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Sunday March 21, 2021

By Erin Hiatt


If you’re new to the cannabis world, the array of consumption methods available might seem a little overwhelming. After all, how hard could it be to just smoke some weed? In reality, it’s not very difficult at all, but there are definitely some rules of the road and some insider tips we’ll let you in on to help you consume with confidence, whether it’s on your own or with friends. To get the most from your experience, you’ll want to stock up on essential tools, such as rolling papers, a lighter and/or hemp wick, and a grinder. 

Keep in mind, among the methods we’ll go over, there is no one “best” method. The best method is the one that feels comfortable and enjoyable for you. Now let’s dig in on how to smoke weed properly. 


If you’re a cannabis beginner you may not feel comfortable attempting to roll your own joint. But don’t worry, we’ve got your back with a video aptly titled How to Roll a Joint. Until you get the hang of rolling your own, head to your dispensary for a pre-roll. 

Now that you’ve got your joint, it’s time to light it up. The first thing to remember is that you don’t light or smoke a joint like a cigarette. When you light a joint, you’ll want to “roast” it, meaning you light the end without inhaling. For an even burn, rotate it slowly through the flame to prevent canoeing (aka running or an uneven burn on one side). 

A rolled joint next to a grinder
Joints are one of the most classic, straightforward ways to consume cannabis. photo credit

A totally normal thing to wonder is which end of the joint to light (especially if there is no tip or crutch). If the roll is straight and even like a pencil, lighting either end will work just fine. If the joint is shaped like a cone, light up the larger end and use the smaller end for inhalation. 

Now that you’re ready to inhale, try not to “lip” your joint – when the joint gets wet from saliva (a big no-no when you’re smoking with friends and also – gross). Let it rest gently on your lip, then lightly draw on the joint (akin to taking a small sip of wine). As you draw the smoke into your mouth, take small inhalations to pull the smoke down into your lungs. Don’t worry about the myth of getting more high by holding in your hit for as long as you can. Simply inhale, pause for two to three seconds, and exhale. 

You will definitely cough. To soothe your throat between hits, drink some water and more importantly, take your time, not only to ease your cough but to take stock of how you’re feeling.

Repeat to your desired effect. You can let the joint go out if you’ve had enough, and relight it if you want more.

Sharing joints with friends is practically a rite of passage, but it would be remiss to not remind you that we are still in the midst of a deadly pandemic. Please be a thoughtful consumer to protect yourself, your family, and your friends. Do not under any circumstances share joints or pieces with friends if you have any symptoms of the coronavirus (or even a cold for that matter).

Sharing With Friends

There’s a surprising amount of etiquette involved in consuming weed with friends, but sharing joints can be tidily summed up as “puff, puff, pass.” In other words, take two reasonably long puffs, ash your hit, and pass it to your left. Regardless of who started the rotation, going to the left (i.e. clockwise) is considered the universal traditional direction of joint passing. To be an ultra-conscientious joint sharer, don’t babysit (take an unnecessarily long time to take your turn), lip the joint, or blow smoke in someone’s face.


The steps you take to smoke a blunt are the same as those for smoking a joint, so let’s focus on the differences between them and whether a blunt is for you. Visually, blunts are significantly fatter than joints and recognizable by their brown wrappers. Blunts are made from opening and emptying out a cigar, adding in ground cannabis (either solo, or mixed with tobacco), and rolling it back up. 

A blunt
Blunts are similar to joints, however, they are often bigger and contain tobacco. photo credit

Blunts are not for everyone because of the tobacco/cannabis mix, and they definitely deliver a different kind of high. However, some people prefer to share blunts because they burn longer and tend to stay together better than joints. Furthermore, in today’s market with hemp wraps readily available, it’s quite easy to have a tobacco-less blunt. In that case, the preparation is preferred mainly for the slower burn, and being able to pack in more pot than your standard joint. Hemp wraps are sometimes infused with CBD for an added cannabinoid boost.

Sharing With Friends

Follow the joint rules.


There are many different kinds of cannabis pipes, but to keep it simple, we’ll focus on the very accessible and affordable spoon pipe, or simply “pipe.” The first thing to do is break up your weed. This is where your grinder will come in handy. If you’re in a pinch you could break up bud with your fingers or scissors, but you’ll get more of those delicate trichomes and more longevity from your stash if you use a grinder. 

A cannabis pipe filled with weed
Pipes come in many different shapes and sizes, but most follow a pretty similar process. photo credit

Place flower in the grinder, and grind until the flower becomes loose but not too fine. Pack your bowl, or the spoon-shaped section of the pipe, lightly at the bottom and more densely at the top. If you have hemp wick, get that ready along with your lighter. If the pipe has a small side opening called a carburetor, close the carb with your thumb while you light the bowl with your lighter (or hemp wick) while gently inhaling on the pipe. Once the smoke gets rolling, release your finger from the carb, which will free the air and allow you to inhale the smoke from the pipe. For novices, managing the carb is the hardest part of using a pipe, but the learning curve is not so steep and you’ll get the hang of it in no time. 

Sharing With Friends

When you pass the pipe, make sure to pass it with the mouthpiece facing the next person. If the weed is still lit or “cherried,” let the person next to you know so they won’t have to re-light, and never pass a “cashed” pipe, meaning that the cannabis has completely burned to ash and is non-consumable. Once again, try not to leave too much saliva on the pipe. 


Of all the flower consumption methods, bongs are among the most confusing. So let’s break it down step by step. 

Pour water (tap water is fine) in through the mouthpiece (the opening at the top) until it comes no more than one inch above the tip of the downstem (the tube coming in the side at an angle). Next, grind up enough cannabis to fill the bong bowl or the funnel-shaped piece that rests at the end of the downstem. Pack some larger pieces of cannabis at the bottom of the funnel to prevent finer pieces from getting inhaled through the bowl. Make sure you pack it just right: too tight and air won’t be able to pass through, too high and some of that fine herb will fall out. 

If you’re smoking solo, pack the bowl about half full, and pack it to the rim if sharing with friends. With the bowl packed, find a comfortable seat with your bong, preferably one with a table nearby to set the bong down easily. Hold the bong with your non-dominant hand either by the bottom or around the smoke chamber, then put your mouth with your lips inside the mouthpiece. With your free hand, ignite the lighter and bring the flame to the bowl, then inhale slowly. 

a packed bong next to a grinder and a PotGuide lighter
While bongs might seem the most complicated, they offer smoother, larger hits.

At this point, you are using your inhale to bring smoke into the chamber, and you should see it start to get cloudy as it fills with smoke. Pro-tip: if you’re a cannabis newbie, start by filling the chamber with smoke only halfway to make for an easier first few experiences. When you feel that there’s enough smoke in the chamber, remove the flame from the bowl, set down your lighter, and stop inhaling. 

With the hand you used to light the bowl, pull the bowl out of the stem and inhale the smoke. If the smoke coming from the chamber is too much, remove your mouth and cover the mouthpiece with your hand to keep the smoke from escaping. If and when you’re ready for more, quickly remove your hand and put your lips back to the mouthpiece. Next, place the bowl back in the stem. When you’ve finished, remove the bowl, discard the water, and give it a good rinse to keep it clean. 

Sharing With friends

When lighting the bowl, try to corner the bowl (light just one section at the side) so you leave some green for other people in the group and make sure you don’t exhale in other people’s faces. After your hit, simply pass the bong and the lighter to the person next to you. 

The Wrap Up

Hopefully, these beginner tips will help you get comfortable smoking without too much awkward confusion. Smoking cannabis should be relaxing and enjoyable, and familiarizing yourself with some of the basics can help to have a more comfortable experience. If you have the opportunity, maybe try and acquaint yourself with each of the common methods and see which is most preferable to you.

Photo Credit: Christina Winter (license)


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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