Pipe Culture Post-PandemicSam Boyd
What’ll It Even Be Like?
Lately, it’s a question I’ve been thinking quite a lot about. I don’t think that I’m the only one, but I’ve had trouble finding anyone online who’s writing much about it.
It hasn’t really been a big concern for me before now, as I haven’t seen too many people during the pandemic, but it’s getting to the point where I can start to make actual plans again!
In the past, those plans would typically involve a joint or two to share with friends, but that might have to change. The pandemic has changed the way we look at certain aspects of cannabis culture, the most prominent being the way we share weed at events.
I’m a joint roller, personally, and I think that’s probably the most-affected method of smoking together.
Short of everyone buying their own joint holders and looking like a gaggle of knockoff Simone de Beauvoirs, the traditional joint circle might be a thing of the past. Even with the proper ‘PPE’, I think a lot of people will be hesitant to share a joint that’s just been inches from another person’s nose and mouth. You can disinfect your pipes and bongs, but you can’t really clean a joint before you pass it on. Even if you use a pin, or paperclip, your lips are still in contact with the rolling paper. Even with a filter, you can’t dodge contact completely.
Do things have to change going forward? Are the days of puff, puff, pass long gone?
But I Like Smoking Joints
That’s fine! You don’t have to stop smoking joints (or blunts, if that’s your thing). Joints and blunts will be around forever, they’ll just probably be treated more like cigarettes. Instead of rolling one colossal blunt to share between a bunch of people, you might have to roll a couple Percy’s and distribute them accordingly. It’s a little more work at the front end, for sure, and that alone will drive people away from rolling. Rolling a joint can be quick, but rolling 3 or 4 can get tedious fast. I can see things going one of two ways: either a lot of folks will learn how to roll for themselves, or the job of ‘designated joint roller’ might start to carry a cost. The price of dinner, maybe?
That’s only if you’re really tied to joints, though, which a lot of people aren’t. Pipes, bongs, and even vapes can be cleaned and disinfected before being passed, so as long as you don’t mind the taste of isopropyl, using those to smoke should be effectively unchanged. Experts have suggested that anyone fully vaccinated against COVID-19 should be able to safely share smoking equipment, but only if they live in areas with high vaccination rates. Most recommendations suggest that an 80% vaccination rate of eligible people in a given area is a key target for this sort of activity.
Aside from pins and customized personal mouthpieces, there isn’t much that can be done with joints to make them fully sanitary. Most common rolling papers are so thin that you can’t treat them with cleaning solution without compromising their integrity. You also can’t do much to clean the bud itself between the time you grind it and the point you have to pack it in your joint. Many are suggesting that the era of joints is essentially over, and that new smokers are unlikely to learn how to roll one solely for personal use. At some point, the time and the effort required to roll a joint is going to outweigh the cost of walking down the street and grabbing a $10 pipe from the convenience store. The holdouts will be few and far between, and in time, finding someone who can roll a joint without assistance will be rare. Pre-rolls might just have their heyday in the post-pandemic world.
Do We At Least Have Something New To Try?
Not new, exactly, but there are a lot of people playing around with ideas that haven’t been seen in a while. Lots of smokers are revisiting ideas like the PowerHitter, which has been around since the 70’s but never popular on any widespread basis.
The recent relaunch of the product occurred just before the COVID situation really reared its head (conspiracy, anyone?), and their sales were only boosted once the public realized that they could use a PowerHitter to reduce contact with fellow smokers during a shared smoking session.
Only one person has to touch the PowerHitter for a group to use it, and no one smoking from it ever has to touch their mouth directly to the joint inside.
That’s just one idea! Lots of people see this issue as a major push toward edible cannabis products, as well as a huge boost for cannabis-infused beverages. The prevailing thought is that weed will go the way of alcohol, and everyone will bring their own supply instead of splitting everything communally. I can definitely see that happening, but I don’t know if I would like it. Personally, I feel like something would be lost if we decide, collectively, to give up that unique part of cannabis culture.
I do consider that unique to cannabis! With other drugs, you’ll often share a bit with friends, but you’re not actually sharing it. No one pours coke on the back of their hand and just offers it up to a group of their friends, one by one, to make sure they all get some. It would be weird if they did that. If you know someone that does this, you should probably stop knowing them. Even just thinking about it feels weird, so I’m going to stop now. Don’t do that.
What Are We Supposed To Do, Then?
Personally, I encourage everyone to use this societal blip as an excuse to experiment! That’s pretty much the same advice I give for any blips in life, though, so please take that with a grain of salt.
That being said, why not experiment a bit? If you’ve been hitting the ol’ bong too much, why not try something different? There are lots of people trying to identify the next big trend in terms of cannabis ingestion, but that’s gonna take a lot of time and research. You just need to find what works for you, and that’s a lot less work. If you’ve never tried an edible before, then why not now? If you’ve always wondered what it’s like to dab with extracts, why not buy a rig? Play around and figure out what works for you, don’t worry much about the wider world of weed. That’ll figure itself out in time.
Try the cannabis drinks, if they interest you! Maybe learn to roll a joint before it becomes a lost art! Perhaps, one day, we’ll teach our sons and daughters how to roll a joint in scouts the way we teach them how to tie most knots. For most of them, both skills will prove equally archaic and irrelevant. The most you have to lose is a few grams of wasted weed, if you mess up a roll or drop a piece. Figure out what YOU prefer, then worry about what you might have to do to adapt post-pandemic.