The Devil’s Candy

On edibles, and a very bad trip

Roxane Gay
Sep 6, 2019 · 8 min read
Image: Juj Winn / Getty

The lowest point of my first experience with edibles was probably when I tied myself to the bed with a sheet because I worried I might fall off the bed and then off the edge of the world. I don’t have a lot of experience with drugs. I was raised to be a good girl and old habits die hard. I went to boarding school and then a fancy college so I always had access to good drugs but I was terrified that the first time I tried drugs I would die and then my parents would find out I had done drugs and my ghost would live with that shame for all eternity.

And then, a few years ago, I moved to California where things are a lot more mellow. One night, I had dinner with a friend and her friend who owned several dispensaries. This friend of a friend gave me an edible and I knew that several months later, marijuana would be legal in California so, law-abiding citizen (nerd) that I am, I decided to wait because I did not want to break the law. I recognize how lame this sounds. The following January, marijuana was legal. Dispensaries that looked like slick Apple stores — all bright light and wide spaces, concrete floors and lots of natural wood — opened and the staff in these beautiful places would ask you what kind of high you were looking for. They would walk you, carefully, through the different kinds of weed and CBD products available. They would put your purchases in a nice little shopping bag and send you on your way. If you didn’t want to enjoy a retail experience, you could simply order your weed on the internet and it would be delivered, legally, to your front door. I went to a party that had a marijuana sommelier who would roll you the perfect joint. Friends would partake while standing in the street, completely unbothered even though that, technically, was not legal. All this while thousands of black men who were incarcerated for marijuana possession or dealing remain incarcerated. It is a bitter jagged pill to swallow, seeing who benefits from certain kinds of legislation and who gets left behind.

Friends would partake while standing in the street, completely unbothered even though that, technically, was not legal. All this while thousands of black men who were incarcerated for marijuana possession or dealing remain incarcerated. It is a bitter jagged pill to swallow, seeing who benefits from certain kinds of legislation and who gets left behind.

In January of 2018, I had surgery and one night, when the pain pills had run out, I was alone in my apartment and bored and still tender at the incision sites and lonely and feeling sorry for myself. I found the edibles and carefully read the instructions which said the appropriate dose was three small squares of chocolate. I consulted the internet and the internet agreed so I took those three small squares of chocolate, ready for a mellow journey to a long sleep. The squares tasted like chocolate infused with weed which is to say they tasted disgusting. I felt nothing. I continued watching television. After forty-five minutes I decided it had been too long since I received the edibles and they had lost their potency. You should also know I hadn’t eaten solid food in more than three weeks so my tolerance was at an all-time low.

I was wrong. I was very, very wrong.

An hour later, the room started spinning wildly. It was a deeply uncomfortable sensation and I very much wanted it to stop so I took a deep breath and sat up. I held on to the edge of my couch and took a sip of water. I clutched my phone in my free hand as if by gripping my phone so tightly that my fingers lost circulation, I might mitigate the way I was feeling. It was probably best for me to go to bed I resolved so I stood, slowly, and walked, even more slowly, to my bedroom. I lay down and closed my eyes. That was one of many mistakes that evening because once I was horizontal, my heart started pounding. I was absolutely convinced I was having a heart attack. I just knew my mother was going to get a terrible phone call informing her that her daughter had died of drugs. I had shamed the family name, and all for some bad-tasting edibles, alone in my apartment like a loser.

What you need to know about my mother is that she has a thing about marijuana. Though she has never even tasted a drop of alcohol in her life, she reads about alcohol and drugs extensively and believes they are unholy substances that will bring about any given person’s downfall. She holds particular ire for weed and it is pretty hilarious and adorable. She will, in the middle of random conversations, hold forth at length about marijuana as dangerous, as a gateway drug, as the root of a great many societal problems. If she smells marijuana, she will declare, loudly, that she smells marijuana. She is deeply suspicious of anyone who looks like they partake and her antipathy for marijuana makes me wish I enjoyed it just to be contrary. Each time she rails against cannabis I find myself, who has only tried it three or four times, defending it passionately. The desire to rebel, I suppose, never dies.

If she smells marijuana, she will declare, loudly, that she smells marijuana. She is deeply suspicious of anyone who looks like they partake and her antipathy for marijuana makes me wish I enjoyed it just to be contrary.

So there I was in bed and the bed was spinning in one direction and the room was spinning in the other direction. I was desperately thirsty, my throat parched, the soft insides of my mouth unbearably dry. On my night stand there was a bottle of water with about three sips left and I realized I was going to have to ration those three sips because I did not know when it would be safe to leave my bed. The spinning intensified and I worried I was going to fall off my bed so I did the only thing that made sense — I tied myself to the bed with my flat sheet so I would be safe and secure. I tied myself really tightly. I took a tiny sip of water and wondered what would happen when I needed to use the bathroom. I sat up and swung my feet off the bed, tentatively pressing my toes into the carpet. I stood. This was another mistake. I was still but the room certainly wasn’t. In addition to the spinning, the floor was undulating in waves. I eyed the bathroom, a mere four steps away and wondered if there was enough length in the sheet to keep me secure while I made my way to the toilet. There wasn’t. I only made it as far as the sink and I knew I couldn’t afford to release myself so I returned to bed to contemplate my predicament with a full bladder. I idly wondered if I should phone a friend but I was mortified by how poorly I was handling my seemingly small dosage of edibles and decided to keep my suffering to myself.

My heart continued to pound faster and harder and faster and harder. I was dying. I just knew I was dying. I wanted to write notes to the people I loved most but it was hard to make my fingers work so I gave up on that and trusted that they knew how I felt. Then I called 911 and said, calmly I thought, that I was dying of a heart attack and could they please come get me so I could die in the hospital instead of my apartment where it might be days before my body was discovered. The dispatcher asked me a few questions. I indicated I was home alone and my front door was locked. He asked me if I could find my wallet and open my front door and I said that probably wasn’t possible because I was tied to my bed. I said they were going to have to bring a sledgehammer to knock the door down even though my landlord would be pissed. I also said, “This is only my third time ever using marijuana products and I waited until it was legal.” That information was very important to me, at the time.

Hours later, I was still dying and no one had come to save me. I despaired mightily so I called 911 again to let them know I was still dying. They said, “Ma’am, it has been two minutes since you last called.”

The dispatcher assured me the EMTs would be there soon and that’s when time refracted. Hours later, I was still dying and no one had come to save me. I despaired mightily so I called 911 again to let them know I was still dying. They said, “Ma’am, it has been two minutes since you last called.” They said the EMTs were at my front door but I needed to let them in. I reiterated that I was tied to the bed and the EMT asked me to free myself, which, I guess, I did. I do not know how. I took about five hours, clinging to the wall like I was in a spy movie, and eventually made it to the front door. And then maybe another five hours later, I opened the door and there were a bunch of incredibly hot firemen, because I live in Los Angeles where pretty much everyone is incredibly attractive, and I explained that I had waited until marijuana was legal and they seemed genuinely sad that my first edible experience was so terrible. I appreciated that kindness. I also explained I was recovering from surgery and from then on I was in and out of consciousness and then I was in an ambulance in boxers and a t-shirt and flip flops and stitches and then I was in a very dirty, grim downtown hospital and then the nurses were laughing at me good naturedly for having such a bad trip and then I was in a hospital room with a woman who was drug-seeking and down on her luck and dealing with kidney issues and husband issues and I spent two nights there and I was still high when I left. The moral of this story is that I am now terrified and deeply suspicious of edibles and heartbroken that my mother may have been right about drugs all along.

Gay Mag

A new magazine from Roxane Gay offering some of the most…

Roxane Gay

Written by

I write. I want a tiny baby elephant. If you clap, I clap back. Books.: Ayiti, Untamed State, Bad Feminist. Difficult Women, World of Wakanda 1–5, Hunger.

Gay Mag

A new magazine from Roxane Gay offering some of the most interesting and thoughtful cultural criticism to be found on the Web. Our first quarterly is coming in June 2019. We value deep explorations, timelessness, and challenging conventional thinking without being cheap and lazy.

Roxane Gay

Written by

I write. I want a tiny baby elephant. If you clap, I clap back. Books.: Ayiti, Untamed State, Bad Feminist. Difficult Women, World of Wakanda 1–5, Hunger.

Gay Mag

A new magazine from Roxane Gay offering some of the most interesting and thoughtful cultural criticism to be found on the Web. Our first quarterly is coming in June 2019. We value deep explorations, timelessness, and challenging conventional thinking without being cheap and lazy.

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