Pubdate: Thu, 05 Jun 2014
Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press (TN)
Copyright: 2014 Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.
Note: Paper does not publish LTE's outside its circulation area
Author: Maureen Dowd, New York Times News Service
Page: B6


The caramel-chocolate flavored candy bar looked so innocent, like the 
Sky Bars I used to love as a child. Sitting in my hotel room in 
Denver, I nibbled off the end and then, when nothing happened, 
nibbled some more. I figured if I was reporting on the social 
revolution rocking Colorado in January, the giddy culmination of pot 
Prohibition, I should try a taste of legal, edible pot from a local shop.

What could go wrong with a bite or two? Everything, as it turned out. 
Not at first. For an hour, I felt nothing. I figured I'd order dinner 
from room service and return to my more mundane drugs of choice, 
chardonnay and mediocre-movies-on-demand.

But then I felt a scary shudder go through my body and brain. I 
barely made it from the desk to the bed, where I lay curled up in a 
hallucinatory state for the next eight hours. I was thirsty but 
couldn't move to get water. Or even turn off the lights. I was 
panting and paranoid, sure that when the room-service waiter knocked 
and I didn't answer, he'd call the police and have me arrested for 
being unable to handle my candy.

I strained to remember where I was or even what I was wearing, 
touching my green corduroy jeans and staring at the exposed-brick 
wall. As my paranoia deepened, I became convinced that I had died and 
no one was telling me.

It took all night before it began to wear off, distressingly slowly. 
The next day, 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; but that 
recommendation hadn't been on the label.

Colorado raked in about $ 12.6 million the first three months after 
pot was legalized for adults 21 and older. Pot party planners are 
dreaming up classy events: The Colorado Symphony just had its first 
"Classically Cannabis" fundraiser with joints and Debussy. But the 
state is also coming to grips with the darker side of unleashing a 
drug as potent as marijuana on a horde of tourists of all ages and 
tolerance levels seeking a mellow buzz.

In March, a 19-year-old Wyoming college student jumped off a Denver 
hotel balcony after eating a pot cookie with 65 milligrams of THC. In 
April, a Denver man ate pot-infused Karma Kandy and began talking 
like it was the end of the world, scaring his wife and three kids. 
Then he retrieved a handgun from a safe and killed his wife while she 
was on the phone with an emergency dispatcher.

"We realized there was a problem because we're watching everything 
with the urgency of the first people to regulate in this area," said 
Andrew Freedman, the state's director of marijuana coordination. 
"There are way too many stories of people not understanding how much 
they're eating. With liquor, people understand what they're getting 
themselves into. But that doesn't exist right now for edibles for new 
users in the market. It would behoove the industry to create a more 
pleasant experience for people."

Gov. John Hickenlooper and the Legislature recently created a task 
force to come up with packaging that clearly differentiates pot 
cookies and candy and gummy bears from normal sweets - with an eye 
toward protecting children - and directed the Department of Revenue 
to restrict the amount of edibles that can be sold at one time to one person.

"My kids put rocks and batteries in their mouths," said Bob Eschino, 
the owner of Incredibles, which makes candy and serves up chocolate 
and strawberry fountains. "Somebody suggested we just make everything 
look like a gray square so it doesn't look appealing. Why should the 
whole industry suffer just because less than 5 percent of people are 
having problems with the correct dosing?"

Does he sound a little paranoid?
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom