Believe it or not, the etiquette gurus at The Emily Post Institute have some strong opinions about cannabis culture—positive opinions, to be clear.
Lizzie Post, the great-great-granddaughter of the politeness queen, now runs the Emily Post Institute along with her cousin. It turns out that the manners maven is actually a self-described “classic stoner” and even wrote a book called Higher Etiquette: A Guide to the World of Cannabis, from Dispensaries to Dinner Parties.
With cannabis legalization rolling out in New York, we consulted the expert for her kindest tips on consuming cannabis.
1. Call it cannabis
First of all, let’s define the term. “Cannabis” may sound a little academic, but in more formal settings, Post recommends this as the traditional and correct word.
The word marijuana has a fraught history, and some gardeners oppose the word “weed” because a weed is seen as an unwanted plant.
In casual situations with your friends, though, Post says to call it whatever you want! Pot, weed, etc.—whatever works for you. If you’re using a colloquialism, like “gas,” just make sure everyone actually understands what you’re talking about, she recommends.
2. Be aware of your smoke
In New York City, adults over 21 can smoke cannabis anywhere they can smoke a cigarette (with a few exceptions). But any smoke can annoy people, Post notes. She recommends checking in with people around you to ask if it’s OK to light up.
“I do think we have to be mindful of the fact that smoke is bothersome to people … whether it’s pipe smoke or cannabis smoke or cigarette smoke or cigar smoke. Also, I’m going to throw vaping into there too,” Post tells us. “There’s a lot of considerations we have when we’re choosing to inhale and we need to make sure we’re really thinking about the people around us.”
If you’re smoking in your apartment, be aware that the smoke may be wafting into other areas where neighbors may be uncomfortable.
Our advice: For the love of pizza rat, do NOT smoke on the subway. It’s not allowed, and it’s annoying, okay?!
3. Step away if you’re coughing
Look, coughing happens. Don’t make fun of your friend if they cough after a hit, Post admonishes. It’s just not nice! Offer them a glass of water instead.
If you’re the one coughing, follow good manners: Cough into your elbow, not your hand. Excuse yourself from the room so you can cough without making others uncomfortable. Wash your hands, especially if you’re passing things around like joints, blunts, bowls or bongs.
4. Label your edibles
Most importantly, make sure you’re not serving edibles at a party where anyone underage could get them.
“Whether you’re purchasing pre-made edibles or whether you’re making your own and serving them up, little hands find things, and they find things that look like gummy bears, they find things that look like brownies,” Post says. “So, I think you really have to be incredibly mindful about that.”
Now, assuming you’re at a party with adults, be sure to label your edibles.
“Label, label and label some more. You need to make sure everybody knows that this is cannabis-infused food. That’s number one,” she advises.
Try your edibles before sharing them with other people. Then, she recommends labeling the potency and your experience with it. For example, “Packs a huge punch; start small; this made me euphoric and giggly; this gave me the munchies;” or “this gave me total ‘couchlock.’” Don’t assume that people will know terms like Sativa or Indica, so make it crystal clear.
5. Communicate with visitors to your place
Let your visitors know what to expect before they show up. Post, for example, grows cannabis in her garden, and she’ll give friends a heads up before they visit so there’s no surprise. She also lets folks know that they may see joints around her home.
6. Be a good cannabis ambassador
It all boils down to being a good ambassador for cannabis, especially as Post hopes to see federal legislation in the future.
“Be the kind of person that is going to help make cannabis something that people aren’t so upset about,” she says. “The more that we can make our consumption not impact other people in negative ways, the better off that’s gonna go.”
If you encounter someone with a negative opinion about cannabis, Post recommends responding kindly by expressing your personal experience with it, rather than diving into a history lesson.
“Being able to confidently say, ‘Oh boy, I’m sorry that’s how you feel about it, because I have such a positive impact on my life from this thing, and I really appreciate it,’” Post says. “Your positive experience with it is just as valid as someone’s negative remarks.”
Craving more Higher Etiquette? You can buy the book at local bookstores or order a signed copy through Bridgeside Books in Vermont.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.