The social element of cannabis consumption is almost as ancient as the plant itself. Humans have long toked in group settings, using cannabis as a social lubricant to bond and share ideas. Because shared experience is such an essential element of cannabis, unspoken rules and guidelines govern proper stoner behavior and ensure all participants in a session have an enjoyable time together.
As national sentiment towards cannabis use evolves, old-school stoners can finally talk openly about the courtesies and connection of their culture without shame. New cannabis users have a lot to learn about how to use cannabis in a social setting, while veteran consumers have much to share.
In this guide, we break down the basics of cannabis etiquette from prominent weed advocates such as Lizzie Post (great-granddaughter of etiquette matron Emily Post), Big Mike, French Cannoli the hashishin, and others. Read on to learn everything you need to know about consuming cannabis consciously.
Sharing is caring
When participating in a group cannabis experience, it's important to contribute your supply to the whole. In the same way guests bring a bottle of wine or six-pack to a house party, it's appropriate to bring and offer some of your stash to a group.
This sharing element is vital and stretches back to the days of illicit pot consumption. If you have cannabis and others do not, share your supply. You can count on a return of the favor when you're in need. The reverse also holds. If you have none and others share their cannabis with you, be sure to repay them once you replenish your stash. No one likes a mooch, and cannabis gets expensive when only one participant stocks the supplies.
Be prepared to answer questions about your cannabis. What cultivar is it, where's it from, how potent is it? The more knowledge you can provide your fellow tokers -- should they ask -- the better their experience will be. Though to be fair, sometimes, your friends are willing to consume any cannabis.
Respect the circle
The sanctity of the circle consists of mutual respect and an agreement to follow the rules. While rules may vary (house rules, dependent on the host), here's a breakdown of universal guidelines that hold for most cannabis sessions.
First, keep the order consistent. Puff, puff, pass to the left is the general rule of thumb when it comes to consumption. This applies more to joints and blunts than edibles, for example. However, wait your turn to smoke and don't get greedy with the greens.
Be mindful of your environment and respectful of others. It's not polite to blow smoke in someone's face, and many may not be comfortable sitting in smoke. Clean up after a session and ask before you raid your host's pantry.
When unsure, ask. Every cannabis consumer was once a beginner and the vast majority are happy to answer questions and advise first-timers on how to inhale, how much of an edible to take, and other particulars. The reverse applies too. Treat your fellow stoners with respect. Not everyone has the same tolerance level, cultivar preference, or experience, and peer pressure is a major faux pas.
Know your limits. Take it slow, and don't be afraid to pass on a round. Getting too high does nobody any favors. If you're new to cannabis, seasoned pros Seth Rogen and Snoop Dogg recommend starting with one hit, or even half of one. See how you feel in 10 to 15 minutes. There's always more weed, and the risk of a paranoid, uber-high experience isn't worth it.
Keep things clean
In any cannabis event or consumption space, there's likely an unnerving amount of bacteria being passed around on pipe or bong.
Los Angeles-based company Moose Labs conducted a study to quantify the number of germs found on a shared cannabis accessory. The results showed that the average public toilet seat is cleaner than the average bong with 3,000 bacteria per square inch. Do your part to keep your pieces clean. There are plenty of methods to do so, most involving rubbing alcohol or vinegar.
In a pinch, using the flame of a lighter to burn off bacteria from a mouthpiece is somewhats, but not wholly adequate. The fire reduces only around half of the total bacteria. Investing in alcohol wipes or a smoking accessory like a mouthpiece may be worth it.
Generally, be mindful of how many people are consuming cannabis in the circle. If you are sick, it's essential to tell the group and allow them to decide how to approach things. Better to be honest and consume your bit of greens towards the end instead of infecting your friends. And don't slobber on the joint or pipe. No one wants to inhale your drool.
Cannabis etiquette when smoking a joint/blunt
A large part of properly smoking a group joint lies in the joint's progression around the circle. If you rolled the joint or blunt, you might have first dibs on sparking up, but it's always polite to offer the first toke to a newcomer or the party host.
Don't Bogart the joint, a term derived from how Humphrey Bogart would let a cigarette hang out of his mouth without smoking it. The greens are burning, and you waste valuable cannabis when you talk, don't inhale, and don't pass the joint. Puff, puff, pass to the left, and keep the joint moving.
It's important to properly ash the joint before passing it to the left. Nothing's worse than grabbing a blunt from your friend to have a clump of ash fall on your favorite shirt. Tap the burnt joint or blunt into an ashtray and pass it on.
Sometimes, a joint will do something called "canoeing," where one side of the joint is burning faster than the rest. Set aside a small bowl of water nearby to wet fingers and correct a canoeing joint if needed.
When the joint is almost finished, don't throw it away until you ask around if anyone wants to finish it. Make sure you let your buddy to the left know that the cannabis is almost gone. Don't surprise him or her with a mouth full of ash and filter.
Cannabis etiquette when smoking a pipe/bong/vape
As with a joint, if you've provided the cannabis, ground the weed, and packed the bowl, you're entitled to the first hit. It's still kind, however, to offer the first spark to a newcomer or fellow toker who contributed to the pot.
When sparking up, it's kind to "corner the bowl," or light the bowl on one edge to save the green cannabis for others in the circle. The first hit is full of delicious terpenes, and it's gracious to share them with your fellow tokers.
It's typical to hit the bong or pipe only once, as opposed to the two hits of a joint or vape. Don't leave saliva on the mouthpiece, and clear the bong or pipe's chamber entirely. No one wants your stale leftovers.
Don't pass an empty bowl and let the next person know if it's almost cached, or close to empty. Don't steal another person's lighter and don't use it to stir the bowl, getting it all dirty and sticky in the process. A paperclip will do just fine.
Cannabis etiquette when dabbing
Dabbing is a much more potent method of cannabis consumption than smoking, so it's essential to warn first-timers about its intensity. Ask them about their current weed experience and be considerate, ready with a glass of water or even some CBD in case of an overwhelming hit. Recommend specific heating times or temperatures to get them started.
Keep your mat and gear clean, and always be prepared with enough butane for you and the group - usually, two tanks will do nicely for backup. Use an ashtray or holder for your dab tool and wipe it off after each use for the next user. After a session, use one of several methods to keep your glassware clean and bacteria-free.
Paws off another person's wax -- in general, don't touch concentrates with your hands and especially don't handle it if it's not yours without asking.
Try not to "chazz the banger," slang for scorching the nail so much that it overheats. When it's your turn to dab, clear all of the vapor. Remember, you can dab as much as you take but only take as much as you can dab.
Cannabis etiquette with edibles
Edibles, as food items, carry a different set of etiquette rules than smoking or dabbing cannabis. They're also processed differently in the body, therefore providing education to your guests is an integral part of the overall experience.
When providing edibles at a party, clearly mark what they are, and what the potency/serving size is. Every user's tolerance level varies, so providing 10mg, 5mg, or even 2.5 mg options will allow newcomers to select the best dose for their desired experience.
It's also important that you explain how the liver processes THC, and that the high may be longer-lasting and more intense than when smoking a joint. Therefore, scheduling longer cannabis sessions (four to eight hours) will allow all participants to enjoy the experience together, rather than everyone departing before the cannabis kicks in. Be mindful of tolerance levels, and keep your schedule clear in the hours after trying edibles.
When bringing edibles to a gathering, make sure to be wary of children. It's critical to keep infused foods far out of reach of youngsters.
Make sure to offer non-infused food, too. Munchies go hand-in-hand with cannabis consumption, and it's preferable to avoid the vicious circle of eating edibles to satisfy hunger cravings and, in turn, potentially overdoing it.