How to alter your stoner circle to safely enjoy the company of friends

Published Sep 27, 2020 12:00 p.m. ET
iStock / oatawa

Most cannabis enthusiasts pride themselves in having a close-knit group of friends who share their love for the plant, and now that we’ve all spent far too much time apart, many of us are wondering how to reignite the fun old times that we’re used to having with those who are closest to us, in the safest manner possible. Smoking weed is very natural, and it’s an experience that is always best when it’s shared, but in times like this, it is important to remember that sharing isn’t always caring.

As we slowly dip our toes into the untouched waters of our social lives with hesitation in our hearts, it can be hard to say for certain which decision will be the best one, as any physical contact increases the risk of spreading the pandemic even further, but as we continue to keep case numbers under control, it’s looking more and more tempting to get the old group together for a good old-fashion session.

For some, this human connection is absolutely necessary, and for others, it would, in the very least, provide a much needed pick me up to help to lift the spirits, so you aren’t going to catch us telling you to avoid it altogether, but there are a few things that you can do to stay safer, and we’re going to talk about some of the easiest guidelines to follow to keep the gathering as risk-free as possible.

1. Go virtual

We know that it can’t quite replace gathering around a table with all of your closest stoner friends in person, but in this day and age, there is no reason that your circle can’t move towards regular interactions online. Each person can bring their own weed, stay in the comfort of their own home, provide their own food, and risk absolutely nothing to check in as often as they like, so if you're looking for the safest option out there, then this is definitely the one for you.

Of course, this choice does require an active internet connection, a device that is capable of transferring voice and audio signals, and everything mentioned above to have a good time, and not everyone is as tech-savvy or comfortable with having these kinds of digital and in some case recorded exchanges, but we have the technology to throw a pretty fantastic online stoner session if you have the drive and confidence to pull it off.

2. Visit outdoor spaces

If you’re going to be smoking weed or anything else for that matter, it’s probably best that you head outdoors anyway, but now that we’re focused on stopping the spread of COVID-19, it’s the best choice possible for everyone involved. Indoor spaces rarely leave room for guests to stay apart, and without a high functioning air exchange system, they are the ideal environment for most viruses to spread, so it’s best to avoid them altogether if you can.

Yes, that means no comfy couch in your best friend's basement or your local vape lounge, and that means you might not find a 100% comfortable and discreet space that offers the same experience, but it truly is the best option, so why not make the best of it. Plan for a picnic, take a hike on some trails, hit up a local beach, or pick one of your friend’s backyards. Just try to keep everyone outside as much as possible, and it will significantly reduce everyone's risk.

3. Stay within your local guidelines

The stereotypical stoner isn’t generally known to have too many friends, but most of us know that the reality is that there are far more cannabis-friendly folks out there than ever before, which can lead to some pretty big circles forming. Unfortunately, not everyone is free to do as they wish, as much of the world is still enforcing restrictions and recommendations on things like public gatherings, so make sure to check your local laws before drawing up a list of people you want to invite.

In most regions with active COVID-19 cases, a maximum of 10 people is what is recommended, so if you can't’ find your local rules, then this is a relatively safe guideline to stay within. 10 people can enjoy smoking weed all spread out in almost any outdoor space, and it’s a limit that makes it easy to remember every single person who was there, just in case contact tracing is necessary shortly after the gathering occurs due to unknown exposure.

4. Practice social distancing

When we finally get to see our best and oldest friends again, it might be tempting to lean right in for some big hugs, high fives, or fist bumps, but for now, it is best to avoid these traditions as much as possible. In fact, if you can keep everyone at least 6 feet apart, then you’ll be following the best social distancing guidelines. So, wave, blow a kiss, or let them know how you feel, but keep all touching and contact to a minimum.

To do this, it might help to bring your own blanket and to encourage guests to do the same. This way, they can be spaced out in the beginning and makes it so that the blanket edged serve as a reminder to stay in your own space. Something that can be really easy to forget once you get in the swing of hanging out with your closest stoner friends.

5. Avoid sharing joints or food

So far, there is very little evidence to suggest that prepared food or containers pose a significantly high risk when it comes to COVID-19, but we do know that every time someone touches a surface, they contaminate it with all kinds of things, including viruses that can be picked up by the next individual to touch the same place. This is why it’s best to set some ground rules for all of your guests, with a big emphasis on no sharing.

What that means is no sharing of food or drink, and no passing of joints, bongs, or vapes or preparing for a gathering with a bunch of pre-rolls, and it also means that if someone within your circle didn’t bring their own stash, you might want to toss them a bud and a paper to roll on their own so that you aren’t contaminating what they’re about to smoke with your saliva. It might not be as laid back as what you’re used to, but it’s one of the safest ways to enjoy smoking weed with your friends right now.

6. Frequent handwashing and/or sanitizing

The biggest thing to remember about any cold or illness is that we tend to pick them up through our eyes, nose, or mouth. These are the most direct routes into the body, and that is precisely why you should always avoid touching your face at all during your session with friends, especially if you’re sharing high touch surfaces such as a bathroom with other people.

Of course, it can be nearly impossible to go the whole time without touching your face, especially as you’re coughing and want to cover your mouth, or when you get a weird random itch, and that is why we highly recommend that you sanitize yourself with soap and hand sanitizer. Sanitizer is best for when you don’t have running water on hand, but good old fashioned soap and water will help to ensure that you stay healthy, so keep your hands washed as much as possible before, during, and after your gathering.

7. Keep your circle full of other low contact individuals

Limiting the number of stoner friends in attendance can certainly help to reduce the risk to everyone there, but another important and often overlooked factor is your guest's exposure to potentially high-risk situations. Have your friends been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, and if not, how social are they exactly? It is important to remember that not everyone is taking this quite so seriously, and inviting those that aren’t can substantially increase your risk.

That is why it is best to invite the least social stoner friends that you have. Get together with the ones who work from home or in other low-risk settings, and don’t be afraid to ask about what they’ve all been up to before you decide. This way, everyone who comes, brings less risk with them, providing a safer environment and experience for all.

8. Screening

At this point, you might be thinking that some of this seems a little bit extreme and strict, but the reality is that you can’t be too careful as this virus can be a silent and deadly spreader, as some who get it show very few symptoms, and feel well enough to venture out. These spreaders often go undetected, but with some due diligence, you can weed out much of the risk with a few screening questions for your guests, including:

  • Have they been feeling unwell?
  • Have they travelled to any COVID-19 hotspots in the last 14 days?
  • Do they currently have a fever?

If your guests answer yes to any of these questions, they should be asked to stay home until at least 14 days have passed, and they are no longer showing symptoms.

9. Those in attendance should cough or sneeze into their elbow

It may sound silly to tell your stoner friends how to complete normal bodily functions, but very few of us have learned the proper way to handle these situations. Think about the last time that you coughed with a group of your buddies. What was it that you did, and how did you react? Chances are pretty good that you’ve used your hand in an attempt to catch any moisture droplets or saliva that may go shooting towards others around you, but this is the least effective way to do that.

When you sneeze or cough into your hand, the air pressure often blows apart the seams that you create by pressing your fingers together, and your skin isn’t exactly great at catching things that will ultimately shoot through your fingers. Your elbow, on the other hand, will often be covered with a sleeve material, which can more effectively stop all moisture droplets that you may exhale, reducing the exposure that others around you might have to any illness that you could be carrying.

10. Wear masks where social distancing may not be possible

Obviously, you aren’t going to be able to wear a mask while you’re actively smoking weed, but if you find that your stoner session isn’t providing enough room for proper social distancing, then it’s a good idea to wear one as much as possible. Some guests might find it to be a pain, but anyone who doesn’t have a medical reason for refusal should be sporting a face covering of their own when social distancing isn’t possible.

Disclaimer

Many of our readers would dispute this list of guidelines as unnecessary, but our goal is not to convince you to live a certain way of life. Our hope with this article is to raise awareness about safe practices, as people look for guidance because many of us require human interaction to maintain a good quality of life. So, feel free to pick and choose the rules to suit your needs, but know that it is ok to have some fun, as long as you do so safely.

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