innocent victim pranked by circumstance. Way more exasperating—and way more common—are tales of edible weed freak-outs from purposeful ingesters who allegedly know what they’re doing.
Everybody knows navigating edibles is tricky. Unlike smoking, which speeds THC into the bloodstream almost immediately after inhaling, ingesting cannabis involves the digestive system, which not only delays the arrival of effects for one to two hours but also amps the weed’s strength. The liver turns normal THC into superpowered 11-hydroxy-THC, which delivers effects that are deeper and much longer lasting than those delivered through smoke. We know all this. These facts are readily accessible. But still we get story after story of weed eaters surprising themselves with overdoses and winding up stranded in some twilight gulag of horrors. (For the Omaha Pot Father, these horrors involved hallucinations of vampires, demons, and geometric shapes flying at his head, along with fears of his impending death.)
This is not about people being dumb. People of above-average intelligence—Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, MacArthur “Genius” award–winning Radiolab host Jad Abumrad—are responsible for some of the best/worst “I ate weed and got too high” stories in recent memory. This is about people being people, and people being bad at being patient.
Patience, you see, is the crucial ingredient in any successful edible marijuana experience. The effects of eaten weed land between one and three hours after ingestion—a span that allows impatient partakers to hit the one-hour mark, decide they’re “not feeling anything,” and supplement their initial dose with another dose. The result can be a cascade of intensifying effects, as the first dose eventually hits its mark, followed not long after by the supplementary dose—a double whammy that sends the user straight to the endless-seeming hell of the over-stoned.
I understand that patience is hard, especially in the face of impending pleasure and escape. The desire to get high is emotional—you’re seeking a feeling—but patience requires the overriding of emotion, ignoring any and all feelings to adhere to the facts. And one key fact for weed eaters is that, within that one- to three-hour span during which your THC’s effects might land, the only number that matters is three. No matter what you’re feeling, you must wait three hours after your initial dose before you can reasonably consider supplementing it with a follow-up dose.
Another key fact: Three hours is a long time, especially if you’re desperate to get high. Your best bet is to set aside a day when you’re feeling patient and ambivalent about attaining any certain level of highness, and using that day to figure out your edible-weed dosage and wait time. Schedule a test run for a Saturday, or any day you have free of professional obligations, and follow these directions.
First, decide on your dosage. Familiar-but-irregular users should aim for between 10 and 20 milligrams of THC, newbies should aim for between 5 and 10 milligrams, and everyone can find THC measurements on all of Portland’s professionally made edibles (the max right now for recreational use is a reasonably safe 15 milligrams).
Once dosed, set a timer for three hours. Not two and a half hours, or two hours and 45 minutes. Three fucking hours. Run out the clock by watching Hoop Dreams or Goodfellas or taking a seven-mile walk. If, after three hours, you’re not as buzzed as you’d like to be, take another dose. Reset the timer and hit play on Hoop Dreams again. Repeat until you’re as high as you want to be—but before you’re so high you feel dead.
Clean Your Bong is a new, twice-monthly pot column from David Schmader, author of Weed: The User’s Guide.