How to Roll the Perfect Joint

For the past week, I’ve been on a quest to step up my roll game.

Last week I wrote about rolling one joint every day (and then enjoying that joint on the couch in the sun). The past 10 days of practice have done me well and my morning joints are rolled better than ever.

Why do I love joints? A few reasons, some more innocuous than others. Firstly, because I love to smoke. I don’t think that’s PC to admit, but I said what I said. I love the feeling of lighting something up, holding it in my hand, the repetitive lift to mouth and the deep breathing of the inhale and exhale. Is it a positive thing to know you would easily get addicted to cigarettes? (Should I ever get past the smell, the yellow teeth and the ridiculous financial investment).

Secondly, I love joints because they make you appreciate the ritual of smoking weed. Rolling a joint takes time, like a little meditative moment with your weed before you spark up. And what’s more satisfying than lighting a well-rolled joint? You get the satisfaction of a smooth high and the bragging rights for creating a piece of ephemeral art.

Lastly, smoking a joint is the classically communal way to smoke weed. It’s often a group activity (COVID notwithstanding), all the stoners gathered around in a circle, passing the time with talk and equitably sharing the resource. Smoking a joint brings people together and creates an atmosphere of harmony, a shared experience to bond over.

So to learn to roll exceptional joints to share with the people around me, a little research is required. It’s all fine and well to have one person show you how to roll a joint (shout out to my endlessly patient fiancé) but practice and research make perfect.

What You Need to Roll the Perfect Joint

  • Cannabis flower
  • A grinder
  • Rolling papers
  • A small piece of cardboard or premade filter tips
  • Optional: a pencil

Step 1: Grind the Weed

Any grinder you have on hand will work, though I’m personal to the power and durability of Sharpstone grinders. But I’ve had my cheap plastic grinder phase too, and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Grind the flower down to a semi-fine consistency. Too coarse and the joint won’t burn evenly, too fine, and it may not get proper airflow to stay lit.

If you don’t have a grinder, you can crumble it with your fingers (not recommended- sticky THC fingers make it hard to roll the delicate papers) or cut it up with scissors.

If you’re using a 3-part grinder, you’ll have a layer of ultra fine powder in the bottom chamber- THC-laden keif. You can sprinkle this on top for a power boost of THC or save it for a powerfully hitting joint.

Step 2: Roll the Filter

In this day and age, you could easily buy premade filter tips to pop at the end of your joints. But I’m old-school at heart, and it’s quick and easy to roll your own tips.

You don’t have to roll a filter tip for your joint, but it has a few benefits:

  • Keeps the joint from burning your fingers
  • Reduces pulling cannabis through the end of the joint on the inhale
  • Give the joint stability during the roll

To fold your filter, an accordion roll is the way to go. Rolling the cardboard in a perfect circle won’t help with no pulling bud through the end, but accordion rolling creates a line down the middle that prevents bud from escaping. To roll your filter tip, accordion fold one end and then roll the rest around it.

Your filter will determine how thick or thin your roll is, so size it accordingly.

Step 3: Fill the paper

Place your rolling paper so it falls open in front of you with the glue end facing up. Put your filter at the end you prefer to roll from. I’m a leftie, so my filters go on the left side of my joints. My fiancé is right-handed, and prefers to roll with the filter on the opposite side.

Fill the paper with the ground cannabis. Don’t over fill it – too much shake will make it hard to roll tightly and you’ll lose a good amount of cannabis out of the open end. For 1 1/4 sized rolling papers, 1/2 gram of weed should be plenty. If you’re using King-size papers, add more weed.

For practice purposes, I prefer Tuxedo or ZigZag papers. Juicy J’s are classic, but challenging to roll with and tend to smoke a lot during the burn. King-size Raws are great for larger groups, but the paper is slick and there’s more surface area to work with.

Note: Some people prefer to add the filter after the roll. The filter helps me keep the shape of the joint and gives me a place to start the roll, so I add it to the paper as the same time as the weed.

Step 4: Pinch and Roll

The key to a good joint that burns slowly and evenly is well distributed weed. To achieve that, you need to shape the cannabis into a cylindrical shape within the papers.

Pinch the end with the filter between your thumb and forefinger, and hold here. This is your anchor hand. Hold the other end of the joint with the same fingers on your opposite hand, and rub your fingers in an up-and-down motion. Do this slowly; rapid rubbing will cause the weed to fall out. Ensure that the weed is distrusted evenly throughout the joint, and there’s no bump in the middle. (Burrito joints are a telltale sign of a newbie roller.)

Once the weed is distributed and cylindrical, you can begin to roll the paper.

Starting with the end with the filter, tuck the unglued side of the paper into the roll. Starting with the filter ensures a tight roll. Then continue tucking the paper in up the rest of the joint.

Don’t rush this stage! For beginners, this is the hardest and most crucial part of the process. Take your time ensuring the paper is tightly rolled around the filter before closing in the rest of the joint. It may take a few tries, but it’s worth doing well.

Step 5: Lick & Twist

Once the paper is tucked in across the entire joint, it’s time to activate the glue and seal it. Lightly (LIGHTLY) lick the glued edge of the paper and roll up the joint to meet it. I like to start my seal on the end with the filter, and twist the rest of the joint around to close.

Step 6: Finish It

Ensure the weed is tightly packed throughout the joint. A pencil tip or a pen is handy to have so you can poke down the top of the joint. You can tap the filter on a hard surface or pinch the open end and give it a good shake to settle the pack as well.

I always twist the tops of my joints closed, even if I’m smoking them immediately after rolling. Since I’m still practicing, twisting the top closed helps me make sure my weed is as tightly packed as possible for a smooth and even burn.

Step 7: ENJOY

Now it’s time to light up and enjoy the fruits of your labors.

Video: How to Roll a Joint

Need a visual?


Rolling Stone sat down with David Bienenstock, author of “How To Smoke Pot (Properly)” for a demonstration.

Published by Jessica Reilly, Writer

Writer, cannabis aficionado, and poetry lover

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