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Monday November 29, 2021

By Erin Hiatt

Some joints next to some cannabis and a grinder Education

Smoking a joint with friends is practically a rite of passage for cannabis consumers. But with this shared rite comes some rules of the road. As it turns out, over the 2,500 plus years of humans consuming the herb, cannabis has evolved and today claims its own unique slang, language, humor, literature, music, art, and etiquette. And nowhere is that etiquette more pronounced than when it comes to rolling, smoking and sharing a joint.

However, we currently live in a world where sharing joints with friends needs to be done thoughtfully (if at all, no thanks to COVID-19). So, whether you’re learning how to roll and smoke a joint for the first time or consuming with friends, here are some tips on how to smoke a joint.

How to Smoke a Joint by Yourself

Whether you’ve rolled your own joint or opted for a pre-roll, the first step in lighting up is to “roast” your joint. Unlike a cigarette, where you light and inhale at the same time, joints need to be roasted before inhaling. Simply hold the flame to the end of the joint and rotate it to make sure it’s evenly lit all the way around. Roasting the joint first also helps to prevent canoeing (AKA running) or an uneven burn.

If you’ve rolled your own, you may want to consider adding a homemade filter or tip, also known as a crutch.

This handy device holds the end of the joint open, keeps plant matter out of your mouth, and protects your fingers and mouth from getting burned as you work your way down the roach. A crutch is really simple to construct and can be made with just about any kind of stiff paper (think business card).

Now that you’re ready to start puffing, take a steady hit (no need to hold it in for a few seconds) then exhale slowly. If you are new to smoking, you’ll most likely cough, which is a normal response. If needed, sip some water between hits to soothe your throat and remember, smoking a joint is not like smoking a cigarette, where you smoke the whole thing down. Take your time and pay attention to how you’re feeling, then take a break or call it a day if needed.

Smoking Joints with Friends

Smoking joints with friends is where the rules of joint etiquette really apply. One of the first rules of smoking with friends is that the person who rolls the joint sparks it. However, the roller is, of course, allowed to pass the privilege to another and can lay out their own rules. Your only job as a guest is to follow them.

After lighting up, the most important tip for smoking with friends is puff, puff, pass.

Take two reasonably-long puffs that don’t hog the joint, and pass to your left, unless house rules specify otherwise. When you exhale, don’t blow your smoke into someone else’s face, which is  inconsiderate, at the very least. Before you pass, ash your hit. This way, ashes won’t fall on your friends’ floor, furniture, clothing or skin (not cool, and ouch) as you hand it off. 

Speaking of hogging the joint, don’t hold onto it during your turn, also called “babysitting,” or “bogarting.” This usually happens when the holder is sharing a story (or when the high kicks in) but try to stay focused so the joint doesn’t burn down. 

There are a few other tips to help you unlock Emily Post status in your smoking circle. An important thing to remember is that sharing a joint with friends is a communal activity, where laughs, stories, and yes – germs are shared. 

As of this writing, we are still in the thick of COVID-19. While many people are vaccinated and returning to their pre-pandemic routines, it’s important to remember not everyone is comfortable sharing joints. Smoking and sharing joints is an intimate activity; a joint passes through many fingers and lips, and slobbering on the joint does happen (but please - just don’t). Some amount of germs is likely to be passed between people no matter what.

Someone smoking a joint
Follow the tips in this article to smoke joints like a pro!

If you do plan to share, practice clear communication. A few questions you could ask yourself: does everyone need to be vaccinated? Will a negative COVID test suffice? Will people be smoking indoors or outdoors? Are you comfortable smoking with others but not sharing joints or pieces? 

Once you’ve answered these questions for yourself, state your expectations up front so everyone can be on the same page. 

If you are sick, be respectful of the group and let them know so they can make their own decision about whether or not to participate. And last but not least, don’t peer-pressure a friend if they choose not to partake. It’s important to be respectful of consumers, non-consumers, and those who would rather sit a shared smoke sesh out.

To wrap it up, here are the rules of the road to help you smoke a joint like a pro:

Tips for Smoking a Joint Properly

  • Whoever rolls it, sparks it
  • Roast your joint
  • Take slow, steady hits
  • Puff, puff, pass
  • Ash before you pass
  • Don’t bogart the joint
  • Don’t exhale in anybody’s face
  • Try not to slobber on the joint
  • Respect house rules
  • Respect those who choose not to participate

These tips work well for both novice and experienced consumers, so give them a try at your next sesh.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much of a Joint Should I Smoke the First Time?

When you inhale cannabis, the effects will kick in quickly, generally from 2 to 10 minutes. Don’t focus on how much of the joint to smoke, focus instead on how you feel. The cannabis golden rule is start low and go slow. Take a hit, wait a few minutes to see how you feel, and so on. The goal is to feel good, not to green out

How Do You Smoke Your First Joint?

It’s easy as pie. Roast your joint, take a reasonable hit pulling a bit of smoke into your mouth, inhale, exhale, and wait a few minutes to see how you feel before taking your next hit.

How Do You Smoke a Joint Without Coughing?

Coughing is a very natural response to inhaling smoke into the lungs, and you probably will when smoking a joint. To minimize the cough, take smaller hits and keep some water on hand to soothe your throat if needed. Also, try to keep your air-to-smoke ratio on your inhale more on the air side. Try taking a small puff and a big breath.


Erin Hiatt Erin Hiatt

Erin Hiatt is a New York City-based writer who has been covering the cannabis industry for more than six years. Her work - which has appeared in Hemp Connoisseur Magazine, PotGuide, Civilized, Vice, Freedom Leaf, MERRY JANE, Alternet, and CannaInvestor - covers a broad range of topics, including cannabis policy and law, CBD, hemp law and applications, science and technology, beauty, and psychedelics.

Erin's work and industry insights have been featured on the podcasts The Let's Go Eat Show, In the Know 420, and she has appeared as a featured panelist on the topic of hemp media. Erin has interviewed top industry experts such as Dr. Carl Hart, Ethan Nadelmann, Amanda Feilding, Mark A.R. Kleiman, Dr. James Fadiman, and culture icons Governor Jesse Ventura, and author Tom Robbins. You can follow her work on LinkedInWordpress, @erinhiatt on Twitter, and @erinisred on Instagram.

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