Smoking a joint with friends is practically a rite of passage for cannabis consumers. But with this shared rite comes some rules of the road. As it turns out, over the 5,000 plus years of humans consuming the herb, cannabis has evolved and today claims its own unique slang, language, humor, literature, music, art, and etiquette. And nowhere is that etiquette more pronounced than when it comes to rolling, smoking and sharing a joint.
What Is A Joint?
Any exploration of how to smoke a joint starts — or should start — with the most basic question of all: what the heck am I holding in my hand?
Don’t be embarrassed if you’ve asked yourself this question a time or two. We wondered the same thing when we first started.
Smokable cannabis comes in so many shapes and sizes it can be difficult to discern what exactly is making its way around the smoke circle in your general direction.
When it comes to sucking on Mary Jane (oooh, that sounds dirty!), you’ve really only got four options:
- Vape pen
Sure, there’s the bong/dab rig option, but you’d have to be extremely high — we’re talking well on your way to the moon — to mistake a bong for a blunt.
You’ve also got options like the Thai stick and the cross joint but, really, these are just variations on a theme.
We’ll talk about blunts and spliffs in the next section, but for now, let’s focus on answering the question, “What is a joint?” which is a more specific version of “What the heck am I holding in my hand?”
Figuring out what to call the smokable making its way around the circle can be stressful — especially when you’re not high (everything’s stressful when you’re not high, right?).
To help you in this regard, we’ve deconstructed the joint into its essential components. Identify those components and you’ll know exactly what you’re holding in your hand.
The components are:
Let’s investigate them one by one.
A joint is marijuana — and only marijuana — wrapped in a rolling paper. That’s pretty much it. Not super difficult, was it? No need for an advanced degree here.
Rolling papers can be composed of widely different materials, including the classic wood pulp to the more exotic rice to the “duh, why didn’t I think of it before” hemp.
Each type and brand of paper has different properties, including thickness, size, flavor, “rollability,” and burn length. Brand-names include Zig-Zag, Randy’s, Club, Bambu, Elements, Raw, and our personal favorite, NoGlu.
Back in the day, joints were always white or light tan.
It wasn’t that we were somehow prejudiced against other colors (cannabis has always been a very inclusive culture). That’s just how the rolling papers were made.
Flash forward…uh, several decades (yes, we’re that old!), and most rolling papers — and by extension, our joints — are still white or light tan…for the most part.
Now, rolling papers come in all sorts of psychedelic colors, so your joint can be gold, gray, polka-dotted, or even clear (for that voyeur inside us all).
Most rolling papers are about 3 inches long. When rolled, they typically resemble a cigarette.
That said, they can be thinner or thicker depending on the paper used and how much marijuana you pack inside.
As for the final component, the flavor of a joint will come from the strain used to roll it rather than the paper.
This is because most rolling papers are flavorless. That allows you to experience the full taste of your Fruity Pebbles without the paper getting in the way.
How to Hold a Joint
Let’s start off by saying there is no wrong way to hold a joint, as long as you’re able to get high. Anyone who says otherwise is an elitist about something that doesn’t even matter, so just hit them with a “Weird flex” and move on. There are, however, a couple of different popular ways to hold a joint.
Many cigarette smokers hold their cigs wedged between their index and middle fingers just below where the filter meets the tobacco, leaving enough space on the filter side to comfortably flick their ashes. While it is possible to smoke a joint with this grip, it may not be the most practical method if your joint doesn’t have a crutch in it, or if the crutch is too small.
Filters in joints are not always as long, thick and spongy as tobacco filters. The finger and thumb method allows you to maintain a gentle but stable hold without pinching the mouthpiece closed, which could block the flow of air and absolutely ruin your joint. If you do have a long crutch and you find yourself cutting off the airflow of the joint while you’re holding it like a cigarette, you have to ask yourself, “Why am I pinching this so hard?”
The best way to hold a joint is between the pads of your index finger and thumb, similar to the mudra Gyan in yoga or like the scuba diving signal for “I’m okay.” Alternatively, you can pinch the joint with your thumb and the pads of your middle finger(like the Shuni mudra). While this variation may feel slightly awkward, it may help with tapping excess ash later on. This also makes it easier to pass the joint than holding it like a cigarette.
Hold the joint on the filtered end with about ¼” of the mouthpiece protruding towards you; just enough for your lips to catch onto. Grip the joint between your two fingers as lightly as you would hold a single piece of Rice Krispies that you don’t want to crush.
Get it Lit
Lighting your joint properly ensures a smooth and even burn and prevents the dreaded “canoe”—when your joint burns on only one side and makes a flaming hot mess. The person who rolls the joint earns the right to spark their own creation, however the roller may choose to pass the honor to another member of the smoker’s circle, perhaps to the host of the occasion or guest of honor.
To light your joint for the perfect red cherry, start by holding your joint in your hand, not your mouth. Ignite your lighter or hemp wick and rotate the joint as you slowly toast only the twisted papery tip to start.
Once you burn off the excess paper and start getting to the body of your joint, take two to three very small and gentle puffs. If your joint starts burning more on one side than the other, use your lighter to hold the edge of the flame under the unlit side to help it burn more evenly. You don’t want your entire joint going up in smoke before it’s properly lit, so take your time and use only a touch of the flame. Continue with small puffs and your lighter until the joint begins burning at an even rate. A properly-lit cherry is key to a great smoking session.