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Reviving the Lost Art of the “J”

Learning the Lost Art of The “J” can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. You can help preserve this dying craft by trying it. Then try again because the first one didn’t smoke. Here’s a handy step by step guide to get you started on the journey!

1) Assemble your supplies and materials.

Rolling papers: Something thin but strong. Raw makes excellent products (they aren’t paying me for this shout-out, yet, but if you start using Raw papers based on my recommendation please message @rawlife247 on Instagram and tell them so.) You will find it easier to roll with a larger paper than a smaller one. When choosing a paper to learn with, you should select something on the larger size – at least 1 ¼ size.

Grinder: A good grinder is hard to find. The only advice I can give regarding grinder selection is that if you find one you like, buy two.

Flower: Flower that is dry, but not so dry that it crumbles in a stiff breeze works the best. Beyond that, flower that you enjoy smoking is your best bet.

Work surface: You can use a magazine. You can just use the table in front of you. Beginners would be best served to use some type of tray with sides.

2) Carefully remove sections of flower from the stems. This step is easily overlooked but is crucial to a quality hand rolled joint. Remove as much stem material as possible. An ugly stem poking through an otherwise well rolled smoke is shameful. An errant stem nestled safely in a cocoon of flower tastes terrible, also shameful.

This is a good opportunity to enhance your relationship with, and knowledge of, your cannabis flower. Take a moment to appreciate how the bud is formed. Smell the flower before you start breaking it up. Smell it again after you crack it off the stem. Your flower will often gift you new smells at each stage of preparing it for your joint. Take a moment to squeeze the flower, is it exceptionally dense? Is it really dry? Is it leaving your fingers sticky? As you build experience with rolling your own joints you will see how all of these factors effect the rolling process and the smoking experience.

3) Grind the flower. Avoid overloading your grinder as this will make it difficult to operate. An overloaded grinder also produces broken down cannabis that is more crushed than fluffed. Crushed cannabis has a tendency to produce joints with a difficult draw that is prone to self extinguishing. Air is a crucial component of combustion. After lightly loading the grinder spin the top several times in one direction, then several times in the other direction. It is best to avoid a rapid back and forth motion as this will also crush, rather than fluff, your carefully chosen selection of flower. Open grinder and empty it onto your chosen work surface.

4) CHECK FOR STEMS AGAIN. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to get all the sharp pieces of stem removed. When the ground flower has been thoroughly checked push it into an organized pile.

5) Prepare your rolling paper. Make the sure the glue strip is facing you and at the top. Crease the paper approximately 1/3 of the way up from the bottom. Place the index finger of your non-dominant hand against the inside fold. Hold the paper against your index finger with your thumb in front and middle finger in the back.

6) Take a deep breath. Clear your mind. You can do this.

7) Load your flower into the rolling paper. This is one of those steps that can be accomplished with any number of methods. For a beginner, the most straightforward way to do this is to simply grab a pinch with your fingers and drop it into the paper. Evenly distribute the ground flower along the length of the paper except for ¼” to ½” at both ends.

8) The forming of the joint is where heroes are made and art is created. Let the flower snuggle along the cavity between your index and middle fingers on both hands. Press lightly and roll the flower back and forth with thumbs on the outside of the rolling paper. Through experience you’ll learn the relationship between the characteristics of flower and the pressure required. Apply too much pressure and you won’t be able to pull a satisfying draw. Press too lightly and your joint will run and leak ground flower into your mouth with each hit. At the beginner stage of rolling, it is more crucial to focus on light even pressure than it is to worry about the final shape of the smoke. Flat joints can smoke great. Lumpy joints can smoke great. The ONLY bad joints are ones you cannot smoke!

9) Tuck and roll. Pull your molded flower down to where the bottom of the paper wraps just over the newly formed cylinder. Starting at either end of the joint, tuck the paper behind the flower as you push up with your thumbs. Carefully work your way along the entire joint, tucking and rolling as you go. When the full length of the paper is tucked, wet the glue strip and wrap the remaining paper. Use your fingers to pat the glue strip down completely.

10) Finish it! Use a small stick to push any flower sticking out into the end. You can even tighten the joint up a little at this point if needed by packing the flower down, or twisting the extra paper and applying pressure toward the mouthpiece end. Light and enjoy!

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