Editor’s note: This is part two of a two part series describing a horrific experience by one of our authors. You can read part one here. A bag of candy had been mistakenly, momentarily, left out at an event where our writer, or anyone else, would have assumed it was for everyone. In that brief moment of carelessness our writer ate several, not knowing they were anything but just candy. This could have been fatal. Can you imagine if your child had some of this “candy?”
At this point, it occurred to me that I should not be alone so I texted a friend, Louis, to come help me. Luckily, as a former lifeguard he’d taken an elective seminar and been trained specifically to deal with a person who had taken drugs and was panicking. He was ten minutes away. I laid there in a cold sweat, face down in the grass willing the unobliging world to hold still until Louis arrived.
His presence would have been much more comforting if I could make out his features through the blur of the substance. I remember him kneeling down, for I couldn’t get up, to peer into my eyes in an effort to determine what I was on. I will describe this next part in detail so it will be clear to all of you what this substance can do.
“I’m going to wave my hand in front of your face and I want you to tell me what you see,” Louis said. “I need to know what visual effects you’re experiencing so I can figure out what we’re dealing with here.”
I saw, and I tried to describe it to him, but it was as if my brain and mouth were not connected anymore. I could feel my brain signaling for my mouth to speak, but it wasn’t responding correctly. When I started to get a sound out, I promptly lost the words I intended to speak. I don’t know how to describe it- I could not get my mind and mouth to match up. I mumbled a garbled phrase, grasping for a way to translate the concept I was thinking into words.
Like a toddler, I was helpless, unable to articulate what was wrong. My tears indicated that I was in distress, but I could not vocalize why.
“Trailing!” I finally gasped out. “Hand…trails.”
“Trails, like when someone is writing with a sparkler?”
I could only nod in a lopsided fashion, since the world was tilted.
“It’s THC,” he proclaimed. “Marijuana.”
I wasn’t even certain, at that point, that I was in the right dimension, or that I was in reality at all, but his declaration shocked me. Marijuana alone could make you hallucinate? This plant, that so many people claim is harmless and relaxing, is what teleported me into this nightmare?
I can think of about a thousand ways that harm could have come to me- or more frighteningly, that I could have harmed someone else- during this misadventure. I had a properly trained person there to care for me. Most people don’t. If Louis hadn’t been there, I don’t know what could have happened.
I can tell you right now that I did not have the presence of mind to determine a safe action from a dangerous one. I was incapable of keeping myself safe and sane alone. I was too far gone for my human instinct of self-preservation to save me. I hadn’t even closed the door to my house when I went outside, and my purse was still lying where it fell, in the driveway when Louis arrived.
What if I had panicked and tried to escape in my car? It was beyond my capability to determine that driving would be unsafe. I was in another world.
Once Louis calmed me down, I wanted to go for a walk. Twice, I almost walked into traffic, not realizing that moving cars were dangerous and had right of way. What if I had walked off alone?
I barely recognized my close friend in the visual chaos of the THC trip. Him simply checking my pupils sent my head spinning with vague suspicions that I was being studied by some “other” being. Keep in mind, this is a man I have known very well for a long time and trust deeply. I don’t know how I would have reacted to a stranger approaching me. Most likely, it would have terrified me and triggered fight, flight or fawn, any of which could have been extremely dangerous.
I literally could not walk across the floor of my own home because it would not hold still. On at least three occasions, the drug-induced vertigo swept my feet out from under me and I tumbled down into Louis’s waiting arms. To simply cross the room, he had to wrap an arm around my waist and grip my arm, holding me up while I closed my eyes and tried to move my feet.
Louis knew to set me on my couch and put on a familiar, comforting animated movie. I hazily recall leaping from the couch in a frantic state, certain that it was about to tip over. All I could think of was escaping from my home before it killed me. Louis had to restrain me from sprinting out the door in a panic.
I decided I had a great vision for a new cake recipe. Louis refused to let me touch the oven, although I apparently begged. Sober, the only recipe I know is for a dish I call, “charred blackened lumps a la stuck to the cookie sheet.” High, my cooking could have killed me in a fire.
Throughout the night, I periodically completely forgot that I had taken a drug at all. I would just simply find myself in this bizarre state with absolutely no idea how it came to be. I went through the process of questioning who I was, where I was, what Loius was, and what was real at least four times.
I can’t describe to you how deeply disturbing it was to hear the fluctuating, warping, mass that was my friend telling me, “You’re in your home. You’re in normal old reality and you’re perfectly safe. Everything is completely normal and completely fine. You accidentally took a drug, marijuana, that is making you feel this way. Nothing is moving or warping. I’m here to help you,” with everything he said being something I <i> did not already know.</i> It was beyond disorientation; it was a break with reality.
It blows my that people want to do this for fun. Some call it recreation, but now that I’ve experienced it myself, I call it “reckless endangerment,” of yourself and others.
Yes, I am aware that the effects of smoking marijuana versus eating it are very different, and that the high you get from edibles is much more intense. Some of you are probably on your way to our Facebook page to accuse me of ignorance in this matter or to question if I’ve ever smoked it, insinuating that I have no right to pass judgment unless I have. Please don’t make me lie to you. I’ve witnessed otherwise level-headed adults break down after smoking it.
In states where marijuana is legal, edibles are increasingly common. In Colorado, you can buy marijuana edibles from a pizza to a cookie to a bag of Swedish Fish. You name it, someone up there has found a way to put weed in it.
“Potteries,” as I jokingly call them, will sell a bag of laced jelly beans, then leave it up to the (probably already high) buyer to see that it doesn’t fall into the hands of a child. A parent need only leave it on the counter for a moment for a child to pop one in their mouth, thinking it’s candy.
In my case, an acquaintance had set gets down on the counter for a moment while getting something out of her car. In that moment, I thought candy had been set out for us and ate two of them. She had no idea any had been taken and was thus unable to even warn me.
I will concede that “accidentally” is a piss-poor way to experience any drug for the first time, but I doubt that this would have gone any better if I had done it on purpose. I kept forgetting what was going on, remember? Having taken it knowingly would not have changed that. It also would not have changed how long the effects lasted- four and a half HOURS before it tapered off, with lingering effects for 3 DAYS. The after effects were enough to keep me home from work and resting.
Doing it of my own accord would not have changed the physical sensations and visual distortions I was experience, and those alone would have sent me into a panic even if I was expecting them. In that stupor, I wouldn’t even have thought about it. What established those were the drug itself, not my preparedness. One can’t really be prepared for such an experience.
You can’t overdose, but you can fall down the stairs because they visually expanded and you lost your balance. Or by driving off to get away from your sudden claustrophobia and seeing a curve in the road where there isn’t one.
Make no mistake: Marijuana is not harmless, and it is not safe.