Toward the end of Tuesday night’s Nuggets’ game versus Chicago, a few young people sitting near me in club level passed around a “vape pen”, the pocket-sized vaporizer used for smoking marijuana oil. A few minutes after a few puffs of smoke wafted through the air, an usher came down to eyeball our section but left it at that. The one child I could see didn’t seem to notice any of it.

Although the incident didn’t bother me personally—the smokers appeared to be in their early 20s, they were well behaved (if a little giggly), and the vapor didn’t create any intrusive odors—it was still illegal. If the smokers had been caught in the act, they would’ve been asked to leave, and rightly so.

As we head into the season of holiday parties and family gatherings, some people have begun to ask a logical question: Now that marijuana is legal, is it okay for adults to use it in front of kids the same way they’d pop open a beer or hoist a cocktail? The Cannabist posed that very question last week in an online poll, and 76 percent of more than 2,000 respondents said it’s just fine to blaze away.

(Read 5280’s November 2014 cover story about the booming business of legal weed)

While it’s important to keep in mind that Cannabist readers are extremely pro-marijuana to begin with, the results are still a little surprising. Even more surprising to me is that I answered no.

Even though I’m vehemently in favor of legalization for adults and firmly believe that alcohol use is far more harmful than weed in virtually every way, marijuana maintains an unmistakable stigma. Like everyone else, I’ll be attending celebrations and dinners over the coming weeks. And while everyone will be merrily quaffing an ale or sipping from a tumbler, I’ll do my partaking away from the crowd. (Thank goodness for edibles.)

I know that puffing from a vaporizer would bring a record-scratching halt to holiday proceedings, and that’s just fine. We’re 11 months into a new openness about marijuana that was almost totally closed for the better part of the past century. We can’t expect weed to be welcomed the way alcohol—pernicious as it is—has long been accepted.

So if you want to vape, vape. Just do it safely and away from the kids. This condition may change someday, but it’s one of those things about legalization that would probably be better off unfolding slowly.

(Read more from this author)

Follow 5280 editor-at-large Luc Hatlestad on Twitter at @LucHatlestad.