Cannabis etiquette has its own set of standards. When to ask someone for pitch on a joint or jump in a session circle without permission aren't situations often posted to Ask Amy; these questions don't have standard answers like similar queries regarding drinking or dining. Add legalization to the mix, and you're asking for even more confusion — and fun.
Here to help settle your questions about proper cannabis protocol is Lizzie Post, great-great-granddaughter of famed etiquette writer Emily Post, cannabis lover and author of Higher Etiquette: A Guide to the World of Cannabis, From Dispensaries to Dinner Parties.
Westword: How has legalization changed the perception of proper cannabis etiquette?
Lizzie Post: One of the biggest differences comes from not needing to be secretive anymore, and through having access to a wide range of available products. Old customs are replaced with new ones: You no longer ask your “weed dealer” her preferences for being contacted. Instead, you walk into your neighborhood dispensary and purchase from your budtender.
It has also expanded the number of ways that we interact with cannabis itself, and with others. With a wider range of products to engage with and etiquette being about how to guide our interactions, more options means more etiquette to consider.
How would you recommend proposing a toke at a dinner party where cannabis use isn't explicitly allowed?
I would find a private moment to ask the host if it was all right. If they say yes, I’d ask if there’s a way they’d prefer it to be handled. It can become part of the evening’s events, or it might be that you’ll be burning one down quietly on the porch. Either way, it’s the host’s choice, because it’s their party, and giving them the option to decide rather than just pulling out a joint and announcing you’re going to spark it is the considerate thing to do.
If they turn you down, you can always ask if it’s all right to enjoy it on your own. Be prepared: They may say they’d prefer you save it for another time. It might be a buzzkill, but etiquette is also about respecting someone who has invited you to their home. And since most consumers don’t expect that they should be allowed to consume anywhere, anytime, it’s easy to wait until the party is over.
If pot does become part of the evening, make sure guests who aren’t toking don’t get left out. Invite them to join the group, just to chat, or, as the host, spend time in both groups. You don’t want to leave guests unattended and feeling left out.
What's the cannabis equivalent of bringing wine to a grown-up party?
Bring any type of cannabis product you think your host would enjoy. Flower, concentrates, edibles and more are all options. However, just like that bottle of wine, it’s up to the host to decide whether or not to serve it at the gathering.
We have to ask: Where do you fall on puff, puff, pass?
It’s a great and classic starting point for joint and spliff etiquette! Some people like to chill with it, others pass after one toke. I encourage friends and guests to hang on to the joint for a bit so they can just enjoy it. I do think that when in doubt, or if you’re new to joints or the group you’re smoking with, puff, puff, pass is a great guideline to fall back on.
Ever had to call out someone for bogarting the joint? What about power-rippers who scorch the entire bowl? How do you do it?
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Bogarting is a classic faux pas, and an easy one to make if you get really high off that joint. One of the interesting things about cannabis consumers, from an etiquette perspective, is that we seem to call each other out really easily and without much offense. From “Hey, pass it,” to “It’s not a mic. Keep it moving,” no one seems to mind when these phrases are used to catch their attention and get the joint moving again. In fact, often they are met with, “Oh, sorry!”
Lawnmowing a bowl is a little different, etiquette-wise. I find people are less likely to call you out on that. Instead, they’ll finish the bowl with you, then repack a new one, lighting it first for themselves this time to get that fresh green. Sometimes, in etiquette, we just quietly take care of the situation for ourselves rather than calling someone out. It seems to be harder to tell someone “Hey, you ruined the freshness of that bowl” (not that you’d actually say that, but it’s implied) than “You forgot to pass.”
Does the atmosphere or setting have an impact on cannabis etiquette? Are situations like pitching in on joints or packing someone else's buds different at a nice dinner party compared to a college hangout?
Yes, I think it depends on the people in the group, and sometimes the setting. Hangouts and sessions tend to be more casual than dinner parties, but not always. It’s never rude to offer to contribute, but I do think people are more inclined in a legalized setting to decline your contribution, either because they want to stick to the strain they have, or because they truly want to provide for their guests or friends.