After reading Maureen Dowd‘s gripping tale of her recent experience with the devil’s lettuce, a wave of compassion and sadness for her washed over me. Marijuana poisoning is no laughing matter. As she recounts, for hours she lay incapable of moving from her hotel bed. The weed came on strong, mere minutes after she ordered a bottle of alcohol from the front desk. Now, lying there in the grip of an uncontrollable chemical which has driven literally one to suicide, she was completely helpless to pick up the liquor which would no doubt end her hellish experience.
During this harrowing tale, certainly one of the most compelling drug stories in modern memory, I could not help but wonder: What if the law had protected Maureen from this? I decided to re-imagine Maureen’s experience if she had been so lucky as to be watched over by the benevolent drug laws of our country.
As Maureen enters the dingy basement of a certainly armed individual she has had no previous contact with, she is filled with a thankful spirit that she could not perform her transaction in a more safe and open environment. If that were possible, she thinks to herself, people would most likely overdose daily in the streets from the toxic chemical she wishes to ingest. Fortunately for Maureen, the dealer she’s been sent to turns out to be an undercover cop assigned to bust craven drug users such as herself. “Get your hands in the air, perp,” Officer Friendly says graciously. Maureen complies fully with the officer’s commands and is dragged by her hair from the basement apartment into the back seat of the officer’s unmarked police vehicle.
Maureen expects to be given a slap on the wrist, but is pleasantly surprised when she’s questioned, berated and strip searched by Officer Friendly in a cold, bleak holding cell. After days of uncertainty locked inside the cage meant to protect us from criminal miscreants like her, she’s informed of the layout of her trial. “This judge has no tolerance for drug users, Maureen,” says the warm and inviting prosecutor. “Nor do I, for that matter.” Maureen is informed she has two options: Save the state time and money by foregoing her right to due process and get a light sentence of one year or go to trial and be at the mercy of a judge and jury’s decision. Maureen, still possessing some manner of dignity after this experience, takes the lenient bargain offered by the prosecutor.
As Maureen is transferred to her home for the next year, she wonders what manner of crime the woman placed next to her on the bus committed, as she is fondled and violated in a manner she could easily resist in any other environment. Suddenly it dawns on her that she deserves this. The next year of her life will be well-spent staring at the walls, the ceiling and the bars of her spacious 8×10 cell. She knows this was how it had to be, that in order to wipe out this killer disease in society, she ought to be subjected to total control and humiliation, her every day survival and eventual release being the only thing on her mind. She ponders the horror of a society which allows women like her to freely roam their hotel rooms in a slightly uncomfortable buzzed state. Officer Friendly has done her and all of a society a favor by kidnapping her, taking her away from her loved ones and dooming her to endless hours of violence and sexual assault. When she gets out, she says to herself, she can forget about this all with a stiff drink.