VICE columnist and former HIGH TIMES editor David Bienestock, who is married to High Times cannabis cuisine expert Elise McDonough, really wants to teach you how to smoke pot. Properly that is. He’s serious, dude. So serious that he even put a book together explaining exactly how. It’s called How to Smoke Pot (Properly): A Highbrow Guide to Getting High and it’s not only a hella handy instruction manual it’s a guide to stoner culture and customs. It’s a great read—chock full of pro tips and great advice, not just from long-time stoner scribe Bienenstock but many marijuana mainstays including our best bud Ngaio Bealum (element #103 on the GLOW-IN-THE-DARK PERIODIC TABLE OF STUFF STONERS LIKE POSTER).
Bienenstock is busy, man, promoting his book that dropped last week. But we were lucky enough to get a chance to chat with the cannabis expert who has appeared on NPR, FOX News, MSNBC, CNN and HBO and pens the Weed Eater column for VICE plus produces a video series called Bong Appetite. And it went a li’l like this…
What made you want to write a book?
David Bienestock: After 15 years of covering marijuana every day as a journalist, I see so much positive change happening, and I think the establishment press continues to get this story all wrong. I also want to make sure that authentic weed culture stays strong as we move into a new, post-prohibition era, and education is a big part of that. We need to teach our values to the rest of the world, and not let cannabis culture get over run by the values of Wall Street and big business.
What was the easiest thing about writing How to Smoke Pot Properly?
Through writing for High Times and VICE for so many years I’ve been privileged to meet an amazing number of marijuana thought leaders and hear their insights directly, so it was fun to sift through those memories and share what I’ve learned along the way.
Tell us about the title, why’d you choose it and what does it mean or what’s its significance?
I think smoking pot properly involves a lot more than just how you get weed into your body, it means understanding this plant and the culture around it so you can properly represent in the wider world.
What’s the #1 take away from your new book?
Cannabis is the most amazing, beneficial and transformation life form in the known universe.
How did you start writing for High Times and Vice?
It was a want ad in the NY Times looking for a web editor. I did not hesitate to respond! VICE saw my pieces for High Times and got in touch.
You are married to a beautiful and talented woman who also enjoys the herb and is a weed writer…how does that help you do your job?
Being part of a creative cannabis couple is amazing and rewarding and fills our life together with many joys and shared enthusiasms. We sort of share a weed brain, so there’s always someone to talk over ideas with and we have really fun smokey strategy sessions no matter what either one of us is working on at the time.
What’s it like being in a relationship with another weed fan? Any advice about marijuana and relationships? Is this something you’d care to explore in future writing projects?
Not to plug too hard, but there’s a “cannabis couples” section in the book. The best advice off the top would be to use weed as a way to work through issues in your relationship and not as a way to avoid them.
What’s your favorite way to consume cannabis? How much do you consume a day?
I like to puff a little bit throughout the day, rather than having big sessions (usually). Lately, I’m really digging my Crafty vaporizer, but I’m down for a joint, or a pipe made out of an apple, or whatever you’ve got going on.
How important is knowing how to roll a joint? Is this a lost art?
I think if you really care about weed, you really should know how. I’ve got some fun, simple instructions in the book. Spend 45 minutes on this one essential skill and it will change your life.
What are your thoughts on big marijuana? And how do you think we can prevent the marijuana culture from being co-opted?
That’s another major theme in the book. For starters, we all need to vote with our dollars and support marijuana businesses that we like and respect and not let corporate weed take over.
Stoners and activist have been right all along and have fought for freedom for themselves and for their beloved plant…how can they maintain respect and get the credit deserved as legalization spreads?
We need to forgive those who created and defended the War on Weed, but never forget what they’ve done and also not let them off the hook for the damage done as we enter the post-prohibition era. We have to keep framing our opposition to pot prohibition as a social justice issue, and not just an economic issue.
How important is it that we elect a pro-weed president this year? I think marijuana legalization will go forward at this point with almost any president, but having someone open to supporting this change (versus someone deeply in the pocket of the prison-industrial complex and Big Pharma) will make a world of difference in how fast change comes, and how legalization unfolds. Personally, I feel the Bern!