There are a few life skills that are essential to living a good life. Cooking is one. Using a washing machine is another. And then there’s perhaps the most important one - rolling a joint.
However, just twisting up some weed in a rolling paper and clumsily sticking it down isn’t going to cut it. Joint rolling is an art, you see.
Therefore, if you want to stand out among your fellow stoners, you need to learn how to roll a perfect joint.
But before we break down exactly how you can do that, let’s learn a thing or two about joints.
History of the joint
The cannabis joint originates in Mexico, with the first reported use coming from a pharmacist at the University of Guadalajara in 1850. Back then, joints were being smoked on the fields by laborers who mixed weed with tobacco in their cigarettes.
The term ‘roach’ - which is the paper or card filter used in joints - is thought to have also originated in Mexico, inspired by the popular Mexican folk song La Cucaracha ("The Cockroach"). The song is about a cockroach who cannot walk because he doesn't have any cannabis to smoke.
A couple of decades later, joints were commercially available in the US - being advertised in medical journals as a treatment for respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis (THC is now a proven bronchodilator).
By the 1920s, alcohol prohibition was enacted in the US and this saw the rise of speakeasies. These underground jazz clubs were havens of for the illegal consumption of whiskey and ‘reefer’, which was not yet outlawed.
During this time, jazz music grew in popularity and touring jazz musicians helped spread the use of ‘jazz cigarettes’ around the country and even abroad.
In 1937, after years of racially-charged media propaganda, “Reefer Madness” came to a head in the Marihuana Tax Act, which essentially outlawed the possession and sale of the plant.
By the 1960s, the anti-authoritarian counter-culture was in full swing. War-opposing hippies shared love, peace and joints at festivals like Woodstock and cannabis cemented itself as a symbol of the movement.
Nowadays, while legal markets are being established all over the world, including in many US states, cannabis and the cannabis joint remain a potent embodiment of personal freedom and sovereignty.
What makes a perfect joint?
cannabis connoisseurs can be very particular. Particular about the weed they consume (the strain, how it’s grown, how it’s cured etc.); about how they consume (joints, bongs, vape, dabs, etc); and especially about how their joints are rolled.
Some will prefer short, stumpy joints with fat roaches, while others will demand big, back-rolled bats with tight roaches. So, at the end of the day, a lot comes down to preference.
However, there are a few things that most joint-lovers can agree on. For example, the perfect joint will…
- Burn evenly
- Not go out every few seconds
- Have good airflow
- Not fall apart
- Impress your peers
Now, there are a number of ways to create a joint that achieves all this, including using a joint-rolling machine. But, for the sake of this article, we’ll break down the easiest, most common way to roll a perfect joint by hand.
What you’ll need
Before you can roll the perfect spliff, you need to make sure you have a few pieces of equipment to hand.
- Rolling papers (large/king size are best)
Obviously, if you want to roll the perfect joint, you’ll need good quality rolling papers. King size Raws are a good option you can find in all smoke shops. OCB blacks or Rizla silvers are also favoured by many.
- Filter tips
In order to make a ‘roach’, you’ll need filter tips. These provide stability and shape to the joint and allow for steady airflow. Some rolling papers come with these tips. Alternatively, you can use a thin piece of card.
- Grinder or scissors
In order to roll the perfect joint, you’ll need to grind or chop up your weed to the right consistency. A grinder will do this best - a three-piece or simple plastic grinder will do - or alternatively you could just use a pair of scissors.
- Rolling tray or plate
For somewhere to put your ground-up weed, a rolling tray is ideal but a plate/bowl works just as well. Just don’t sneeze on it.
Ah yes, the star of the show. Make sure you have a gram or more of your favourite strain. After all, the perfect joint deserves to be rolled with the best weed you can get your hands on.
- Tobacco/herbal mix (optional)
Now, combining tobacco with cannabis is a practice that has existed since joints were first smoked over a hundred years ago in Mexico. While it is still very popular in Europe to this day, it’s certainly not for everyone - modern processed tobacco comes with a host of health risks. However, if you find pure weed joints too strong (which many do), you could try mixing it with a herbal mix or even CBD flower.
A thin pencil or something similar will work just fine. You just need something that will allow you to push down the weed in the joint in order to make sure it’s compact.
How to roll the perfect joint
In order to roll the perfect joint, follow the steps below. And don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time. It can be a hard skill to master - but practice makes perfect.
Step 1: Grind
Grab your grinder or scissors and about a gram of weed, and get grinding/chopping. You want your weed to be fine enough that it easily crumbles between your fingers with no lumps, but not so fine that it becomes dust-like.
Make sure to remove any stems and seeds before and during grinding. Dump your ground-up weed on your rolling tray or plate/bowl.
Step 2: Put the weed on the rolling paper
Pull out a single rolling paper, smooth the crease down with your fingers, and place it on your tray/plate with the sticky side facing up on the edge farthest from you.
Sprinkle your weed along the crease of the rolling paper, leaving a 1-2cm gap on the right-hand side of the paper for your roach (some people prefer rolling with the roach on the left). Make sure the amount of weed slightly increases from right to left so that you get a slight conical shape when rolling.
Step 3: Roll your roach and place on paper
Grab either a filter tip or a piece of thin card (about 1cm X 2cm) and roll it up. You don’t want it too small (will restrict airflow) or too big (will not stop weed from being sucked into your mouth). About 4mm in diameter will do. Once rolled, put it on the paper in the gap you made on the right edge.
Step 4: Pick up rolling paper and roll a sausage
Carefully pick up the paper, trying not to disrupt the weed or roach, and hold it in both hands. Hold the roach end with your first two fingers and thumb, with your thumb at the front, and roll the paper-covered weed into a sausage that is tight to the roach but gets thicker as it goes to the left.
Step 5: Tuck, lick and stick
Hopefully, it should start to take the shape of a cone-like joint by now. This next part can be tricky, but basically you’re going to try to gently roll the non-sticky edge of the paper around and over the weed-sausage in order to make a cone.
You then need to lick the sticky bit of the paper, before smoothing it down with your fingers. This may take some practice to perfect.
Step 6: Tap down and add fill cone
You should now have your joint nicely rolled, but it’s not quite ready to smoke just yet. In order to make sure it’s nice and tight, you’re going to have to tap it on a hard surface like a table.
Hold the joint like you would a pen, with the roach at the bottom, and tap it fairly gently so the weed compacts downwards. You can then add more weed to fill up the joint, followed by more tapping.
Step 7: Poke and twist
Use your poker instrument to poke down the weed in the joint and make it nice and compact. Then, twist the end of the paper so that no weed can fall out.
Step 8: Light it and puff
Hold a flame to the twisted end of the joint and wait for it to burn off. Then, while holding the flame near the end, take a few puffs to get it burning.
Lastly, sit back, relax, and smoke your perfect joint. Feel free to pat yourself on the back as well. You deserve it!
So, there you have it. You now have all you need to roll the perfect joint. While it’s far from easy and might take a while to perfect, if you keep practising, before you know it, you’ll be impressing friends and strangers alike with your superior joint-rolling ability.
Let us know how you go in your quest for the perfect joint in the comments.