You might not associate prim and proper behavior with a social activity like smoking weed or consuming cannabis, but the fact of the matter is, the diverse community of pot consumers across America rests on pillars of respect and gratitude. Stoner etiquette is real and having manners isn't just a remnant of high society. Many who partake tend to abide by established social norms, they just tend to be unwritten or unspoken.
Etiquette can be tricky to navigate. Not everyone abides by the same codes of social behavior, but there are some guidelines that have persisted: placing a napkin over your lap while dining is considered to be a hallmark of “good manners,” while talking with your mouth full is still considered a faux pas, thanks in part to Emily Post. In a day and age where the consumption of cannabis has been legalized or is in the process of legalization in many states, the establishment of “rules” is inevitable. The social stigma surrounding the discussion of cannabis has slowly evaporated: celebrity stoners like Rihanna and Cameron Diaz have become poster children for weed and CBD beauty products are flooding the market. But how do you know how to mind your manners when it comes to marijuana if the rules haven’t been written somewhere for you to easily find them?
That’s exactly the question Lizzie Post, great-great granddaughter of Emily Post and the co-president of the Emily Post Institute, has set out to tackle with Higher Etiquette, her new book that covers social issues as they relate to cannabis culture, and updates her great-great grandmother’s theories of politeness for the 21st century.
Post’s book covers everything from how to give weed as a gift, things you might want to consider if you want to host a proper dinner party where you serve guests cannabis-infused food, how to express your own hesitations when it comes to marijuana in the home if you share your home with someone else, and, perhaps most importantly, how to go about sharing (or not sharing) with your friends. Here, a handy guide to stoner etiquette for 4/20 and beyond, courtesy of the etiquette scion herself.
What does etiquette mean to you, broadly speaking?
Etiquette is really about how we impact each other’s lives. That could be from holding a door for a total stranger all the way up to getting married to someone, conducting business with them, doing things that are really important in our lives.
With marijuana in particular, why is it important to you that people uphold manners?
For starters, the cannabis community has their own set of courtesies that have been long-established. One of the points of the book is to highlight what this community and culture has already deemed appropriate. From the Emily Post perspective, when you take something like cannabis and legalize it, and you have people now who are affected by it, whether you are a consumer or not. It is going to impact the social scenes around you. It is going to impact—especially if there’s a retail value—what your town looks like, and what your friends are engaging with. We really found that at this particular point in time, as cannabis goes through this big culture shift, that it is a really good point for Emily Post to enter the conversation.
So you’re updating a pre-existing set of standards for this contemporary moment?
You got it. Expanding it, even. Like, I always imagine, when did something like cornering bowls, or lighting it from the side in order to conserve cannabis, really catch on? I wish we had the history going back. We can find the history of the legend of 420, but I’m curious to know when that became a thing that people realized they should do, to conserve their weed when sharing, out of a general sense of courtesy.
How much emphasis do you think should be placed on sharing?
Between consideration and respect, I couldn’t tell you which is more important because I think they go hand in hand. No matter what, if you can’t be generous with something or can’t share it, at least you can be considerate and respectful about the people around you.
Let’s say you have a guest staying with you, and you want to share some of your weed with them, but they end up taking more than what you offered. How would you navigate that situation?
The best way to curb that is for you to be the one to give it to them. [Laughs.] You break apart the nugget or you pick it out. Often times, it’s always that quasi-tense moment of, "How much are they going to share with me?" And on the other side, you’re sitting there wondering, "How much do you need and how much can I afford to give out?" There’s a balance there, but I think it’s best for the person giving to actually give cannabis, as opposed to the person who is asking just taking it out of the jar.
A lot of these social “rules” have historically been unspoken and unwritten, but do you encourage people to ask questions in these scenarios?
You don’t know something unless someone’s ever brought it up with you before. Like, I didn’t know about cornering bowls until three or four years into consuming cannabis. That was something a friend taught me at one point, and I was like, oh my gosh that makes total sense. I have another friend who doesn’t corner any bowls when he lights them. He just burns the whole top of it and doesn’t think about it or care.
Another scenario: let’s say you live with someone who smokes a lot and it’s getting to the point where it’s bothersome for you. How do you suggest someone bring that up with their roommate?
I think honesty is really the best policy, but it is going to be in how you deliver this news that’s going to make the difference between if the interaction goes well or not. One of the best things you can do is ask them if they have time to chat about some roommate topics, and invite them to bring their own to the table if they have any. Once you have the permission to talk about it, you can simply let them know, "Cannabis smoke doesn’t bother me that much but the frequency with which it’s happening around here is starting to get to me and I was wondering if sometimes you could take it outside, or if we can open the window." Whatever it is that’s going to make you feel more comfortable, offer that as a suggestion. And be prepared for counter suggestions! Someone might be a little annoyed at first, but let them work their way through it and give it a little bit of space to change. It’s your home and you have a right to be comfortable but so does the other person. Even recognizing that sometimes makes someone feel less put out.
When it comes to giving or receiving gifts, what are some of your favorite cannabis-related gifts?
My most standard cannabis-related gift is just a pre-rolled joint. I love rolling joints for my friends! I have a group of friends who don’t really roll joints, and when I was in college everybody rolled the same style. Now, I feel like a lot don’t know how to roll or are not confident in their rolling so that’s something I like giving to them. I’ll personalize it and put a little message on the filter, or make sure it’s one of their favorite strains. The world of cannabis gifting is so large. My parents bought me a cannabis doormat for my birthday. I think they’re getting a little excited to see it pop into mainstream America. The biggest thing is that you just want to let people know what kind of product you’re getting someone and what the potency is.
What’s one key element to consider when hosting a cannabis-infused dinner party?
The number one tip is communication. You absolutely want to communicate to your guests, both with the invitation and when they’re actually at your house, in terms of the food and beverage you provide whether cannabis is incorporated in it, and how much, and what the potential effects could be. Especially as people get into states where regulation happens more and you can really get more information about the cannabis that you purchase, you’ll be able to gauge the recipes or pre-packaged food that you buy and be able to actually tell them how many milligrams are in it. Not only can you make dishes that are infused, but have the exact same meal available that’s not infused, so that at any point during the dinner, someone could be enjoying cannabis infused or non-infused dishes based on how they’re feeling as they consume and as the high starts to hit them. Also, if you’re planning on having everything infused, do it at really low doses so that by the end of the meal, you’ll have a full dose. Each individual serving shouldn’t be anywhere close to a full dose.
The Emily Post name is associated with being prim and proper, and you mentioned that your parents are supportive now, but what was it like navigating your relationship to cannabis as you grew up?
They’re really excited! Ever since we started this project, they’ve been really on it with the news. Anytime a state chooses to go forward with cannabis or not, they send me the press clippings and things like that. They’re also very excited any time they see cannabis stuff popping up in the mainstream. They immediately, without a question, thought that the book was a good idea for our company, and were really happy with how it turned out, both the design and the content. When they would edit the different versions of the manuscripts before going to the publisher, their comments were hysterical. They don’t consume cannabis themselves but they’re supportive. They wanted me to grow up without influences until I was an adult who could make decisions for myself—don’t drink, or do drugs, or smoke cigarettes, that sort of thing.
What would Emily Post think of this book?
I think she would be for it in terms of the fact that it’s a topic that’s affecting millions of Americans right now. Millions of Americans are engaged with it whether they consume cannabis or not. From that perspective, she’d be really for it. She also fought very hard against the prohibition of alcohol. She herself did not drink, but she really did not believe that the government should be interfering with what she believed were citizens’ rights. I do think she would probably liken cannabis to alcohol in that realm and say it’s a choice that citizens should be allowed to make themselves. But I can guarantee you she would not have been a fan of my smoking joints! She did not appreciate smoke. I think combustion of any kind she would be bothered by or find inappropriate for her great-great granddaughter to be doing publicly. But it was much more based on the smoke. Who knows what she might’ve thought of tinctures and edibles! She might’ve been all for it.