Not too long ago, the stereotypical image of the weed smoker was some perpetually languid bozo in a chip-laden chair, wasting away in the basement of his parents’ house. Now that cannabis is more widely accepted by the mainstream, (seeing some sort of legalization in 26 states, plus the District of Columbia), people are starting to wake up to the outdated “stoner” notion. We can smoke weed, eat chips and wear suits.

With the rapid rise of marijuana both medically and recreationally, the smoker’s general code of conduct needs to be revised. The stupidity of certain “weed regulations” currently held as unquestionable, including the misconception that smoking weed and common courtesy are mutually exclusive, must be culled so the movement can progress. If enthusiasts are more refined when it comes to smoking, the cultural revolution can gain even more traction.

While I won’t pretend to know much, or anything, about formal etiquette, I know a lot about weed and common courtesy. Pair them together and the result is this gentleman’s guide. Consider the tips below as suggestions for a better future of weed conduct and perception amongst your peers.

All kinds of people enjoy marijuana with some tobacco in their joint. The spliff is most popular in Europe, but a growing number of people in the States enjoy them as well. The spliff developed as a way to smoke joints without sacrificing a large amount of cannabis. Call it smart or cheap, depending how you look at it. Beyond just taking up space, tobacco also provides a nice head rush that accompanies the beginning of the high. This sensation eases you into the alleviated state for which weed is known. But just because you like something extra, there are many who don’t share that view. The last thing you want is a guest in your smoke circle feeling nauseous from unexpected tobacco or worse, a horrible coughing fit that’s your fault because you didn’t mention it was blended. That happened to me on a date one time. We didn’t go on another date. So if a person joins your session mid-smoke, be sure to warn them about tobacco if it’s indeed present. They’ll respect you looking-out, and you reduce the risk of a vaguely uncomfortable situation.

Nothing’s more annoying than someone at a social gathering approaching a smoke session with pseudo-friendly behavior with selfish motivations. I don’t know why, but typically this archetype employs the use of finger guns during his request to “hit the doobie.” Usually, this obnoxious person is male and will approach a group of strangers enjoying a joint under the false pretense that he’d always wanted to talk to them. But everyone in the circle knows what just happened; this type believes himself to be far cleverer than he is. To avoid be that person, just be honest about your intentions. If you want to join the circle, offer to chip in monetarily and take conservative puffs (elaborated below). Or just politely ask and be charming while you do it. There’s a strong likelihood that if you go just a step out of your way to be courteous, you can smoke and walk away remaining a gentleman.

If you enjoy weed, admit it and own it. You’ll notice some fossil-like relics out of there antipathy from time to time: Those who claim to like smoking weed but subsequently laugh about “never having paid for it.” We live in perhaps the most accommodating culture of “4/20 friendliness” in all of American, and now Canadian, history. This kind of comment is indicative of the remnants of criminality still dogging the culture of the substance. Sure, it has to do with the fact that it’s still an illegal substance in many states and still comes with a stigma in many decriminalized ones. Like how everyone partying in the hottest clubs in the '80s wanted cocaine, but nobody wanted to be the cocain guy (well, most of them didn’t.) This way, they could “enjoy it” while still enjoying “moral superiority” since they didn’t actually buy the drug. But times have changed, and being a “guy/girl who likes weed” is far less a criminal perception. Except to maybe your parents, but they can’t arrest you so who cares.

Put simply, no one would respect someone who freeloads alcohol, so when weed is so easy to obtain, there is no justification for being selfish. Buy your own and offer to chip in, or offer to chip in to the groups/friends that provide. Chances are your offer will be met with an appreciation of your efforts, and no money necessary.

You hand the smoking apparatus to your friend, and they proceed to torch 100 percent of what was placed in the pipe for everyone. You hand the joint to your friend, and the joint paper crackles with a strong “closed-eye” deep breath. These two situations are amongst the most infuriating, where the desperation for some selfish individuals to “get high” gives tunnel vision to the desires of others. If you are using a water-pipe, bong, or typical pipe, try focusing the flame around the periphery of the packed ingredients (cornering the bowl as it is called.) This way, you burn an isolated pocket of herbs and provide a decent hit without affecting everyone else’s ability to do the same. If it is a joint, the puff, puff, pass, rule still stands. Just make sure your puffs aren’t “joint cracklers” (hits that extend so long as to cause the paper to crackle significantly as it burns.) To avoid this, if you start to hear the crackling begin as you hit a joint, immediately stop the inhale. The rest of the circle may not even notice, but those who do will appreciate that you aren’t extending hits beyond your share.

Hypocritical right? These rules are new though. There are certain old pot-related axioms which are considered near holy virtues. “Passing to the left” as a rule is perhaps the most outdated of these, and strictly following this puts you in a position to annoy those around you. A problem here is the possibility of stepping into a situation and trying to enforce “rules” on a group of people. Perhaps this is a joint intended between just those friends, or it’s one they are enjoying personally. The rotation is solely up to the person/persons providing the ingredients. If they are going to pass it to you, they will eventually, but if it is amongst friends and you get skipped; take the hint. There is nothing anyone owes you for sitting down in the right place, and if you are joining a session where you did not provide, don’t loom with a specter of expectation. Weed is about conversations, camaraderie and community. If you disrupt this with presumptions or selfishness you might be left deservedly wanting. After asking, if they have refused, accept that answer. If the rotation is operating beyond typical methods, wait and see, and if that fails ask graciously to join. Someone trying to impose rules to experience something they didn’t provide is the opposite of gentlemanly conduct. It’s like that kid on the playground who didn’t start the game but suddenly changes the rules of the game for his own benefit. It’s like that except with drugs.     

There are many relics of stoner culture that must die if cannabis enthusiasm is to survive in mainstream society. The prime offender of these antiquated approaches is the Dave Chapelle bit of truth about white guys who like weed. The video is disagreeable, because this tendency honestly transcends race, sex and creed; it is one that must be stopped. When you smoke, that’s the time when you watch a trippy music video, go to a museum, or see the latest Fast and Furious movie. Ruminating on times only made good by weed, rather than good times amplified by weed, does not an interesting person make.

Spectacular people like Carl Sagan dreamed about the way the world worked when he smoked. Dr. Dre burned it down to make The Chronic album. Allen Ginsberg smoked weed with Jack Kerouac, likely leading to crazy ideas, maybe ones that made it into their writing that changed everything. Don’t waste a nice thing that has been the fuel for so much innovation, creativity and curiosity on strictly lazy endeavors. Maybe one day you eat a tray of nachoes and watch Spy Kids, and the next you take a high hike and talk about Noam Chomsky’s anti-war efforts. Vary your weed-activity experience with idiocy and intellectuality. Nothing is more gentlemanly than balance.