Many years ago, I read Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, a speculative novel set in an alternate 1962 where the Axis powers have won World War II and occupied the U.S. As you might imagine, Americans suffer under the boot of fascism, but not every detail of the setting is entirely dystopian. At one point, a character living in San Francisco casually buys a pack of cannabis joints as though they were cigarettes. I remember that scene because it made me think: That’d be the coolest shit ever — too bad it will never happen in real life.
But it did! Luckily, without the military invasions and all that other unpleasantness. Dick’s vision of a corner store selling pre-rolled pot lands pretty damn close to the dispensaries that have blanketed California and many other states where the drug is legal for recreational purposes. In the days when you had to use a medical card, not all the stores carried joints, and others rolled them in-house — but now it’s rare to walk into such an establishment without seeing a huge menu or display of branded joint packs or tubes that advertise the quality, flavor and potency of the flower used in these products. And I swear I’ve forgotten any other way of getting stoned.
There’s no use denying it: I am a gigantic slut for pre-rolls.
A true weed snob will often reject the very concept of pre-rolls, preferring to know exactly what’s in their papers and commit to the art of fashioning the perfect cone for themselves. But I am not a snob — I’m a lazy dirtbag with disposable income, and my local budtenders know exactly what I’m shopping for. The last time it fell to me to roll a joint at a party, I had to do so on hard mode: sticky weed, no grinder. The result was a lumpy mess that could barely be smoked, which reaffirmed my stance. Even under ideal conditions, it would take long, long hours of practice for me to produce joints as uniformly neat and even-burning as a nice pre-roll. Why should I bother? The free market has already provided what I require. Let’s skip the ritual.
Adding significantly to appeal of pre-rolls are the range of enhancements suppliers have come up with. “Infused” joints incorporate a concentrated form of cannabis, like hash or wax, for a stronger high akin to the effects of dabbing (minus the large, complicated rig). Others are rolled in kief, the crystalline trichomes of the cannabis plant. Rolling your own stuff is all well and good, but pulling one of these premium numbers out the moment anyone suggests a blaze session is always going to be the power move. It’s like bringing over a bottle of fine wine instead of the four beers you had left in a six-pack.
The hippie culture of yore had its way, and we have the way of the future, with fabulously crossbred strains grown in optimized farms and no need to painstakingly pick the seeds and stems from our stash. I see no reason to fight the luxury.
Many rappers have extolled the pre-roll as a symbol of material success, though it’s a line from the alt-pop band Transviolet’s song “Don’t Say You Love Me” that best sums up my own feeling: “I’m dancing naked with a pre-roll in my mouth.” This is exactly how the mass-produced marijuana cigarette has liberated us. Free of the pressures that come with acquiring weed illegally and preparing it ourselves for consumption, we can skip to the part where we relax and have some fun. Isn’t that what herb is all about?
Forget the haters — this is progress we’re very fortunate to see in our lifetimes. Sure, some pre-rolls are a little too pricey or overhyped, but the pleasure of discovering a new favorite pack is hard to beat. I’ll still hit the bong, bowl or vape pen whenever, it’s just that in the back of my mind I’ll be looking forward to the next time I step outside and light up a joint that found its way to me fully formed, as if by divine providence.
And if you see me, come on over and have a puff. There’s plenty more where that came from.