Picture this: you’re down by the crossroads late one night and you cross paths with none other than Snoop Dogg himself. He suggests the two of you engage in a little friendly competition, and the stakes are incredible: he will provide all the cannabis you could ever want for the rest of your life, and all you have to do is beat him in a joint rolling competition. The rules are simple: you can take as long as you want, but you must roll by hand, and you must use a single standard 1 ¼ size rolling paper. Whoever’s joint looks best, burns best, and contains the most cannabis by weight wins.
Could you compete?
Don’t worry, I probably couldn’t either. However, believe it or not, this scenario is a recurring dream of mine, so I scoured the local dispensaries, grow ops, ski hills, head shops, and the internet to seek out the wisdom of experts who have mastered the art of rolling. And now, my quest complete, I share what I’ve found.
TO MAKE THE BEST BURRITO, YOU NEED THE RIGHT INGREDIENTS
All the technique in the world won’t yield a perfect joint if you’re rolling it with birch bark. To make a perfect joint, you need damn-near perfect components.
First, consider the paper you’re using. Small wood pulp paper is on the way out. The standard cannabis rolling paper in this day and age is 1 ¼ size hemp paper. The extra wiggle room allows for properly-sized joints, and hemp is easy to roll and has a less “papery” taste than wood pulp—it also makes the overall product a touch more pure, don’t you think? For advanced rollers, rice paper is an alternative. Rice paper is slower-burning and virtually tasteless, but rolling with them requires a delicate touch. Basically, just don’t use wood pulp.
Second, you want to use a filter. Sure, Jamaican-style (i.e. filterless) may get you street cred in certain circles, but it’s also depriving your joint the opportunity of reaching the coveted level of PERFECTION. Perfection requires sturdiness and excellent packing, both of which are virtually impossible without a filter—even an initially well-packed filterless joint will soon loosen and lose its shape when passed from hand to hand and from lips to lips. Not to mention that nobody likes getting bits of cannabis in their mouth.
Finally, use a grinder, people! Busting up by hand is not only a tedious, sticky job, but it also fails to break the flower up into uniform and manageable pieces. The result will be a lumpy joint with irregular packing, and potentially even a dreaded blockage.
SHAPE YOUR DESTINY
The first mistake that people make when rolling a joint is often either neglecting to take the time to make a proper filter, or by not using one at all. We’ve already discussed the perils of not using one altogether (bits, sog, limp, bad), but it’s also important to take the time to make an ideal filter. The ideal filter is not too tight, too loose, or inconsistent in its filtering. To make a filter that meets all of these considerations, you should avoid the perforated sections found in many premade filters—cut them off. You want a solid but malleable piece of material (most often wood pulp). Begin by crimping half of the filter’s length. In other words, fold it back and forth until you have an accordion-like effect, then use the remainder of the material to roll around that accordion-like interior. This prevents the filter from getting crushed shut.
Next, you want to start with the right paper shape. While joint shape comes down to personal preference, the cone-shaped joint is generally preferable because it maximizes the size of the paper, allowing you to fit as much cannabis inside as possible. To achieve this idealized cone shape, fold your paper at a slightly diagonal angle. The apex of this fold will be where your cannabis sits, as opposed to at the factory-standard straight middle fold. This subtle touch gives you the best start and facilitates reaching that ideal conic shape.
Once you’ve got all your pieces prepared, it’s time to start assembly.
- Begin with the pre-folded paper flat on a table, with the sticky strip facing upward and at the edge furthest away from you.
- Insert the filter at one end.
- Add the ground flower by tapping it out of the grinder as evenly as possible.
- Using both hands, pick up the paper and contents and, using your thumbs and forefingers, literally roll the flower by sliding the sides of the paper together, forcing the flower into the diagonal crease. The motion is almost the same as the “playing the world’s smallest violin” gesture. Continue until the cannabis has migrated down into the crease and has taken a cylindrical shape.
- Fold the close (non-sticky) edge of the paper around the filter, and continue that trend along the length of the joint, folding the paper over.
- Lick the sticky strip.
- Stick the sticky strip onto the paper beginning at the wide end of the cone, and continuing along the length of the joint until you’ve reached the filter.
- Use a lighter to apply heat to the filter end of the joint for about one second (you obviously don’t want to do this for too long, lest you end up lighting the joint from the wrong end)—this encourages the filter to expand and fit snugly inside the paper.
- Holding the joint vertically, tap the filter-side on the table a couple of times to settle the cannabis.
- Using the back of a pen or some similar implement, gently pack the flower down from the tip. Do not pack too tightly! We want to allow enough breathing room for air to flow easily.
- Twist the paper at the tip, sealing all that green goodness inside. Snip off the excess paper if desired.
- Light up and enjoy!
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Well, I’ve adopted all of this advice, and guess what? My joints are a lot better. They’re not perfect yet, but that’s to be expected. Rolling joints is a delicate process and doing it perfectly requires fine-tuning your muscle memory. I’m putting in the hours, and I’ve got a feeling that next time I run into Snoop in the dream world I’m going to give him a run for his money!