How to Roll a Joint
Tuesday, July 13th, 2021
I told my 7th grade English teacher that I’d never use the lessons she taught me about expository speeches—I did mine on “how to play the drums” because I was a band nerd—but I was wrong. Thirty-something years later, it looks like today is the day, because I’m going to teach you how to roll a joint.
And it’s an important lesson to learn because the skill is dying slowly, which is unfortunate, but to be expected. Right here in our Durango dispensary, we sell four different kinds of flower pre-rolls, a solventless infused joint, a BHO joint, and the all-new Blunt Box, which contains six awesome blunts that you don’t have to roll yourself, so why would you ever need to roll your own?
Well, according to the late great Anthony Bourdain, “next to making a proper omelette or wiping your own ass, rolling a joint is an essential life skill for any self-respecting member of society.” I agree. What happens if you find some beautiful bud in our shop that isn’t available in a pre-roll? What happens if you break you pipe or if you want to mix strains in a joint or if you want to roll something special for a friend? You’ll need to do it yourself. And really, can you even call yourself a smoker if you can’t roll your own joints to smoke? Nope. So, keep reading and learn.
To back up a bit, when I say I’m going to teach you how to roll a “joint,” I mean a real joint. A classic joint. One without a “filter,” because if you know what you’re doing, they’re superfluous. After all, the rolled-up cardboard “filters” people put in joints don’t really “filter” anything at all, and they’ll make your joint taste like cardboard instead of pot, which sucks. Back in the day, we called them “crutches” because they were used by people who needed them; people who needed a “crutch” because they couldn’t roll a joint without one. If you roll a joint properly, the packed flower will stay in the tip where it belongs instead of ending up in your mouth like a snack, and using a cardboard crutch won’t leave you with a roach, which robs you of the opportunity to roll a generation joint (click HERE to learn what that means).
And I won’t be teaching you how to roll one of those arts-and-crafts joints, either. They’re an abomination, something gratuitous that came from the showboating that followed legalization, and they serve no purpose. I’m sure you’ve seen them. People will spend hours these days rolling a joint that looks like an animal or something else crazy like a spaceship, but those things never get smoked. They’re used for social media posts and the wow factor, and more often than not, the dude who rolled it cuts it open after posting the picture to smoke the weed inside normally, because smoking an entire spaceship joint is a waste.
However, as one final disclaimer before we get to the “how to” portion of this blog, I should warn you not to roll a joint if you’re trying to conserve your weed. A joint takes about three times as much pot as you can fit in a pipe, so joints are for gatherings, or for people with high tolerances who don’t think a single bowl will do. Alright… let’s get into it. The first thing you’ll need is weed:
I chose two Greenery-grown strains for my “expository” joints because there’s nothing better in Durango, and I wanted these to be picture-perfect buds—on the left is a 2g nug of Bruce Banner, and to the right is a 2.5g bud of Blue Dream. Again, I got three joints from these four grams because I wasn’t worried about conservation. The same two buds would’ve filled my pipe at least ten times, so take that into consideration if you’re balling on a budget.
Next, you’ll need papers (obviously), a rolling tray, and a grinder. For the record, you can roll a much better joint without a grinder because if you carefully pick all the bud off the stems in little pieces with your forefinger and thumb, you won’t get any stems in your joint. Stems can poke little holes in the paper which messes with the airflow/draw, and stems make joints taste bitter. I went 20 years without using a grinder, so I promise this is true, but I’m going to let go of this one stickler point because everyone uses a grinder these days, so I might as well show you how. Here’s the setup:
Granted, you don’t really need the Gandalf pipe pictured in the background, but I like to smoke before I smoke (and then I smoke some more), so it’s a bonus. Per the tray, I chose an antique plate, but anything will do so long as it has raised edges to keep the pot where it’s supposed to be. And back to the grinder, the example pictured is a three-chambered one because it has a little screen in the bottom that allows kief (the crystals/trichomes covering the flower) to fall into a separate section, but I always empty the kief chamber after every grind instead of saving it, and if you think about it, you’ll probably start doing the same. Because if you don’t, you’re taking away a little of the awesomeness from your joint. It just doesn’t make sense to roll ten or fifteen joints that are slightly less wonderful than they could be just so you can use the kief from all of them to roll a super-wonderful joint later, especially given that we sell Lebanese Hash (which is made from kief) right here in our shop. If you buy some and grind it, too, all your joints can be extra wonderful.
Moving on, the next step is to grind your weed. Break the buds off the main stem and then put them in your grinder in a little circle around the magnet:
If you cover the magnet, you’ll get the dreaded “bud patty” right in the middle from the pressure created during grinding, and it’s annoying. As to the ground flower itself, it needs to be cut up finely, and properly ground flower will look and act like kinetic sand when you pour it out on your tray; it’ll flow slowly thanks to the fine particles and oil content (as a side note, if you’ve never played with kinetic sand, you should do so after smoking because the ASMR is wonderful when you’re high). Next, pull out a paper and fill it evenly from end to end like a little burrito with the glue strip facing up and away from you:
I chose the Raw Black papers we sell right here in our shop because they’re natural and unbleached with chemicals, and they’re ultra-thin, so they’ll allow you to taste the terpene-rich flower in your joint as opposed to the paper itself. Next, you’ll want to pinch the paper together, thereby forming a little teardrop shape:
Then you’ll start forming a perfect cylinder out of the flower inside the paper by rolling it back and forth in between your fingers in both hands. It’s a lot like making a playdough worm; it needs to be done evenly from end to end so your joint doesn’t end up looking like a pregnant snake. Start with pressure in the center to avoid this, and then roll from the middle out—extra flower will fall out evenly from each end onto your tray, which is a good thing because even distribution is key:
Once you have a perfectly symmetrical weed worm in your paper, like this…
… you’ll need to tuck in the glue-less side, making sure the exposed paper is free from little pieces of pot (if not, they’ll end up stuck between the paper rolls and your airflow won’t be perfect), like this:
Then, all you must do is lick the glue strip evenly and wrap it up with gentle pressure—not enough pressure will cause your joint to run or “canoe” as you smoke it; too much pressure will make it so you can’t get a drag off your joint because it’ll be rolled too tightly. This takes practice.
Lastly, all you’ll need to do before smoking is choose which end will be the mouthpiece (if you did your job, this will be a random decision because both ends will be identical), and then tap the joint mouthpiece-down on your tray to pack it (this will stop the little “snacks” of weed from ending up in your mouth. A well-rolled joint should be able to stand on its end and look like this:
I kid you not, right after I rolled this joint and stood it up for the picture, a dappled ray of sunlight came through the window and landed right on the joint, illuminating its flawlessness, which you can see clearly in the picture above; I was pretty proud of the perfection.
At this point, your joint is ready to smoke. But if you’re not ready for your joint because you rolled it for later, it’s always a good idea to close the ends—this stops the flower from falling out while it’s waiting for you, and it slows the drying process. So, all you need to do is grab a thin packing tool like the ink tube from a pen or a small stick, and then push in the weed on both sides to give yourself a little extra paper like this:
Lastly, you’ll need to either roll the paper into a little tip, or fold the paper down to look like one of these options:
The pointed option on the left gives you a little wick to light, which is nice, but if you’re not careful when you’re pinching it together, it’ll compact the pot on both ends, which can clog it up. So, I always go for the option on the right wherein you fold the paper down with your packing tool like a little gift-wrapped present. When you’re ready to smoke, all you have to do is open it up, rip off the access paper, and then light up.
When you light your joint, it helps to hold the flame on the joint’s end for a while in your hands before inhaling. You don’t do this with a cigarette given that tobacco burns quickly because it’s much dryer than oily weed, but with sticky cannabis, if you inhale before the tip is lit fully, the outside will burn more quickly than the core of your joint, which can cause runs. That, and if you light the tip fully before inhaling, you won’t suck any butane from your lighter through your joint, which can make it taste funky. And then after your joint is lit, hold it gently in your fingers and don’t chomp down on the tip with your lips. This will keep the mouthpiece end perfect throughout your smoking session, and it’s why you don’t need a crutch:
And that, my friends, is how you hand-roll and smoke a joint. I’d like to give a special shoutout to Mrs. Byrd for teaching me how to give expository speeches in middle school, because those lessons came in handy today. It’s nice to know that even though this skill is fading from our collective knowhow thanks to pre-rolls, a permanent record of how joints are supposed to be rolled will live on in the annals of the internet forever due to this blog. So, if you’re reading this in 2050 via the internet chip implanted in your brain, please keep hand-rolled, classic joints alive and say “no” to all the robot-rolled joints from that dispensary on Mars; I’d appreciate it.
And if you’re reading this right here right now, thank you for taking the time to do so. Please keep checking back in to learn all there is to know about cannabis in Colorado, and please remember, here at The Greenery (which is Durango’s highest-rated dispensary), We’re Your Best Buds!