In the summer of 2017, a box arrived on my doorstep in Virginia, overflowing with delicious candy. All I knew of it was that it had been sent by my sister-in-law to my home and not her home because both she and her wife were out of town in Colorado on business. Ostensibly, it had fallen to my wife and me to safeguard some colorfully wrapped candies until my sister was home to retrieve them.
I, a hog, decided my proper payment for this job would be one large toffee chocolate bar, which I happily munched while my wife helped herself to a couple sour candies. My wife texted her sister to inform her of this tax, and then her face turned white.
Turns out, the box contained several pounds of weed edibles and no regular candy whatsoever.
The chocolate bar I’d devoured only appeared to be of a familiar brand because my clever sister-in-law had rewrapped all the candy in the box to make it appear as regular candy in order to smuggle it from Colorado, where recreational marijuana use is legal, to Virginia, where recreational marijuana use is very much not legal. This was dumb for many reasons, not least because she and her wife both had important jobs that required federal security clearance at the time, and possession of a huge box of illegal pot products would’ve fucked that up massively. Like Dion Waiters, even had my sister-in-law been discovered ingesting pot while in Colorado, she still would’ve been in professional trouble.
It had been maybe three minutes from the onset of the first symptom, and I was already in deep shit.
That was all her problem. My immediate problem was that I had not been a regular marijuana user since the late 1990s. My only prior experience consuming rather than smoking weed was when I cockily Wu-Tanged a roach 20 years ago (and spent the rest of that night regretting it). That was probably as many as 20 milligrams of THC. According to a panicked reading of the chocolate bar’s original wrapper, communicated via text message, I had just eaten a whopping 100 milligrams of THC. Ingested marijuana takes a comparatively long time to manifest its psychoactive effects, which means I had about 20 minutes from the moment I learned what I’d eaten before the storm would hit. I used that time very poorly, stomping around my living room in a rage while my wife communicated her sister’s desperate apologies. I considered and then discarded the idea of going to the hospital, reasoning that it wouldn’t take much for news of this mishap to make its way back to my sister-in-law’s employer. As angry and vengeful as I felt in that moment, I was not quite prepared to ruin anyone’s career over it. That spirit of clemency would not last the night, but long before I was ever ready to unmake the very cosmos in search of relief, I sailed past a threshold of fucked-up-edness where even making a phone call would’ve been impossible, and then continued sailing right over the horizon.
Anyone who has smoked pot in appropriate quantities is familiar with the gentle slide, through a kind of serene fuzziness, into a pleasant, giggly mellow, which can last for a few hours. Anyone who has accidentally ingested 100 milligrams of THC and then spent 20 minutes in an escalating panic can tell you the slide is nowhere near as gentle. Sitting on my living room sofa, making a last-ditch effort to calm myself, I was suddenly very fuzzy and giggly, a not-unpleasant state that lasted all of 90 seconds; suddenly I was losing time in what felt like big alarming chunks, and my vision was going to hell, and massive, apocalyptic vertigo was setting in. It had been maybe three minutes from the onset of the first symptom, and I was already in deep shit. The distance between the sofa and the nearest bathroom is roughly 13 feet. Walking it would’ve been impossible — I was now experiencing total sensory blackout every few seconds — so instead I crawled, slapping my hands on the ground in front of me like a tiny baby. I made it to the toilet in time to vomit, violently.
Vomiting seemed to clear my head very slightly, such that I could feel the air on my skin and hear my wife outside the bathroom, giggling and crying in her own relatively minor condition of intoxication. Then suddenly I was snapping out of a blackout, and the world was spinning, and I was working desperately in my mind to stay lucid, and the vertigo was building, and whoa shit I blacked out again, wait didn’t this just happen, what was I just thinking, is that my voice I’m hearing, oh no I think I blacked out again, got to stay lucid this time, wait didn’t I just do this, whose voice is that, oh God. Every few minutes this nightmarish spiraling pattern would crescendo, and I would vomit or dry-heave, and I would get those few precious seconds of clarity, where I would notice that I was sweating a lot, that I hadn’t opened my eyes in a long time, that I should flush the toilet, and then I would suddenly snap out of another blackout, and sink back into the vortex.
My friends, it went on this way for more than 12 hours. Eventually my wife fell asleep on the floor of the hallway outside the bathroom door. I ate the accursed chocolate bar around 5 p.m. on a Wednesday; it was pale dawn before my head cleared long enough that I felt I could drag it away from the toilet. The world was still spinning, but my mind at least had calmed. My midsection was an exhausted knot; my clothing was drenched in foul sweat. I curled up in a fetal position on the bathroom floor, and slept.
Our poor fellow had overwhelmed his system with 330 milligrams over the course of three days.