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How to roll a good joint

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How to roll a joint

Long before you were prescribed medical marijuana or made that first trip to the dispensary, you probably knew cannabis in its most iconic form — rolled up in a joint, or a marijuana cigarette.

While there is a wide range of methods for smoking marijuana today and all types of cannabis smoking accessories, there’s something to be said for coming back to the basics. 

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What you need to roll a joint

  • Rolling papers
  • Cannabis
  • A grinder (you can also use your fingers or scissors)
  • Cigarette lighter or matches
  • Optional: Paper filter or a “crutch” (many rolling papers come with filters)

How to roll a joint — step by step 

1. Grind up anywhere from ¼ to 1 gram of cannabis.

Make sure to remove any stems from the buds and to not grind it to a fine powder, which will make it hard to get a good pull on the inhale. Also, if you’re rolling a spliff (a joint made of cannabis mixed with tobacco), keep in mind you’ll need less cannabis to fill the joint. 

Grinding Cannabis
Credit: (The Cannigma / Anthony Travagliante)

2. Roll up a paper filter and place it inside one end of the rolling paper.

Also called a “crutch,” this allows you to smoke the joint all the way down to the end without burning your lips or fingertips, and without getting loose grains of weed on your lips. It also eliminates the “roach” — the leftover tip of a joint that people sometimes save for a later session.

Simply take a piece of hard paper, like the lid of the rolling paper packages (most papers come with thick paper filters attached, just detach them and roll them), and roll it until you have a small, cylindrical filter. Don’t leave it too wide open or some plant matter can get in your mouth, but you don’t want it to be sealed so tightly that you can’t get a strong pull on the inhale. 

Inserting Filter to a Joint
Credit: (The Cannigma / Anthony Travagliante)

3. Place the ground cannabis inside the basin of the rolling paper and tamp it down.

Make sure not to tamp it down too tight, which will make it pull less smoothly.  

rolling a joint tamping down
(The Cannigma / Anthony Travagliante)

4. Using your fingers, roll the paper back and forth, making sure not to roll it too tight.

5. Lick the gum of the rolling paper and seal it, closing the end opposite the filter.

Licking a joint closed
Credit: (The Cannigma / Anthony Travagliante)

It shouldn’t take more than a minute for the joint to dry, but you can also use a lighter to quickly dry it, flicking the flame over it for a moment or two. 

Here’s a video that demonstrates a relatively easy method:

Once you’ve spent a good amount of time smoking more “standard” joints, you might want to mix things up a bit. Here’s a look at some unique, strange, even artisan joints you can try on a special occasion — or whenever the urge strikes. 

Advanced joint rolling: When you’re ready to level up 

How to roll a cone joint

A cone shaped joint starts narrow at the filter and slowly expands to a cone-shaped tip may just be the iconic joint shape of today. It’s also quite easy to make. Prepare a standard joint like described above, but after placing your weed in the basin of the paper, add more at the end opposite the filter, giving it a shape somewhat like a baseball bat. 

Gingerly take the paper and roll it over the filter and the bottom of the joint, twisting the joint and licking the gum slowly as you move up towards the end. Once you’ve sealed it to the tip of the joint (the wide end of the cone), take the joint and tap it on a table with the filter pointing down. This will cause the weed at the tip to settle down, leaving a small open portion of paper at the end. You can then use a pen or pencil to tamp it down further, or just seal up the end and get ready to smoke your first hand-rolled cone joint. 

How to roll a fat joint

A fat joint, or a fatty, is the perfect joint for passing in a circle with friends. It’s quite straightforward really — a fatty is a joint that has more than the usual amount of weed, and is better suited for when you’re flush with weed, or smoking with company. To make a fat joint, simply roll a normal joint, but add more weed than you usually would. You could also buy a pack of extra large papers and fill accordingly. 

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Smoking a joint outside
(The Cannigma / Anthony Travagliante)

How to roll a cross joint

First becoming a household name (of sorts) with its cameo in “Pineapple Express,” the cross joint isn’t an everyday option, but it’s a fun one that could be worth a shot. You’ll need three rolling papers, some ground cannabis, a sharp tool, and a filter. 

Take one paper and put a rolled-up filter in the end and fill it evenly with weed, roll it, seal it, and place it to the side. 

  1. Take another paper, fill it with cannabis, roll it from the middle, lick it and close it. 
  2. Rip off the ends of the second joint, take a sharp tool like a pocket knife and make a hole about ¾ of the way up the first joint. 
  3. Take the knife and make a hole in the center of the second joint and slide it through the hole in the first until it forms a cross, making sure that the hole you put in the center of the second joint lines up with the first joint. 
  4. Take the third rolling paper, remove the sticky side, tear it in half, and then wrap it around the cross joint at the junction where the two joints meet. Do the same with the second portion of rolling paper. 
  5. Lick the support papers at the junction to seal it, let the joint dry, and then you’re ready to go.  
Filling a joint
(The Cannigma / Anthony Travagliante)

How to roll a heart joint

Any day can be Valentine’s Day with a heart joint, just don’t expect to get a whole lot of work done. What you’ll need is two rolled, filterless joints of equal size. Take the end of one joint and join it to the end of the other by twisting their tips together, and fasten them with glue strips from rolling papers. 

Then take the other ends of the two joints and bend and join them together in a heart shape and seal with glue strips.

Roll a third joint with a filter, but keep it rather empty at the end. Cut open the base of the heart after the glue dries, and then take the third joint and cut the top into four strips of equal length, which can then be wrapped around the base of the heart and sealed. 

How to roll a tulip joint (and what the hell is a rose joint?) 

Popular (or infamous) among tourists in Amsterdam, a tulip is a joint with a prodigious amount of weed in the cone shaped tip, resembling a tulip. First roll a standard, filtered joint with a slight cone shaped tip and set it aside.

Take three more papers and fasten them to one another lengthwise along the glue edges, forming a large rectangle. Take another paper and tear it in half lengthways, twisting one half into a “rope.” Take the large paper rectangle and fold it into a cone shape, with one sticky end up top which can then be used to seal the cone.  

Fill the cone with cannabis – it should take several grams – and then tamp it down gently. Insert the first joint you rolled into the open end of the cone, with the filter pointing up. Take the paper rope you made and tie off the tulip cone, holding the joint in place. You’re now ready for tulip season. 

But what about a joint made of actual flowers? You can actually roll a joint with rose petals by first drying the rose petals overnight. You can join multiple petals together with your saliva if they’re well dried. Once the rose petals are sealed, gently roll them together similarly to how you would close a blunt, licking the petals generously to seal them into a rose petal joint. 

Rolling with hash

Rolling a joint with hash is a potent way to get a double dose of cannabis. To roll a joint with hash, first prepare the amount of weed you normally would for a joint, along with a paper and filter. Then take a small amount of hash, about the size of a tic-tac, hold it in the palm of your hand and lightly heat it with a lighter until it properly softens and can be crumbled over the weed. 

You can also try “cooking” it by placing it in a thimble-sized bowl of aluminum foil which you then heat with a lighter until it smokes. If you’re using particularly sticky hashish or jarras, you can also roll the hash between your hands until you make a long, thin strip that you then place in the basin of the paper with the cannabis. Think of how you would make a Play-Doh “snake” when you were a kid.  

Moroccan hashish
Moroccan hashish (Jack Malipan/123rf)

How to roll a thin or mini joint (a pinner) 

Perfect when you’re by yourself or you’ve gotten your hands on some particularly strong herb, a small joint, also known as a pinner, can really hit the spot. Just roll a standard joint like you usually would — using less weed. You could make it your normal length but thinner, or make it shorter but still cone shaped. It’s your call. 

There is also no shortage of joint-rolling accessories — from fillable cone papers to automatic grinders to manual rollers — that make the process require a bit less skill and practice. 

Using a joint roller 

A mainstay of any headshop worth its salt, the typical joint roller is a simple, straightforward tool for making perfectly-rolled joints every time. 

The typical joint rolling machine is about the length of a standard rolling paper and consists of two “rolling pins,” connected by a sheet of material. Simply open the machine by pulling one of the pins forward and locking in place. 

Then place a filter at one end and end in your weed to or near the top of the roller pin. Close the pins and roll them towards you for a few rotations, allowing the weed to roll together and become a more uniform shape. 

Insert a paper between the rollers with the gum facing you, lick the gum, and then roll the pins towards you for a couple rotations. Open the roller and inside you’ll find a perfectly-rolled joint. 

Rolling a joint with a joint roller
(The Cannigma / Anthony Travagliante)

DIY joint rolling with household items 

A store-bought joint roller is only one of many tools that can help you twist up the perfect joint — many others are already in your house. If you aren’t ready to roll a joint by hand (to “freehand” a joint or “roll a joint freehand”), these tricks can help you out. 

How to roll with a dollar bill (or other paper currency) 

Rolling a joint with a dollar follows something of the same mechanics of a joint-rolling machine. You take a dollar and fold one end a few inches over towards the center. Turn the dollar counter clockwise till it’s pointing upwards, and use the fold you made as a basin. Take some cannabis and place it in the basin and roll it in the joint to pack it down. Then take a paper and place it in the basin with the glue facing you, like you did with the rolling machine, lick the glue, and roll it in the paper with a few revolutions. Remove the joint and you’re ready to go. 

How to roll with a pen

Take a pen and wrap a rolling paper around it. Lick the gum and seal the paper, and then slide it to the end of the joint. Slide the cylindrical rolling paper about a quarter of an inch off the edge of the pen, fill it with weed, then slide it further, tamp that down, add more weed, and repeat until the end of the paper. Then simply tie the end after you remove it from the pen.   

Rolling a joint without papers 

If you smoke enough joints for enough time, chances are you’re going to find yourself stuck at home with weed, a grinder, and no papers. Luckily, there are still some old school life hacks that can sort you out. Here are some classics:

How to roll a joint with a cigarette

Another easy way to roll a joint in a pinch is to take a cigarette and gingerly roll it between your fingers until you can coax all of the tobacco out. Then, holding the now hollow cigarette over a plate, drop ground weed into the opening, using a pen or similar shaped object to tamp it down. You can then decide to smoke the joint with the cigarette filter, or remove it and put in your own crutch. 

Using bible pages 

If you’ve checked into your hotel room, only to find Gideon’s Bible, you can still find a way to roll a joint by using the very thin paper pages of the bible. Also an old school trick used by high school students who were just given bibles by the Gideon’s while leaving campus, it can be used in a cinch, but you may prefer to use one of the blank pages in the back. They don’t have any ink on them, and it may allay some of your guilt (if you feel any).  

How to roll with a gum wrapper

If you take the foil wrapper off a stick of gum and separate or peel off the foil layer, you will be left with a paper layer that can then be used to roll a joint. You will likely need to use a lighter to “cook” the foil side so that it will peel off. You can then use a generous amount of saliva to seal the joint, or a natural adhesive like honey. 

Pouring out from grinder to joint
(The Cannigma / Anthony Travagliante)

Rolling a joint without a filter 

Not all that long ago, rolling a joint without a filter was the norm, at least in the US. 

You’d simply roll a joint and twist off both ends, and then hold one end between your thumb and pointer finger and shake it until it tamps down a bit.

Rolling a joint without a filter is very easy and perfectly safe and fine, but doesn’t produce quite as pleasant a smoking experience as a filtered joint. 

Little bits of marijuana are likely to get in your mouth, and when the joint gets down to the end, it will be increasingly hard to hold it between your fingers without getting burned. Also, a filter works to keep the mouth end of the joint open. A joint without a filter can seal at the mouth tip after you’ve held it between your lips, which can ruin the whole show. 

On the other hand, filters have all but eliminated an old school cannabis smoking icon — the roach. Saved for later and smoked with a “roach clip,” they were part of the landscape of cannabis for decades, but there are easier ways to smoke a joint these days. 

Ready to roll?

A joint is a relaxing way to smoke cannabis at your own pace, which doesn’t require investing in paraphernalia or mastering the use of tools like a bong, pipe, or dab rig. For many people, smoking a joint also provides a deep, deliberate breathing sensation of smoking, which can be almost like meditation in its own right. 

And sure, a joint isn’t the most economical or discrete way to smoke weed, and it can leave your fingers, hair, and clothes smelling like weed. But there is no denying that smoking is one of the quickest, most reliable ways to consume cannabis, and there is something timeless and uniquely enjoyable about smoking a joint. And now that you know how to roll your own, that’s one less thing to worry about.

Originally published on June 30, 2020.

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