Mother Knows Best: Is There Proper Etiquette to Lighting One Up Publicly in Legal States?
Visiting a friend in Colorado? Maybe wait a minute before sparking that spliff in the park. Or, you know, don't....
Published on April 17, 2017

Dear Mother,

Now that cannabis is legal in some states, is there a proper etiquette to lighting one up in public? Should I treat smoking marijuana the same way I’d enjoy a glass of wine? I know it should be ok, but there's still something holding me back from committing to enjoying cannabis in legal states. — Party Puffer

Hello PP,

I hear you. Now that cannabis is legal, it should just be like enjoying a beer or glass of wine. But the reality is that there is still some grey area when it comes down enjoying recreational cannabis. What would Ms. Manners say? Is there proper protocol to public pot? Let's investigate!

The first thing I'd caution is that while cannabis may be recreationally legal in your state, you just can't go puffing up all over the place. Just like you can't have open containers of alcohol or liquor in public in some places, you can't be sparking up either. That said, we all know folks who do drink in public (park picnics anyone?), so what's the scoop on pot?

I spoke with a friend who works in law enforcement and they said that as long as you're not infringing on anyone else and are fairly discreet, the police are not really going to bother with you. That means that you can most likely enjoy your vape pens or even a bowl, as long as you're not exhaling all over the toddler’s birthday party next to you. Be considerate! Don't be obnoxious!

But what about when you're just hanging with friends? If you're over somebody's house and they offer you wine, but you'd prefer something a bit greener, what do you do? To start you’d ideally know your friend’s cannabis habits (if any!). But if that's not the case, you can politely ask if they're a cannabis friendly house and if not, and would they be okay with you stepping out for a second? The notions of "be considerate" and "don't be obnoxious" hold up here as well. While your host may be okay with you stepping outside for a smoke, it would be rude to keep popping out numerous times and for long periods of time.

However, don't just assume that when you’re with your friends who do smoke, there’s no need for manners! Taylor Rabe, a former budtender and current cannabis cultivator,  offers some great etiquette tips for when you're smoking socially. "Don't cash someone else's bowl before it's time, especially if you don't reload it!" Just like you (hopefully!) wouldn’t drain someone's wine glass and then neglect to pour them another, you wouldn't smoke all your host’s weed and not refill. She also reminds us not to join a group joint when sick. "I feel like smoking a pipe and burning the mouthpiece with a lighter is an acceptable courtesy when sick, especially if you check in with the group first," explains Rabe. "But you can't burn off the end of a joint." And of course, one of the golden rules of smoking a joint: "Puff puff pass is the standard for passing joints around, [and] don't camp (or hold on to) a group joint without smoking it."

For those who may be visiting a weed-friendly state, make sure to research what the laws are before you travel. Freelance writer, Danielle Corcione, who writes about cannabis tourism reminds travelers that "Public consumption is not legal, and it's common for security to hang near the entrance of dispensaries." So, while it may be tempting to light up as soon as you leave your first dispensary, hold on to that urge. "Right now," reminds Corcione, "legal use is restricted to private residences and hotel rooms which allow for smoking. Of course, minors cannot consume either." Folks 21 and younger should definitely not be consuming cannabis in public, something reiterated by my law enforcement buddy.

One last note: dispensary etiquette is also a thing, so make sure to brush up on that before hitting one up!

— Mother

Mother Knows Best
Mother Knows Best is written by a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience with cannabis. And yes, she also happens to be a mother, just not yours. Reach her with your question at [email protected]
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