What are the Best Pre Rolls to Buy?
Stopping into your local dispensary for the best pre rolls to buy is one of the greatest conveniences that cannabis legalization has offered. It’s cheap, easy, and perfect for a quick toke alone or with friends while you’re on your way to whatever fun you’re looking to have. It makes an amazing birthday gift and is equally great for any event, from concerts to summer barbeques.
However, it can be hard to know what’s inside that pre-roll even after you pop the top, unless you have some type of futuristic stoner technology, such as a cannabis X-Ray or MRI (Marijuana Rating Instrument). Scientists nowadays are all apparently too busy to invent such devices – probably researching climate change or teaching rats to mix baking soda and vinegar inside tiny volcano dioramas – but there are ways to tell the quality of your pre-roll before taking that first puff.
History of Pre-Rolls
Before getting into what’s actually in your pre-rolled joint, we should begin with a short history of pre-rolls and how they gained their less-than-stellar reputation. We would all like to believe that each dispensary rolls their joints with top shelf bud, using the same love and care that your friend Molly did back in college so that you could all have a good time together. But this is the real world and dispensaries are less like your friend Molly and more like your weed dealer, Andy, who was hella cool but also in it to make money.
To that end, most pre-rolls are basically produced as a way to squeeze a little bit more profit out of each marijuana harvest.
Usually, they’ll contain the lower-tiered cannabis shake, the bottom ends of jars, or even ground up trim. These are then mixed together, sometimes from different strains, and poured into pre-rolled cones that are then machine shaken and twisted off by hand. All this to say, there’s a reason most people consider pre-rolls the culinary equivalent of Ballpark Hot Dogs.
This isn’t to say that all pre-rolls are necessarily bad or that some aren’t made with care. The shake in a pre-roll may be as potent as the flower it comes from, but it’s just more likely to have been dried out and will have lost a lot of its kick.
It’s also worth mentioning that there are some truly fire pre-rolled joints out there, however, they won’t be the ones that you find for bargain marijuana prices. You are not always going to have to settle for some low quality joints and the potential headaches, paranoia, or sore throats. So, how do you know if you’re buying a quality pre-roll? Here are some tips.
What’s in a Pre-Roll?
Before states started legalizing the use of medical and recreational cannabis, consumers were rolling their own joints. Now, cannabis companies and dispensaries are making ready-to-smoke options, taking care of the work for you – including VidaCann’s very own.
Pre-made smokables often contain what’s known as “shake,” or what’s left at the bottom of a cannabis jar. It falls from the buds as they get moved around. There is a bit of controversy surrounding shake, as it’s believed to be low quality.
Many pre-rolls also contain fresh, ground buds. Quality buds provide an exceptional experience, even when mixed with cannabis shake.
While some pre-rolls may contain old dried-out stems, leaves, and trim, many cannabis companies and dispensaries that offer pre-rolls use high-quality shake from high-quality buds. Making pre-rolls allows the companies to ensure that all of the cannabis gets used, reducing waste.
Some pre-rolls contain shake from a mixture of different strains. These are known as “rainbow” or “mystery” rolls. Others may be infused with concentrates, which increases their potency and may enhance your experience.
Common Misconceptions About Pre-Rolls
One of the biggest misconceptions about pre-rolls is that they’re all poor quality. While some may include low-grade cannabis, this isn’t always the case. Many companies and dispensaries that make pre-rolls use quality ingredients. They include fresh cannabis buds, which ensures that you receive optimal benefits from your joints.
Some believe that pre-roll makers roll each joint by hand. While human employees perform some of the work, it’s actually machines that do the rolling. While some people are experts at rolling joints, having to roll that many in a row could lead to mistakes. Using machines ensures product consistency, allowing users to have a great experience each time.
Another misconception is that buying pre-rolls means you’re lazy. Some users enjoy the ritual of rolling joints themselves. Not everyone enjoys the process or has the time, however. They simply want to be able to smoke their joint and enjoy the benefits. Pre-rolls are a convenient choice, allowing you to smoke when you want, without having to do any of the prep work.
How pre-rolled joints are made
Here’s how most pre-rolls are made: As budtenders in dispensaries shift nugs of cannabis in their jars, smaller bits of flower, known as “shake,” fall off. “The jars get shifted all the time,” explained Corey Schwartz, who manages Coast to Coast Collective in Los Angeles. “As you’re dispensing to patients, they want certain buds. After a day or a half a day, that strain gets broken down.” The shake gets collected for use in pre-rolls, which in Coast to Coast’s case are rolled on-site.
Coast to Coast and some other producers also add nugs themselves to their pre-roll mixtures. “When it comes to the nugs, we break them down and we actually grind them down in a grinder,” Schwartz said. From there the mix is loaded into pre-rolled paper cones. A machine shakes the joints to help settle the mixture and remove air pockets. Once the joints are filled, an employee gently tamps down the contents of each one to make sure it’s not too tight or too loose, which could cause it to burn poorly. With a twist of the tip, the pre-roll’s ready to go.
Shake: the secret ingredient in pre-rolls
The use of shake is a widespread practice, and it ensures that all of a dispensary’s flower is put to use. But it can also ruffle feathers. Some consumers think shake is low-quality cannabis, which isn’t necessarily the case. In essence, shake is just smaller pieces of the same-quality stuff.
But there are caveats. Shake can be of low quality if it’s dry — usually the result of jars sitting out too long — or if it contains stems and bits of leaves. And sometimes shake from various strains can be combined when making pre-rolls (sometimes called “mystery” or “rainbow” rolls). There’s also a bigger problem: trim masquerading as shake. Before buying a bunch of pre-rolls, it’s not a bad idea to sacrifice one and cut it open. The contents should look about the same as if you’d ground up a new nug.
It’s also OK to just ask your dispensary, and you should.
“Our joints are always smaller nugs and shake that is broken down from the full pound,” said Schwartz of Coast to Coast. “There’s no less of a grade of a joint for us.”
In Washington, the recreational market has a different obstacle: There’s not much shake at all. State laws force producers to pre-package nugs for consumers, so instead of collecting at the bottoms of jars like at medical dispensaries, anything that breaks off the bud stays sealed in the same bag the grower put it in. As such, recreational shops don’t make their own pre-rolls, producers do.
How to spot good pre-rolls
I turned to fellow Leafly employees to steer me toward good pre-rolls and bad ones in the Seattle area. The good producers came quickly: Solstice and Vashon Velvet. The bad ones were harder to nail down. Someone remembered a bad joint but couldn’t say where it was sold or who made it. Out of curiosity I once cut open a pre-roll I got as a gift, and while it looked a little dusty, it was free of stems or other unwanted plant matter. Most people admitted they don’t usually smoke pre-rolls anyway, in part because of their bad reputation. It’s easy to find anecdotal evidence of bad pre-rolls, but frankly it was hard to find one on the spot.
Without access to dispensary shake, Vashon Velvet makes pre-rolls from the same nugs it packages and sells… for the most part. The Vashon Island-based farm packages the prettiest ones — the tops of the plants — and then harvests lower buds to grind and roll into joints. “They’re still good-quality cannabis, but they’re not quite what we’d want to put in a bag to represent our stuff,” said Vashon Velvet’s Patrick Rooney.
The nugs are ground to a fine consistency and then screened to remove twigs and stems, he explained. “We select pretty carefully. I only put stuff into the joints that I would roll myself, you know?” The joints are individually inspected and packaged in boxes, then heat-sealed to help keep the cannabis fresh — an important step, said Rooney.