Rise of the pre-rolls. Grow with Rich Hamilton

18 Nov 2019
While the cannabis industry continues to grow, and legalisation is creeping in across the world it has seen a positive knock on effect in many areas of the industry, including sales of pre-rolls. If you have been into any European coffee shops of late, you would have noticed that there has been an increase in the number of pre-rolls on the menu. Additionally, recent analytic data from the last few years shows that retailers in the legal states of Colorado, Washington and Oregon sold over $158 millions worth of pre-rolls in a 12 month period. A large amount of new consumers have entered the cannabis market, many of which cannot, and quite frankly do not, need to learn how to roll a joint thanks to pre-rolls and other joint-rolling technology that has become more commonplace and made cannabis so much more accessible.


If you look at cannabis in comparison to tobacco you can see how and why the market is growing. Tobacco originally and for a long time after was sold as a loose product, which people would smoke through a pipe or use to roll their own cigarettes. Tobacco was smoked as early as the 9th century but it was only from the late 1800's onwards that the straight, mass produced cigarette that we recognise today first emerged, and with it the smoking "boom" took off. Why? Because it was suddenly so much more convenient. Whilst there were (and still are) people who prefer to roll their own tobacco cigarettes, it wasn't long before the convenience of the pre-rolled cigarette market grew to be one of the biggest in the world, and so it is feasible to imagine cannabis pre-rolls going in the same direction. 


Pre-rolls to define, are cannabis joints that have been made up in advance to buy and smoke immediately. Pre-rolls allow you to try out 1 or more strains before you commit to buying a larger amount. You can buy single joints or packs of 5-10, with more and more companies starting to distribute and sell mass produced brands of pre-roll across the country. Just as you would walk into a store anywhere and be able to buy your favourite brand of cigarettes. 


Even experienced cannabis users can enjoy the benefits of pre-rolls as they are discreet and easier to transport than carrying around your rolling tin, smoking papers, filters, tobacco etc.


Pre-rolls are a great way for dispensaries and bigger growers and distributors to make the most out of their stock too, they are a business after all. When purchasing flower (cannabis bud) from a dispensary, a smokers cafe or other sources, everybody (including me) wants the best flower for their money. Which is great, that’s how it should be. But people are less inclined to want all the smaller, broken up, less desirable pieces of flower. Just like with fruit and Veg, people tend not to want to buy misshapen carrots or potatoes, they like uniform appearance and size. This does not mean that there is anything wrong with the quality or the taste of the produce, it's just that today's world runs mostly on aesthetic values. 


Luckily however the pre-roll works as the perfect ethical solution as to what to do with these less desirable quantities of flower. Meaning that there is no waste of this precious product and you the consumer is still receiving a quality product. Some do argue that pre-roll quality can be low as some dispensaries will use up the lowest quality of their leftovers and mix strains within the pre-rolls. Whilst this can be true, there are ways to ensure that you receive a quality product. Insist on a pre-roll that contains only 1 strain, or try one of the emerging commercial brands, who are totally focused on this product and as so use a higher quality of flower that will be consistent regardless of where it is purchased. These brands believe that the proven tobacco cigarette model will also be be the future of the cannabis market and are all battling to be the first brands to establish themselves in this market. 

the world of cannabis Despite their best efforts some people just cannot roll a good joint! Rolling a good beast is a skill, arguably an art form. I know loads of people that can’t roll right, people that have been smoking for years, decades some of them; and they still roll a raggedy twiglet. A loose spliff that looks more like a mini version of Harry Potters wand than something I would want to smoke! I have one friend that uses a bamboo rolling mat and still can’t get it right! You may have just accepted that unless you actually do have Harry Potter's wand that you are never gonna get any better and toke on regardless when in your own company, but this just won't wash in a group situation and you might be a bit paranoid that your best effort just won't suffice. In these cases the pre-roll can be your best friend, It's ready to smoke and perfectly packed with a measured amount of cannabis.

 Of course there are other reasons why people can't roll, such as medical conditions which affect dexterity and movement in the hands such as arthritis. Arthritis being one condition which medical cannabis can assist with greatly in terms of pain management. Other conditions that impair hand stability and movement include MS, Parkinson's and essential tremor. It could also be the case that conditions that affect vision or cause poor sight could be preventing you from rolling your own joints, in which case pre-rolls once again are a great solution. 


Pre-rolls are also great for the "tourist smoker" market, perfect for dipping a toe into the world of cannabis. In the locations where cannabis is legal (especially recreationally) there is a big trend for smoker holidays and in such places, being able to walk in to a coffee shop or dispensary and buy a pack of pre-rolls like you are buying some cigarettes is a very appealing prospect. 

the world of cannabis

Knowing the dosage of what you are smoking is very important. Smoking cannabis effects the human body very quickly and relatively speaking the “high” effects are short lived, peaking within the first 10 minutes and wearing off gradually over the course of the next hour. Pre-rolls therefore are a great way to pace yourself and know your limits, and if things do start to go downhill, you can stop and the effects will start to wear off. People do have different tolerances and so it’s very important that you find your own personal "happy place" with cannabis, whether for recreational or medical reasons and then stick to it, increasing dose gradually only when your tolerance builds, which it will with regular use. There’s normally 1 gram of flower in a pre-roll. They do differ slightly but generally pre-rolls will state what strain and how much cannabis is in each joint. Pre-rolls do tend to contain a single strain: Train wreck, Jack Herer and so on. The bottom line is, you know exactly what and how much is in each one. If you are new to cannabis and you do not know what strain you should go for then either do some research online beforehand or just ask the bud tenders in the dispensary or cafe as they are all super knowledgable and helpful.


Which brings me to my next point...internet window shopping for weed. Where I live there is normally waves of 3 sometimes 4 different strains of weed at anyone time. I’ve lost count of the amount of times that I’ve seen a nice exotic strain on the internet and thought to myself “daaammmn I wanna try that”. Perfect solution? the pre-roll. 


As the pre-roll market grows so does the choice, with something for everyone from standard king size pre-rolls starting at $5-$10 for a single, up to $50-$60 for a pack of five from wholesale companies that are dedicated to making joints. You can buy more luxury items for $20 plus, like a single, shatter whipped, Kief dusted madness monster. You can even buy pre-rolled blunts if that's your thing! These are a little more expensive than joints (around $15 each). Pre-rolls really are becoming the luxe product of the cannabis market, with businesses and even some celebrities queuing up to capitalise on and deliver an individual and new twist on this classic form of cannabis experience.


You can of course if you want to, make your own pre-roll cones for convenience, or for managing your dosage levels. You can buy empty cones which you can fill yourself. There is a wide selection of equipment available to do so, from hand packers which can fill 12-24 cones, all the way up to a professional shaker bed (retailing for around $5000) which makes 100 pre-rolls at a time. These machines although expensive, are amazing, allowing you to control the firmness of how your cone is packed to 3 different settings! 


Generally, pre-rolls are a sign of the times, as well as a sign of what's to come as the cannabis industry becomes bigger, more accepted and more corporate. People want choice, they want convenience, they want value for money and they want control and I think this is a big reason why pre-rolls are becoming such a big corner of the market and why more and more products are hitting the shelves.. and I can't see that slowing down any time soon. If fact quite the opposite, the rise of the pre-roll has only just begun.