A (Brief) History of Joints


A joint is a relatively new invention in the realm of cannabis smoking. People started to put cannabis into their rolled cigarettes a little under 200 years ago, in rural Mexico. The trend slowly spread, reaching the United States between the 1850s and 1870, when The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal promoted Grimault’s Indian Cigarettes as a cure for Asthma of all things. From there the trend grew until the smoking of a joint was synonymous with cannabis consumption.

It’s fairly easy to see why as well. During Vietnam, it was easier to hide a pack of marijuana cigarettes in the original cigarette packaging. The discreetness of a joint is one of the reasons they became so popular, another was the ease through which a joint can be rolled.

So, without further ado, I present to you: A Short History of the Joint.

What’s a Joint Made of?

The simplest answer is two things: Cannabis, and the paper you roll the cannabis in. It used to be, before the invention of strictly rolling papers, that people would use any pieces of paper they came across. Zig-Zag, the rolling paper company with bright orange packaging, celebrates the ingenuity of Le Zouave, a French soldier who used a piece of paper from his bag of gunpowder bag to roll a cigarette. The man is on every package of Zig-Zag papers. 

Of course, marijuana itself has a much more storied and lengthy history, from ancient China to the Jazz scene in the united states, cannabis is undeniably one of the longest-used agricultural crops in human history. If you want to learn more, check out the 10 Things You Might Not Know About Weed.

For a joint, you can choose any strain you want, so long as it can be ground up and smoked. This piece is to inform you about the paper that you’re going to use to smoke with. 

Paper Quality Makes a Difference

One thing that can change the shape, flavor, smoking quality and length of a joint is the type of paper that you use. A couple of basic points to consider when choosing a rolling paper is the thickness, size, and material you use. Thickness is easy, the thicker the paper, the faster the burn will be. So, if you’re looking for a slow-burning joint, use a thinner paper. The biggest drawback is that thinner papers, those ultra-fine or fine, are going to be easier to tear, so probably not the best bet for new rollers. The length and size of a rolling paper are measured from single wide to king-size, growing as you go up, the larger and longer a paper the more difficult the roll will be. Many connoisseurs consider the 1 1/14 papers to be the perfect size to roll with. They’re longer and wider than a single wide, but not too wide that you’ll still be able to roll with ease. 

There is a lot of variety of materials, and each has its own properties and consistencies. Following is a basic guide to choosing the right material for your rolling experience.

Wood Pulp

Wood pulp is the traditional material for rolling papers. It’s so common that if you’ve used papers before, you’ve most likely used a wood pulp paper. The material itself burns because it is a thicker paper, but it’s relatively easy to handle and a great starting point for new rollers. Watch out though, many wood pulp manufacturers add bleach to their pulp to make the final product that blazing white. Look for all-natural wood pulp papers like the entire line of RAW papers. The company itself was based on the idea of sustainability and natural, high-quality products. 

Other good wood-pulp paper companies are Zig-Zag and Smoking.

Rice Paper

These papers are also known as barely-there papers. They are super thin and one of the more sustainable options of all rolling papers. Rizla, who’s manufacturing family the Lacroix’s claim to have created the first paper specifically for rolling, was one of the first companies to create the thin, slow-burning papers. The thinner paper is better on the lungs but requires a bit more effort while rolling. The paper itself is finicky in humid and damp environments. Basically, don’t try to light one of these in the middle of a rainstorm. 

Besides Rizla, many of the other major rolling companies create rice papers. However, Element, the predecessor of RAW is one of the only companies whose entire line is rice paper. 

Flax Paper

The seeds of this grain are good to eat, but the paper made from this plant is smooth ad silky. One of the most important factors for choosing flax over rice, although their properties are similar, is that the flax won’t affect the flavor of your weed. The paper is thin, so it burns slow, however, combining the thinness with the smoothness of the paper makes it a little bit more difficult to roll. This type of paper is not for beginners, that’s for sure.

One of the biggest manufacturers of flax papers is OCB papers or the French counterpart to the Spanish Smoking papers.

Hemp Paper

Finally, we have hemp papers. These are made from the plant you’re probably going to roll up, so there’s no worry about it affecting the taste of your cannabis. There’s also the added benefit of the papers being made from hemp fibers, which means the plant keeps growing even after the paper is made, saving trees and space. The paper has a light brown color, like unprocessed wood pulp. They’re a little thicker than rice paper and have a rougher texture, which makes them easier to roll. The thickness provides a medium burn rate and also goes out a lot less often than rice paper, which is a plus if you get lost in some high thoughts. 

Skunk papers are the go-to hemp paper producers. RAW and several other companies also produce hemp products. 

Novelty Paper

Then we get to the novelty papers. These can be flavored, like Juicy Jay’s expansive collection of “triple-dipped” hemp joint papers. They can be made from bamboo, like RAW’s newest product. If you’re feeling wealthy, consider smoking a gold-leaf joint by Shine 24k

There is a large variety of papers out there. You’ll find the type for you out there, that’s a guarantee. 

Wrapping Up

Now you have the lowdown on joint papers next time you’re looking to roll up. 

What’s your favorite joint paper type? And why? Let us know in the comments. 

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