Despite the serious effects of tobacco on health, smoking a joint (a
homemade cigarette containing both tobacco and cannabis) is the most common
form of ingesting the good herb. Passing around lighted joints, or
spliffs, is seen as a sociable way of sharing cannabis and produces a more
gradual high than do other methods.
The ability to craft a well formed joint is a treasured skill to many pot
heads. A master craftsman can roll, without spilling tobacco or dope,
spliffs of greatly varied shapes and sizes. Creations of boats, planes,
cones, tulips, swallows tails, and other zoological bits are not uncommon.
There are a number of papers, skins, available with which to roll joints.
They vary in type of fibre, colour, pattern, size, thickness, and presence
of gummed edges. Some rolling papers, e.g., Rizla King Size, are
specifically manufactured for joints and require none of the origami skills
of the master craftsman.
I will describe one basic, non-artistic method of skinning-up normal
cigarette papers together to roll a joint. Bear in mind that if rolling in
darkness or when completely wrecked, green packeted Rizlas, the commonest
UK brand, are useful because the corners along the non-sticky edge are cut
off, making it easier to identify. Take two of the papers, overlap them
length-ways by about one and a half centimetres, moisten the gum where they
overlap and stick them together to form one new double-width skin with
gummed edge. Place it face down on a flat surface. Take a third skin and
lick right along the gummed edge. Stick this third skin along either of
the two sides of the double-width skin that lie at right angles to its
gummed edge, and one ends up with an appropriately sized joint skin
The smoking mixture will be crushed leaves of the marijuana plant (pot) or
heated and crumbled cannabis resin (hashish), or both, carefully and
consistently mingled with tobacco. Uniformly distribute this mixture along
the length of the newly formed large skin, whose gummed edge should face
upwards and towards you. With thumbs, forefingers, and middle fingers,
roll the skin into a tight fitting tube around the smoking mixture. Lick
the gummed edge. Twist one end of the cylinder. In the other end insert a
small rolled up piece of cardboard. Light up the twisted end
Etiquette requires one to pass the joint in a circular fashion through
those present. No one is required to smoke any of the joint, but each is
expected to pass it on. Bogartting, hoarding the joint, is a serious
breach of protocol. People too stoned to smoke the joint, let alone pass
it, are expected to be skipped over, and a joint can be courteously
removed from someone not seeming to be sharing the consensus of reality.
One of the more intriguing techniques of smoking a joint is taking what is
known as a powerhit, blowback, or nice one. This is accomplished by having
an accomplice carefully surround the burning end of the joint with his or
her mouth and blowing while one takes a hit from the other end. It might be
a bit risky, but it is one of the more intimate ways of sharing a joint.
Thank you for smoking.
Copyright © Howard Marks 1996
This article may not be archived or distributed further without
the author’s express permission. Please read the license.
This electronic version of How to Roll a Joint is published
by The Richmond Review by arrangement with the author.
During the mid-1980s Howard Marks had forty-three aliases, eighty-nine phone lines and owned
twenty-five companies trading throughout the world. Bars, recording studios,
offshore banks – all were money-laundering vehicles serving the core activity: dope dealing.
He was Britain’s most wanted man. He has just spent seven years in America’s toughest
penitentiary. We like him. His autobiography, Mr Nice, has recently been
published by Secker & Warburg.