8.31.2020 | Set and Setting 101

Wedding Cake

Welcome back to the red bench… it’s time to get this week rolling!

After starting the morning with a joint of an Indica strain called Avalanche OG, I switched over to a great India-dominate hybrid, one of my favorite go-to strains – Wedding Cake. I’ll pick an eighth of this strain up just about anytime I come across it…

The local delivery service got a very fresh batch (almost too fresh) over the weekend and I jumped on that this morning when I looked at the online menu. When the nugs arrived I was very impressed by the dense, solid and sticky quality of the nugs. But then I smelled the jar… oh my, that is very fresh herb! Almost too fresh…

Unfortunately the grower got a little impatient with this batch, and another week or two of curing would have really turn this good herb into great herb. Still, the effects were right on – an uplifting high with lots of good body comfort. If I had the luxury, I’d just put this jar aside for a couple weeks and see the difference – but these nugs will be long gone by that time 😉

Elevate Your Sesh Week – Part 1

Setting And Setting 101

The most important elements necessary for a cannabis sesh is you, your herb, where are you going to toke and who you’re smoking with… these elements are collectively known as “Set and Setting”.

Many times I’ve smoked an herb and had a great sesh and then later smoked the same herb and had a totally different experience. I’m sure you’ve probably done the same thing. This is because smoking herb is more than just chemicals and THC content. Smoking herb isn’t some automatic process where smoking a certain herb will always equate with a certain kind of experience. I’ve smoked some pretty strong marijuana that fell flat because my mind wasn’t in the right head space to really experience the best of the herb. There are other factors involved in the high besides the herb, so let’s get into it and take a look.


That head space you bring to a sesh is called the “set”, or mindset. Your set will be affected by your cultural expectations, personal feelings and beliefs and your current emotional state. A Jamaican Rasta will experience the same herb differently than an Indian Sadus or an American college student. The cultural and personal expectations are totally different and that has more impact on your sesh than you can imagine. For example, if your personal expectation is that smoking marijuana always makes you tired, that’s going to affect the high and usually lead to a sleepy experience.

“Of course, the drug dose does not produce the transcendent experience. It merely acts as a chemical key — it opens the mind, frees the nervous system of its ordinary patterns and structures. The nature of the experience depends almost entirely on set and setting. Set denotes the preparation of the individual, including his personality structure and his mood at the time. Setting is physical — the weather, the room’s atmosphere; social — feelings of persons present towards one another; and cultural — prevailing views as to what is real.”


Next in importance is, of course, the herb you’re smoking. Now we’re crossing into the “setting”. What are you smoking? Indica or Sativa, the terpenes, the various cannabinoids… these properties are going to shape the boundaries of where this sesh will go. Knowing a bit about the herb you’re smoking will definitely help shape your mental expectations of what lies ahead.

Another important factor is where you’re going to imbibe. Are you in a relaxed and safe environment or are you smoking in your car on some side street and hoping you don’t get busted? Same herb, totally different experiences. I used to get paranoid smoking herb, years and years ago. Why? Often it was because I was smoking in the wrong place at the wrong time. Knowing that where I’m smoking is as important as what I’m smoking helped me make better choices. Also – legalization does wonders for your paranoia!

The last factor I want to mention is who you’re smoking with. This seems obvious and nobody needs me to tell them how to pick their friends, BUT… I’ve had too many good smoking moments go sour because of a bad choice of smoking partners to not mention this element.

Above: A perfect setting – an evening in the hi-desert with good friends, properly social distanced and each couple with their own joint!

An added thought – how much time are you spending on your sesh? Are you getting into a prolonged smoking time or just taking a few hits on the run? Relaxed or rushed… again, same herb, but a totally different experience.  When I really want to get the best from the herb, I have to stop what I’m doing and concentrate on the wonderful flower in my pipe or bong. They call this “mindfulness” and applying this to herb smoking will quickly elevate your sesh. Mindfulness – being in the moment… what are the smells and tastes I’m experiencing? Where did that hit me? In my head or in my body? What were the exact sensations?

Set and Setting – keep in mind these simple What, Where and Who factors and a little mindfulness, and you will elevate your seshes, and you’ll be more in control of where the herb takes you.

Set and Setting were ideas I learned about by reading Dr. Andrew Weil’s books From Chocolate To Morphine and The Natural Mind. Follow the book links for more information.


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