First-time cannabis shopper? Buy some “pre-rolls” — Here’s why

Toast Gold pre-rolls just debuted in the California market.
Toast Gold pre-rolls just debuted in the California market.

Do you love smoking cannabis but can’t roll your own to save your life? All good! Nowadays people just buy perfectly rolled and packed to perfection “pre-rolls”. Pre-rolls are industry jargon for prefabricated cannabis cigarettes —and one of the most popular products in legal cannabis economies. Here’s what they are:

What are pre-rolls?

Pre-rolls are simply off-the-shelf, ready to smoke joints—ground up bud twisted in a rolling paper—one of the most popular ways herb is smoked. Pre-rolls can be purchased individually or in packs of four or more.

How much do they cost?

Just like buying buds, price varies based mostly on quality —from top shelf nugs to leftover shake — and quantity—from an oversized two-gram doobie to thin .5 gram pinner. In other words, some pre-rolls can be like $5 cheap and some can be crazy expensive like $25 or more.

Are there different types of pre-rolls?

Aside from all the different natural, hemp, and traditional rolling paper choices, pre-rolls can be filled with specific brand name strains, a blend of indica, sativa or hybrid strains, or just high-CBD flower. Some pre-rolls can be even be infused with high-THC oils, kiefs or extracts, making them even more potent and costly.

Where do I find pre-rolls?

Just about everywhere cannabis is sold. Pre-rolls are to cannabis like six-packs are to beer.

Who are pre-rolls for and why do they use them?

Pre-rolls are the perfect choice for convenience. They don’t require any work and all you need is a flame and you’re good as gold. They are great to share with friends, bring to parties and give as gifts. One common application is to grab one on the way out for a Friday night. They’re small, portable, and shareable with a few friends.

Lowell Herb Co
Lowell Herb Co pre-rolls come in beautiful packs.

Are pre-rolls dangerous or unhealthy?

Unlike nicotine or alcohol, it’s physically impossible for you to take enough THC — the main active ingredient in cannabis — to have a fatal overdose. However, short-term effects of smoking pre-rolls can include dizziness, low blood pressure, increased heart rate, difficulty concentrating, and impairment of motor skills. Don’t smoke and drive.

Scientists have not been able to associate cannabis smoke with the development of lung or other cancers, according to a 2017 National Academy of Sciences review, but chronic smoking can cause a cough and phlegm. Doctors generally advise women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, as well as juveniles, and people with heart conditions, or a history of mental illness may want to abstain from smoking cannabis. A 2016 study in the Journal of the American Heart Association concluded that smoking marijuana creates secondhand smoke with significant levels of tar and other carcinogens, so don’t expose unwilling bystanders to it.

Using cannabis can be habit forming, and studies indicate up to nine percent of people who try cannabis may at one point in their life have trouble stopping using it (Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, 2009). These dependence rates are lower than for other legal drugs nicotine, alcohol or caffeine.

How do I find clean and safe pre-rolls?

Reputable, licensed dispensaries will sell pre-rolls that are lab-tested and approved for your safety. Colorado, Washington, and Oregon have lab testing rules in place for most cannabis products, including prerolls. California’s lab rules come into effect this summer. You can also seek out third-party certifications like “Clean Green” or “Envirocann” certified flowers in pre-rolls. These groups independently inspect and certify producers of the cannabis that go into pre-rolls.

How are pre-rolls made?

Pre-roll can be made by hand in small batches by dispensaries or come beautifully packaged straight from the grower using machine-rollers and premium product.

What are the downsides of pre-rolls?

If you don’t like smoke, then pre-rolls are not for you. Some “generic” or “sale” pre-rolls are filled with leftover shake and/or blended with dry, flavorless marijuana leftover from trimming. These can provide very harsh hits and stale smoke.

Does the source material of the pre-rolls matter?

For sure! You want to make sure the pre-rolls are made using the freshest and best quality herb available. Don’t settle for old stale shake sticks. Look for pre-rolls that come in sealed pouches or tubes. Here’s one way to check seal: can you smell cannabis emanating from your pre-roll container? That’s bad. That is the terpenes leaking out. You paid for those terpenes. Don’t lose them!

Can I make my own pre-rolls?

Yes! Get yourself a premium grinder, a pack of nice papers, and of course a bag of your favorite bud. If you want to go pro, try out some Futurola machines and store your precious pre-rolls in some Doob Tubes. Go get rolling.

What are the best pre-rolls in America?

Great question. Pre-roll quality can vary by dispensary, city and region and there are very few statewide producers in legal states. There are no interstate pre-roll brands due to federal law.

In California, we’ve enjoyed pre-rolls from Medi-Cone, Henry’s, Lowell Herb Co, and Buena Vista. We gave GreenState 2018 Awards to pre-roll makers The Hepburns, Triple J, Medi-Cone, Henry’s, and Buena Vista. We’ve recently reviewed the ToastGold pre-roll, Willie’s Reserve, and Chong’s Choice.

In Washington, the top-selling pre-rolls are those made by Phat Panda, Medusa Gardens, Legit Cannabis Co and Sitka.

In Oregon, we’ve loved Fortune pre-rolls, and Colorado’s best sellers are prerolls made by Kaviar, Heartland Industries, and District 8.

Is it blunt time yet? What's your favorite time to smoke?

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Who’s your favorite pre-roll maker? Let us know in the survey below!

Dan Michaels is the author of “Green: A Pocket Guide to Pot” (2017)