‘Tis the season for bongs, pipes, and dab rigs to be cleaned, packed in pillowcases, and schlepped with all the accouterments to family and friend’s homes for the holidays. If your partaking plan is to hide away in Aunt Ida’s basement; or huddle in your mom’s bathroom with a small window billowing smoke, you may want to think about investing in a vaporizer or at least a vape pen. Because the holidays are stressful enough without being caught out in the garage, with your five-foot-tall bong fully lit, by your six year-old-nephew. Aside from hiding your recreating from the family, cannabis patients have a tougher battle of medicating regularly in unfamiliar settings. Because it isn’t just a matter of replacing the herb with a beer or a glass of wine for this single occasion – cannabis patients must medicate, often, and in many ways, just to feel alright. Believe me, it’s not an option to do without your medicine. It would be like leaving the Vicodin at home after hip surgery.
Below is a shortlist of tips and niceties that may help you and your host prepare for a happy and healthful holiday visit. Because no matter how heavily medicated you need to be to get through a dinner with Uncle Ed, no one need be the wiser.
Never arrive empty-handed.
If your host medicates a suitable host gift is appropriate. If you are handy in the kitchen, apothecary items, such as infused honey or a batch of medible cookies are never a bad idea. Make sure the gift is in a sturdy and safe, kid-proof container; properly labeled as to THC activation, content, and suggesting dosing, if possible.
Never expect your host to provide.
photo: Sharon Letts
Always come to the tribal toke table with offerings of flower, hash, or dabs if you know your host partakes. Bring the offering in an attractive stash jar as part of the gift. If you are aware they like dabs but know they don’t have a rig, bringing yours over is always a special treat.
Leave the protest signs at home.
Unless you are a family who marches together, leave your slogans at home. Historically, the holiday table is no place for politics. Getting through Uncle Ed’s graphic description of his yearly prostate exam; or your mom’s latest online dating quest, should be enough table talk for one family session.
Knowing an educating moment.
Politics aside, if you are asked about your medicating habits or of cannabis as medicine, feel free to share and enlighten. Just don’t bring out the soapbox and linger on the subject too long. Everyone loves knowledge, no one likes a pot-obsessed zealot bent on forcing an issue. They came for the festivities and food, not a lecture.
Be Polite in Your Partaking
If your host isn’t a patient, doesn’t partake, and doesn’t care to, then packing for a discreet session is in order. Here’s a check-list of handy helpers to get you through:
Ingest rather than inhale.
Ingesting lasts longer than merely smoking or vaping flower. Smoke after ingesting, and the effects are enhanced. Ingest regularly in low doses, and keep that overall sense of well-being for a longer amount of time. Pack hard candies or tincture at 10 milligram doses each, increasing your dose, as needed, without overdoing it.
And remember, since cannabis is an enhancer, easy on the alcohol, as the weed will increase the efficacy two-fold or more. There’s nothing worse or more irresponsible than someone bringing in a batch of pot brownies to a party where people are already drinking alcohol. Out of body experiences have been reported, with no good time had by anyone.
Replace traditional holiday cocktails with infused alcohol.
Infusing alcohol with cannabis and other flavorful herbs and spices can turn a damaging drink into a beneficial tonic. Cannabis is an anti-inflammatory and fights infection – negative symptoms from alcohol causing hangovers via headache and flu-like symptoms. Cold steeping doesn’t activate the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which causes psycho-activity, so you can share, or bring along a personal stash in a flask.
Have vaporizer, will travel.
Sometimes it’s just not possible to set up a vape box or volcano in the guest room, unless you have advance permission; so, a vape pen remains an easy choice for most patients. There are pens that vape flower; or simple, replaceable smoking oil cartridges, with rechargeable cartridge pens. Vaporizing means no carbon, no smoke, no odor – with no one the wiser.
Roll enough joints to get you through it.
If a vape pen isn’t in your budget, then bringing joints or a pipe with flower will suffice. Checklist: flower in an air-tight container, grinder, pipe or papers, small ashtray, small tray or box to keep it all tidy. A tidy guest is a good guest. Always clean up after yourself, including the shake. And if you clean your smoking piece in the sink, scrub it afterward.
This writer has medicated at two in the morning, outside in the snow, while being hosted in Colorado; huddled in a shed in a rainstorm in Oregon; and stood on enough hotel toilet seats, blowing smoke into a ceiling fan to know, where’s there’s a will there’s a way. And remember to save a few doobies for the ride home.