If you love cannabis and/or have consumed it for any length of time, you already know a thing or two about how to achieve the best experience - as opposed to letting the habit get the best of you. But there's still a trick to being a high-functioning marijuana smoker, as opposed to a lazy, couchbound one who reinforces outdated stereotypes.
Here are the 7 habits to cultivate to ensure you're performing at your peak level.
1. Know the right time
Some people feel that literally any situation is made better by the addition of marijuana - but for the rest of us, it's important to heed the cardinal rule of drug, set, and setting. Read: don't show up high at the airport, or important life events, especially weddings (as Lauren Martin of Elite Daily sagely advises,: "It's a beautiful day, you're going to want to remember it") or funerals ("If you think thinking about death when you're high is trippy, imagine looking at it in the face, literally.")
2. Take calculated risks
Part of the fun of getting high is exploring new experiences: running, for example, or watching an experimental art film from the 1920s. But the risk you take should expand your psychological horizons - never put you or those around you at risk. As Joan Lowy puts it, "While [marijuana users] can perform simple tasks well while they are high, brain imaging has shown they have to use more of their brain to do so. Reaction times are slower, peripheral vision is decreased and multitasking impeded. As a result, when sudden or surprising things occur to complicate those tasks - such as when a pedestrian steps in front of a car - they cannot respond as well." In short: don't overestimate your abilities.
3. Know your stuff
Strains, consumption methods, cultivation - in order to feel the way you want to feel, you need to know what you're putting in your body. "A person doesn't have to be a phenomenal green thumb to be an expert in the marijuana industry," writes cannabis blogger Johnny Green, "but they need to have a good grasp on the the growing process [...] If someone doesn't know how the growing process works from start to finish, how will they be able to call BS on a product that clearly doesn't work in the eyes of a true marijuana expert?" In order to keep your edge, first do your homework.
4. Don't double-down
Yes, marijuana and alcohol can be a good combination - but if you're tired, inadequately nourished, or inexperienced with a particular product, it's more interesting to see how it works in isolation. Numerous studies have linked simultaneous use of alcohol and marijuana with far worse health outcomes than using either in isolation: "compared to alcohol only," one study found, "simultaneous use approximately doubled the odds of drunk driving, social consequences, and harms to self." Medicate in moderation - or not at all.
5. Know when to speak up
Cannabis is constantly in the headlines: when it comes up, don't be silent. "This is the way cannabis is going to be normalized," cannabis activist Leah Maurer tells The Weed Blog. "Circles of people who are already in the industry, of course they all want to talk about cannabis, and it's important for people like that to educate those who are not already marijuana smokers or don't know all the awesome ways it can be used, or don't realize all the great things that are going on in the industry."
6. Get involved
If you're smart, informed, and truly passionate about both the plant and what it represents, there are dozens of volunteer organizations who could use your time. As Safe Access Now puts it, "the key to being an effective advocate is a firm understanding of our history, the political landscape in which you are operating, the rules of engagement and the ability to articulate your needs." Lead by example to help reduce the stigma.
7. Embrace transparency - sort of
No one wants to live in fear of being found out - why not seize control over the fact that you partake? "Opening up to family is an important step for a cannabis consumer," writes Brittany Driver. "Many people feel closeted by their choice to smoke or eat or vaporize weed." A reasonable, informed talk about why you prefer cannabis to, say, alcohol, can be liberating. That being said, Driver says, "I can't say that it's well-advised or necessary for everyone to shout from the rooftops about their penchant for pot, especially where marijuana prohibition is still in full force."