An Inside Look at the Rise of the Pre-Rolled Joint

Chances are increasing that the beautiful joint your friend brought out last week at a party wasn’t his own handy work. Pre-rolled joints are on the rise, and they’re stepping out of the low-quality shadows and into the premium cannabis limelight.

The best part about the shift is that, unlike your buddy’s corpulent mystery-strain joint, the pre-rolls being produced by cannabis brands are consumer-friendly and totally transparent in strength. We talked to a couple of brands about the trend, and how you should choose your next pack of joints.

It starts with some image maintenance. Pre-packing has traditionally been a way to disguise lower quality materials, and as a result the quality of pre-rolls in previous decades had not always been the best. “Pre-rolls were traditionally held in low regard as a product made by a dispensary with leftover bottom-of-the-barrel shake,” says Jaime Warm from Henry’s Original. “They were often a mystery mix of various strains.”

But things have changed as smokers have gotten wiser and as companies have been asked to meet demands for higher quality products. “We are starting to see an emergence of products that are single-origin, full-flower pre-rolls showcased as a connoisseur product,” says Warm.

Jacob Crabtree of Planted Supply Co. says he’s seeing more educated consumer questions as well. “Buyers want to know the quality of the cannabis. The other question [we get] is what kind of paper is used to roll our pre-rolls. We use natural rice paper for both our Lonely's and Good Fortune brands, which is the top quality. Our Good Fortune Fortune Pack also includes one joint wrapped in 24K smokable gold, which, of course, is ultra premium.”

Both Crabtree and Warm agree that convenience is a major factor in why people buy pre-rolls. “You have to have supplies with you to roll your own,” explains Crabtree, “Grinder, paper, crutch, table to actually roll it on. The average person won't be carrying those supplies with them.

“Pre-rolls are the equivalent of cracking open a single beer: portable, affordable, and a manageable amount to consume,” says Warm. “You can toss a pre-roll in your pocket and enjoy it on the go.”

They’re also a great way to try different products without committing to a large buy. “You can buy a variety to suit your needs,” says Warm. “Pick up some indicas for unwinding in the evening, some energizing sativas for daytime activities or hanging out with friends, and some CBD pre-rolls for when you want the relaxation without the high.”

The idea seems to be that one well-packed cigarette case could contain a whole day’s worth of activities and options. But now that someone else is rolling your joint for you, one question remains: How potent is this thing? 

Crabtree says it's at the discretion of the manufacturer. “For example, our 'pinner' joint has half a gram of cannabis," he says, "and there's almost a full gram in our Good Fortune joint.” 

If you’re looking for group activities, you could always look into into dipped pre-rolls, which are frequently a full gram dipped in kief or hash to extend the potency.

Warm says the important factor to look at when buying pre-rolls is the THC content. “Everyone processes THC differently… some people feel high with 5 mg of THC while others need 150mg to feel anything. Generally THC content in the twenties or high teens is going to be quite potent and recommended for experienced smokers.”

Newer consumers or those who don't want high THC should look for a lower THC content, a THC/CBD mix, or a CBD-dominant pre-roll, according to Warm. “These can be harder to find since the market has been conditioned to offer high THC products.”

If you’re just dipping your toe into the market, start with one hit, and let the effects set in for five to ten minutes. “Unless you know your tolerance and are familiar with the pre-roll you're smoking, do not smoke the entire joint right away,” says Warm. “Most people report feeling the effects within one to two puffs and enjoy the effects for a few hours, sometimes taking another puff to maintain the effect.”