While reporting in Denver, Dowd purchased a THC-laced candy from a newly-legalized bakery. Although her "tour guide" warned her to be wary of the dosage in edibles, Dowd ate more than she could handle, triggering a high-induced panic attack.
"I barely made it from the desk to the bed, where I lay curled up in a hallucinatory state for the next eight hours," Dowd wrote.
"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."
Matt Brown, co-founder of My 420 tours, served as Dowd's schwag-sherpa, escorting her around various Denver locales that sold the newly legalized drug.
"She got the warning," Brown said. "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.
Although Brown attempted to warn Dowd to be aware of her thresholds, he was not available to hold her hand through the entire process.
"She got some bud, some edibles and when we got back to the hotel she had to run off to a Mitt Romney documentary screening. She asked me, 'Will you roll a joint for me? I don't know how to do it.' But she had to run really quickly to the screening, and I was going to catch a flight the next day, and we were going to connect a few nights later but it never worked out."
Dowd's column triggered an immediate backlash, taking criticism for approaching the issue irresponsibly and miscategorizing the drug's effects based on its author's personal mistakes.
Maureen Dowd, 1933: Reports on prohibition by taking shots of whiskey by herself in a hotel room. "this hangover will never end!"— Tim Fernholz (@TimFernholz) June 4, 2014
If you stare into the abyss, Maureen, you'll find the abyss is staring back at you. http://t.co/NOWJqnetM6— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) June 5, 2014