Scroll to the bottom for video of Etiquetteer’s cannabis etiquette fails.
Pot is the new wine.
Sessions are the new dinner parties.
Etiquette is the constant.
Nothing short of an etiquette revolution has been mapped out by Lizzie Post, great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post Herself, in her new book Higher Etiquette, a 21st-century overlay to Emily’s famous Etiquette for the new world of legalized cannabis. Note the wording: cannabis is preferred to marijuana by the community of partakers.
POT IS THE NEW WINE
HIgher Etiquette concerns more than marijuana manners. It includes an early chapter on cannabis itself, from small glossaries of slang* and scientific terms as well as a tour of the cannabis plant, products, chemistry (how and why cannabis might affect you the way it does - or doesn’t), and especially strains of cannabis. Reading this, Etiquetteer could not help but think of the way oenophiles talk about wines. They discuss knowingly the many factors that end up impacting a bottle, from the terroir and its components (rainfall, soil quality, topography, etc.), harvest times, aeration, bouquet, and of course the “nose.” Cannabis connoisseurs converse on strains, terpenes, temperature, and the different ways to enjoy cannabis: combustion (plain old smoking), ingestion (eating and drinking), and absorption (topically applying lotions or oils). And strains. Mercy goodness, apparently there are thousands of strains of cannabis plants; Etiquetteer would love to see a family tree of them, which would probably help.
Awareness and appreciation of the wealth of cannabis knowledge permeates this book, along with an important caution not to get too smug about how much you know - and how what you know must of course trump anything anyone else knows. “As science and industry grow and learn together,” Ms. Post writes, “it’s easy for people to believe their knowledge is the only knowledge or their method is the only method. It has never been cool to look down your nose at someone. The more we can embrace an attitude of curiosity, the more considerate our interactions can be when comparing knowledge.”
SESSIONS ARE THE NEW DINNER PARTIES
The cornerstone of American social life used to be the dinner party held in a private home**, and Emily Post Herself made rules of conducting formal and informal dinners one of the cornerstones of Etiquette. LIzzie Post has now made rules of home entertaining with cannabis an essential pillar of Higher Etiquette, and a good thing, too. A traditional evening party doesn’t have to consider where to bunk all the guests, but canna-hosts need to take that into account if their canna-company aren’t quite fit to leave at the end of the session. Methods of ingestion are explained at length, from joints, vaping, and bongs to dab rigs and transdermals. (Etiquetteer feels sure that Emily Post Herself never needed to use the phrase “massage train” in any of her books). Canna-hosts need to be well educated about the types of cannabis they’re offering, and how different intake methods might alter the impact. The stereotype of cannabis is that everything is all casual, all “Just let it be, man,” but that impression of casualness is actually based on rigorous knowledge. Higher Etiquette is only the beginning of a cannabis education for the novice.
Etiquetteer, like the maiden sisters discovering wine in Babette’s Feast, really had no idea that there was more than one type of cannabis. When entertaining with cannabis, it is vital to retain the packaging so that guests have an idea of what they’re smoking and how it might affect them. This is even more vital for edibles; obviously food and drink prepared with cannabis look just like food and drink without it, and it is Wicked and Evil to feed people cannabis without their knowledge or consent. Etiquetteer rather hopes some enterprising stationer will start selling gilt-edged menu cards with tiny gold cannabis leaves at the top for just these occasions.
ETIQUETTE IS THE CONSTANT
The themes of behavior to which Higher Etiquette returns again and again are respect, generosity, gratitude, and sharing. It’s still important to behave well in social settings, whether you’re enhancing your feelings with a joint or a cocktail.
Etiquetteer picked up a whiff of ambivalence about language in and around the cannabis community. Some terms are more likely than others to give offense. Unsurprisingly, “pothead” is one of those terms; surprisingly, so is “marijuana.” Different subsets of the cannabis community have had different experiences with words and stereotypes. While Etiquetteer is often not fond of the Word Police (except around issues of profanity), the impression one makes in a new community can be made or broken by one’s manners, and that also includes the words one choose. Be advised.
Lizzie Post recognizes that cannabis remains a controversial subject in America. Beyond looking past the stereotypes of the sex-crazed murderous addicts of Reefer Madness, for instance, there is also the unmistakable fact that marijuana simply isn’t right for everyone, and for some it is extremely wrong. Respect for those who have chosen not to make cannabis a part of their lives is also a cornerstone of higher etiquette, not just for those who have. In other words, ask first before lighting up.
The most important message of this revolutionary new book is that of awareness: awareness of how cannabis affects oneself and others, awareness of language that could have unpleasant connotations for some, awareness that cannibis use isn’t something everyone wants - and it’s OK for them not to want to.
Higher Etiquette is an original, worthy successor to Etiquette. Whether you partake of cannabis or not, you’ll find this book an accessible, engaging resource for the Perfect Propriety of cannabis. It also made Etiquetteer think about a couple spectacular failures of cannabis etiquette from his own experience; learn more in the video below.
*Etiquetteer was always enchanted by the phrase “Tokin’ on a spleef.” Turns out it’s really spelled “spliff,” and it contains tobacco, a “fragrant weed” Etiquetteer has never cared for. It’s difficult to know what’s worse: having romanticized something that actually contains tobacco, or the fear that one has been mispronouncing and misspelling a word for decades.
**Etiquetteer really misses that, too. Could we all please have a dinner party at home this spring?