With the progression of legalized cannabis, cannaseurs have found different ways to consume cannabis outside just smoke and brownies. You can walk into any dispensary and find things like tinctures, topicals, and vapable oils and concentrates.

However, the classic and most popular way to consume cannabis is smoking the cured flowers of the plant. When inhaling the smoke of marijuana, like a joint, the active cannabinoids and terpenes within the plant are absorbed very fast through the lungs to provide a quicker effect than most forms of consumption.

Rolling up substances to smoke is a process that’s been around for centuries now. So, it would make sense that it is one of the oldest forms of consuming cannabis. Before the progress of cannabis legalization, which is still relatively recent, there weren’t too many options outside of smoking it. And joints were the best method during times of illegality because when you were finished, there was no evidence. As a matter of fact, one of the most iconic logos/mascots are the Zig-Zag rolling papers. This is without the brand ever having to drop a single commercial or do any real marketing outside of existing. Almost every stoner can see the logo and tell you exactly what brand it is.

What Will You Need?

At its bare necessities, a joint only really requires some tasty flower and a sheet of rolling paper. However, there are some extra tools you should use for the most optimal and pleasurable smoking experience.

  1. Choosing the right flower is all preference. It can be based on flavor, effect, smell, and/or looks. Depending on the size desired, you won’t need too much to fill a decent-sized joint.
  2. Although a grinder is optional to use, it’s not necessarily required. A grinder will speed up the process of breaking down the flower into small pieces for rolling. In addition, it will break it down more finely and evenly than fingers can. This will create a smoother, more even burn for your joint. Nobody wants a canoe burn in their joint!
  3. Obviously you need a joint paper. It has gotten popular to try other brands and types of rolling papers. There have been rice papers available, but hemp-based paper seems to be the preference nowadays. If you really want a more pure smoke, you could always look for organic, unbleached hemp papers.
  4. In general, joints are notorious for clogging towards the end of a joint. Typically due to resin buildup and unfortunately sometimes saliva buildup as well. However, during the transition to the 2010s, using crutches became very popularized. Crutches are not to be confused with filters, which potentially filters desired chemicals coming from the cannabis smoke. Crutches are rolled up pieces of cardstock that provide not only structure as a mouthpiece, but would also provide a bit of a barrier, preventing small pieces of weed from entering someone’s mouth. 
  5. It’s always good to have something like a pen or something similar in shape for packing in the joint. A loose equals a poor-burning joint.

How to Roll a Joint

The best process for rolling a joint can be summed up in six steps:

  1. Break down your cannabis flower by hand or with a grinder.
  2. Make a crutch for the mouthpiece of the joint.
  3. Place your freshly grounded flower into a joint paper.
  4. Roll and mold the flower into your joint with your fingers.
  5. Lick the paper, seal the weed, and pack the tip.
  6. Spark the joint evenly over the fire.

You can keep reading for further, detailed instructions on how to roll a joint. Learning how to roll a joint can be frustrating. It may also take some time to get a hold of the feeling of rolling it just right so it doesn’t have any uneven burning. Just follow this guide and you’ll be rolling properly sooner than you know it.

Break Up The Weed

After gathering all your materials, your first step is to break down some flower. Though it can be done by hand, the best method is to use a grinder. It will speed up the process and create an even burn on the joint. Most users, even occasional users, know the importance of owning a grinder.

I’m sure you’re wondering, “well how much weed should I be putting in?” In general, it’s situational and preference. A 2016 study showed that the average joint is roughly a third of a gram. However, if you are an everyday user, or like to smoke heavy, then adding more would be the move. Depending on if you’re smoking alone or with friends will also dictate how much cannabis you want to put in your joint.

Make a Crutch For The Joint

Crutches, as mentioned earlier, are made for creating a structured opening for a mouthpiece on the joint. Additionally, it also acts as a barrier that prevents bits of weed from getting in your mouth. Their shape is similar to a filter, though their functions are slightly different.

Grab some card stock like a business card or the cover of your rolling paper pack. You will cut out a rectangular piece. The height will depend on how much space you want it to take up in the joint (space for just the mouth or space to be able to hold the crutch in between fingers as well). The width depends on how thick you want your joint to be.

With one of the short ends, you will make a few “accordion” folds and then roll the rest of the cardboard around it. The more cardboard on the roll, the thicker the crutch will be.

Place Cannabis in Rolling Paper

The joint paper will have a natural crease. When it’s flat on a surface, it should have the adhesive strip facing up and at the top end of the paper. Holding the joint to support the natural bend will create a long bowl for you to place your flower. Place the flower in there evenly. The goal is to prevent loose spots in the joint, which could cause an uneven burn. Be careful not to overfill the joint. A good rule of thumb is to leave a quarter-inch of paper showing below the adhesive strip. 

If you feel like there is too much paper, you can always trim the joint paper to the desired size. 

Some people like to roll cone-shaped joints. This can be achieved by placing more weed on the lighting end and tapering the amount down to the mouthpiece. This will still have an even burn if it is consistently packed through the whole joint.

The crutch can be placed at the end prior to rolling and shaping the flower. Some people choose to put the crutch in last so they can adjust the size of it based on the space and size left for it.

Roll It Up

Once you have your crutch and ground marijuana in place, with your thumbs and index fingers pinching the rolling paper, roll the joint up and down to evenly compact the marijuana into a rolled shape. Don’t worry if some fall out as you roll your joint. It can be added back in or saved for later.

Take the time to work the ground marijuana into a cylinder shape to make it roll easier and smoke more evenly. If you roll the joint too loosely, it will burn quickly and unevenly. If you roll it too tightly, it may be difficult to take a hit. Once the joint seems smooth and even, tuck the side of the rolling paper closest to you into the joint and roll the joint up towards the adhesive strip.

Using your thumbs and index fingers, you will pinch the paper together right above the flower. You will now begin to shape and evenly compact the joint as best as possible. This is achieved by moving your fingers holding the paper up and down. The paper will slide against itself and it will roll the weed inside of it, thus shaping the joint. Some may fall out and that’s okay. We can pack it back in later after it’s sealed.

The first difficult part is feeling for the right amount of tightness. You have to practice finding the sweet spot between too tight and too loose. Achieving this will not only create an even burn, but the drags will be easy with some pull and the joint should burn a bit slower for less waste.

Tuck the side without adhesive around the flower. If you fold it tight around the crutch, it can start a clean tuck for you that you just have to follow up the joint. If you do so without the crutch in, it may be a bit more difficult to get a clean tuck because you don’t want to squish your shaped flower. A snug tuck will prevent uneven wrinkles.

Lick, Seal, and Pack The Joint

At this point, roll the joint up the rest of the way towards the adhesive strip. Lick the adhesive strip while it is still exposed. Then seal the joint by continuing rolling it until the wet adhesive makes contact with the joint. 

Now take whatever tool or object you’re using for packing the ends of the joint. Again, don’t overpack. You just want slight resistance as you pack it down. After packing, fill the burn end with more cannabis if desired or twist the excess paper until it is flush with then of the weed.

If you haven’t put your crutch in yet, then you will cut or tear the desired size of cardstock based on the size and space left on the mouthpiece. Fold and roll your cardstock into your crutch and carefully slip it into the joint. Try avoiding folding the excess paper when doing so. It can prevent a snug fit and can even prevent airflow. You can always add more weed before adding the crutch as well.

Light It Up!

Though this is one of the easier steps to do, it still needs some attention. When sparking a joint, you want to be sure to burn the end so that the ember, also known as the cherry, burns evenly. Puffing to burn it all can cause a flare-up. So typically the safer technique would be to rotate it over the flame to ensure it gets burned all the way around. As soon as it starts to light, you can puff on the joint to provide more oxygen to the cherry. Once the cherry is going and the joint is burning evenly, you can sit back and smoke it down to the crutch!

*The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease