Whither the humble joint? In the era of vaping and high-potency concentrates, this low-tech weed delivery mechanism seems destined for obsolescence, soon to be consigned to the ashtray of history along with gravity bongs and soda can bowls. “They still sell premade joints at the dispensary!” you say. But really, where’s the pleasure in that? The rolling is half the fun. The dry crackle of the paper, the dainty sprinkling of leaf and bud: The ritual demands a certain mindfulness. It slows the pace of things. It creates anticipation.
I was never a particularly good joint roller, but I’ve been fortunate to keep company with people who are. My best friend in college, a Canadian who liked to get high in his dorm room and play his Steinberger bass along to Boston albums, possessed a preternatural ability to turn out perfect pinners that looked for all the world as if they’d been machine-made. I was sure I remembered him having the even more impressive ability to roll a joint while driving, but when I texted him recently to confirm this, he assured me it wasn’t true. “That’s an urban myth,” he texted back, adding wistfully, “But man I was good.”
When I lived in Paris in my 20s, I observed with intense curiosity the rolling of hash joints, which required the heating of a lump of resin with a lighter, followed by the crumbling of the hash over a bed of cigarette tobacco arranged across two rolling papers that had been stuck together in an L shape so that, once rolled, the final product resembled a white baseball bat. Bigger than an American spliff but not as strong, these joints were consumed with a Gallic languor, taking what seemed an unconscionably long time to make the rounds of a room.
Contrast those experiences with the recent run-in I had with a vape pen. Offered one at a party, I gamely accepted the device, pressed the glowing button, and proceeded to hit the thing like, well, a joint. “Whoa!” I heard my friend say as my lungs flooded with grassy vapor. “That’s almost pure THC!” But it was too late. I spent the next 40 minutes walking off the ferocious high in the rain, followed by my friend’s worried-looking dog. I eventually settled into a pleasant buzz, but seriously: One toke over the line after just one toke? Next time I’ll run out for papers.