Do You Know These Stoner Superstitions About Cannabis Rules and Etiquette?
For thousands of years, plants have been used in primitive worship, creating a tradition of lore and superstition. In perpetual awe of the supernatural environment growing around them, ancient cultures intrinsically linked the euphoric and invigorating effects of plants to their own human spirituality and medicine.
Similar to tobacco, cannabis has always held its own mythology. Even Jesus himself was said to pack strong anointing oil with cannabis extract called kaneh-bosem when he performed healing miracles.
“It won’t kill you…unless a bale of it falls on you.”
Today cannabis consumers continue these inherited practices. Good or bad, here’s a list of common and not-so-common cannabis superstitions many enthusiasts have believed and continue to abide by lest they want to be cursed with bad luck (or, worse yet, bad bud).
Puff, Puff, Pass
Take two hits at most and pass it on. That’s it. Smoking or vaping cannabis with your friends and/or family is not the time to be selfish. The first puff is polite, the second shows you really enjoy the herb, but a third puff means you’re a glutton and don’t respect the cannabis; therefore, you’re susceptible to bad luck. Sharing is caring, and there’s been plenty of warning in contemporary western culture about this cannabis smoking ritual.
The bluegrass rock ‘n’ roll band Little Feat entices smokers with friendship if they pass it on, in their 1968 classic song, “Don’t Bogart that Joint.”
Don’t bogart that joint, my friend
Pass it over to me.
Don’t bogart that joint, my friend
Pass it over to me.
Roll another one
Just like the other one.
This one’s burnt to the end
Come on and be a friend.
In Friday, the 1995 cult classic, Smokey reminds Craig, “Puff puff, give. Puff puff, give. You fuckin’ up the rotation.”
With so many references, it definitely seems that this practice can either make you feel better about yourself or bring misfortune if you screw up the rotation. Even worse, if you totally skip someone, your karma could forever be in jeopardy!
Pass to the Left
The cannabis smoker’s circle is sacrilegious and should always start to the left, meaning whoever lights the joint or starts the bowl must pass to the left or face horrible hardship. This superstition to pass to the left may have been started by American hippies in the 1960’s because most Deadheads continue to honor the tradition today.
However, another motive could stem from the Victorian-era butler service in which butlers notably present a platter of food choices from the left of their master or guest. Also known as silver service, food is always served to the left to make guests feel less crowded by someone hanging over them with both arms suddenly coming at them left and right.
Pass to the right and be condemned or mocked by the elite old school cannabis club. It’s bad etiquette and is known to bring disruptive energy into the circle.
Never Hit a Bowl First if You Load It
Whether you’re packing a pipe or loading bong loads for a few smokers, never hit the bowl first. Be the host with the most. Be gracious.
This attitude of gift giving is not new; it’s reflected in many cultures. The Japanese are known for giving presents to their guests and business associates. Never be a tightwad when it comes to your cannabis community, or you’ll be labeled a hoarder and find yourself in a smoking circle where the bowl turns ash before it even gets to you.
No surprise to most cannabis heads, 420 is the magical “meeting of the minds” number, the communal worldwide time to smoke out. As the saying goes, “it’s 420 somewhere!”
The myth behind 420 is attributed to a Northern California police code for marijuana smoking in progress, which dates back to the 1970’s, but the actual origin comes from a group of high school students in Northern California who would meet at 4:20 to smoke up and search for a fabled lost cannabis grow.
Regardless of its origins, cannabis enthusiasts began using 420 as their own code to smoke. Whether it’s 4:20 a.m. or 4:20 p.m., when the clock strikes, superstitious smokers lighting up think they’ll gain happiness and prosperity. Smokers can fortuitously run into each other at this revered time, and the more people smoking the merrier. Miss a 420 and you will find distress in your day. Smoking on April 20th is an extra bonus and means good luck for the rest of year.
The White Lighter “Curse”
This superstition is serious. While its inception is debated, the most likely source is in connection to the tragic fate of superstar cannabis-smoking musicians Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Jimi Hendrix, who all happened to be left-handed, die at age 27, and allegedly had a white lighter at the scene of their death.
Cannabis had absolutely nothing to do with how they died, but the white lighter is forever cursed. Smoking cannabis with one carries extremely negative vibes. The bad juju can lead to broken bongs, getting busted, or even having your grow ruined by weather. Avoid using a white lighter to smoke cannabis at all costs or suffer certain catastrophe.
Choke on Your Hit and You Will Get Socked
If a cannabis smoker can’t handle their hit, beware, because the closest person can deliver a dead arm right at them. An old family fear, this alarming superstition developed when younger puffers who couldn’t hold their hit became vulnerable to the somewhat humorous ruffian tactics of their elder smoker.
Possibly derived from the 1960’s car game Punch Buggy/Slug Bug, in which players who see a Volkswagen Beetle on the road first can punch each other in the arm, choking on a hit off a joint, pipe, or bongload is awful luck. The person you’re smoking with can leave you with a bruised arm and ego if you’re caught gasping for air mid-hit.
What are your cannabis superstitions? Share your favorite myths and we’ll see who else has played along with your rules.
Trina Calderón’s books include Wall Writers, Pump Me Up: DC Subcultures of the 1980’s, Risk: Old Habits Die Hard, and 9:30 Club - A Time and a Place. She co-executive produced BBC America's The Nerdist TV show and co-wrote the feature film Down for Life. Calderón lives in Los Angeles and specializes in writing about art, music, and food subculture, aiming to add a voice where mainstream media does not. She can be reached on Twitter and Instagram under @trinaluz.