Why most pre-rolls on the weed market suck

pre-rolls of cannabis

Any real cannabis connoisseur will tell you that most pre-rolls on the market today suck. And they’re right, they do. As the founder and CEO of RollPros, I hear it all the time. But why? How did pre-rolls end up becoming the hot dogs of the cannabis world? Read on and be enlightened.

RELATED: Expert level joints to take your sesh to new heights

The origin story

When the legal cannabis market was in its infancy, the price of a pound of flower was universally higher than what it is now. In many places, good flower would go for over $3000 per pound. 

With that much money in the game, a lot of growers just didn’t bother making pre-rolls. It just wasn’t worth the time and effort. But those that did manufacture pre-rolls did it to squeeze just a little more value out of each harvest. It was a hiding place for the odds and ends that couldn’t be sold as flower: shake, trim, mids, low-quality stuff, whatever happened to be laying around. 

The idea that a brand would put good weed into a pre-roll just didn’t make sense. You couldn’t do your product justice in a pre-roll because of the way it was manufactured. Enter the cone.

The dreaded cone

Cones are truly the bane of existence for pre-rolls. It’s very, very hard to make a high-quality pre-roll with a cone-based pre-roll machine. It comes down to physics. 

Take fresh, sticky flower that’s been ground coarsely, just the way you’d do it if you were going to roll a joint by hand. The stickiness of the fresh flower and the variable size of the pieces make it very difficult to fill a cone from one end. Considering the cone shape; wider at the top, narrower at the bottom, it almost doesn’t matter what filling method is used. Whether it’s tamped, vibrated, or compacted using centrifugal force, you’re going to have air pockets or voids throughout the pre-roll. Those pockets are what cause the joint to run down one side, make it difficult to keep lit and create seriously uneven air flow.

RELATED: How many Americans are stoners? The answer may surprise you

Uneven density

There is only one way to make a joint using today’s automated pre-roll machine that can achieve something close to even density throughout the joint: you have to dry the flower out much more than you want to, and you have to grind the flower down much finer than you want to. Only then can the material be run through an automated cone-style pre-roll machine. 

But that very process of drying and pulverizing the flower ruins the properties that make a good joint good: the flavor, the smell, and the cannabinoids. No wonder growers didn’t want to put good flower in a pre-roll! They had to turn their good flower into boof to make pre-rolls out of it. The final product is what we industry refer to as “dusty s**t sticks.”

Convenience at all costs

Our society often prioritizes convenience above all else. That’s why, despite the fact that pre-rolls are mostly poor-quality products, they continue to grow steadily in virtually every market in North America. Why? It’s easy! 

You don’t need anything other than a lighter, and while they might taste like a cigarette and burn your throat, they’ll still get you high. But even though consumers continue to spend more and more on pre-rolls, the data says they still don’t really like them. In our last market report covering Arizona, for example, 50 percent of consumers had smoked a pre-roll in the past six months, but only 13 percent indicated pre-rolls were their preferred consumption method.

Real joints are back

Imagine circling up with your friends for a smoke. You pull out a cone and start trying to stuff your weed down into the end. They’d look at you like you were nuts and maybe even set up an intervention for you. Friends don’t let friends smoke cones. 

But thankfully, the technology now exists to manufacture real, rolled joints at a commercial scale. Fresh, sticky bud, coarse grind, even density, and perfect airflow are all hallmarks of this new era of pre-rolls. Roll is the key word there. Good joints are rolled, not stuffed. 

So, while you may have given pre-rolls a pass in the past, ask your friendly budtender if they carry pre-rolls that are actually rolled. Likely, they do, and likely, they’ll be a lot better than any other pre-roll you’ve smoked in the past. 

*This article was submitted by a guest contributor. The author is solely responsible for the contents.


Kyle Loucks is the Founder and CEO of RollPros, an automation company disrupting the cannabis industry using its groundbreaking TruRoll technology that mimics the precision of hand-rolled quality joints at scale. Prior to RollPros, Kyle held various lead engineering and technical roles for companies ranging from innovative medical device startups to tech giants like Hewlett-Packard and Georgia Pacific. He also played a key role in developing optics hardware for Facebook's Oculus VR system.