It is easy to make fun of New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd's bad experience with edibles, but when it comes to marijuana, there is a good point tangled up in her column, says Washington Post blogger Alyssa Rosenberg. A majority of Americans may favor legalizing marijuana, but that does not mean that everyone knows how to consume it in ways that are pleasurable and safe for them, or that avoid unpleasant side effects. Most Americans learn to drink by a process of trial and error, conducted through well-established rituals and with social support. If marijuana is to be consumed in similar ways, many new consumers will have to learn how to toke, Rosenberg says.
Dowd got much higher than she wanted to because she made the not-unreasonable assumption that a candy bar was a single serving, eating the whole thing in one go. “A medical consultant at an edibles plant where I was conducting an interview mentioned that candy bars like that are supposed to be cut into 16 pieces for novices,” Dowd found out later. “That recommendation hadn't been on the label.” It is one thing for experienced consumers to scoff at Dowd's lack of knowledge. She is not going to be alone, and asking for labeling or instructions is not unreasonable. Similarly, new marijuana consumers may look to analogous delivery mechanisms and social rituals when they are smoking joints for the first time, and expect that they ought to treat joints exactly like cigarettes.