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Weed Etiquette To Follow When Bringing Cannabis To A Holiday Party

It's a social activity, after all.
There's a lot to think about when bringing weed to a party.
oneinchpunch via Getty Images
There's a lot to think about when bringing weed to a party.

Legal recreational marijuana is still quite new in Canada — just two months old — but of course social cannabis use has long been normal at certain gatherings.

"Cannabis has always been a very social activity," Dr. Jordan Tishler, a cannabis specialist and physician at Harvard Medical School in Boston, told HuffPost Canada in an email. "Standing around sharing a joint is a time-honoured tradition. Now that cannabis is legal [in Canada], we'll see its use in more conventional social circles emerge."

Curiosity about cannabis is there, even in those who do not use it (and maybe don't even want to), which means it's likely to be a topic of conversation at the dinner table during holiday meals.

"We've really just emerged from prohibition," said Michelle Latinsky, the director of education at the Canadian cannabis brand Solei. People are curious and the stigma around marijuana is decreasing, but there is still a lot that many people don't know about cannabis, and some negative stereotypes remain.

With that being said, here are expert tips for navigating cannabis use during the holiday party season.

Don't share with minors

Under federal cannabis laws, you're allowed to share legally purchased cannabis with others, as long as they are of the approved age for use in your jurisdiction. For most Canadians, the legal age to buy and consume weed is 19, except in Quebec and Alberta, where it's 18.

The purchase of cannabis or cannabis products, including so-called "grey market" products, from non-government online retailers, is still illegal. And it is also illegal to share legally purchased cannabis with people who are under the age of majority, with penalties up to and including jail time.

Know where you legally can and can't use cannabis

Laws around public cannabis use vary by jurisdiction, too. For example, in Ontario you can use cannabis anywhere you can legally smoke tobacco, but in Saskatchewan, public consumption is forbidden. If you are attending a holiday event somewhere other than a private home, know where you can and can't use cannabis.

WATCH: What you need to know about legal pot. Story continues below.

Remember, as well, that laws around transporting cannabis vary. Again, these laws are different by jurisdiction but if your cannabis is not in its original sealed container, the safest way to transport it is in the trunk of the vehicle, out of reach of the driver.

"It's the same with alcohol — you just can't have joints rolling around in the back seat just like you can't have an open beer bottle inside the car," Eric Dumschat, legal counsel for MADD Canada, told the Globe and Mail.

Make sure you have a designated driver

Never drive under the influence. If you're planning to consume pot, make sure you have a DD so you can get home safe. "Do not get intoxicated if you have to drive," cannabis specialist Tishler said. "Respect the burden you will place on your host if you become unsafe."

If you are the host yourself, make sure to avoid becoming too intoxicated and ensure that your guests leave safely if they partake in cannabis (or alcohol).

Know your audience

Cannabis as a host gift, much like bringing a bottle of wine, might be welcome depending on the host, Tishler said, though keep the wider audience in mind when you present it. "Remember that even if they might appreciate the gift, your presentation of it in public may create problems," he said. "Their kids or boss may be at the party, too."

Keep in mind who will be present at the event, and how cannabis use might influence the party's tone. When in doubt about whether or not weed is welcome, just ask the host.

"It's really up to the host or hostess to set the tone of their soiree," Doreen Sullivan, a South Carolina-based designer behind the smoking devices at My Bud Vase, told HuffPost Canada in an email. For her, that means having products for cannabis use that are attractive and fit into the space and with the needs and experience of the users.

There's more than one way to consume pot.
Oleg Zharsky / EyeEm via Getty Images
There's more than one way to consume pot.

The more consumption options available, the better

Having different smoking devices available for a variety of users — things that are both overt (i.e. a bong) and more discreet (i.e. a vape) — can be useful, too, and give you a chance to gauge the crowd once you're at an event, said Anthony Franciosi, head grower at Colorado's Honest Marijuana Company. Pre-rolled joints are one option for easy sharing, he added.

"If it's a kid-friendly event or one where you fear not everyone would like to indulge, more discreet items are always a hit."

Vape cartridges or pens, including those where you can add your own flower, are a good option because they can be shared and used discretely since they don't have the same smell as a joint or a pipe, Franciosi explained. The same is true for edibles (marijuana-infused foods) and oils, he said, though they are less easily shared.

WATCH: Edibles aren't legal under Canada's weed laws... yet. Story continues below.

Buying and selling edible cannabis products is not yet legal in Canada, but that is expected to change within the next year. Until then, people are allowed to make their own marijuana-infused treats.

If you bring edibles to a holiday party, make sure they are clearly labelled and out of reach of children, Tishler cautioned. Children could ingest one by mistake, or, if they're old enough to realize what edibles are, sneak one intentionally.

Mind your manners

Be mindful of people's comfort not just with cannabis use, but with where cannabis is used, Tishler added. "No smoking or vaping in someone else's house. You probably shouldn't smoke or vape in your own house if you have guests [either]," he said. "Offering guests the use of your outdoor space is an option."

Remember, as well, that for some people, cannabis use isn't about getting high. A lot of people are curious about cannabis products with low or no THC (the compound responsible for that euphoric "high" feeling), and focused instead on CBD (the compound that has a relaxing effect), according to Latinsky, so it's helpful to let people know the THC and CBD content if you are offering anything to share.

And while sharing is helpful, there are times when it's more polite not to, Tishler said. "Avoid partaking of a shared joint or bowl if you have a communicable illness like a cold."

Remember: knowledge is power

Learning about cannabis use isn't just a smart move on your part, said Latinsky. It's also a great way to teach others about cannabis and cannabis use.

"I think education is really going to be that path towards reducing stigma," she said. People are more comfortable disclosing cannabis use and with cannabis use itself (even if they are not partaking), but it will take some time for things to shift more significantly.

"I think it's eventually going to get to a place where using cannabis for different occasions is just going to become our norm," Latinsky added. "I think holiday parties in 2019 will look very different than 2018."

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