A Galaxy Far, Far Away

Life after Berkeley.
By S.F.

“You can always eat more, but you can’t eat less.”

My boyfriend Mark (whose name has been changed to protect the embarrassed) was reading the back wrapper of a marijuana-infused peanut butter cookie we’d just purchased from a Berkeley dispensary. “What does that mean?” he asked.

“I think it’s a caution to start with a small bite because once you eat it all, you can’t go back.”

Mark and I had just graduated from Cal and were coping with the insecure rush of freedom from being untethered from the role of “student.” To cleanse the stress lingering from finals we planned to eat pot and experience Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in 3-D. It wasn’t cocaine lines, ether rags, or the hardcore approach to unwinding some classmates at the co-ops had chosen, but we considered our plan on par with a satisfying night of drinking.

I’d eaten edibles before, both medical-grade from dispensaries and homemade. But friends and stoners praised the potency of Korova brand edibles. Mark, a legalization advocate, and I, whose idea of a good time means dabbling with nothing beyond pot and alcohol, saw it as a sure-fire way to celebrate graduation.

The Korova peanut butter cookie packs 250 mg of THC in a chocolate-dipped treat that can be eaten in three easy bites. But a consumer generally experiences a high after consuming 10 mg of THC and the package listed a single “dose” as 50 mg. I took a small bite, eyeballing it as one dose, and called it a day. Feeling braver than I, Mark took a couple bites and then a couple more.

The night was going smoothly. The theater was mildly crowded for a weekday in December and we had popcorn. Unfortunately for me, Star Wars wasn’t any better with an edible than when I watched the series of films sober and in 2-D. Lost in a plot I never did manage to follow, it took me a while to notice Mark nodding off into a stoney slumber before the movie hit the half-hour mark. His head tilted back and forth until the 3-D glasses fell off of his face, waking him up.

“I feel like I’m going to have a seizure,” he whispered.

Alarmed and worried, I reached for my purse, ready to get us out of the theater. I turned around to help Mark up and was horrified at what I saw.

His whole body was shuddering and rigid, and his eyes were rolling back in his head. Instead of normal breathing, he was wheezing and choking at the same time, like the noise you hear when a dentist uses a tiny vacuum to suck drool out of your mouth. Was this a seizure or a stroke? Panic seized me while the movie rolled and people looked onward, unaware of what was happening a few rows above them.

My voice cracking with fear, I tried to scream over the noise of the film: “HELP! HELP ME! SOMEBODY HELP ME!”

I could see a small wave of faces turn toward me. It felt like I was in The Twilight Zone, trapped in the dark with my panic and disbelief and heads all facing me with 3-D glasses still on. A woman shouted out she was a nurse and rushed over. She shook Mark vigorously until he stopped convulsing and opened his eyes. Mark mumbled that he was too weak to sit up and somebody called out that an ambulance was on the way. When the EMTs arrived, Mark told them he ate an edible before the movie. They were hardly surprised.

“We see this all the time. This kind of thing happens with edibles.”

The doctor in the Alta Bates ER was also unfazed and told Mark that as soon as he could walk around without feeling dizzy, he’d be free to go. Vitals and blood taken, she urged us to be wary of the potency of edibles.

“With smoking you know how much marijuana you’re taking in and you know relatively when it will hit. With edibles it’s hard to gauge the strength of the THC. The delay it takes to hit your system can be problematic.” After the warning, some rest, and apple juice Mark was feeling better. We walked out with our heads hung in embarrassment but with the comfort that nothing serious was wrong.

After the ordeal, I teased Mark, “Now you know what it means. You can always eat more, but you can’t eat less. You asked and the universe answered.”

Mark was not amused, but my guess is he (and I) won’t be eating special cookies anytime soon.

S.F. is a recent Cal grad who now sticks to Oreos and milk.

From the Spring 2017 Virtue and Vice issue of California.
Filed under: Cal Culture
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