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How to Roll a Joint

Some sound advice from Howard Marks

Mr Nice
Howard Marks
Secker & Warburg
London 1996

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Books by Howard Marks

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.


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