Lizzie Post is the great-great granddaughter of Emily Post, the most famous etiquette writer in American history, and the co-president of the Emily Post Institute, the country’s most respected etiquette brand. She also loves weed. And so, her friends have long teased her about the possibility of writing a 420-friendly etiquette book, particularly when doing so was still considered to be kind of a joke.
But the possibility for such a book has now become a reality. Post’s Higher Etiquette: A Guide to the World of Cannabis, from Dispensaries to Dinner Parties, is designed for veteran weed smokers just as much as it is for the “canna-curious.” Of course, the last thing anyone wants is a bunch of new rules to follow while high, but Post’s book is hardly that. She combines her own experience as a cannabis lover and etiquette expert to address topics such as entertaining with cannabis and consuming it in public, all within the context of increased legalization.
She also provides practical tips for common problems like not knowing where the heck to ash at a party or how to decline the joint without being a buzzkill. Overall, Post says “cannabis culture is baked in etiquette,” identifying kindness as integral to the social history of the plant. Because, according to Post, good manners means good vibes.
In my perpetual quest for good vibes — as well as my desire to be the tidiest, most gracious, most grateful stoner I can be — I recently reached out to Post for a lesson in her higher etiquette. Here’s what she had to say…
What’s your favorite way to ingest cannabis? And what strains do you love?
I love joints, especially in my little joint bubbler. It’s like this little, teeny-tiny bubbler. You just put a little bit of water in it, and it filters your drawing of the joint. You insert your joint in one end, and then you have a little carb and a mouth piece. This definitely helps it affect my lungs a little less, and all the ones I’ve ever had are incredibly comfortable. They really think about the right finger placement for everything on it.
One of my favorite strains is called Psycho Mango Madness. That’s what I’m excited to grow next. I grew Pineapple Chunk here in Vermont this summer when they opened up legalization, which was really fun. I really enjoyed smoking my own. I’m also a big fan of anything heavily derived from Durban Poison. I love [the terpene] linalool. I had some great Lemon Kush that made me really giggly in Portland. 9 Pound Hammer was another favorite during the process of writing the book because I tend to work when I’m on it.
Did you learn the most about any one particular mode of ingestion while writing the book?
I was the least familiar with dabbing, so dabbing was probably the one I’ve learned the most about. I especially learned about the right temperatures and how quickly you can burn oil. Dabbing also has so many special things, ‘cause you’re working with a serious open flame. Sometimes people have intricate riggs they don’t want you touching. That can create awkward social moments, because you’re sitting there so excited to try this thing and the person’s like, “No dude!” There are so many different moving parts to dabbing, and the concentrates are so strong that numerous different etiquette points come up.
I like how you have a whole page of advice related to the experiences one might have while high, such as becoming a total chatterbox.
I was worried people might get offended by that, but it really is just meant to celebrate some of those funny, relatable things. I mean, I’ve put my remote control in my freezer a million and one times. I’ve walked around looking for a lighter that’s in my hand. There are all these silly stoner moments, even though there’s a lot of sensitivity around language like “stoner” and “baked.” I wanted to touch on these classic moments I feel every cannabis user can relate to in some shape or form.
Okay, let’s get to some of that advice. Such as: Should we be tipping our budtenders every time we visit the dispensary or receive an Eaze delivery?
I only recently started seeing tip jars at the dispensary. But I think a lot of people are very happy to tip their budtenders because they’re grateful for the good suggestions and thorough explanations. A lot of budtenders really help customers figure out what’s going to be a good purchase and a good experience for them. This is one of the great things about the American tipping system, when it goes in the right direction — it’s based on generosity, gratitude and appreciation. So I think tipping is a wonderful way to close the transaction with someone. But as the cannabis hospitality space grows, with services like cannabis tours, people should check in beforehand and ask if there is some kind of tipping policy. For now, I think it mimics other service industry standards.
Let me ask you for some situational advice: Say I’m laying on the carpet at a friend’s place and people are passing a joint around. Is it in bad taste to pass a joint without ashing? What’s the more polite thing to do?
As an avid joint smoker, it’s always a pet peeve when my friend hands me a joint that has like an inch of ash at the top. I’m like, “Dude, come on! Now I got to learn forward into the ashtray.” So it’s definitely a good form of etiquette to ash before you pass. Try not to hand someone something that’s going to cause that moment of ash fear or ash anxiety.
What if I’m hitting a bong at a swanky cannabis dinner and suddenly experience a coughing fit. How can I mind my manners while suffering an involuntary reaction?
You want to let people know that you’re not choking, because that’s going to be their first concern when they hear you struggling at the table. So wave a hand and excuse yourself, take some water with you if you need it. It depends on what works for you. You know, you might also be holding a bong in your hands. It’s like, “I’ve got to put the bong down and excuse myself.”
One of my favorite tips in the book is to set your table with finger bowls for joint rolling and maintenance at weed-friendly dinner parties, which sounds so fancy and whimsical. Can you explain why doing so could be useful to your guests?
I was thinking about when you’re rolling a joint, and you come to the point where you’ve gotta lick it. It’s not really polite to lick and show your tongue and spit at the table. Even when you’re just hanging out with friends, some people are pretty germ conscious.
I was like, “How could you do this different, without potentially grossing someone out?” That’s a lot of what figuring out table manners and etiquette is — “how do I not gross out or offend the people around me?” When I thought about sealing a joint, I was like, “Oh man, finger bowls!” They used to be used as little bowls provided between courses where you had to use your fingers to eat something, so that you could clean off your fingers. They were like pre-wet naps basically. I realized that’s a great solution for anyone who’s not interested in having spit on their joint.
Is it rude to light up in public? I usually don’t care and neither does my 63-year old mother, given that we live in L.A. where adult-use weed is legal. At the same time, it’s still not technically legal to smoke outside of our private residences.
In terms of etiquette within the law, I do think you need to be a little careful of smoke or vape drifting over to the couple sitting on the bench near you. A lot of people are definitely hitting their vapes out and about and taking nice, big cloudy hits. I would be conscious of that, especially on a crowded street where the person right behind you is going to get a great big inhale of it with you.
My friend tweeted about not wanting strangers to hit his blunts. At the same time, asking people for a hit is such an established part of weed culture. How can I gracefully ask strangers to share their weed with me?
The standard has always been, “Hey, can I get a hit off that?” Or: “Hey, can I join you?” In some ways, I find that inappropriate because that’s someone else’s cannabis. Depending on what it is, what they use it for, where they got it and how much it cost them — no, they might not want to give you any.
Asking is an assumption. They might not like having to feel like they should share just because you’re asking. Some people also might not feel comfortable hanging out with a stranger or exchanging something that you’re both putting your mouths on. There’s a lot of different reasons why people would be uncomfortable with it, which is why it’s not something I tend to recommend.
However, like anyone who’s ever been to a concert knows, there’s this natural community aspect of cannabis use. There’s this sense of wanting to enjoy something good together or to want to hook someone up. We don’t have to lose that as a culture just because the ways of buying cannabis are growing. So I say to each their own. You can always ask, but if you’re the kind of person who’s not interested in sharing, I think you should feel confident saying that, too.
I hate the clanging sound of clearing a bowl, and I’ve lost way too many bobby pins trying to do so at home. Is there a less rowdy and messy way that you know of?
A lot of people just turn a bowl over and whack it on their palm or on the table. But I think a small poking device is really nice because it allows you to stir up the bowl before you clean it out. Then you can turn it over into an ashtray or some kind of receptacle. I’ve seen so many people do it with their hands, but as a host, I’m always trying to think about how I can prevent my guests from having to get dirty by keeping receptacles around.
What are your favorite hostess gifts for the cannabis lovers in your life?
I almost always bring a joint, and often I’ll write something on the filter before I roll it, whether it’s “Happy Birthday!” or “Congratulations!” I write it on the outside of the filter, so that you can see it on the joint. I’m a big fan of bringing what you like. But it really could be anything. It could be a little accoutrement, whether that’s a chop cup and scissors or a beautiful rolling tray. Kush Kards are the best method of delivery I’ve seen. You have a greeting card with a little place to insert a joint, a cartridge or a $5 bill. They also have a strike zone for a match and can include a matchbook. It’s very, very cute.
I’ve written about how my own 420-friendly parents should have just been open about it while I was growing up. Do you have any advice for parents about disclosing their cannabis use to their children or responsibly normalizing it in the home?
I spoke to parents who didn’t want their kids to smell cannabis on them at all, so they would smoke in the garage or outside and use mouthwash and wash their hands before coming in. I also spoke with parents who vaped while cooking dinner in front of their children. It ran the gamut. The one thing I did hear from a lot of parents is that they’re amazed by how engaged they are while playing with their children after consuming cannabis. They told me, “I’m not thinking about bills. I’m not thinking about other distractions. I’m thinking about my child and the environment that we’re in and what we’re doing and what’s happening around us.”
I really liked the attitude of one of the parents that I spoke with because I thought it reflected her consideration as a host. She said, “You know, if I’ve got people coming over who aren’t going to be comfortable with my four-foot bong being displayed in the living room, then I’m going to move it to the bedroom. It doesn’t need to be on full display for us to have a nice evening, or for me to be who I am.” I liked that, because I think the idea is that you want to be who you are and feel respected in your own home, but you also want to make the people who are going to be visiting your space and spending time with your family comfortable as well.
There are lots of different ways to make that work when it comes to parenting and also toward your kids having friends whose parents may have different views than your own. One of the things the book stresses is to find places where both parents can be comfortable, so if you’ve got a parent who’s not comfortable with their kid being around cannabis, you can set up playdates somewhere else. It’s unfortunate that you can’t connect in both children’s homes, but rather than say you can’t be friends because of that, try to work around it. Because at the end of the day, you have to be okay with yourself and your choices. That’s something I wanted people to feel really confident in — handling moments when you meet disagreement, but not letting it damage the potential for good relationships.
What’s good etiquette for admitting you’re super stoned?
This is the reason why it’s great to carry some CBD on you, and in a form that works somewhat quickly [such as tincture or sublingual]. A decent dosage of CBD can help combat the effects of THC faster than letting it wear off. So I’d definitely consume a decent-size dose of CBD and then drink water. I’ve also heard that lemon and peppercorns can help wake you up and focus a bit.
For a lot of people, cannabis is about unplugging. I feel like some folks might scoff at the idea of incorporating proper etiquette into their cannabis consumption, like “Why?” What would you say to that?
I think you can still be high and exhibit good etiquette toward those around you. And I think the cannabis community happens to do that exceptionally well. It’s completely why there were so many people who, as soon as I started talking about the book with them, immediately started listing customs, rituals and funny moments from their sessions. It’s a community that values generosity, sharing and choosing to be trusting. Plus, higher etiquette isn’t necessarily formal, it’s something most of us might naturally be doing to a certain extent already. But it’s fun to read about and to figure out new ways of making our interactions that much more positive.