Smoking Etiquette to Follow at Your 4/20 Gathering

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As a cannabis publicist and activist, I’ve been privy to smoking with everyone from friends to family members over the many years since I had my first taste of bud through a crushed Natural Ice (Natty ice to us Jersey Natives) when I was in high school. In that decade I’ve learned a number of habits and even manners that many cannabis users practice when smoking in a group. I’ve also discovered many personal and universal pet peeves that only come after sharing many smokes with many different people.

April 20th is a rare day when cannabis novices and experts come together for enlightenment and celebration of their favorite herb. Ahead of the famed stoner holiday, I wanted to round up some etiquette for smoking in large groups. I asked around to a few trusted stoners and cannabists to come up with a definitive list guidelines for sharing a smoke this Holidaze.

Puff Puff Pass

Ask any stoner their number one rule and they’ll likely say “don’t get the blunt wet” or “Puff, Puff, Pass,” referring to taking two hits before passing the joint or blunt on to the next person in succession. This is a tried and trusty rule that helps one or two smoking implements (joint, blunt) make its way around a bigger circle, like one you may expect at an all-day celebration. This rule however isn’t written in stone. If you and your loved one are smoking a post coitial joint in bed, no one is going to count Puff, Puff, Pass; but if you’re in a large group and take eight hits, everyone else will take more than two and you’ll see that joint again when it’s an itty, bitty nub of a roach.

I personally rarely follow Puff, Puff, Pass, as I’m usually the one rolling and exclusively supplying the cannabis. If I’m the only one suppling in a crowd, I except everyone else to follow Puff, Puff, Pass but if anyone says anything against it, I’ll scream and kick em out the circle.

Be honest about what’s in the joint/blunt

I am a habitual spliff smoker, which means that whenever I roll a joint, a portion of it will consist of tobacco. For whatever reason, I find the smoke of a spliff to make me cough significantly less than that of a pure cannabis joint. Practicality wise, tobacco also stretches the size of the joint when you are smoking with a number of people and want to have a longer lasting experience. As a result, I am very careful to alert everyone who is offered my joint that there is tobacco in it.

When it comes to 4/20, there may be added extras that people may want to put in a joint or blunt. Variations include keif, ground up shrooms, wax/oil, THC crystals, tobacco and even herbs like lavender. If you’re smoking with people who don’t see you roll it, or won’t know what’s in it, make sure those smoking know if there’s anything other than straight flower in there, especially when with novices. It may seem tedious to explain it more than once, especially if people are coming and going from the smoking area, but it helps to prevent any unwanted reactions that may ruin your chill.

Be conscious of the boat

If you smoke blunts or joints in a group, the variety of breath patterns—some people inhale short and quickly, while others breath is long and deeply—can disrupt the cherry and cause it to burn unevenly. If this happens, it’s better to be addressed than to keep smoking, as a boated blunt or joint can be wasted, or hard to smoke.

If your joint or blunt starts to boat, you can fix it by:

  • Taking long, slow breaths until the entire cherry is fired

  • Lick your finger and then apply the moisture to the low end of the ember

  • Use a lighter to burn off the boated edge.

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Alternatively, rim the edges of any bowls/pieces

In order to make the greens of a bowl or bong last, using your flame on the rim of the edges will still allow a full bong rip or bowl toke, and will allow for everyone in the circle to hit greens the first time around. If you’re inexperienced with lighting bowls, ask someone in the circle to show you how to. If you clear all the greens, offer to repack the bowl.

Lighters

There are two types of people in this world: people who always bring lighters and lose them, and people who never buy lighters but always have then. If you’re the type who always loses their lighter, take some time to put a sticker or a decal on the lighter so you always know its yours. Fancy or custom lighters also work this way.

Don’t be a mooch

Mooch, noun, verb – to consume others cannabis without reciprocation or exchange

When you interact with a group of cannabis consumers, not everyone has bud any given day. Some days, everyone has a little weed to give in to a big blunt. Other days, one person is rolling for the group. Usually, between munchie snacks, blunt wraps, papers and lighters, it evens itself out within the group.

Like most stoners, I’m always happy to help out a friend who is dry by throwing them a nug or lighting them up. But the one thing that so many stoners cannot stand are moochers. The mooch is the person who shows up just as the joint is being lit and inserts themselves into the circle without throwing anything in. You don’t always need to supply weed to a smoking circle, but many people will expect you to contribute something. Even if you’re not supplying weed, there are other contributions you can make to the group. Everyone will always remember the person who brought the delicious soda that got rid of the dry mouth or the sweets that satiated their munchies. Bringing something to the group ensures that not one person is responsible for providing the festivities of a shared celebration.

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Community and love

As much as these guidelines are meant to help you enjoy your smoking festivities, remember that smoking is about being relaxed and open to others. Our hippy forefathers who fought for the right for us to toke without going to jail for decades would be shamed if they knew their cherished smoking circles were marred by negativity and non-community. 4/20 is a day to celebrate cannabis, and for many has turned to a day more revered than Christmas. We all come together take shelter from a world and a federal government that doesn’t understand our sacred plant. Take time to get to know one another and why cannabis is important to those around you. Share your favorite way of consumption and thank others for sharing theirs. Kiss the stoner next to you, hug the blazer to your right. Happy Smoking ya’ll!