If you can roll a joint, you’ll never be short a few friends to help you smoke it, and if someone wants to share their joint with you, you had better know what to do with it so they’ll share again in the future! Joints are a quick, easy way to smoke cannabis—perfect for kicking back and relaxing with a cup of coffee or whatever you you think the best foods for the munchies are. Joints hold a nostalgic link to the Hippie roots of cannabis’s rise to popularity in the Sixties and the classic stoner comedy films of the Eighties and Nineties. This guide will teach you the ins and outs of packing, rolling, smoking, passing, and pitching a joint so you do it the right way without embarrassing yourself in front of your friends.
Packing and Rolling
There are two ways to make a joint, you can roll one yourself or buy a pre-made cone that you pack with your own supply. While it’s certainly easier to grind up some flower and stuff it into a paper, the end result is prone to runs, blockage, and potentially a lot of wasted weed (we prefer to call it cannabis, but SEO dictates we use “weed” at least three times per article.)(Hey that’s twice!)(Oh man, that’s too many parentheticals). Any way, you can crease a business card to make a funnel that helps you guide the weed into the joint tube to avoid spillage, then tamp it down with a pen, pencil, or even a twig if you don’t have anything else handy. Once it’s full, pinch the paper at the wide end of the joint and give it a few quick shakes to get your weed (that’s four times, nailed it!) to pack more tightly toward the bottom.
Of course, packing a joint tube isn’t very satisfying, so you should also learn the mechanics of rolling your own joints by hand. Rolling a joint is simple, but delicate work. The best way to learn is to practice, and know that you can always tear it open and try again if you don’t like the result. No one’s watching you, and if they are, you may be practicing wrong.
If you want to roll a joint, you’re going to need three things: paper, crutches, and ground cannabis flower. What’s a crutch? Well, it’s a thin strip of notecard or business card that you’ll roll into a tiny cylinder for the base of the joint—about the size and shape of the filter on a cigarette. Don’t use an actual cotton filter tip, it may filter out the cannabinoids that are the reason for smoking in the first place. You want to make the crutch first, so it gives your joint structure as you fill it.
Now take a rolling paper and open it up so it makes a v-shaped trough. Hold the paper in your dominant hand so you can see the gumstrip and place the crutch under your thumb. You should now have a little paper trough into which you can sprinkle your ground cannabis. Try to distribute it evenly in the paper, filling the trough about halfway to the gumstrip. Get ready for the tricky part!
Using your less dominant hand, bring both sides of the paper flat against each other, enveloping the cannabis inside. Hold it tight so you can reposition your dominant hand to do the same for the crutch end. Holding both sides of the paper against each other with both hands, slide the front up and down against the back. This will pack the joint down to a tiny little cylinder. You’ll have to go by feel to tell when it’s packed tight enough, but don’t go too tight. If your joint is as solid as a stick, it will smoke just as poorly.
When you’re happy with the consistency, slide the side of the paper closest to you down until you can just see the green edge of the cannabis inside, then lightly lick the gumstrip. Now all you have to do is roll it the rest of the way up and you’ve got a joint! You can light it up right away, or twist closed the open end if you want to save it for later.
Got a joint and some friends? Awesome! You’re already doing it right. If you rolled it, you get to light it, and if someone else threw down on what’s inside, they get to be on your left for the next hit (traditionally). Before you put it in your mouth and smoke it, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
Don’t put the joint all the way in your mouth.
It’s not a lollipop, it’s a piece of paper, and if you slobber all over it, you’ll be passing a wet joint nobody wants to hit, especially now (2020 and just in general). If you don’t want to share, just say that, otherwise the joint shouldn’t go past your teeth. Hold it up to your lips rather than between them.
Draw slowly, or risk burning your throat.
Don’t think of it as taking a big gasp of air. It’s more like sipping through a straw. If you draw the smoke into your mouth first, it has the chance to cool before you send it deeper into your lungs. Then, when you inhale, open your mouth a little to let in some fresh air.
Take two hits, then pass it to your left.
Or, when among friends, pass it to the left hand of the person to the right of you. Some people will tell you “right is tight,” and hey—we don’t judge—but the important thing to remember is that the joint is not a talking stick. Puff, puff, pass.
Proper passing technique means getting the joint from your hand to your friends’ without anyone’s fingers being singed or clothes getting burnt. It’s a stoner comedy cliché to drop a joint in a car and instigate a cartoonish catastrophe, but that doesn’t have to be your fate because unless that car is parked, you shouldn’t be smoking. The best way to pass it is to hold the joint as low on the crutch as you are able to with the lit end pointing straight up. Hold it lightly and allow your friend to take it out of your hand. Don’t release it, just let them remove it.
There will come a point where the joint is too short to continue. You can decide to pitch the joint (i.e. throw it away) or attempt a more advanced technique: the three-fingered pass. When the joint has burned down almost to a roach, pinch the side of the crutch (aren’t you glad we told you to use a crutch?)(Well yes, we are,—thank you!)(Gah, that’s too many parentheses again!) between your thumb and forefinger. Your friend will do the same on the other side, then you will push it against their fingertips with your forefinger until they take it away.
This takes practice, so don’t try it with someone the first time you smoke with them. Wait until you’ve had the chance to build up some joint-passing rapport, this is a real thing, we did not make that up. Trust is the first rule of sharing cannabis with friends. (Or having friends at all.) (Maybe that’s too deep for this article.)
When you’re done with the joint, what do you do with the roach? Some people say eat it,—and they’re not entirely wrong about how that works,—but that would taste disgusting and might even make you a little sick. That practice was more common during Prohibition, along with people saving their roaches in case they ran out of cannabis (not as much a problem any more). If it came to it, they could pack the roaches into a pipe and smoke that.
Thank Ja (Rastafarian reference.)(Oh man, we have to stop explaining things in parentheses!) that’s all behind us now. Now, there are only two things to worry about: making sure it’s completely out, and keeping it away from kids. Most joints are biodegradable and can be responsibly buried, otherwise you can throw them away in ashtrays or trashcans, but always on your own property or where you have express permission to dispose of your joints. Avoid throwing them on the ground or in bodies of water where small humans (we call them kids here) or animals might be tempted to ingest them. You don’t want anyone to have a bad time. If someone is having a bad time because of you, you are not having a good time.
If you made it all the way down here, thank you. We appreciate you reading our articles and you can find more of them by going back to our cannabis blog page. You might like our article about popular cannabis slang origins.