Cannabis Etiquette: Some Suggestions

Okay, Canada. We’re going to legalize cannabis in a little over a month. I’m generally in favour of that, but I also worry that people might not understand cannabis, and as a result of not understanding it, people might hurt themselves or others.

As a college prof, I’ve been hearing stories from students of mine for years about people who bought one type of pot, only to find that it had far more THC than they were led to believe. Among other problems, mostly stemming from ignorance.

Mislabelled product, product mixed with harder stuff like cocaine, and dealers and suppliers who lie about their sources, etc. are everywhere.

As a result, they had all kinds of reactions, up to and including the kind of reckless behaviour while high that gets people permanently injured or dead.

Insert obligatory stock-photo of something to do with cannabis.

So: in much the same way that responsible alcohol drinkers know to check the label of what they’re drinking (for alcohol %, etc.), and know not to drive, and know when to stop for the day, etc., responsible cannabis consumers will be those who learn to read the label of what they’re smoking (or eating, or vaping, or, whatever), and not drive, and stop when they’ve had enough.

So, I propose the following simple rules of etiquette, similar to what we already do around alcohol, to help those of us who want to toke up to do so responsibly.

– If you don’t know where it came from, don’t take it.
– If you don’t know what it is, don’t take it.
– If it isn’t labelled clearly, or not labelled at all, don’t take it.
– If the person offering it to you won’t tell you what it is or where it came from, don’t take it.
– If you don’t know how much THC or CBD it contains, don’t take it.
– If you don’t know what THC or CBD means, don’t take it. (Find out here.)
– If it didn’t come from a licensed producer, don’t take it.
– If you have to go to work, to school, a wedding or a funeral, or to visit the Queen, don’t take it.
– If you have to drive somewhere, don’t take it.
– If you have already taken it, don’t drive until you’re not high anymore.
– More to the point, don’t make any major life decisions while high.
– For the love of the gods, don’t get a tattoo while high. Speaking from experience. (No, not my own.)
– If you’re trying it for the first time and don’t know what to expect, don’t do it alone, or don’t do it among other first-time tokers.

And, some of the cigarette etiquette we have already learned can apply to cannabis, too. Such as:

– If you offer it to someone who doesn’t want it, don’t offer it again.
– If you are among people who don’t want to smell it second-hand, save it for later or go somewhere else for a while.
– Clean up the butts.

I know that most of these rules look simplistic, common-sense, even childish. It should be obvious that cannabis tokers should do these things. But speaking as one with ten years experience working with college- and university- aged students, I promise you it isn’t common sense.

But if we all get on board with simple straightforward principles of courtesy like these, then everyone who wants to toke up can enjoy themselves without endangering their own or anyone else’s health.

Final rule, which again should be obvious but here it is:

– If you don’t want to take it, don’t take it.

Doctor Brendan. 🙂

* Namaste is also the name of a responsible medical & recreational cannabis company. There are hundreds of others. Search the Health Canada website to find them. Here’s the link.

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