Pot Matters: Dealing With Police While High

Numerous press accounts have relayed the story of an Ohio man who recently called police to complain that he was “too high” after smoking marijuana.

Police found the groaning 22-year-old man in the fetal position surrounded by Doritos, Goldfish crackers and Chips Ahoy cookies. He refused medical treatment and was not arrested.

The mind reels… there is just so much here to comment on.

Ohio decriminalized possession of 100 grams a long time ago, which likely accounts for the lack of arrest in this case. Most marijuana users don’t think about calling the police when they need help; their first thought is that since marijuana is illegal, it might not be a good idea.

Seriously, though, the job of the police is to protect and serve. There are times when people who are stoned need the police—such as when someone is breaking into their home and/or attacking them or a loved one. One of the reasons marijuana should be legalized is that it removes an unnecessary and unsafe barrier between the police and the public they serve.

But then, here is another question.

Why is this news?

Yes, there is a file out there, somewhere, with stories about the odd things people do when they are high. Millions of people use cannabis every day, and every now and then, one of those users does something that seems a little eccentric.

Like this.

On the other hand, Ohio is considering the legalization of marijuana this fall. Is this someone’s idea of a cautionary tale? If so, the nation has come a long way from the days when cautionary tales about marijuana use involved fantastical stories about kids clobbering their parents with a frying pan.

Now let’s get to the really interesting part of the story.

Doritos, Goldfish crackers and Chips Ahoy. Munchie management is an important skill among experienced marijuana users. Eating too much of these, or any snack, can cause a tummy ache. That’s a child-hood lesson, though, but sometimes it needs to be relearned.

We all have a story here. When’s the last time you ate too much of something you like to snack on? A bag of Tostitos and a jar of salsa comes to mind. But a triple snack combo?

The police found a jar of marijuana in the car. Inquiring minds want to know more about this stash—potency, composition, botanical phenotypes. What kind of munchie weed was this?

Is the problem here the cannabis, the choice of snacks or the amount of the snacks our subject consumed? The police reported that the subject could not feel his hands. Was this from too much cannabis, or was it an unreported side-effect of Dorito dust or maybe some strange effect produced by the snack combo?

Yes, it is easy to joke about this.

However in the age of edible cannabis products, the problem of too-much-cannabis is nothing to joke about.

Experienced marijuana users, particularly those of a certain age, remember what happens when too many marijuana-laced brownies are consumed. Maybe too much of the special ingredient, or maybe just too many brownies were consumed. Somewhere in between these extremes is an unpleasant state, and one of great concern to the edibles industry.

That’s not the issue here, but it’s a good reminder that there are some important issues underneath the surface of a light-hearted, human-interest story such as this.

This guy had a problem. He needed help. The police responded and did what they could.

They did not punish him for seeking help by arresting him, and that’s a good thing. They should be commended.

This highlights an important issue.

Our police and ambulance personnel perform a valuable public service No one should waste their time and resources for frivolous situations.

But if someone needs help, especially if you think you are suffering from any sort of medical problem, you should be able to call for help. Without reservation. Without having to pause and think—maybe I will get arrested, maybe I should wait and see if I feel better in a little while.

In this situation, the problem may not have been marijuana, it may not have been eating too many munchies. It may have been something far more serious. It wasn’t.

But if it was, and he didn’t call for help because he was worried about getting busted, it could have been a tragedy.

So, lets treat this as a cautionary tale—not about smoking pot, but about trust between the police and the communities they serve. We need more of that in this country. Legalizing marijuana would be a positive development.

People who are stoned should not have to hesitate to call for help from the authorities. No one should. Legalizing marijuana will help redirect police work to what they do best—protect and serve.

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