My dinner parties make some attendees nervous. That is by no means a reflection on my culinary skills; this is because, while all dinner parties include literal edibles, my edibles are all full of THC. Most of my friends’ experiences with my type of edibles are limited to a nightmare jam band concert memory—and not something you want at a dinner party. But an adult weed-infused dinner party with absolutely no jam band music in the background? Now, that's something worth attending.
My journey into the world of green dinner parties began when I found Jean* through an Instagreen black hole, clicking through hashtags until landing on her account touting cannabis-infused food. Although Jean, a classically trained chef still too young to rent a car, started cooking with pot for patients dealing with pain or chemo-induced nausea, she agreed to cater a $35-plate vegetarian nacho dinner for me and a group of girlfriends.
When the casual potlucks of our early 20s grow up, they become dinner parties—or, at least, that’s what my brain must have decided somewhere along the way. Tubs of hummus make way for posh side dishes, perhaps a nice cucumber raita salad. You thoughtfully curate the guest list and leave a lit candle in the bathroom. There’s salsa or jazz playing. And when it's a green dinner party, and there’s weed in 90 percent of the meal, you make your home a comfortable oasis of calm just in case one of your guests need it. (Edibles’ slow-release high can smack the uninitiated on the ass.)
Both rapidly changing laws and increased pop cultural representation have helped melt the stigma of marijuana use. It’s no longer (at least not as widely) regarded as a Coachella-specific treat or confined to lazy burnouts. As weed has become more mainstream, it’s also become feminized—markets have seen the earning potential of hawking elegant wares and even incorporated the herb into menstrual relief products.
Incorporating the herb into community-building gatherings keeps pot both intentional and accessible. After all, as Chance the Rapper reminds both Malia Obama and all of us, we all smoke, it’s okay. I try to follow conventional wisdom when inviting folks to these “green dinners,” as I’ve come to call them, blending friend groups and introducing people I think will really vibe together. Every other month, the dinner is closed to only female-identifying and nonbinary friends, because I personally think that kind of stoned communal energy is especially magical. Sure, wine and beer are usually on the table alongside homemade “space” garlic naan bread, but I like to think it’s the mellowed-out weed equalizer that really helps facilitate these new bonds.
As a socially anxious person, too, hosting people when high could easily breed a panic attack, but that hasn’t happened to me yet. Practicing these dinners has helped me tame reactionary muscle-tensing since all of us are feeling loose and lifted. They’ve marked some of the very few times in my life where I was totally mindful and present, as if in a conscious meditation among friends.
The first time I got high, it was out of an Expo marker repurposed into a pipe. It was with a girlfriend I’d known since fourth grade, which seems like a lifetime at age 15. It first started as a way to impress cute skater boys or get fucked up in a field party (sorry, I grew up in north Florida), but my relationship with weed ebbed and flowed over the years with a couple brief periods when I completely abstained from it. Eventually, it stabilized as a daily albeit light practice in my late 20s.
I do not define myself by marijuana, just as I doubt many would quickly identify as Merlot-ers (I have a personal vendetta against terms like “pothead” or “stoner” to define someone who consumes the herb). For a while, being high in public or around people I didn’t know incited panic and paranoia. That’s obviously pretty common—and a major reason people rebuff green dinner invitations—but I think the group practice of untangling shoulder muscles and fostering a warmth among new friends can be enchanting.
After about an hour from starting dinner, you can see tiny ripples around the table as the pot hits each guest. Everyone has a different history with cannabis. Those who smoke or otherwise use marijuana a lot slip into a familiar, practiced zone. Others, including myself sometimes (I typically only smoke a couple hits each night), start to soften.
I’m not sure why it is so hard to make new friends as an adult, but green dinners sure function as a helluva equalizer. Instead of fixating on safe topics like “how did you land in Atlanta?” people get weirder faster. We talk about religion and cosmos and ideas and dreams. This could be dismissed as typical stoned conversation, but among new friends and over delicious food, it lowers the barrier to entry—sans Dry Erase markers.
Experience and use vary among participants, but by the third course, we’re all aboard the same space ship. And it’s pretty awesome to watch a sophisticated blastoff complete with cloth napkins and new friendships forming.