Cannabis 101Lifestyle

How to take a Thanksgiving weed walk with your cousins

Published on November 23, 2021
Calling all cousins: Time for a safety meeting before Thanksgiving dinner. (AdobeStock)

Thanksgiving is built around traditions, and few traditions are more honored and yet less publicly discussed than the annual weed walk ‘n bake among cousins.

Call it what you will. The herbal appetizer. The pre-game. The halftime stroll. The weed walk. The beer run. The safety meeting.

The goal is simple: Hit the jay with your cousins. How you get there may require some strategizing.

The goal is simple: Exit the family gathering to enjoy a little cannabis with your cousins. Return calmed, uplifted, refreshed, and with a botanically enhanced appetite.

The strategems necessary to carry out this task are as varied as the screwballs and nutjobs that you call family.

To help you get through Thanksgiving, I recently polled a group of experienced cannabis consumers to elicit tips, tricks, advice, and anecdotes related to this annual ritual. Contributors have been granted anonymity in the name of holiday household serenity.

Be prepared (and don’t forget the weed)

Think through your house exit, your activity, and your re-entrance. You will need a reasonably legitimate excuse to leave, and you will have the odor of weed about you upon your return.

J-man, a certified Thanksgiving safety officer, says: “If you’re concerned about your breath, be sure to bring some mints or gum with you. I personally recommend cinnamon-flavored gum or mints, as the spice blends in with the Thanksgiving food offerings.”

Others offered a list of items to stash in the car, including:

  • Visine eye drops
  • Febreze or any other scented spray
  • Basketball, football, soccer ball, or other sportsballing device
  • Lighter
  • Weed

Above all, bring enough warm outerwear to assure your comfort. A puffy jacket and knit hat usually suffice.

Do not bring edibles

Your family can’t handle them. Seriously. Word will get around, someone will insist on trying for the first time, and you’ll spend all evening talking them down. Or explaining why the gummies still haven’t kicked in. Either way, a lose-lose.

Your family can’t handle edibles.

Joints work best because of the pass-around factor and an all-around sense of tradition. Bring a box of 3 to 5, and share.

Vapes are fine, as they offer a more subtle low-odor option. And they make a good conversation piece. (“Ooh tell me about that new DaVinci!”)

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No rigs. This is neither the time nor the place to offer anyone their first dab.

Ah, tradition

This fake ad has been debunked a billion times and we’re running it just for fun. But it’s no worse than many other ads that actually did run during the “Just Say No” 1980s.

Lay the groundwork

It’s not a bad idea to “forget” one or two items outside in the car. Or a non-critical food offering that may be procured at a nearby convenience store.

Danksgiving expert Sam advises: “Always greet your grandma before the safety meeting so you don’t reek when you go in for a hug!”

Also: Check in early with that cousin who’s actually a bigger stoner than you. Align your goals. Make sure he or she doesn’t slip out without you.

Use football as a timing cue

If you’re seeing New Orleans Saints players eating turkey on the TV, it’s way past time for the weed walk. You want to time it for the first half of the Cowboys game. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Know your NFL time slots: The Detroit Lions always play the Thanksgiving early game, followed by the Dallas Cowboys’ extravaganza in Jerry World. The New Orleans Saints own the late game. This lineup has remained an unbroken tradition since the 1620s.

The Cowboys game is prime time for most safety meetings, as the older folks who might frown on your shenanigans are going to be parked on the sofa bitching about the ‘Boys not feeding Zeke the ball.

Remember: Nobody cares about the Lions game. Your male cisgender elders will, however, always be cheered by a show of interest in the sporting team from Texas. “How them Cowboys doin’, Grandpa?” is a question that functions as an alarmingly effective intergenerational bonding mechanism.

Keep the exit excuse simple

No need to make this into a Da Vinci Code subplot. “Just going for a stroll” will get you out the door clean, 80% of the time. If a known family narc (though we love them) volunteers to come along, advise them that it’s a “cousins only” walk. “You and I definitely need some catching-up time this afternoon,” you may say, “but I only get to see this crew once a year and I really treasure it.”

It’s just a walk. And it’s cousins-only.

Stacey recalls: “My sisters and I would tell our parents we wanted to do our own turkey trot. We would go on a smoke walk on a nearby trail before we had to start cooking. Then we would come back happy and ready to cook and would take turns sneaking out on our back deck while someone would stand watch. Now that we’re older my parents don’t care and know exactly what’s going on.”

Alternately, you may say that you and the cousins are “hatching a plan” and hint that the excluded party will be surprised and delighted by the results of this plotting.

“Going out for more beer” is an excuse nobody will question, especially if you’re buying. (AdobeStock)

Brad, a longtime safety officer, says: I’ll volunteer to pick up a case of beer an hour before dinner will be ready so that ‘no one will have to go out after,’ and so I’ll get the beer and on the way back smoke with my cousins.”

Danksgiving veteran Tom recalls: “My cousins and I would excuse ourselves 90 minutes or so before dinner time, saying we wanted to go for a long walk to the park to ‘build up an appetite.’ We’d throw the basketball around and get high, then walk back for the festivities just in time to sit down and eat. Many years later we found out there was another subset of older adults doing the same thing, but out in the woods out back.”

Look for the signs

Anna, no newbie, says: “My older brother’s car is the spot. When you start seeing some suggestive eye contact or a very particular set of people disappearing one by one, you know you gotta head for that Hyundai or risk missing the sesh or a seat.”

Develop your own lingo

“Al Roker,” shown here with two young celebrities, is both an excellent code name and a real person who would be a gas to get high with. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Dress up your code to suit the holiday. Phrases like “Mama Stamberg’s cranberry relish,” or “Let’s go live to Al Roker on the parade route” can mean any number of things.

Stacey again: “My sisters and I always referred to weed as ‘coffee,’ so it was always, ‘Hey I could use coffee with dessert. Anybody putting a pot on?’ That was the signal to leave the stash by the back deck door to ‘sip’ on.”

Setting is important

Everybody loves to joke about hotboxing, but if you hotbox your brother’s Hyundai you will exit the car reeking of weed—your clothes, your skin, your hair, everything.

Fresh air is Mother Nature’s great evidence eraser.

Walking to a nearby park, vacant lot, or just along the side of the road is usually a better option. Fresh air is Mother Nature’s great evidence eraser.

The garage also offers its own opportunities.

Emily says: “Our beverage fridge is in our cold, drafty garage. I’m pulling on my vape by the time I walk into the garage, exhaling as I open the fridge, and walking back in the house scent-free, with a new bottle of wine. Are we running low on beer? There’s some in the garage. Sparkling water? I’ll go grab it. Need to keep that salad cold? I’ll put it somewhere safe in the garage for you.”

Allow for group expansion

Don’t assume the older generation isn’t holding safety meetings of their own. (Darrin Harris Frisby/Drug Policy Alliance)

With the coming of legalization, there may be surprise-guest additions to your group. Keep an open mind, but there’s no need to spoil the cousin vibe by inviting Uncle Uptight who’s suddenly down with the dank.

There may be room for a second walk as a way to welcome the previously inexperienced. Or maybe the secretly experienced.

T. recalls: “At a recent Thanksgiving at Grandma’s, I dropped my bong in the sink while trying to clean it. It broke, right as my grandmother was walking by. She looked over my shoulder, concerned that I’d broken some china or something. When she saw that it was just the bong I brought, she said ‘Here, let me show you where your cousin’s is hidden,’ because of course, we each have a stash hidden at Grandma’s, and she knows where they all are.

Defunk after the pre-func

News flash: You and your clothing now smell like weed.

Consider leaving your jacket and hat in the car prior to re-entering the house. Some prefer a quick spritz of Febreze. Gum or breath mints can help. Wash your hands and face in Grandma’s guest bathroom—her soaps have that powerful old lady rose scent that’s gonna flatten those lingering terpenes like a goddamn steamroller.

Got no cousins? Treat yourself to some you time

No cousins available? Existing cousins too uptight? Give yourself a little private time in that guest powder room. Remember to drop a towel over the gap between the door and the floor.

Says Nat: “Going for a walk was always too suspicious. It was easier to go to the bathroom and sneak vape hits while standing on the toilet to blow it into the vent so your parents don’t smell it. Just pretend you’re in there ‘making room,’ and that’s why you had to spray so much air freshener.”

And who’s going to question that?

The aftermath

Pace yourself. (AdobeStock)

Now go. Eat. If you time it correctly, you are about to enjoy the most delicious Thanksgiving dinner you have ever experienced in your many years on this Earth.

Compliment the food-makers effusively. Fill up a second plate.

Your final task is to scout and lay claim to an easy chair or a cozy spot on the couch. When that combination of THC and tryptophan kicks in you, my friend, are going to enjoy the sleep of the just.

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Bruce Barcott
Bruce Barcott
Leafly Senior Editor Bruce Barcott oversees news, investigations, and feature projects. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.
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