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Smoking Etiquette 101 So You Are Not ‘That Guy’

Francis Cassidy
etiquitte represented by plate with fancy napkin

Bring your smoking etiquette to the next sesh.

From soggy tips to blowing smoke in someone’s face, and from hogging a joint to blazing all the green from the top of a bowl, there’s always someone who isn’t quite in on game. When it comes to smoking etiquette, and its accompanying “pot peeves,” it starts with us understanding ourselves.

We live in an age where legalization is rolling out across the developed world. And with the reintegration of cannabis in our culture firmly underway, it’s up to us to establish the norms. When there’s a cultural expectation upon something that we can all agree upon, it’s often more powerful and transformative than any law mandated by an out-of-touch politician. That can start with smoking etiquette, so let’s run through a few tips you can abide by next time you’re invited around to a friend’s house.

1) If You Can’t Roll, Then be Honest

It can be a little embarrassing when you’re sitting in a group of experienced consumers and you mess up. Perhaps you were a bit too eager to roll that joint. And now as it’s passed around it starts canoeing before you’ve gotten around the circle once. Trying to pass a fast-burning joint onto the next person without it falling apart will take away from the experience for many.

If your rolling skills aren’t up to scratch, then leave it to someone else. It makes the smoking experience so much more enjoyable for everyone when that slow-burning joint that holds together is passed around without any drama.

circle of friends

2) Use a Crutch

There’s nothing worse than being handed a sloppy joint with the rolling paper almost dissolved in someone else’s saliva. Always use a crutch. You can buy them ready-made, or you can make your own from a thin piece of cardboard or a business card. 

Crutches help ensure minimal wastage of your precious cannabis and help prevent that soggy end that no one likes. Another useful benefit they provide is when passing the joint along. By gripping the crutch lightly between your fingers, you avoid crushing and weakening the joint.

It also prevents little pieces of bud from getting into your mouth when you draw. These are called ‘Scoobie snacks’ but they are not welcome.

One final aspect of smoking etiquette is to always keep the tip dry! 

3) He Who Rolls it Sparks it

This is generally the accepted smoking etiquette within a circle. Whoever put the time into rolling the joint has the right to light it. Alternatively, they can offer the privilege to someone else, often times a guest. But, you should never carelessly light a joint someone else rolled by sucking on it as if it were a cigarette. Let the roller light it mindfully!

4) The Joint isn’t a Talking Stick

If a joint is passed to you when you’re in mid-flow, then stop talking and take a toke. Never hold on to the joint while trying to finish your story. Everyone enjoys a story more when they’ve had a hit. The term often used is “to bogart.” It’s named after Humphrey Bogart who often had an unlit cigarette in the corner of his mouth and never smoked it. Don’t be the guy that simply has to finish his story with the joint as his talking stick!

5) 2 Puffs Then Pass

Don’t hog the joint, take 2 mindful puffs and then pass it along. Assume the smoking etiquette in a new circle takes this form. Among friends, the expectations may change, and that’s fine. But avoid taking more than your fair share. But, when smoking from a pipe, it’s generally accepted that you take one hit before passing it along.

lit lighter in darkness

6) Corner the bowl

When enjoying cannabis with friends the old fashioned way with a pipe, then it’s always polite to corner the bowl. This means that you apply the flame to the rim of the bowl rather than blindly applying the flame to the entire bowl. Save some green for others; the more experienced in the circle will greatly appreciate the gesture.

7) Never Exhale Smoke into Someone Else’s Face

Ok, it happens to us all sometimes. Perhaps there’s a draft from a window, or a fan blowing in the corner. But with a little presence, we can all avoid blowing smoke into someone’s face. As agreeable as the smell may be, the truth is that no one really appreciates a billowing cloud of smoke in their eyes.

With a slight tilt of the head up or down or a simple shift to the left or right, you can exhale that smoke out of harm’s way.

8) Pass Left and Stick to the Rotation

Typically, the joint roller will pass the joint to his or her left after taking the first hit. Everyone should then take 2 puffs and pass it along to their left. Don’t jump someone, and refrain from passing it back the other way. Stick to the order and allow the circle to complete and maintain that order until the joint is finished. By changing the order it’s all too easy to unintentionally skip someone.

9) Don’t Stink the Place Out

Many of us have gone to a public place with a freshly rolled joint in our pocket. Sometimes the potent smell of that freshly ground herb escapes into the surrounding environment.

four people, 3 looking at the other who smells bad

Shifty-eyed and suspicious, those who don’t share your enthusiasm often look around wondering just where the potent scent is coming from. It’s important to be respectful of the environment and those who may not be open to you medicating with cannabis. This is especially important in places where kids are present.

One way of doing this is by storing your pre-rolled joints in a smell-proof box. That way you can transport your rolling gear and pre-rolled joints without the risk offending anyone. You can always use a sploof when you’re actually smoking.

10) Feel Some Gratitude

If someone invites you to share their cannabis, then be thankful. The sharing of cannabis creates an ambiance of inclusion and provides a way of getting to know people at a deeper level. When you’re given access to this circle, be grateful, appreciate the company and the deeper connection you have to others through the responsible use of this spiritual plant. And practicing the proper smoking etiquette that we’ve outlined is one way to honor that gift. 

Francis Cassidy

Francis Cassidy is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics. With a particular focus on the cannabis industry, he aims to help ensure the smooth reintegration of cannabis back into global culture. When not writing, he's to be found exploring his new base in British Columbia, Canada. You can follow his other works including his photography on his blog thestrayphotographer.com

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