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State of the Debate
George Pyle
George Pyle has been a newspaper writer in Kansas, Utah, Upstate New York, and now Utah again, for more than 30 years - most of it as an editorial writer and columnist. Now on his second tour of duty on The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board, he has also done a stretch as a talk radio host, published a book on the ongoing flaws of U.S.agricultural policy and, in 1998, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. His most active bookmarks are Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens and Tina Brown. And he still thinks the Internet can be used for intelligent conversation and uplifting ideas.

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Cancel my Win-a-Trip With Dowd Contest entry ...

[Above: Graphic from Vox.com]

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Nicholas Kristof, the globe-trotting op-ed columnist for The New York Times, sponsors a Win-a-Trip With Kristof Contest. He chooses a young person, usually college age, to accompany him on his travels. They generally end up going to some horrid place where large numbers of human beings are barely eking out an existence, haunted by starvation, disease and really lousy governments.

Which is why I used to post reader comments on Kristof’s pieces saying that I was holding out for the Win-a-Trip With Dowd Contest. That’s something I completely made up. But, because NYT columnist Maureen Dowd spends a lot more time in Washington, New York City, Hollywood and other places where she interviews accomplished writers, public thinkers and the occasional movie star, I thought tagging along with her would be a lot more fun than following Kristof to a teeming refugee camp.

Well. Kind of.

Turns out Dowd recently spent a really awful night in a Denver hotel, suffering through a really horrible experience brought on by nibbling waaaay too much of a marijuana-laced candy bar.

Harsh edges to the Colorado mellow — Maureen Dowd — New York Times / sltrib.com

" ... 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. ...

" ... 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. ..."

The tradition of Gonzo Journalism, perfected by Coloradan Hunter S. Thompson, has certainly declined in its, well, gonzoism.

But I wouldn’t have been any help. My very limited experience with marijuana, passively inhaled at a few poker games 25 years ago, just left me with a headache.

Anyway, the Internet responded to Dowd’s essay by lighting up every communications medium known.

The public health case for legalizing pot: it could replace alcohol — German Lopez | Vox

" ... The column goes on to describe a high so potent that it freaked Dowd out for eight hours — and she never got to that chardonnay as a result.

"If this happens again and again, with legal marijuana displacing alcohol use, that would be a huge public health win. ..."

Dowd not the only one who needs to learn about marijuana — Alyssa Rosenberg | The Washington Post

" ... But while it is easy to make fun of Dowd’s bad experience with edibles, when it comes to marijuana, there is a good point tangled up in her column. 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. ..."

Four more New York Times columnists and Malcolm Gladwell get really high: what could possibly go wrong? — Sarah Jeong

" ... Paul Krugman snorts up crushed Adderall and re-reads Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

"Some may allege errors in Piketty’s work, but their assertions are inherently fallacious. You see, I can out-analyze you with one hand tied behind my back while pacing frantically back and forth trying to pronounce Piketty’s name while dry-mouthed. Pik-etty. Piketty Piketty Piketty Piketty. ..."

Inside look at what NYT’s Dowd was told about edibles in visit to Denver — Ricardo Baca | The Cannabist | The Denver Post

" ... ‘She got the warning,’ ... ‘She did what all the reporters did. She listened. She bought some samples — I don’t remember what exactly. Me and the owner of the dispensary we were at and the assistant manager and the budtender talked with her for 45 minutes at the shop.’ ..."

20 reactions: Dowd pens column on edibles overdose, Internet loses mind — The Cannabist

Maureen Dowd really misses the point about marijuana — Marie Myung-Ok Lee | Salon

"The New York Times columnist has way too much edible pot, has an intense high, writes a horribly misleading column."

Maureen Dowd freaked out on week chocolate because she’s stupid — David Bienenstock | Vice

" ... I also find it interesting that she’s totally consumed with paranoia by the thought of her own rich white ass getting arrested for the fake crime of not being ‘able to handle’ her candy, but seems largely unconcerned with the very real fate of the 800,000 Americans who will be arrested this year alone on marijuana charges. (Later in the column she describes becoming ‘convinced that I had died,’ without ever mentioning that there’s no such thing as a fatal marijuana overdose.) ..."

Maureen Dowd’s marijuana-induced freak out — Anthony Zurcher | Echo Chambers | BBC

" ... ‘Honestly, I assumed Dowd was always curled up in a hallucinatory state while writing her columns,’ tweets Circa editor Anthony De Rosa. ..."

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