The first time I wrote about pre-rolled joints, I labeled them the hot dogs of the cannabis industry: "Cheap to make, easy to consume and extremely convenient – but do you really want to know what’s inside?" Most of the time, you don't.
There's a reason dispensaries will sell you pre-rolled joints for a penny on your first visit: because they're full of crap. Even some of my favorite pot shops that are known for selling Denver's best flower routinely pack their pre-rolls with leafy trim or powderized plant material, both of which are hard on the throat. A few will be honest about what's inside and charge only $5 or $6. For the most part, though, they're $10 sticks of shit. Buy a dispensary's pre-roll at your own risk.
Over the past few months, though, shops have started to carry more pre-rolls — not from their own grows, but from wholesale companies dedicated to joints and little else. They may be more expensive than what you're used to, but at least they're full of whole flower and not leaves and snickelfritz buds.
Are they worth the money? I smoked some to find out.
Willie Nelson was one of the first celebrities to get in on Colorado's pot industry, buying up cultivation licenses and securing partnerships with established growers to start one of the first successful pre-roll suppliers. The red-headed stranger has set the bar high, selling strain-specific, one-gram cones for around $12 and even listing profiles of its growers on its website (my Grape Ape joint came from Sundance Gardens). Willie's Reserve joints can be a little difficult to light – puff it like a cigar, don't pull it like a joint – and it can be hard to get decent hits during the first half if they're packed too tight. Still, the price point is solid compared to most dispensary pre-rolls, and the flower quality is consistently choice. Would I rather buy a gram and roll one myself? Yes, but this is still my top recommendation if you're too lazy or don't know how to roll.
It was only a matter of time before the Chongfather dabbled in legal weed. After all, the man has paid his dues more than most, with a library of classic stoner movies and a history of legal entanglements for shipping bongs across state lines in the early 2000s. His Chong's Choice brand of flower and pre-rolled joints launched last summer and it's been getting strong reviews since, even winning a 2017 Best of Denver award for "Best Cannabis Endorsed by a Celebrity." His pre-rolls only come in packs of five, all of which are 0.7 grams, equaling an eighth of flower. Although they're all labeled as indica, sativa and hybrid, each pack is strain-specific, usually made up of popular genetics from classics like Blue Dream and Haze.
My hybrid pack of Blue Dream Chong joints burned extremely well from spark to roach. The flavor and smoothness wasn't quite as good as Willie's Reserve, but they burned more evenly and provided a top-shelf high that was exactly as advertised. I've seen Chong's Choice five-packs selling from $50 to $60 before tax at a dispensary, which is too steep for a veteran stoner – but worth the convenience for novice tokers or groups looking to get high in a hurry.
Kaviar joints are the most deluxe options on this list, rarely selling for less than $25 per joint. As the name implies, though, the pre-rolled cones are stuffed with caviar – flower dipped in hash oil and rolled in kief – so they're not intended for just one person. It's hard to get a good feel for Kaviar's kief and flower quality because of what hash oil does to flavor, but all signs point to great ingredients. Sweet, earthy flavors of the Old Blue flower my Kaviar joint was rolled with were noticeable despite the oil, especially during a few dry pulls.
There's no better way to see the authenticity of a caviar-filled joint than by watching the hash oil smolder at the tip as it burns, and these babies bubble all the way to space. Although easily the most expensive single joint on the list, the Kaviar pre-roll provides a service by stuffing a cone full of sticky, expensive products most stoners rarely try to make at home.
Toast is trying to create its own niche in the pre-roll sector by combining high-CBD and low-THC strains for a more sessionable smoke. Calling its product a "CBD cigarette" without the tobacco, Toast aims to provide smokers the oral fixation and cannabinoids they're looking for minus the stoned feeling. When I first heard about Toast, I was excited by the thought of a spliff-like joint without the tobacco, but I was worried about how drowsy the CBD might make me. However, all Toast cigarettes are rolled with sativa strains to counteract drowsiness.
My first night out with Toast pre-rolls ended pretty quickly. I smoked two of them in a span of three hours, and quickly became tired after the second. I tried two more another night at home and experienced the same effects. Although they weren't as sessionable for me as intended, smoking them was still fun. The tasteless cigarettes burned smoother than any pre-roll I've had, and I could finally stand in the circle of my tobacco-smoking friends when we went out downtown. But for upwards of $35 before tax for a five-pack, I'm fine with staying out of the circle.
Pre-rolled blunts are an extreme rarity in dispensaries, and it's easy to understand why: They take longer to roll, and most blunt-smokers prefer to twist their own. But Honest Marijuana's Honest Blunt pre-rolls are miniature-sized, with just a little more than a half-gram of flower wrapped inside a dry hemp leaf. Rich in CBDa, the hemp leaf might be my favorite part of an Honest Blunt pre-roll. It burns slower than joint paper, but the smell doesn't stick to me like tobacco and the smoke is much easier on my throat.
Because of the hemp leaves, it's harder to notice the bud's flavor, but anyone smoking a blunt isn't smoking for flavor, anyway. These were easily the most popular pre-rolls among my friends because of their unique look and ability to take us back to younger days of Devin the Dude shows and Golden Coral sweeps. Nearly $65 after tax for a six-pack is usually too expensive for my taste, but until I find a hemp rolling paper like the one Honest Blunts uses, I might have to splurge.