The Stoners’ Guide to Looking and Smelling Less High

Have we evolved beyond Axe body spray and a fistful of Certs, yet?

Weed is legit now. It’s increasingly legal and increasingly gentrified, with artisanal edibles and mom-friendly packaging replacing cheap plastic baggies and literal human shit.

But there’s a difference between the slick image of fancy photogenic people broadening their horizons and just being baked out of your dang skull, all fidgety and greasy. Being high as balls isn’t always allowed. Whether it’s a spontaneous visit from the landlord, a forgotten appointment with grandparents or an unexpected encounter with work colleagues who think you’re a lot more sensible than you are, occasionally even the most cavalier of stoners needs to look, smell and generally seem less high than they are. Eyedrops, mouthwash and body spray are classics for a reason. But what else? 

“If you’re in a situation where it’s even remotely plausible that you might have chosen to wear sunglasses for legitimate reasons, wear sunglasses,” says Sophie, a scientist in London. “If you can’t get away with sunglasses, just really try to keep your eyes open. I go into job-interview mode — trying to be a better version of myself in terms of things like posture and compliance. But beyond being polite, I try to speak as little as possible.”

“I try to avoid contact with other humans unless I’m married to them, related to them or fucking them,” adds Josef, a DJ from Russia. “If I end up talking to other people, my vocabulary choices can go a bit haywire. It’s usually a battle to temper it, to stop going unnecessarily polysyllabic and loquacious. But then sometimes I overcompensate and sound like a five-year-old.”

“There’s a real attention-span tightrope,” explains Roger, who works in marketing in Hong Kong. “If someone’s talking to you, you don’t want to drift off completely. But you also don’t want to find yourself totally over engrossed in what they’re saying, staring at them like a maniac. And try not to go off on weird fucking tangents in your head, where you end up saying shit that makes total sense to you but only to you. I’m also a fan of drinking a beer if you can — it covers the smell, keeps you hydrated, levels you out a little and provides a more socially acceptable reason for erratic behavior.”

Some of this is about knowing your audience, of course — there’s a generation for whom a guy having a beer is just unwinding after a busy day, but the faintest smell of weed is Drugs, Danger, D.A.R.E and babysitters putting toddlers in ovens.

If you’re worried about the smell giving you away, Steven from London suggests hygienic smoking habits and a bit of preparation can come in handy. “I feel like that really strong stoner-y smell doesn’t come from smoking weed so much as having a bunch of it on you,” he says. “Only carry around what you have to, and keep it in small, sealed containers. Also, putting a joint out makes it smell a lot more — sometimes it’s fine when you’re smoking, but then you decide you’ve had enough for now and scrape the cherry off to finish it later, and suddenly it fucking stinks. Either roll smaller joints or smoke the whole thing.”

Sophie has an old-school smell-avoidance tactic. “I smoke freely in my own house now, I’m a grownup,” he says. “But when I was younger, exhaling smoke through a toilet-roll tube stuffed with dryer sheets meant nothing got into my clothes.” Adulthood obviously makes certain things easier — you’re less likely to stink if you can freely smoke in your garden or a well-ventilated area rather than doing it in a clandestine way in your bedroom, spilling bong water all over yourself from hurriedly hiding it from unwanted eyes.

What if you’re super high and run into people and it’s just all a bit too much, though? There’s always removing yourself from a situation and taking a minute. “Never underestimate the value of going away for a shit,” says Josef. “And if I’m uncomfortably fucked, I find that splashing my face with water while thinking about someone I find physically repulsive — usually my boss — helps bring me back a bit.” He also recommends drinking lots of water, taking a micro-nap if you can and “eating like a motherfucker” as ways to come back to Earth.

The true pros, even the apocryphal ones, do the groundwork to make sure nobody ever notices anything out of the ordinary. “I heard a story once — it’s probably an urban legend, but I like it,” says Roger. “This guy got stoned out of his head before getting his driver’s license photos taken, so every time he got pulled over by the cops he just looked fine.”

The L.A. band Bong Wizard, whose EP The Bong Remains The Same is out now, endorse a similar method applied universally to existence: “The trick is to always be high. That way you set a baseline on your first impression, and people just think that’s how you look and act. So when you show up super blazed one day, you can just shrug it off as allergies or something.”