Something interesting is happening: a new smokeable is being born.
Hemp-filled joints and cigarettes are finding their fans. Casual pot smokers are enjoying THC-free joints that offer the familiar ritual at times when the inebriating effects aren’t welcome.
Some cigarette smokers are looking to the same product as a nicotine-free tobacco cessation alternative, leaving behind nicotine patches and vape pens. In a bit of cosmic timing, the recent vape scare and subsequent bans of vape and flavored tobacco products have opened up retail shelf space for smokable hemp in convenience stores, gas stations and smoke shops throughout the country.
Also known as CBD pre-rolls, these cigarettes are made using hemp flowers rich with cannabidiol (CBD), which is now legal to produce as long as the amount of THC is limited to a trace amount of 0.3 percent or less.
Experts believe that hemp cigs act as more than just a tobacco alternative, as CBD may help smokers in providing biological support to quit.
Researchers at University College London conducted a small study in 2013 of 24 smokers and gave them an inhaler with CBD or placebo for one week. They were told to use the inhaler when they felt the urge to smoke. Those given the placebo showed no differences in the number of cigarettes smoked, while those using CBD significantly reduced the number of cigarettes they smoked by 40%.
Additional survey data from market research firm Brightfield Group of more than 5,000 CBD users, found that 24 percent have used pre-rolls to quit smoking. The same report also found that 41 percent of successful quitters have used hemp CBD to quit tobacco entirely.
“Because CBD works with the endocannabinoid system, it’s a regulation tool that will bring the body back to homeostasis,” Tia Tagliaferro, chief operating officer at the Manhattan-based CBD retailer Hemp Garden, said in an interview with Merry Jane. “It will help with sleeping, anxiety, and bring you back to a calm state — which is why people turn to cigarettes in the first place, they’re looking for an outlet for their stress.”
The growing demand for hemp cigarettes and CBD pre-rolls has also drawn the interest of celebrities and cannabis enthusiasts alike. The Grammy-nominated musician Post Malone and renowned cannabis breeder Mario “Sherbinski” Guzman are teaming up to release a brand of American-grown hemp pre-rolls known as Shaboink, according to Forbes.
Guzman, the cultivator behind iconic contemporary cannabis strains such as Gelato, Sherbert and Mochi, believes that this product can allow users to legally enjoy flavors commonly associated with cannabis, regardless of their state laws.
“Gelato has created a great name for itself in cannabis. Not just nationally but globally,” said Guzman in an interview with Forbes. “This is a way for people to be connected and try Gelato, to experience what everybody’s been talking about. A customer may not have access to a cannabis dispensary in, say, Kentucky — but they can go to a convenience store and get Gelato hemp pre-rolls. They can connect with us.”
To satisfy more-than-novel demand, Shaboink and other early comer brands such as Wild Hemp, out of Texas, and OG cannabis brand Bhang, have turned to repurposed tobacco equipment and packaging to manufacture their smokable hemp products. Although consumer interest is clearly there, feedback from consumers and reviewers has been mixed. Taste has been the main challenge for these tobacco-style hemp cigs. Product shortcomings seem to stem directly from tobacco equipment, which does not work with sticky or resinous flower. Cannabis and smokable hemp can look and even smell identical. They are both much stickier than tobacco. Smokable hemp processed with tobacco equipment, tends to be dried out and pulverized into a consistency and moisture level closer resembling the tobacco inside cigarettes. This processing leaves the product dry and mostly void of natural terpenes and taste.
Listening to customer sentiment, new entrants are looking to build on the momentum of the smokable hemp wave by introducing better tasting products, and veering away from the cigarette style format. One such brand, Lucy’s CBD Hemp Pre-rolls, have popped up in smoke shops and online with funky 7-packs of high terpene California hemp strains rolled in cannabis style cones. They look and smell like weed, as it should..
Other products resemble neither a traditional cigarette or a joint. LVL Hemp is sold in a slick five pack of cylindrical hemp cigarettes rolled in unbleached hemp paper and a natural filter made from hemp fiber. LVL Hemp, based in Moss Landing in California’s central coast, come in three varieties based on distinct terpene profiles.
“Cannabis and Tobacco smokers alike love our purpose made hemp cig format. The filter provides a perfect pull and accentuates the natural terpenes of our great tasting, Cali-grown and bred flower,” said Ben Arreguy, LVL Hemp’s Business Development Director. “It’s just a great tasting smoke minus the nicotine or [significant amounts of] THC”.
LVL Hemp cigarettes are 100% biodegradable, another point Arreguy says customers are embracing.
“We worked for over a year to come up with an ultra functional, sustainably made filter, something we knew cannabis users wanted, and tobacco smokers would appreciate,” he added.
The verdict is out on which format and brands will prevail, or even what we’ll call these smokable hemp rolls. One thing is evident — the recently enabled hemp revolution is bringing new, danky smoking options to a corner store and gas station near you.