Rolling Papers and the Fun Things They Create

Rolling Papers and the Fun Things They Create
For beginning smokers, few terms in the cannabis enthusiast’s lexicon are as confusing as joints, spliffs, and blunts. In fact, the rolled method of smoking can be daunting enough to send smokers running from rolling papers altogether, opting instead for glass pipes, vaporizers, or even edibles. Spinning the perfect joint, spliff, or blunt has an obvious learning curve. With practice, some smokers can turn rolling papers into true works of art, skillfully skinning up while others get by with rudimentary rolled cigarettes.

Joints Are Ideal for the Cannabis Purist

Joints are comprised exclusively of cannabis within light, delicate rolling papers. There are a variety of rolling papers on the market from flavored to novelty. Smokers can opt for less processed options like organic RAW rolling papers or go for something more extravagant like Shine’s genuine 24K gold rolling papers. Regardless of the choice, joints call for thin papers. 

Rolling a proper joint often takes patience and practice. You can opt to grind your herb or pick it apart with your hands, but the herb should be somewhat fine before spreading it across the length of your rolling paper. It can be tempting to avoid the edges but you don’t want to underestimate the amount of weed required to get a good roll going. Once your herb has been placed within the paper, you will  begin to gently roll upward then downward with the thumb and index or middle fingers of both of your hands, ensuring that the bud sticks together. The rolling motion should create a cylinder of herb with the sticky strip of your rolling paper still exposed. Once you’ve got decent control over the shape of your joint, you can lick the sticky segment of paper and pull it down to seal the joint. A simple pinch and twist at one end will bring your joint to its final form. Some smokers augment their joints with crutches that give support to rolling papers while offering a way around roach clips. Crutches can be particularly beneficial when smoking full-size joints. The popularity of crutches also stems from the tendency of the crutch to act as a filter.

Worlds Collide in Spliffs

Unlike joints, spliffs mix in tobacco with cannabis to provide a slightly energized feeling with a tranquil weed chaser. Spliffs are often confused with joints because the terminology is reversed in the UK. While many US smokers consider the mixing of tobacco and weed blasphemy, UK smokers often regard the mixture as sensibly frugal. The contents of a spliff may differ from that of a joint but both joints and spliffs use the same type of rolling papers in most cases. Likewise, the process of rolling a spliff mirrors that of rolling a joint, though spliff-enthusiasts have indicated that the tobacco lends to an easier rolling experience. Aside from the obvious chemical effects of mixing tobacco and herb, smokers also note the obviously different flavor offered by spliffs.

Blunts Skip the Rolling Papers Altogether

While blunts take after the joint in using a purely cannabis filling, they differ from both joints and spliffs in that they bypass the light, thin rolling papers in favor of tobacco paper. Tobacco paper is popularly used in cigars and is easily recognizable in that it is darker and thicker than what you’d find with standard rolling papers. Tobacco paper also offers a slower, more relaxed burn than what you’d find in a joint or a spliff. Since the paper is saturated with tobacco residue, blunts have a relatively sweet taste and a different impact than a joint. 

The rolling of a blunt begins with a neat dissection of a cigar in which all of the tobacco is gently removed from the tobacco paper. This can be done by moistening and unwrapping the outer layer, then using a sharp, precise instrument to cut the paper along the length of the cigar. Some people bypass the use of tools and are able to dissect the cigar with their hands alone. The tobacco paper will be fairly moist so you can let some of that moisture dry as you prepare your herb by hand or with a grinder. You may wish to set aside a larger nugget of bud to act as a crutch but this is purely optional. Fill the hollowed tobacco paper with your herb, carefully molding it into place before you even begin the wrapping process. This can be a bit of an art form so it pays to take your time and show patience. Then you can begin the rolling process, ultimately working your way to a tucking and rolling motion. Once you’re ready to seal your blunt, wet the lip of the tobacco paper and fold it over the cylinder as though you were taping it shut. Using a tamping tool is optional but you may wish to pack the herb for a shorter, fatter blunt. You can cut or tear off any superfluous tobacco paper at the end and use a gentle biting and pinching to seal the other end of your blunt.

UPDATE: There Are Always Tobacco-Free Blunt Wraps

Since states started requiring blunt wraps as tobacco products, retailers have had to obtain a tobacco license to sell the authentic blunt wraps that contain tobacco. Those who can’t find authentic blunt wraps and want to spare themselves the process of dissecting a cigar can still purchase blunt wraps, albeit ones that are tobacco-free. Blunt wraps also come in a wide variety of flavors which may be difficult to find if you’re simply skinning cigars. Some blunt purists can’t abide a tobacco-free blunt wrap but others are content with a flavor and feel that they find comparable in the tobacco-free options. For some, rolling a joint, spliff, or blunt is a point of pride while for others it’s a frustrating embarrassment. Ultimately, a smoker who knows his/her way around rolling papers develops an enviable and often useful skill. There’s no shame in sticking to glass pipes, but learning how to properly use rolling papers opens up even more variety to your smoking experiences while strongly contributing to your experience as a seasoned smoking aficionado.

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Wendy McCormick

Keep rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ 4:20)


Rolling a joint to me is a definitely a frustrating embarrassment. So, I save myself the trouble and buy them in this Anchorage marijuana store. :)

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