The Denver man who claimed that eating marijuana-infused candy caused him to murder his wife was sentenced to 30 years in prison last week—and there was much rejoicing.
The general feeling among the public is that the man, Richard Kirk, was bullshitting. However I’m not so sure. During the police interrogation—according to forensic psychologist, Dr. Max Wachtel— Kirk was exhibiting symptoms of “excited delirium” which, though rare, can manifest after eating weed.
Symptoms of excited delirium include delirium, anxiety, hallucinations, speech problems, disorientation, violent and/or bizarre behavior, sweating, overheating and increased strength. Of course, I understand the skepticism about this condition. If I hadn’t experienced it myself, I would be skeptical too. And though my behavior was never violent, I did suffer most of the other symptoms. In fact, every single one of the handful of times I have eaten a baked marijuana treat ended up becoming a nightmarish experience more ferocious and bizarre than the worst psilocybin bugout I have ever encountered.
There was the time in the early ‘90s when I was relaxing on the couch with my then-girlfriend. When the dope kicked in, my heart rate shot up to a BPM count that would impress Skinny Puppy. I began sweating profusely, twitching and, eventually, hallucinating. This went on for hours and at times I thought I was dying. The worst part was when her face began changing. First she turned into a previous girlfriend, then she became my boss, then a witch, Barbara Bush, a former teacher and several other faces I can’t remember until, finally, she became the person that sent me dashing out into the street gasping for air—my mother.
There was another occasion when I was standing outside a friend’s apartment in Hollywood. Instead of the normal sounds of a bustling city, what I heard were jungle noises—the hoots and whistles of exotic birds, the cacophony of monkeys rollicking in the canopy—as if the city was a hologram and the THC merely exposed the jungle reality beneath—like the sunglasses in They Live.
But of them all, it was the first time I ate marijuana that was the most horrifying, bizarre, intense and—as you will soon learn—unbelievable episodes of them all.
J. and I were two high-school sweethearts celebrating our first anniversary at a fancy restaurant. Sometime before we left the house, we each ate a pot brownie. Then we took my 1966, primer-black Mustang with the rusted floorboard and finicky solenoid to the restaurant. I say finicky because every now and then it would only go click when I turned the ignition key. When this happened, I had to lift the hood and bang the solenoid with handle of a screwdriver and try again.
So it was a busy Saturday night. We waited about 20 minutes to be seated, ordered our meals and held hands and chatted while waiting for our food. It was shortly after the apps arrived when I began to feel the anxiety. Then the sweating. The BPMs accelerated, followed by disorientation, terror and, of course, hallucinations. That was when the frogs hit the fan.
There was a nearby table of four men in their 40s. Until that moment I was unable to hear anyone’s conversation over the drone of the room. However, at this point, it was as if the men’s voices were amplified. And what I thought they were saying scared the Christ out of me. Somehow I got it into my head that they were undercover cops talking about arresting me for being on drugs. It was pure paranoia of course, but it caused my symptoms to worsen exponentially. In a panic, I ducked out to the men’s room to pull myself together.
Once there I couldn’t believe what I saw in the mirror. My hair was soaked and matted with sweat. The shoulder and chest area of my shirt was also drenched. There were dark circles under my eyes and my face was emaciated, skeletal. So horrified was I by the monster in the mirror, I slowly backed away in disbelief, like they do in the movies, and bumped into the stall behind me. Needing to use the toilet anyway, I pulled on the door handle. But it was stuck. I yanked and pulled the handle until a voice from inside yelled, “Somebody’s in here asshole!”
Shell-shocked, I staggered back to the table and my waiting, distraught girlfriend.
“What’s going on? You’re scaring me,” she said.
“Shhh,” I whispered. “I’m trying to hear them.”
I listened to the men some more as they further discussed my upcoming arrest and how they were going to have their way with my girlfriend once I was handcuffed. Well that was all I could bear. Utterly convinced I was about to be arrested and my girl raped, I whispered, “We have to leave, Now!” Then I threw a wad of cash on the table, grabbed her arm and led her toward the front door—passing our incoming entrees on the way.
Once outside the building, I shouted, “Run! They’re after us!” We raced across the parking lot, with me looking back the whole time expecting them to burst out the door with guns drawn.
We jumped into the car, I turned the key and—click.
Again, just like in the movies, with a car that wouldn’t start and bad guys on the way. I opened the hood and rapped the solenoid. Then I jumped back in the car, fired her up and careened out of the parking lot and off into the night.