Higher Etiquette: Cannabis Culture
with Lizzie Post 🌱
I was in the third grade when my mom gave us three weeks of etiquette lessons from the famous Emily Post books. Lucky for us, Lizzie Post, the great-great granddaughter of Emily has kept the legacy alive with the Emily Post Institute on all topics from business, lifestyle, to weddings, and now cannabis with the latest book, Higher Etiquette.
We sat on a NYC rooftop, chatting about the world and where we are in it. How etiquette in general seems to be lost with unsaid rules, assumed tones and lots of innuendo across all platforms. With cannabis culture rising, we head back into real life and embrace a practice that’s all about honest communication. When I sit with Lizzie, I can’t help to feel how some talents are just in the DNA. With the perfect diction as I imagine Emily Post possessed, Lizzie is the modern version of etiquette, both refined and down to earth. Higher Etiquette is comprehensive and easy to understand. It’s a must on the shelves for every cannabis connoisseur as well as the new perfect gift. We sit and eat pizza, talk cannabis, and you heard it here first, Lizzie Post knows how to drop an f-bomb, or two, or ten :)))))
Excerpt: The Principles of Cannabis Etiquette - Respect, Generosity, Gratitude and Sharing.
Respect is deeply rooted in the cannabis community. There’s respect for the plant itself, respect for the individual consumption preferences, as well as respect for identity, style, and language choices. There is respect for the culture as it has been, as well as for where it’s headed.
The generosity of the cannabis community comes from a collective understanding of how much cannabis helps people and how much it is enjoyed. More often than not, a person will choose to share the last of what they have - or at least share a hit or two - knowing what it can be like to go without.
The cannabis community feels gratitude toward both the plant itself and the freedom to engage with it. When asked from an etiquette standpoint about the right thing to do, most recommended accepting the gift and thanking the giver even if they didn’t like it — the importance is placed on honoring the act of generosity.
For the past century, cannabis has been shared and consumed in “secret.” As legalization has taken place, cannabis lovers have been coming out of the canna-closet and sharing their methods, knowledge and experience. It’s a true cannabis renaissance! As we discover ways to absorb cannabis into the greater folds of American life, collectively we will establish good etiquette and identify the beneficial manners that will shape the higher etiquette of cannabis culture.
On the importance of sharing
It's how the cannabis community came to be. Ever since the first person chose to take this plant that they loved and say, “Hey, there's this thing that I love or that I'm enjoying or that I used or that I ate or that I smelled, you should smell it too.” That's where it begins.
Is the etiquette to buy extra with sharing in mind?
I like to think that people should be responsible for choosing their own generosity and what they're capable of being generous with. Being willing to extend to someone else or offer it as a courtesy - that to me is a beautiful tradition to uphold.
Respect. Are we respecting the plant if companies are putting it in ice cream?
I think you could argue that one both ways. I think you could say it's respectful to utilize it and celebrate it in every way possible. I think of the things like luxurious body lotions, all of it can be healing, so in some ways, that is respectful. But when it comes to the idea of using ice creams and gummies and things like that, I think of it a little more in the celebratory section of it, if I want to put the positive spin on it.
Where it wouldn’t feel respectful is if you were being greedy with it. And the way we choose to waste it would be another place I would see disrespect. I like when companies are doing something with all the plant matter that's not being cut up and used as flower. I think that's a way to show respect to the plant, to really utilize all of it because all of it can be utilized.
Excerpt: Discretion is still the better part of valor
Choosing privacy or discretion is not the same as hiding in shame. Just because you can legally toke up doesn’t mean you want to or have to share that with everyone in your life.
Best practices with social media?
So we have the capability to post anything, anytime. Respect comes from a place of recognizing that we could, and choosing to ask first. That's what I love about etiquette, it says we have a new capability and we have a responsibility to each other as a society to figure out how to be respectful with this new capability.
I have seen many cannabis dinners or events where people say “Are we all okay with being tagged? Is there someone who doesn't want to be mentioned.” And I love that because it's about giving people options and recognizing that there could be a preference.
We know that companies when they're hiring, look up people's social media accounts to see who they are and what they're up to and what kind of social media behavior they have. So given that we could be judged, in circumstances that are really issues of viability for us — your job is a really key portion of your life — it’s important to be responsible and be respectful of that. It's definitely advice that we use elsewhere in the etiquette world as well, not just with cannabis.
Excerpt: No Matter What.
The spirit of cannabis culture remains true to the principles of respect, generosity, and gratitude. These have been a the heart of cannabis culture since cannabis was first shared, and they will always remain, as will the celebration and exploration of the plant that brings so much good to the lives of many.
I have yet to be able to read it out loud [at a book signing] without starting to choke up and cry. It gets me each time. We’re talking about freedom. Being allowed to participate openly with relief from shame. The more we are allowed to be who we are and have it be ok - that’s empowering people. It’s an important thing right now.
What should we call this? Cannabis, marijuana, weed, flower?
We shouldn't have just one word, we should have many, many words. Cannabis is a word I default to but by no means is it the only word. I do think that in the media, scientific and medical arenas, and in our legislation, that this is a word we should turn to for it.
Words like marijuana, it's a beautiful word, and it's a word that can offend some people. It doesn't mean it's a bad word, it's a word from Hispanic cultures, so it should never be demonized. However, we need to be aware of its history because for some it’s offensive.
We're in a world of a lot of opinions. I had no idea that the word marijuana could be offensive to some and that it could be linked to racism. So it was really illuminating for me to learn that [in my research]. I also talked to people who love the word. I definitely had people in marketing departments telling me “you must use the word because it is the most searched word when it comes to cannabis.” So it's not about policing any kind of language, it's just about making people aware that certain words might not land well with everyone.
Where I’m from, dope is still used all the time. But it’s not a comfortable word for all, and doesn’t always make people think of cannabis when it’s used.
On “no pinching”
You shouldn't ask someone for their medical marijuana because it's their medicine, and it's actually prescribed to them just the same way you really shouldn't be asking them for their prescription pills either. And you don't ask them about their medical decisions.
Just a note that pinching goes beyond this though. It's something that happens all the time among those who live together. It can be tempting when your roommate has a large stash and you have none to just take a pinch from their jar. But it's not polite. Instead ask ahead of time if pinching is okay or refrain from doing it until you can ask.
On passing etiquette
When it comes to joints, the classic puff, puff pass, two hits and pass it along is typical. It seems to be a comfortable standard for a lot of people. I think it's a good default to go to.
When it comes to bowls [pipes] - it’s often one puff and then pass.
Blunt [Blunts are when cannabis is rolled into a cigar (tobacco leaf) wrap] smokers have told me three puffs and then pass.
Hanging with a bunch of new cannabis lovers and the joint is zigzagging all over the place. Clearly they haven’t read Higher Etiquette. Should we feel a responsibility that we have to respect the culture and share the traditions? It feels very puff puff pass police.
I may say, “Hey guys lets keep it moving around the circle” and nudge it in that direction. If its free form it may be really nice to break form once and while. You could say, “Where’s this going next?” as a good way to be polite about it. It takes the pressure off someone who keeps getting skipped in a zigzag format from having to speak up and say “hey can I get the joint?” But I also hate categorizing cannabis to just being that classic circle session. You know what I mean? Because it's so classic.
Haha, no. There are no puff, puff, pass police.
How do well-intentioned germaphobes get past the sharing and passing? I have this ‘friend’ 🙄
If you’re a germaphobe I would smoke personals. However, in that zone you end up quasi violating the sharing aspect of the community. I would suggest you bring some to share and contribute even if you don’t smoke the exact joint, bowl, or vape pen with others. I would light a joint for myself and send one around as well (offer the communal one up first and then light your own). You could say, “Sorry guys, I'm a germaphobe. Here you go. I came prepared for you.”
What’s the etiquette on keeping saliva at bay?
This is a tough one! On the polite side it starts with being aware of yourself. If you have a particularly wet whistle be mindful of tucking your lips in a bit when you hit a joint, blunt or vape pen or of wiping or burning the end of a bowl before you pass it to the next person.
Perfect, numero uno hostess gift (Higher Etiquette, obvi) and what else? Flower?
Anything cannabis related! I don’t vape a lot of oils but I still love getting vape pens and cartridges as gifts because I know I can use them in a pinch or offer them to my guests when they come over. Whenever possible go with a gift that matches the receiver’s preferences. If you don’t know them, get something you love - that’s keeping in kind with cannabis sharing and generosity for sure!
I really do love things that are in both the Durban Poison and the Jack Herer families. Tangie is also one of my favorites - your gift of tangie crossed seeds to me that one time was like a dream come true! I really like citrusy (limonene) and pinene dominant strains.
There is a strain from one grower in California called African Queen, and it is one of my all time favorite strains. There's something about that strain that it gets you jazzed enough that you're in a really good social space, but it's also relaxing. So it's like, I want to talk with people, I want to engage with people, I have the energy to do those things, but I'm not amped up. To me, it's the perfect sociable party strain.
I happen to like potencies that are like between 15 and 20 for weed that I want to smoke really regularly. I like higher potencies if I want to use it to go to bed or something like that.
What does cannabis do for you?
I love it in general! I like the act of smoking a joint. There’s something about that that fits with me. A lot of the times, it allows me a bit of space to process things. Or it can energize and focus me and get me to work. Or it encourages me to sleep. I guess I really like the variety of use I can get out of it. No matter what, I feel glad that I’m doing it and I feel connected to it. Everytime for me, it’s an “I like this.” kind of thing.
an amazing plant for so many reasons.
Stay tuned…as I go road trippin’ with Lizzie this fall! 💙 Nina
“Reprinted with permission from Higher Etiquette: A Guide to the World of Cannabis, from Dispensaries to Dinner Parties by Lizzie Post, copyright© 2019. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.”
Illustration credit: Sam Kalda © 2019
“If I’m here and you’re here, and we are aware of everybody else out there, does that mean that everybody else is aware that we’re here?”
— Stoner Epiphanies, anonymous