If you’re following proper social distancing guidelines, you probably haven’t seen most or any of your friends and family in weeks. Since the novel coronavirus has spread across the world, forcing us to take shelter to keep ourselves, our friends and family, and communities safe and healthy, social life and interactions have distorted to the point of being nearly unrecognizable. 

For people who like to smoke weed with friends, it’s made all normal “seshing” cease. Most regular cannabis users can tell you that whether it’s for medical needs or personal enjoyment, part of the appeal of using weed is a communal one. There’s nothing quite like passing a freshly packed bong around the circle or sneaking off with a few people to share a joint in the alley. Without these small, intimate rituals, smoking weed alone can feel isolating and bleak. 

And this isolation comes at a cost. Vox’s Ezra Klein believes that along with a global pandemic and economic recession, we could find ourselves in a loneliness epidemic as well. Studies have shown that social isolation can have real mental and physical health consequences. And while social distancing can’t last forever, health experts urge us to keep our guards up and remain vigilant to flatten the curve and avoid a second wave. 

So where does that leave people looking to consume cannabis and get a bit of social interaction? Here’s the case for taking meetups and seshes into virtual smoke circles.  

Appointment Internet, but make it weed. 

New York Magazine’s Brian Feldman makes the case for “Appointment Internet,” in which smaller groups of friends and family make deliberate plans to meet up in a virtual setting rather than posting to a broad audience on social media and hoping to get engagement from strangers. 

The idea here is: “you can be assured that everyone else is seeing the same thing you’re seeing. It’s a more active and engaged use of the internet, and it’s a way to communicate with the couple of dozen people you actually want to talk to, and nobody else.”

When it comes to weed smokers, the same idea applies, but for scheduling time to login with your friends, smoke a joint, and catch up. 

As we move our daily catch ups, business meetings, happy hours, and birthday parties from office buildings, coffee shops, and bars into group messages, FaceTimes, Zoom meeting rooms, and Google Hangouts, we can move our smoke sessions to these digital spaces, too. It’s the “new normal” that we’re all still adjusting to, but it’s normalcy nonetheless. 

These rituals may seem insignificant until we don’t have them anymore. At Weedmaps, we have a gong that someone would physically ring everyday at 4:20 p.m. Since working remotely, someone always makes sure to send a gong emoji in the company-wide Slack channel everyday at 4:20 p.m, which prompts other co-workers to follow up with a variety of emojis and gifs. We even have a Slackbot reminder and a dedicated virtual meeting room for people to come in and share a smoke. 

Personally, last week my friends and I continued our weekly ritual of smoking weed and drinking whiskey while playing an incredibly complex board game by finding a simulator for the game and meeting up on FaceTime. It felt weird at first, but the comfort of chatting with my friends, seeing their faces, and enjoying some weed was something I really needed for my mental health.

Online sesh tips and etiquette. 

Just like an in-person smoke session, we should take proper etiquette and safety into consideration. We live in a society, afterall. 

A few pieces of etiquette to consider: 

  • Start a group chat with your sesh friends. This is the easiest way to see who is interested and who is going to pass. 
  • Try to set a recurring time. Same time everyday, once a week, whatever. Do calendar invites.
  • Come prepared and ontime. Sure, it’s just a social thing, but respect everyone’s time. 
  • Try to keep politics and “end of the world” talk to a minimum. These seshes are supposed to be social interactions that are meant to nourish you, not make you feel worse. 

Here are a few video platforms to consider: 

Here are a few smoking tips: 

  • Avoid going into dispensaries, if you can. Check to see if your region allows curbside/pickup/delivery here and see if your local dispensary will let you order online here. 
  • If you’re smoking with partners, family, or roommates, don’t share pipes, bongs, or joints. Each person should have their own device or product. 
  • Be extra vigilant about keeping all your glass clean.
  • Save money by looking for deals and using these weed hacks. 

Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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