Welcome to Part II of your weed etiquette, a topic that, curiously, Emily Post didn’t touch with a ten-foot waterpipe. Part I was all about how to use your best manners in order to obtain marijuana (which is an illegal narcotic both nationally and in 48 states to varying degrees of criminality and neither I, the writer, or the two editors of this site, would ever endorse something that is such a malfeasance in the eyes of the law) and that’s great for you. Congratulations. This section will be about something far more tricky: putting it in to your body in a manner both polite an courteous.
It is again worth noting–beyond a strict legal distancing–that this is written from viewing the East Coast experience. The West Coast seems to have a great abundance of weed as one commentor on the last post noted, someone in Portland literally biked up to her in order to sell her a joint. What a world.
What Do I Bring?
When you’re young, weed is a social drug. Everyone can get in a group, smoke up, and do whatever activities follow (video games, watching Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory, reading Keats line by line in a group, the usual). When you get older this tends to change, mostly because you have the means to do it on your own, both in terms of buying for yourself and for having your own space (aka “not cohabitation with your parents”). This section is for the younger, communal smokers. Bless your hearts and don’t believe you’ll ever die.
My editors scoffed at the idea of this section, thinking there is some sort of “pot smoking party” like it’s a dinner party [ed note: WE KNOW WHAT A NORMAL PARTY WITH WEED IS LIKE, DUDE]. While I wouldn’t say that (I don’t even know how to begin to think about how many forks would be involved and where they would be placed) smoking pot does have lend itself to a very ritualistic experience. Everyone has to gather at once, or close to it, as the act itself is on an ever-burning clock. It’s a bit more lenient when you’re set up in glassware since you can smoke it, discard it, and pack it again, but when it comes to paper smoking (Dutch/Phillie blunt/joint/spliff) it’s an all-or-nothing proposition. You’re there or you’re not.
My friends back home after college had a sort of standing time to gather, though at rotating locations, to smoke and “make hang.” This involved a number of elements but the easiest, and certainly most pressing, is weed. If you’ve got some, toss it in to the mix. And the more you’re willing to share? The better. In this way it’s less of a dinner and more of a potluck: you gain entrance to the experience by bringing enough to share. Plus mixing different strains of weed can lead to all sorts of weird, chemical-imbalanced fun, so, again, sharing is caring. (And sorry for using “potluck.” Yeesh.)
If you don’t have weed, don’t worry. That happens to everyone. Usually pot fiends are a relatively laid back group, and not actually fiends (ed note: or are they?!?!). Some people I know never bought weed; their shining, fun personality was enough of an asset to a “cypher” that their very presence paid for the price of admission. However, if you’re kind of dull or your friends need some actual material goods, offer to stop by at the local convenience store or bodega for supplies that are essential or tangential to the group: a couple Philly blunts/a twofer package of sealed Dutchmasters, two Gatorades for $3 (thanks, 7-Eleven), some gummy worms. Whatever the person whose residence you’re smoking at would enjoy. A little goes a long way here. It’s like any party, really: don’t show up empty handed. Tastycakes are like $2. Do your share.
Where Do I Smoke?
Marijuana brings with it a rather pungent smell. This is looked on favorably by people who smoke and incredibly unfavorably by everyone else in the world. If you live in your own home and the only things interacting with the smell are your nostrils then by all means, regulate your indoor smoking use like it’s New Hampshire.
The odds are you are not one of those people. If you’re smoking via flame (pipes, bongs, rolled paper of any kind) just go outside. Don’t try and rationalize this any other way. Just go outside. If you insist on not leaning out the window, or taking the steps out on to the fire escape, or taking your one hitter on a nice walk around the block, then block all doors with towels or something akin, open up as many windows as your building allows, and throw on as many fans as possible. No one wants to knock on your door to tell you to cut that shit out. It makes them feel like a narc, or a buzzkill, or worse: a nagging parent. And Jesus, who wants to feel like that when talking to strangers? It’s an odd situation. So avoid it all, dear smoker, by being polite and going the fuck outside. This goes double for people with roommates who don’t smoke, triple for homes you share with your parents, and quadruple for places that you don’t live and the people there don’t smoke (I’ve seen it happen).
If you realize that it’s 2014 and you Want To Have It All, then purchase a vaporizer. There are many different variations from a stay-at-home model to the Volcano to sleek personal travel models that will make you among the 20 coolest ladies in Prospect Park on any given Spring day. If you Want To Have It All but are spending your money elsewhere, you’ll probably try to “mask” the smell by exhaling through a spoof (a toilet paper roll absolutely jam packed with dryer sheets) or lighting incense, but this “covers” the smell like using Axe body spray after gym class. Now you smell like something horrid mixed with another thing that smells horrid. Don’t.
How Do I Prepare?
Whenever you say something is “a process” it’s usually said with a big huff, as if you have to explain how the Model T is produced. So just get that idea of your mind. To smoke, there is a normalized process. First you collect the weed and look to remove any of the seeds or stems, colloquially known as “breaking up” and any probable hundred of other pet terms (people who smoke pot are usually creative, if we want to get out the Stereotype Stick to beat you over the head with). This involves taking the weed apart, bit by sticky bit. There is usually a designated place to do this: over a hard-bound high school yearbook, on a shitty Ikea coffee table, or some other non-essential piece of furniture. Do not break it up over a tablecloth or something of value as you’ll have green stains in there forever. Until Jolie Kerr tells us how to clean that, consider it impossible and move on.
When you’re rolling a Dutch or a Phillie the process involves the part that makes it a cigar in the first place. The “guts” are all of the low-end tobacco and who-the-shit-knows-what-else that comes within the crucial outer skin. This stuff is awful. I’d make a comment about why anyone would inhale it, but when you live in a glass house with stoners… Guts are the #1 way to get caught if you’re smoking in a place that you shouldn’t be, like a parental house or a car when pulled over by the cops. “I swear officer, someone just threw the inside of their cigar through my back window!”
The best way to dispose of these inessential parts is a bag within a bag. Take an odd paper bag (maybe the one that held all of the supplies you or your friend brought earlier?) and dispose of it in a trash bag, hopefully outside, My degenerate friends who would drive around and smoke when they didn’t have another location to do it would throw these bags in to storm drains and wait til summer until other friends worked for the town and would have to dredge them out. It’s the circle of manual labor.
How Do I Smoke Politely?
If your immediate reaction is “pass the dutchie to the left-hand side,” then you either don’t smoke, are 15, or just a total square. There is nothing that will make you lose cred faster than quoting that song. Please don’t.
The idea behind “pass it to the left” is just for a simple semblance of order. Its aim is to be polite. At parties in high school I’d see kids literally run to the left of the person who lights up like it was grade school kickball and coach was picking teams by the ol’ every-other selection system. People were pushed out of the way. It was ridiculous, and certainly not polite.
A cypher–the term of the order of the group of people to smoke which usually resembles a circle–is important soley so everyone can get an equal amount to smoke before it literally blows away. If there are four people and you have a decent amount then everyone should be able to traverse the room and still smoke in sequence. Putting everyone in a circle is one part natural inclination and another part failsafe. “Hey who’s–oh, yeah, here ya go” (easily turns to one side and passes). There have been cyphers I’ve witnessed that involve throwing lit dutches across a living room into waiting bare hands (only recommended by true professionals). Shit can get nuts but it’s all in the service of something polite: everyone gets their fair share.
How Do I Actually Smoke Politely?
This is actually a bit more complicated than you’d think.
First, how much to smoke? For paper products (Phillies/blunts/Dutches and joints) taking two hits (“puff, puff”) and passing is standard operating procedure. For glass products (pipes, bowls, bongs, one-hitters, chillems), take only one hit. This is by no means an iron-clad rule; it’s not written in the Constitution. Your friends might do differently. Treat it like beer pong: if you have any questions about house rules, simply ask before trampling forward and going “oh wait I thought.” Otherwise, go with the above.
If you have a large cypher (from about seven and up) and enough weed, think about rolling two and sending them opposite ways. This cuts down on time between smoking and, if everyone has weed, you’re going to do this again anyway. Just get there now and feel like you’re on Wheezy’s tour bus. If you live on the West Coast, it’s likely that everyone will pack “a personal” bowl or other product because seemingly 90% of all vegetative life out there is cannabis-based.
Regardless, the objective is that everyone gets their fair share. It’s a harsh world out there. It doesn’t have to be so rough and tumble within a cypher.
What About The Nature Of Smoking?
How you smoke requires etiquette as well. You don’t smoke glass, vaporizers and paper the same way as each method has their own methodology that does not translate well between mediums. Glass requires fuller, deep breathes to pull the smoke in to your lungs. It’s a much more forceful effort. The harsh nature also keeps you from smoking too much — you can only take so much.
Paper, however, is a delicate balance. The same way that a person takes in the smoke can also ruin the experience for others. If you pull too hard it’s possible that you can make the paper “canoe” which means that the outer paper burns faster than the marijuana inside which causes the structure to fall apart (think of a hot dog with a rapidly-decreasing bun). If you pull slowly and easily then you should have a fairly even burn. Some times this can’t be helped depending on the quality of the paper itself so don’t beat yourself up over it or anything.
The repairs should be done by the person who rolled the implement. The one who rolled the item is a crafts(wo)man after all, and deserve to have the opportunity to fix their work. If you’re cool with the person who rolled–or they trust your ability–then ask if it’s alright to mess with the paper and move forward. This also will occur if they’re simply too far away (pride in your work can’t always stretch across a long living room). Usually this just requires licking your finger and pressing it against the quickly-burning area to slow it down but still, give proprietary respect first.
How Do I Maintain My Piece?
There are two schools of thought here. The first is that there is sort of a dingy pride in not cleaning your pieces. Most glass bowls are explicitly built to pack resin (burned-out weed residue) inside, leading the designs to change colors the more you smoke. This is why a lot of higher-end head shops will display the pieces on black felt to give you an impression of what it will look like over time. While not always built for residue, there are a number of bongs that I’ve seen that have similar patterns.
Certain smokers will point to their pieces as a sign of how diligent they are about smoking (and how not diligent they are at cleaning). This is pretty fucking gross. I wouldn’t want to be reminded by the glass implement I’m smoking out of to give me a clear representation of all the awful shit I’m doing to my lungs by just by looking at it. And I’m sure that isn’t really adding to the cleanliness of the procedure, either.
Most high-end vaporizer users make it a priority to clean the system after every bit of use. Just because your way of smoking is more low rent doesn’t give you the license to treat it that way. I’ll put it like this: I clean my french press after every use because I’m worried that gook will collect and ruin my coffee. You’re inhaling that shit. Get out the pipe cleaners regularly. And if you’re using a pipe? It naturally keeps the passageways clean so you won’t get clogged. Win-Win (save, of course, for your lungs). (ed note: Check out My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag . . . and Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha by Jolie Kerr for instructions on how to clean all of your smoking paraphernalia.)
What If I’m At A Concert?
The modern identity of “grass” started with those damn blues players. Music and marijuana have been linked ever since. If you’re at a concert and someone next to you is smoking, you might want to get in on it. You can always ask, as that doesn’t hurt, but know who you’re asking. If the kid is college aged or younger, he or she will more than likely rebuff you because of the “supply and demand” principle mentioned earlier, and because most kids are selfish assholes. The older people you ask, the more likely they’ll want to share, either because they have beaten the “supply and demand” and have a lot of supply because of their own personal demand or because they can’t really smoke all that much anymore. I have seen twice-hit joints simply given away. I have seen a man in his 50s pull out twelve (12) joints for a two-hour concert. Twelve!
No. It’s smoking weed, not a fucking dinner party after a UN general assembly. Go! Have fun! Be considerate! Be safe!
M. Anton was recently contacted by a weed delivery service directly to his cell phone from a number he did not know the day that Part I of this article was posted. The NSA works in strange and mysterious ways.