In the 1997 Quentin Tarantino film “Jackie Brown,” there is a scene in which Samuel L. Jackson pays homage to the Kalashnikov rifle.
“AK-47, the very best there is. When you absolutely, positively got to kill every [REDACTED] in the room, accept no substitutes.”
The same could be said for blunts. When you absolutely, positively need to get everyone in the room high, accept no substitutes.
But blunts are more than just the street sweeper of smoking weed. They’re a culture, an art form, a thick hit of nostalgia twisted up in a hollowed-out Swisher, an unmistakable taste on your lips and a viscous cloud of smoke that says, “I don’t know what a cannabis sommelier is, but I bet you can’t finish this by yourself.”
But what exactly is a blunt, and how can you roll your own?
What is the difference between a blunt and a joint?
By now you know what a joint is – ground cannabis flower twisted up in a rolling paper, with or without a filter or crutch. If you added in some tobacco it’s a spliff, and that’s pretty much all she wrote.
A blunt on the other hand, is a hollowed out cigar paper filled with weed. There is no filter, and no tobacco is mixed in with the herb.
They’re called blunts because of the Phillies brand “Blunt” cigars, but all types of cheap cigars will do, from Swisher Sweet Perfectos to White Owls, Dutch Masters and of course Backwoods, which may have been twisted into more blunts than any other brand over the past decade.
Why roll a blunt?
Why someone would prefer to roll a blunt over other methods of getting high is maybe a more relevant question today when there is such a vast array of options with weed.
But back in say, the mid-90s? The world of weed was mainly joints, bongs, and blunts. The three camps mingled, but usually you used one method because that’s just what you always did. Maybe it was the most popular way in your social circle, maybe it was the method mentioned in every song you listened to, maybe you liked the taste or the high, or it could be just that you could buy pre-rolled blunts on the cheap and they always did the trick. Also, blunts were perfectly suited to the days of cheap, bricked-up weed that came in high quantities and was more suited to the inside of a Swisher than your Instagram feed.
But if someone were to make the case for blunts it’s mainly that they hit hard, they make a lot of smoke, and the flavor on the inhale and exhale is a full-bodied, immersive experience.
When were blunts invented?
The history of blunts is about as hazy as the inside of a Buick Grand National after two Perfectos. But theories do abound. Convincingly, WeedMaps posits that blunts originated from “fronto” whole leaf tobacco leaves brought to New York from Caribbean immigrants decades before blunts became an East Coast hip hop staple.
But what about blunt authority and cannabis icon Snoop Dogg? In 2017, he stated that he first smoked a blunt with the late Geto Boys rapper Bushwick Bill, and that “we had never seen that before.”
It’s unclear who the “we” is here, but considering that the Geto Boys’ breakout album “We Can’t Be Stopped” only came out in 1991, this would imply that blunts were still relatively new on the West Coast at the time.
There is no authoritative oral or written history on blunts, but one can make the case that they became a nationwide cultural staple in the early to mid-90s, thanks to their ubiquitousness in hip hop, especially among artists from the East Coast.
What you need to roll a blunt
To borrow a line from the classic 1992 track by Redman, the legendary New Jersey rapper and co-star of “How High,” this is how you roll a blunt.
First off, here’s what you need:
- A cheap cigar (a Swisher Sweet, White Owl, Phillies Blunt, Dutch Master, or a Backwoods)
- A sharp knife or a razor blade (or just some sharp fingernails)
- A lighter
- A gram or two of ground weed
How to roll a blunt: Step-by-step instructions
- Take the cigar and lick in a straight, vertical line from the top to the bottom.
2. If you have a sharp knife or a razor blade, gently make an incision along the line you licked. If you don’t have a blade, you can use your fingernails or holding the blunt firmly in both hands, press down with both thumbs, breaking the blunt wrap at the top and then repeat as you move down the cigar.
3. Once the paper is split down the middle, dump out all of the tobacco.
4. Holding the blunt in one hand or balancing it on a tray or a CD case – if you are suddenly in 1996 – carefully sprinkle the ground weed into the basin of the paper.
5. Tamp the herb down some but not too much (so it won’t be too tight), then begin rolling it at one end, folding a little of the paper down around the other half and then licking it with a lot of saliva and sealing it. Repeat this step as you move down the blunt. There is no glue on the blunt wrap; it is the saliva that will stick it together.
6. Using a lighter, run the flame up and down the wet seam, “toasting” it with the flame for a couple of seconds here or there just to dry it.
7. Light and smoke the blunt.
Rolling a blunt can be harder than rolling a joint, not only because of the lack of glue but also because it’s a larger surface and a bit more unwieldy. Like rolling a freehand joint, it’s a bit tricky the first couple of times, but you should get the hang of it quickly.
Have blunts changed in recent years?
Blunt innovation may be an overlooked area of tech reporting, but there have been some interesting developments in recent years.
Mainly, tons of companies like Backwoods and Swisher Sweets sell pre-dumped blunt wraps and leaves, which don’t require splitting or dumping out the tobacco. A number of companies also sell blunt wraps made of everything from hemp to palm leaves. These options may take away some of the ritual and the fun of blunt rolling and smoking, but they also save time and effort and can give more or less that same blunt-smoking sensation without having to ingest any tobacco smoke.
There is also the “cannagar,” which isn’t a blunt but is notable nonetheless. A cannagar is a cigar made by rolling compressed cannabis around a skewer and then wrapping it in a weed leaf wrap. A line of cannabis oil is typically used to hold the whole thing together, which can stay lit for a long time.
Another blunt innovation that may not be new is microwaving your joints. In a 2019 interview, Snoop Dogg described how he microwaves his blunts for 11 seconds before smoking it. Snoop said he does this to “trap all the ingredients,” and until a peer-reviewed study proves otherwise, we see no reason not to try it, though you’re perfectly fine without a kitchen appliance.
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