Marijuana etiquette!

The savvy Independence Day host and hostess know to keep the cooler stocked with cold beer, the recipe for the tastiest potato salad and when to throw another round of burgers on the grill.

But parties around Oregon this 4th of July offer a twist Miss Manners never anticipated: What's a host to do when a guest pulls up with a tray of brownies infused with hash oil or puffs a joint?

Oregon this week entered the era of legalized weed, raising the potential for awkward social encounters as celebrations of the quintessential summer holiday get underway.

Cannabis consumers who used to leave their joints at home when they headed to a neighbor's barbecue may feel more comfortable toking at parties now that marijuana is legal.

"Adults do have this right," said Russ Belville, host of a Portland-based radio show about cannabis culture and politics. "We don't have to be quiet about it anymore. We don't have to use cannabis code words. There is nothing wrong with it."

We asked Belville, other marijuana consumers and an etiquette pro for advice as Oregonians navigate a new social landscape – one where anyone 21 and older may possess and grow pot.

"I would love to say there is a lot of information on this," said Mindy Lockard, who lives in Lake Oswego and is an etiquette expert. But "we are a bit in the etiquette Wild West, literally."

First, no matter where you stand on marijuana legalization, Lockard and others encourage hosts and guests to be respectful when talking about partaking at a party.

"People who aren't comfortable with it are going to be seen as not progressive or stifling people's self-expression," said Lockard, whose Twitter handle is @thegraciousgirl. "We have to be mindful on both ends of the spectrum.

"Some people aren't going to feel comfortable with that and that's OK," she said. "It's how we communicate those things that are important."

Talk to the host. Hoping to smoke at your neighbor's cookout? Don't just break out a joint while standing by the grill. Broach the subject when you RSVP or approach the host when you arrive. Keep your request short and to the point.

"It doesn't have to be hard to ask, 'Is it OK if we smoke a joint?'" said Belville, a longtime and frequent consumer who admits he's rarely in social situations where marijuana use isn't welcome.

If the host gives the go-ahead, ask where it's OK to consume. Maybe the host thought ahead and set aside an area of the backyard for cannabis smokers.

"The host will say no or most will say, 'Oh yeah, sure, go on the deck in the backyard,'" said Leah Maurer, a Portland mother of three who helps run a local chapter of Women Grow, a national networking group for women in the cannabis industry.

Maybe the host or hostess doesn't mind if you consume marijuana but would rather you eat a marijuana-infused cookie or treat instead of smoking.

"While you may enjoy the smell and taste of cannabis, you have to take into account that not everybody feels that way," said Jane West, who lives in Colorado and runs Edible Events, a company that plans marijuana-themed events. "You have to respect that. There is a smell to cannabis smoke, just like tobacco and more notably cigars."

Be aware of kids. If you get the nod to partake, do it away from kids, Belville said. At family-friendly get-togethers, he opts to consume on his own or around adults.

"Always err on the side of caution I say," he said.

Hosts may not want children to see someone consuming cannabis, or they may worry about second-hand smoke. Maurer said she doesn't mind if her young sons see people consuming marijuana, which she compares to alcohol, but she doesn't want them breathing smoke.

"Especially with smoke, you want to be aware of where the children are and where the smoke is going for sure," she said. "You don't want your kids breathing in anything that is not good for their lungs."

If you're hosting a party, consider addressing pot upfront. Sending out an Evite? Add a line about whether the get-together will be a cannabis-friendly one. And if you're not cool with marijuana at your cookout, you might want to think about making that clear, too.

"If we are really talking about a post-Prohibition world, then the invite should say alcohol and cannabis will be served," West said.

If the host is OK with marijuana, bring enough to share, said West. She suggested bringing pre-rolled joints or multiple vape pen tips so you can pass the pen around.

"Cannabis is expensive and if you are going to a larger event, you should bring more than just a joint," she said. "You wouldn't show up to a party with one beer for yourself."

Avoid walking into a party only with dried flowers and rolling papers, which West compared to handing over an unsliced watermelon. It creates more work for the host and hostess.

"Don't expect me to get out my grinder and papers and rolling tray for you to assemble your joint," she said. "You should come with them pre-rolled."

And if the host frowns on cannabis consumption, take it in stride.

"If I went to a party where the host said there was no alcohol allowed and I brought a 40 (ounce) with me, that would be rude, too," said Belville.

"Legalization of marijuana," he said, "doesn't give you the right to be rude."

Lockard encouraged guests and hosts heading into the holiday weekend not to take it personally if they disagree about cannabis. A festive neighborhood get-together, she said, isn't the place for a heated debate about drug policy.

"Go easy on it," she said. "There is lots of time for us to have this conversation. It doesn't have to be on Saturday." -- Noelle Crombie

Source: Oregon Live
Jul 04, 2015