Cannabis is now legal across Canada, but the laws regarding where it can be used vary by province, and are dictated by layers of federal, provincial, and municipal governments. Fortunately, even if some areas are off-limits for smoking, it’s totally legal to be high in public. There are public intoxication laws, of course, but these only really come into effect for individuals who are intoxicated and breaching the peace, harassing others, or endangering themselves or others. Don’t be obnoxious, and you’ll be fine!
In parts of the world where cannabis is still illegal, its use is associated with higher rates of anxiety – likely because there is an underlying fear of being discovered and getting into trouble with law enforcement. However, in recently legalized countries and US states, many users still experience some anxiety when they are high in public. This could be because there is some level of social stigma that still surrounds cannabis use, or it could be just because interactions with strangers are more difficult when you’re stoned, and are therefore more stressful. Either way, this level of discomfort over being high in public can be an impediment to some great experiences: enjoying an IMAX movie or a concert while high, for example. If you don’t want to miss out, how do you overcome that anxiety?
One of the best things you can do to control your high-in-public anxiety is to do all the things that normally prevent or reduce anxiety resulting from cannabis use. If you’re worried about anxiety, you should:
- Stick to a low dose. The more THC you consume, the more likely you are to develop some anxiety during your high. Heavy cannabis-induced anxiety can lead to paranoia, which can lead to behaviors that could endanger yourself or others. If you’re prone to anxiety, err on the side of caution.
- Choose your strains carefully. Different people have different reactions to different strains. For example, I’ve found that I get extremely anxious if I smoke White Widow, but Leafly reviewers don’t report such an effect. I’m sure that’s partially because of White Widow’s high THC content, but I have used many other strains in the same potency range without issue. If you’re going to be high in public, use a strain you’re already familiar with so that you don’t run into an uncomfortable surprise.
- Use CBD-heavy weed. CBD counteracts some of THC’s side effects – most notably the anxiety. If you’re high on a strain with a high CBD-to-THC ratio, you’ll probably have more mellow, relaxing high.
How to be High in Public
If you’re going to be high in public, you have three goals: enjoy yourself, don’t stress yourself out, and don’t make other people uncomfortable. The first goal should be the easiest – people don’t usually use cannabis expecting to have a bad time, and it can make a lot of things just a little bit more fun. Step two is harder, but if you practice some mindfulness, you’ll be able to keep calm and have a good time. To meet the other two goals, try to:
- Remember that nobody cares you’re high. “Am I too high for this? What if they won’t let me into the theatre? Am I acting weird? Does everyone know I’m high?” …these are questions that run through many cannabis users’ minds when they’re high in public. Remember, what you’re doing is legal (in legal areas, obviously). In these situations, it’s helpful to remember that most people just don’t care. Obviously, this doesn’t go for every location or establishment: if you’re in a high-class five-star seafood restaurant, the staff probably won’t appreciate you coming in stoned. But if you’re going to a movie theatre, a club, or a concert venue, you can be pretty safe in assuming that neither the staff or the other patrons will care. Just make sure you act reasonably normal so that you don’t make anyone uncomfortable. You may also want to consider vaping or taking edibles so that you won’t carry around that giveaway cannabis aroma.
When you go to order food, buy a movie ticket, or hand a ticket to the person behind the glass at your local venue’s box office, put yourself in their shoes. You probably don’t care if someone comes in high. You’ll only start caring if that person’s behavior is problematic. Stick to that assumption, and you should be okay.
- Remember that the effects of cannabis are temporary. Cannabis can cause anxiety, a racing pulse, and lightheadedness, but they’re all temporary. Remind yourself of that if it starts to worry you, and wait for it to pass – and if you’re feeling lightheaded, take a seat for a few minutes.
Cannabis has been known to cause paranoia, and in rare cases, even temporary psychosis. If you feel that your anxiety is progressing to paranoia, remove yourself from any stressful situations and take some time to calm down. If that doesn’t work or you feel like things are worsening, it may be wise to seek medical help.
- Keep a CBD tincture or CBD vape extract on hand. As I mentioned before, CBD can counteract the anxiety caused by THC. This is true even if you don’t take both substances at the same time. If you’re getting anxious because you took too much THC, put a few drops of a CBD tincture under your tongue, or hit a CBD vape a few times. The tincture will have an effect in about three minutes, and the vape will take effect almost instantly.
Remember, It’s Not for Everyone
Not everyone reacts to cannabis the same way. Some users rarely or never experience much anxiety when high. Others may feel slightly anxious, but can easily control it with a bit of mindfulness. Some users may experience uncomfortable levels of anxiety no matter how much cannabis they smoke or consume, and no matter what strain they use. If that sounds like you, it’s probably best to stay away from cannabis completely. This goes double in public situations, which for many of us are anxiety-inducing even when we’re completely sober. If cannabis doesn’t agree with you, don’t try to force it.
Cannabis makes a lot of things more enjoyable, from lazy weekends watching cartoons to nights out at music venues or the movies. Just remember the three rules: enjoy yourself, don’t stress yourself out, and don’t make other people uncomfortable. And, obviously, don’t drive anywhere while under the influence. Use responsibly and enjoy your high times, wherever you want to be!