Think back to your first puff of pot. Chances are, you passed around a joint with friends. The joint, or marijuana cigarette, is synonymous with weed culture. But in today’s cannabis marketplace, with its vast array of products — everything from resin to edibles — the humble joint may seem like a relic of bygone haze. Not so! The humble joint has had a glow-up in the form of pre-rolls. The modern-day iteration of the classic favorite, pre-rolls offer convenience and variety to seasoned tokers and newbs alike.
And they’re popular: In 2020, flower and pre-roll accounted for 46% of the legal cannabis market — the highest market share in the industry. Vapes and vape products, by comparison, held a 29% share in the same year.
If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by your options when stepping into a dispensary, the pre-roll may just be the perfect place to start. Keep reading as we unpack everything you need to know, including:
- What pre-rolls are
- How pre-rolls are made
- Benefits (and drawbacks) of pre-rolls
- What to consider when making a pre-roll purchase
What Exactly Is a Pre-Roll?
In the simplest terms, a pre-roll is a ready-made marijuana cigarette. It consists of ground flower packed and rolled in paper, and a filter or crutch to provide structure, improve airflow, and prevent you from inhaling bits of the herb.
While pre-rolls fall under the category of “joint,” they differ from blunts and homemade joints in the following ways:
Blunt. A blunt refers to dried flower rolled up in a cigar wrapper or tobacco leaf wrapper. Because of their size, blunts typically contain a lot more weed than the average joint or pre-roll. They burn longer due to the slower burn time of the wrapper.
Joint. A joint does not contain any traces of tobacco. It’s pure herb hand-wrapped in rolling papers. It’s similar to a pre-roll in the materials and construction. You also have more control over the type of flower you pack because you’re doing the whole thing yourself.
While blunts and joints refer to the method and materials of readying cannabis flower for smoking, pre-rolls are essentially professionally made joints that are rolled and ready for consumption.
As for what fills the average pre-roll, depending on the type and manufacturer, pre-rolls can be made with flower, shake or b-buds (also known as popcorn buds). They can also be infused with concentrates, terpenes and more. To be sure you’re getting exactly what you want, ask your friendly budtender to explain the makeup of specific pre-rolls.
How Are Pre-Rolls Made?
The precise method of creating pre-rolls varies by grower or manufacturer. The gist of the process is:
- Cure or dry cannabis flower
- Trim flower or crush to create a uniform size
- Optional: Add concentrates, terpenes or other additives to the flower
- Pack crushed flower into a wrapper (usually one that already has a filter)
- Package the rolls for sale in a dispensary
While some growers opt to hand pack their pre-rolls, many use a machine to create prerolls in bulk. Whatever the method, the heart of any good pre-roll is the cannabis.
Like loose flower, pre-rolls come in a wide variety of Indica, Sativa and hybrid options. You can buy a single pre-roll or packs of up to 20. To learn the exact manufacturing process, talk to your budtender.
Oregon’s cannabis laws also ensure you’ll know what goes into each pre-roll on the shelf. The state has clear guidelines on the packing, testing and labeling of pre-rolls sold in the state. This is designed to ensure accuracy, promote consumer trust and maintain product transparency — and, of course, to make sure you’re getting what you came for.
Varieties of Pre-Rolls
Just like your dispensary’s flower stash, pre-rolls come in an array of choices designed to meet the needs of any high. Common types include:
Indica pre-rolls. Indica strains are known for their relaxing effects. This could be your evening pleasure as you wind down or de-stress after a hard day.
Sativa pre-rolls. Sativa strains are pick-me-up plants. They’ve been known to energize, uplift and even enhance creativity. Reach for a Sativa pre-roll during the day when you need a mood boost.
Hybrid pre-rolls. Hybrids are a blend of both Indica and Sativa. Depending on the parent strain, they can offer a true balance or lean more toward one or the other. It’s a best-of-both-worlds type situation. Your budtender will be your best friend for questions on which hybrid pre-roll is a fit for you.
Infused pre-rolls. One of the best things about pre-rolls is the ability to infuse them with other forms of cannabis. Some contain cannabis oil, diamond or botanical terpenes. These additions can boost potency and enhance the overall experience.
What Are the Benefits of Pre-Rolls?
Pre-roll popularity isn’t just a fluke. There are many benefits to purchasing pre-rolled pot, especially if you’re new to the world of weed.
Convenience. It doesn’t get much easier than picking up a pack and lighting up. Pre-rolls allow you to skip the traditional steps involved in smoking a joint, including grinding the flower, rolling and sealing.
Consistency. Professionally made pre-rolls (whether rolled by hand or machine) offer a consistency in look, feel and quality that is hard to get when you DIY. Plus, if you find a grower or strain you like, you can keep going back, knowing you’ll get a similar product.
Variety. It’s the spice of life for a reason. Single pre-rolls allow you to sample many different strains and infusion combinations.
Portability. Pre-rolls will hold their shape, come in freshness-preserving packaging and are far less likely to fall apart in your pocket than a hand-rolled joint.
Puff-puff-passable. Feeling nostalgic for those days of sharing a joint among friends but not loving the idea of passing around the latest virus-du-jour? A pack of pre-rolls to the rescue. Hand them out and share the love, not the germs.
Of course, it’s not all smoke and roses. Pre-rolls come with a few drawbacks as well:
- Storage. If you’re buying now to smoke later, you need to store your pre-rolls in an airtight container to keep them fresh.
- Quality. The best pre-rolls are made from the purest part of the flower, but not all dispensaries or growers opt for top quality. Pre-rolls can contain stems, shake or even stale flower. Combat this by purchasing from a known grower and dispensary.
- Less control. If you like to be 100% hands-on in the joint process from first flower crush to final paper lick, a pre-roll may not be the best choice.
What to Know When Purchasing Pre-Rolls
This is all well and good, but what do you do when you’re nose to nub with a shelf full of pre-rolls at your friendly local dispensary? We’ve got you covered with a few tips for first-time purchasers (or anyone looking to up their pre-roll game).
1. Check out the packaging. A pack of pre-rolls may look like a deck of cards, a matchbook, a tube, or a single joint tenderly cradled in a transparent vial. Whatever it’s made of, the packaging should be airtight and waterproof. This ensures the cannabis inside is in prime smokable condition.
2. Understand what’s inside. The packaging also offers information on what you’ll find once you light up. Is the weed within Indica? Sativa? A hybrid? Is it infused or plain? These are all important to know as they play into the experience you’ll have.
3. Infused or plain? Thanks to Oregon’s cannabis laws, producers must clearly indicate whether a pre-roll is infused or non-infused. For non-infused pre-rolls, THC and CBD concentrations are expressed as a percentage, based only on the eight of usable marijuana. For infused pre-rolls, these concentrations are expressed using milligrams in each serving and in the entire container.
4. How was it grown? The more you know about the marijuana within your pre-roll, the better you can assess if it’s right for you. Don’t hesitate to ask from whence that weed came. All cannabis products (including pre-rolls) sold in licensed Oregon dispensaries need to be produced here in the state. Your budtender will know the farm (and probably the farmer) who grew and packed your pre-roll.
Ask Your Budtender
Even if you know your stuff when it comes to pre-rolls, your friendly budtender is standing ready to answer any questions or offer recommendations. Don’t hesitate to ask about a product’s potency, ingredients, or even mouth feel. The right pre-roll is out there for you. Now, you just need to roll on up and find it.