Puffin’ in public

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at ask420@newsreview.com.

Proposition 215 allows medical-cannabis users to consume their medicine anywhere cigarette smoking is allowed. Why aren’t we all enjoying a medical-cannabis spliff on the patio at Old Soul at Weatherstone with all the cigarette smokers or on the patios of other coffeehouses and bars?

—Midtown Lalo

Right? It’s a beautiful day, and you’re having a nice frappé-latte-mocha-chiato-ccino (with extra foam) on the patio of your favorite coffee spot. It’s a perfect time to spark one up. Who wouldn’t? I mean, weed and coffee are the poor man’s eight ball. You have a letter from your doctor. A little medicine would surely hit the spot right about now. What’s to stop you?

Not much. You are well within your rights. However, the management of whatever coffee spot you are at is also well within its rights to ask you to stop or to leave. Different places have different policies. I have discreetly puffed a doob or two at more than a few of Sacramento’s finest establishments, and people usually don’t say anything. If management asks me to put it away, I do it without making a fuss.

Back in the day, most bars (at least the ones outside San Francisco) were very very strict about making sure there was no weed smoking on their premises. They would always tell me something about not wanting to get in trouble with the Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control and end up losing their liquor license.

I called ABC and talked to John Carr, the public-information officer for the Sacramento branch of the ABC, and he was very helpful. I think my question caught him off guard, but he told me this: “As long at the person has a valid letter of recommendation, and is smoking cannabis in a place where smoking is allowed, we have no position.” He made sure to point out that while the ABC has no position, there may be local ordinances at play. Plus, there are always neighbors that like to complain.

It also matters how you behave when you smoke. Don’t forget that weed is stinky, and some people don’t like the smell. Find a discreet spot while keeping in mind that you aren’t doing anything wrong. Many people get in trouble for smoking weed because their noneffective furtiveness about it makes other people nervous. Drawing attention to yourself is not the goal. You are simply enjoying a smoke on a fine day. Also, I find that small groups of no more than three or four people fare better than a mob of stoners putting a fat cloud in the air. Bowls or vape pens are probably best, with joints next and blunts a distant third. Like it or not, blunts stink, and they have a stigma attached to them. That’s how it is.

And keep it relatively brief; now is not the time for a marathon session. Common sense and acting like a grown-up go a long way when trying to help people get used to the idea that cannabis use is no big deal.