My 15-year-old son’s friend ate way too many edibles. What do we do?
OPINION: Our son received a text from his friend saying he'd accidentally eaten a whole bag of marijuana edibles. As parents, this was a nightmare scenario.
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
It was about 7 p.m. on a Monday night, and I was out at a restaurant in Manhattan having dinner with my wife and my son when a text came in that changed everything.
My son, 15, said, “Daddy, I just got a text from [a school friend].” The friend had texted my son to say that 15 minutes earlier, he’d eaten a whole bag full of gummy bears and then looked at the label and realized he had just eaten a ton of marijuana gummies. I said, wait, what? How many gummies did he eat? My son texted him my question. The kid texted back “a lot.” That’s not a number. The kid texted, “The whole bag.” Yeah, but how many were in the bag?
I was thinking maybe he was exaggerating, but my son assured me this kid wasn’t the type to do that. I said, depending on how many he ate, this could be a medical emergency. He won’t die from eating too many edibles, but he may feel really, really crappy. He may hallucinate. He may become unable to move or even talk. That stuff is about to overwhelm his consciousness and his nervous system. They kick in about an hour after you take them, and he took these edibles about 15 minutes ago, so we had about 45 minutes before all hell would break loose in this kid’s body. I was really nervous for him. It could be a heavy trip.
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I told my son to tell him he’s gotta tell his parents what’s going on. This could become serious. Maybe he should go to the emergency room. My son knew telling his parents was breaking the teenager code, but he could tell from the severity of my tone that this was beyond all of that. I watched my son type “You gotta tell your parents.” A bubble appeared — the kid was typing. He said: “No, I don’t.”
I looked at my wife. We had no school directory listing other parents in the class, and in the post-quarantine world where we rarely had a chance to go inside the school, we didn’t know any of the other parents. It was after work hours so we couldn’t get anyone from school on the phone. My son had been to the kids’ house but he didn’t know how to tell us where it was. The kid was the only person who could have connected with us with his mom, and he was refusing to do that. I felt powerless. I could see that this kid was about to get run over by a THC freight train and I couldn’t do anything about it.
My wife said if she were that kid’s mom, she would want to know. I agreed. She said to my son, if you ever feel like you’re going to OD, I want you to feel like you can come tell me. You won’t be in trouble. I said absolutely but I think we were getting a little off-topic. My wife said, in fact, if you want to try marijuana, you should come to me so we can talk it through and make sure you’re safe. I said, yes, I totally agree, but can we stay focused on the kid who’s minutes away from getting way, way higher than he’s ever been? My wife then came up with a lot of helpful suggestions. Have him drink a lot of water. Tell him to vomit. Just lie down on his bed. We told the kid those things, but now his responses were coming back more slowly and getting more terse. Was he starting to feel it? I wanted to do something. But what?
I did not tell my son about the time I took too many edibles. Back in the day, I used to smoke a lot. My tolerance was high. One summer back in my 20s, I went out to the Hamptons to Puff Daddy’s White Party, where guests had to wear all white. We had to get in little buses to be driven to his mansion. When we got off the buses, there were models wearing angel wings handing us champagne and saying, “Welcome to heaven.”
Inside the party, there were hip-hop and R&B stars as well as music execs and models. It was a vibe. At some parties, servers walk around with hors d’oeuvres, but at this one, models walked around with plates of weed brownies. I was standing with my friend, the late Andre Harrell — a legendary record man who ran Uptown Records and gave Puff his first job in the industry — when a model dangled a plate of brownies in front of me. Andre told me they were strong. Be careful. Don’t take too much. But back then, I was a daily smoker. And I was young and arrogant. I scoffed at him telling me to use caution. I threw caution to the wind because he told me to be careful. I grabbed two whole brownies and began eating them.
About an hour later, I was sitting beside Puffy. He was chewing me out over something I’d written about his most recent album. And what was I doing while he was yelling at me? Nothing. I was awake, but I was practically catatonic. The brownies had kicked in and I was struggling to hold it together. My mind could barely form sentences. My head was throbbing. I wanted to lie down but there was no way I could do that right now in front of Puff. So I just sat there, drowning in my high.
That’s pretty much what I imagined would soon happen to my son’s friend but worse. Some people, like the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, have had total freakouts after a small amount of edibles and it was so crazy that the New Yorker published a funny essay mocking her. I was not about to freakout; I knew this kid was not facing death, but I was concerned. He could lose the ability to speak — not permanently, duh, but for an hour or two or three, he might not be able to be coherent. He might experience a massive, painful headache. He would be incredibly tired and perhaps functionally paralyzed in that he just could not move. What if his mom walked in and saw him acting strangely and he couldn’t even explain what was going on? She would panic. I really wanted his mom to know what was going on. My wife and I both felt terrible that she didn’t. We said what if something happens and we knew and didn’t tell her? But I couldn’t demand the kid give me her number. We had no way of contacting her. I felt horrible.
Every few minutes, as the clock crept toward the time when the gummies would kick in, I asked my son, how’s your friend? What’s going on with him? But the kid had stopped texting back. I was nervous. What was he going through?
The next morning, my son’s friend texted him back. The previous night, he had felt incredibly groggy and his stomach was upset and his heart was racing. He had fallen asleep for a long time. I asked for more details but the kid said he could not recall much. But he had made it through. We exhaled. Parent life is crazy.
Touré is a host and Creative Director at theGrio. He is the host of the podcast “Toure Show” and the podcast docuseries “Who Was Prince?” He is also the author of seven books including the Prince biography Nothing Compares 2 U and the ebook The Ivy League Counterfeiter. Look out for his upcoming podcast Being Black In the 80s.
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