A cannabis lover’s guide to Dry January

The hardest part of dropping booze for pot is getting out of your own way

Bong on the sand at the beach


With the holidays in the rear-view mirror, many of us are taking stock. We look back at our alcohol consumption, look at our wallet – and maybe our waistline – and tell ourselves, “No more drinking.”

It’s a ritual at this point. This year, it’s become part of a marketing strategy for cannabis companies. It’s called Dry January. And with a range of new pot products going on sale to mark Legalization 2.0, the idea is to swap in weed for booze.

In a recent poll of 1,500 Canadians conducted by the pot brand Foray, one-third of Canadians are planning to participate in Dry January. That’s no small number. Weed businesses are certainly excited, and more than happy to gobble-up booze customers.

“The month of January always brings a period of reflection,” says Eric Goulet, Foray’s brand director, in an email. He says it’s an opportunity “to educate Canadians about cannabis consumption and how it can be done in an enjoyable and responsible way.”

Cali sober – the term for smoking weed but abstaining from alcohol – may be nice in theory. But with all the restrictions on public pot consumption in North America, it’s harder to put in practice when you want to go out on the town.

But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Figure out your portable smoke solution

If you want to replace alcohol with weed, the obvious first step is figuring out how you are going to smoke weed. In the kind of social situations where people most often drink, smokers are left with few options but to go outside.

You could roll a bunch of joints ahead of time to shorten the trip, but then you risk them crumpling in your pocket. You could haul your vape out, but then you have to worry about battery life.

The thing you need is the under-appreciated but oh-so-reliable one-hitter weed dugout.

It’s a simple little box, often made of wood. In one side, a metal pipe that’s painted to look like a cigarette. In the other, a chamber that holds your weed. Fill the cig with weed, light it and inhale. At first, it will kick your ass. Without a screen, filter or anything between you and the weed, you’re getting the full hot hit. If done properly, it should allow you to smoke all of the weed in the pipe – 100 per cent efficiency in getting stoned.

Getting used to smoking one was a game-changer for my discreet smoking game. Whether we like it or not, there’s still stigma attached to smoking pot. That is magnified when (as is often the case when trying to finish a Dry January) you might be the only one not drinking.

Something to keep you moving

Whenever I’ve made an earnest attempt to switch to weed only, partaking in a heavy indica is inevitably the end of the experiment. I need a Red Bull (or vodka) to perk me back up after that.

A sativa, especially one with a bit more CBD in it, will give you a chattier, looser buzz. Avoid the insanely strong strains with 25 per cent THC. You will give yourself a better chance at staying in the moment. No one wants to be drifting off into pot-brain land.

Pick your replacement drink

Eventually, you’re going to need to put a drink in your hand. It can feel awkward to be the only person at a party or social event without one.

There’s always a glass of water, but if you’re really trying to drop alcohol you might need a better option. If bars were able to sell weed-infused drinks, this wouldn’t be a problem. But in most places the rules forbid that.

Picking a drink that you actually like, and which can be ordered alongside everyone else’s pints and mixers, does (in my experience) make the whole thing easier.

Embrace the change

The hardest part of dropping booze for pot is getting out of your own way. Embrace change. Being upfront with everyone may prompt a few odd looks or comments. But getting those odd comments out of the way early will make it easier when it comes time for another smoke.

If you’re staying in, either hosting or visiting someone else, be upfront and honest about your substance choice. At home, lay your smoking materials out in the open, right alongside the booze stand. At someone else’s place, ask if you can leave the pipe or the papers out on the table.

Share the bud

The final tip that will help you make the switch more easily is to recruit some allies. In most groups you’ll be able to find at least one or two who are happy to smoke up with you. Maybe they’re your close friends, but it’s just as likely that they’re people you don’t know. Bring some extra weed with you so you can share. Some of those folks might be trying to make the switch too.

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