Setting the mood

When it comes to smoking cannabis for the first time, the right place, state of mind and music are all key

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

If you have a friend who wants to try weed with you for the first time, what advice do you have? Flower, tincture, joint, bowl, time, place, musical ambiance? What if this person is a senior citizen?

Yes, all of that is important. Especially for old timers, or old first-timers. The late great Timothy Leary was a huge proponent of making sure that the “set and setting” were optimal for a positive drug interaction. So pick a good time of day and make sure your friend is in a good space (mentally and physically) before getting stoned. If your OG newbie homie is comfortable with smoking, I would suggest a joint. Something not too strong, say 12-15% THC. Inhaled flower is the easy way to self-titrate a dosage. Take a hit or two, maybe three and let it marinate for a bit. Music is always great when you are high, and healthy snacks should be on hand. If your friend wants to try an edible, start with like 5-7 milligrams of THC and make sure you have a CBD tincture laying around to help smooth them out if they get uncomfortably high. Done right, a flowery deflowering can be a beautiful experience. Let me know how it goes.

What’s the best way to destigmatize weed for your parents? Especially when it just became recreationally legal in their state?

Eh. Half of me is like: “Whatever. We don’t have to bring them over to our side, we have already won.” Cannabis has had to overcome nearly 100 years of bad propaganda just to get where we are today and we still have a long way to go. I also understand that you want your folks to feel more comfortable with the idea of legal weed, or at least get them to stop complaining about it. Try this: Kindly inform your parents that, according to most studies, a cannabis dispensary in the neighborhood leads to less crime and lower rates of teenage cannabis use. And who doesn’t want less crime? That’s the whole point, right? To make neighborhoods safer? Not only that, cannabis clubs can actually raise property values. If they can’t get behind safer neighborhoods, fewer kids using drugs and higher property values, there is no help for them. Maybe you can teach them these two phrases: 1. Mind your own business. 2. Live and let live. Good luck.

Hey dude! Question for ya. One of my vape pens has a clogged cartridge. Would you know how to unclog it? Thanks in advance.

Ew, gross. Clogged cartridges are the worst. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do: You can (if your lungs are powerful) “dry hit” the cartridge (don’t heat it up, just suck on it really hard) to dislodge the clog. Or try using a toothpick to push the goop back into place. I have also heard of people who heat up the cartridge using a hair dryer. The best way to avoid clogs is to store your carts and pens in an upright position.