October 6, 2022 08:00 am ETEstimated Read Time: 6 Minutes
Even if you’re new to the cannabis scene, you’ve probably heard people refer to a product known as a “pre-roll.” But what exactly are pre-rolls? This quick guide will cover everything you need to know about them before you head to the dispensary to get one yourself.
Pre-rolls are literally what they sound like: pre-rolled joints (i.e., cannabis cigarettes). They have grown in popularity over the years with the progression of legal cannabis markets and can be found in nearly every dispensary across the nation. While a traditional pre-roll is rolled using rolling paper in the same way many consumers make their own joints, many dispensaries use machines to pack pre-formed cones with cannabis flower (dried cannabis plant material).
Types of Pre-rolls
Pre-rolls are available in indica, hybrid, and sativa forms. Additionally, you can find pre-rolls that are infused with even more cannabis for a stronger kick. Let’s take a closer look.
Indica pre-rolls: Indica pre-rolls have been made with cannabis flower from an indica chemovar of cannabis. It is believed that indica strains typically produce a more sedating effect in comparison to other forms of cannabis.
Sativa pre-rolls: Sativa pre-rolls are made with a sativa chemovar of cannabis. These types of cannabis strains are thought to provide a more uplifting, focused, and energetic effect.
Hybrid pre-rolls: Hybrid pre-rolls are created with a hybrid variety of cannabis. Most typically, hybrid strains are a mix of both sativa and indica lineage, bringing consumers the best of both worlds. Most strains on the market today are hybrids, as there are not many true landrace indica or sativa genetics circulating.
Infused pre-rolls: An infused pre-roll is made using dried cannabis flower along with cannabis extract/concentrate. Most commonly, THC distillate is added to the inside of the pre-roll’s paper as it is being rolled or packed with flower. This gives the pre-roll higher potency and more flavor than it would have with flower alone. Some infused pre-rolls are also dipped in kief for exceptionally strong effects.
Keep in mind that the cannabis industry is beginning to drift away from identifying cannabis products by indica/sativa labels and instead encouraging cannabis users to look for ratios of cannabinoids (e.g., THC:CBD) and terpenes that provide the desired effects. Nonetheless, most dispensary products are still sold under these categories, so it’s good to know the theoretical difference between them.
Pre-rolls vs. Joints
As a finished product, joints and pre-rolls are largely the same: rolled paper filled with dried, ground cannabis flower. Joints go way back as some of the most widely used smoking devices for cannabis, and a lot of their appeal lies in their simplicity—you just need a grinder, rolling paper, cannabis, and a lighter—and their ability to be easily shared among a group. Note that joints are not the same as blunts or spliffs, which you can learn about here.
The main way pre-rolls differ from joints is that they’re prepared in advance, but there are a couple of other differences. Joints can obviously be made with whatever flower the consumer wants, but pre-rolls are often made with lower-quality rather than top-shelf cannabis. Pre-rolls also always have a filter, whereas joints rolled by consumers may or may not.
Benefits of Pre-rolls
There are a few reasons that pre-rolls have risen in popularity over the years: They’re generally cheap, cut out the hassle of rolling, and are very easy to use, share, and transport.
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Why are pre-rolls often cheaper than buying flower to fill a joint or pipe yourself? Simple. Most pre-rolls don’t use top-shelf (i.e., premium) flower. On average, you can find pre-rolls in cannabis dispensaries ranging from just a few dollars to upwards of $20 depending on the size and quality. They become more expensive if you opt for infused or top-shelf pre-rolls.
Prerolls are easy to consume and share—they’re ready to use upon purchase at the dispensary and require no technical knowledge to smoke (as opposed to a bong, for example). They also take out the work of rolling a joint, which includes breaking up the flower, forming the filter, and rolling the flower neatly. This is very helpful for medical marijuana patients with conditions like arthritis or muscle spasms as well as cannabis consumers who simply don’t want to learn the art of joint rolling.
What’s in a Pre-roll?
As mentioned above, many pre-rolls do not contain top-shelf flower. Instead, most pre-rolls are made with shake or trim, lower-quality forms of flower. Because of this, the THC content of pre-rolls is often lower than a joint you rolled yourself, so you may need to smoke more to achieve the same effects. You also tend to get less of a flavor profile with pre-rolls, as they do not contain the same trichome and terpene content as high-quality flower.
Pre-rolls most commonly come in half-gram and 1-gram joints. There are other pre-rolls on the market that are considered specialty pre-rolls and contain several grams of cannabis and sometimes even a good amount of cannabis concentrate.
Do Pre-rolls Go Bad?
Yes, pre-rolls can definitely go bad, though the risk of such is no higher than with any other cannabis flower product. If stored properly—in an airtight container away from light and heat—pre-rolls could potentially stay good for up to a year. Over time, however, cannabis degrades in quality, meaning flavor and potency could be affected. It’s best to smoke your pre-rolls as soon as possible or within a few months.
Check out these articles for more information on keeping your cannabis fresh:
There are many benefits to cannabis pre-rolls that have helped fuel their popularity over the years, including their usability and typically low price tag. Lots of folks love them, while others prefer to roll their own joints or use a different consumption method entirely (e.g., edibles, dabs, vapes). Pre-rolls are the easiest, most convenient way to smoke cannabis flower, but they often lack quality. Are you a fan of pre-rolls? Let us know in the comments!
Ashley Priest is a patient, mother, entrepreneur, and activist that fights to end prohibition globally for a better future for all. Ashley has a passion for sharing education pertaining to the goddess plant known as cannabis. She believes that a single seed can tip the scales and that together through education we can end the stigma that is preventing cannabis from flowering to its full potential globally.
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