How to Smoke a Pre-Roll: A Beginners Guide

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These days, there’s no end of choices when it comes to cannabis products. 

Amongstflower, concentrates, oral solutions, capsules and softgels and topicals, if you’re new to cannabis it can feel a bit overwhelming. That’s why for many of us, the “original” form of cannabis—the “joint,” or cannabis cigarette—continues to be a preferred consumption method. 

Pre-rolls are among the most popular of all cannabis products, and no great surprise why. After all, what is a pre-roll but a perfectly formed, easy-to-use cannabis delivery system? If, like many of us, you’ve struggled to roll an adequately usable joint—or you’ve never rolled a joint before—a pre-roll is the perfect solution. That said, there are some things you should understand in order to select the right pre-roll for you, along with some techniques that can enhance your smoking experience for minimum waste and maximum effect.

In this how-to guide, we’ll delve into the major questions and concerns around selecting, purchasing and using pre-rolled joints. By the end, you’ll have everything you need to go out and get started with pre-rolls. Let’s get rolling!

What Is a Pre-Roll, Exactly? 

If you’ve ever spent any time around cannabis, you know that the joint is arguably the simplest and most expedient way to access cannabis. According to one source, the first recorded use of the joint was in the 1850s, when Mexican agricultural workers began mixing cannabis—known locally as “marihuana”—into tobacco cigarettes. Since then the joint has only grown in popularity, and even with the myriad other consumption methods available—from vaporization to edibles to topicals and beyond—cannabis flower remains one of the top choices for consumers. 

Given how challenging they can be to produce, it was only a matter of time before forward-thinking entrepreneurs created the convenient and read-to-consume pre-rolled joint, thus saving countless hours (and untold frustration) for the many fans of the joint.

As with all aspects of the cannabis experience, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into. Before answering the question of how to smoke a pre-roll, it’s important to know that there are different kinds of pre-rolls available varying in size, composition and potency:

  • Pre-Rolled Joints: This prepackaged cannabis format consists of finely ground cannabis contained in a tight cylindrical wrapper made from paper, often hemp paper. The pre-roll can be shaped like a cigarette or slightly cone-shaped, with the narrow end designed to be inserted between the lips. Many pre-rolls have a “crutch,” or a tiny tube of cardboard inserted in one end to make it easier to draw smoke through it. If your pre-roll does feature a crutch, be sure to light the opposite end.
  • Blunts: A variation of a pre-roll in which a cigar is carefully slit open, the tobacco filling removed and then replaced with ground cannabis flower. While much of the tobacco in a blunt has been removed, the wrapper is still made of dried tobacco leaves. So if you’re trying to avoid tobacco, a standard pre-roll is a better choice.
  • Infused Pre-Rolls: This novel pre-roll format adds a small amount of cannabis concentrate to the mix, adding a significant level of potency that new users may find overwhelming. As a result, we do not recommend using infused pre-rolls for medicinal purposes.

At Vireo Health, we offer a wide selection of pre-rolled joints, each of them expertly crafted for a consistent, trouble-free experience. Our pre-rolls are categorized as “indica,” “sativa,” or “hybrid” strains. These terms have been used for hundreds of years to describe different types of cannabis; you can learn more about them at this introductory guide.

In short, classic indica strains are usually associated with a powerfully relaxing “body high” that can help melt away aches and physical pain. By comparison, sativa strains tend to be associated with cerebral stimulation and a noted euphoric uplift. Hybrids combine characteristics of these two major types to deliver a more nuanced blend of effects.

How to Light a Pre-Roll: Preparing to Smoke

Because of the psychoactivity imparted by THC, the principal cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, it’s important to be mindful about the “set and setting” in which you use a pre-roll (or any other cannabis product). 

Simply put, “set and setting” refers to the physical and emotional space you occupy. Especially when using cannabis for medicinal purposes, we believe that selecting a quiet location free from distractions or interruptions makes for a better experience. On a related note, it’s important to observe all applicable laws around the use of cannabis, which prohibit its use in public spaces, in motor vehicles, and near school, among other restrictions.

Once you’ve selected a suitable location, make sure you’ve got all the accessories you need, including a lighter or matches and an ashtray or other suitable container. Assuming you’ve already purchased a pre-rolled joint, now’s the time to inspect it for quality. The paper wrapper should be tight, even, and untorn. While some slight spillage is normal, the ground cannabis should extend to the open ends of the wrapper. 

If your pre-rolled joint is up to snuff, it’s time to learn how to light a pre-roll. While lighting a pre-roll should seem straightforward enough, we have a few expert tips to make sure it burns consistently and evenly.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  • Carefully ignite a match, a hemp wick, or a lighter. If your pre-roll is cone-shaped, place the very tip of the flame under the end of the wide end while gently inhaling on the narrow end. If the pre-roll is the same diameter along its entire length, simply choose an end to light, keeping in mind that most pre-rolled joints contain a “crutch” for easier drawing. If so, be sure to ignite the opposite end.
  • Once the pre-roll is lit, draw in a comfortable amount of smoke and hold it in your lungs (more on this technique in a moment). Be mindful that the flame doesn’t run down one side of the paper, creating a “canoe” (and wasting precious cannabis). If it does, you can run a moistened fingertip along the paper to discourage the flame from spreading. You can also gently rotate the preroll as you enjoy it, which helps propagate a more even burn.
  • As with all inhaled cannabis, expect a pre-roll to take effect within just a few minutes. When you’ve had enough, gently extinguish the pre-roll by pinching off the lit “cherry” or gently stubbing it out. If you saved the original packaging, you’ll have a safe place to store it until the next time.

How to Smoke a Pre-Roll: Inhalation Methods

When it comes to inhaling cannabis smoke, there are two basic techniques: “mouth to lung” (MTL) and “direct lung” (DL). If you’ve ever smoked a cigarette, you’ll be familiar with the MTL style, which involves inhaling the cannabis smoke into your mouth before drawing it down into your lungs. 

By comparison, the DL style involves drawing the cannabis smoke directly from the pre-roll down into your lungs. It takes a little more practice than the MTP method, but many feel that it imparts a more direct and intense cannabis experience. 

If you’re new to cannabis, we suggest you start with the MTL method. Why? Because pre-rolled joints are designed to be consistent and easy to draw from, newcomers can find that they’ve ingested more cannabis than they intended to. While this is very rarely dangerous, it can be unpleasant. And that’s something we’d very much like to help you avoid!

If you’re new to cannabis, less is often more. Starting with an inhalation or two from the pre-roll and giving yourself about 15 minutes to gauge its effects can be a good way to avoid overconsumption, and a mindful way to get to know your optimal dosage.

Explore Pre-Rolls and More With Vireo

As today’s post makes clear, pre-rolled joints are one of the most convenient ways to access all the benefits of cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. Here at Vireo Health, we’re all about making cannabis medicine safe, accessible, and simple to use. 

This orientation drives all our decisions when it comes to formulating the best-in-class medicines that serve our customers. As a physician- and pharmacist-led company, we’re committed to helping you find effective solutions to your medical needs. Our lineup of pre-rolls and other exceptional cannabis products harness the all-natural power of the cannabis plant to provide gentle and sustainable relief.

If you’re looking for premium cannabis and exceptional customer care, we invite you to select the dispensary closest to you and begin your journey. We can’t wait to get to know you better!


Q: Are pre-rolls good for beginners?
A: Yes. Prerolled joints’ ease of use makes them great for beginners and occasional smokers. In addition, they don’t require extra accessories or special equipment.

Q: Can pre-rolled joints go bad?
A: No. But over time, the THC in cannabis flower tends to degrade and become less potent. We recommend you use a pre-roll within 6 – 12 months of purchase.

Q: Are blunts considered medicinal?
A: No. Because blunts are made from hollowed-out cigars, they contain a significant amount of tobacco. We recommend you use a high-quality pre-rolled joint instead.

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