Where I'm from, people really don't smoke a lot of joints. That's mostly because pot is an incredibly scarce commodity there, like a lot of places in this free country. Pipes and bongs were the standard in my neck of the woods, and it wasn't until I'd moved to Colorado and fraternized with some European aficionados that I began to appreciate all that a well-rolled reeferette has to offer. There are generally two styles that I employ when I roll a cannabis cigarette. We'll take a look at both.
European "Loosey” (Lucy)
One thing to take into consideration when rolling your joints is that cannabis and tobacco have very different tactile properties. After being cured, tobacco is a lot moister than cannabis, and is smoked at that humidity. As a consequence, it's much easier to roll a tobacco cigarette.
Cannabis, on the other hand, has a tendency to be smoked much dryer, and will often crumble into inconveniently small pieces if not handled carefully.
My introduction to joints was by a kind European dude who insisted that buying a package of rolling tobacco and turning the whole thing into cigarettes was the easiest way to get a hang of the subject and to generally get off the ground, as it were. Cosmopolitan readers may already be familiar with the standard that Europeans hold in their joints: a combination of both plants, tobacco and cannabis, mixed to create an intense, if not shorter, psychological effect. The reason that this is the standard in Europe largely has to do with a sadly minute available supply of the herb. Nevertheless, using a lot of tobacco in the mix makes a cigarette much easier to roll – though it's a method I personally never employ.
I do, however, maintain the same techniques that Europeans often use to make cone joints: a method that involves basically rolling the shape of a cone around loose herb then shaking the cone from the tip to “pack” the herb down into the base or mouthpiece. So step by step:
Crumple up your rolling paper into a ball then unroll it. This makes the paper “hug” the herb better than a flat sheet, helping to avoid air pockets that cause your joint to burn unevenly.
Roll the crutch or mouthpiece and place onto the rolling paper on the side of your dominant hand.
Add ground herb to the paper. Grinding exposes more surface area and promotes more complete combustion of the herb as well as a smoother, more even burn.
“Pinch and twist” the chamber or mouthpiece so that the bottom of your rolling paper meets the inside, starting to form a cone.
Continue this motion to form the rest of the cone around the herb, with the intention of making an even and narrow cone but without the concern of having the herb in the right place just yet. You can secure the angle you want by “shuffling” the bottom of the paper into the top: do this by using your thumb to push the bottom of the paper back towards and into the mouthpiece while holding the top in place with your fingers.
Lick the paper to keep your form in place.
Pinch the tip of the cigarette together and coax the herb into a proper form by shaking or tapping the cigarette on a hard surface.
The Key Is in The Chamber
One of the first things this European guy told me about rolling a joint sounded like an archaic riddle from some long-forgotten Mystic manual.
“The key is in the chamber” he said.
“Huh?” I replied.
He then proceeded to convince me of the necessity of a tool I was, at that point, unfamiliar with: the paper crutches that are used prominently in Europe for mouthpieces in cigarettes. If you're not familiar the device, it consists of a rectangle of hardened paper about 1 inch long and a third of an inch tall. These are sold in booklets at your local tobacco vendor and are now popular in head shops across the US. Glass varieties have now become the rage in flavor-craving circles and provide the smoker with not only unsurpassed flavor but a cooler temperature as well.
You can easily make the things if you have some decent material, but the convenience of the pre-made booklets is undeniable. Raw brand makes a “perforated” variety that I prefer. These perforations made it super quick to get a few precision folds on the very edge of the mouthpiece before you roll it – creating a unique M-shaped filter that keeps the chamber from getting debris stuck inside.
I never roll a joint without some type of mouthpiece these days. They just have too many advantages: a cooler hit, a little bit of accumulation of smoke in the chamber - providing a better mouth feel and arguably flavor, a convenient place to hold the thing without crushing it, and a way to actually consume the cigarette down to the last bit with no need for a roach clip or any other paraphernalia.
The Bobby M
The second variation of rolling that I try to (stay too inebriated to want to) employ requires much more diligence. I tried this after an old college buddy. Bobby didn't smoke herb at that point thanks to a very long probation, but the guy certainly rolled the best smoking joint I've ever had the pleasure to destroy.
The only difference between Bobby's technique and what I mentioned previously is that he rolled the herb into place as he rolled the cigarette itself, crushing the herb just a bit to form a solid, finished shape even before the paper was licked. This requires a lot of attention, or at least practice, because crushing the herb is essential to forming this style cigarette but crushing too much will result in too little air flow and herb that's lost its fluff. Translation: you get one shot to do it right. Drop by 710Pipes in Downtown Denver to stock up on all your rolling, smoking and vaping supplies and get to practicing!