By Michelle Rizzio

Prior to recreational cannabis being legalized in California, one may recall being given free pre-rolls, or pre-rolled joints, with their first time purchase at dispensaries. One may also recall these pre-rolls not being the highest quality-filled with trim, dust of cannabis, blends of different flower, and even more surprises. These days, pre-rolls are a different story. First, they are not given away for free anymore. In fact, nothing in cannabis dispensaries can be given away for free according to the Bureau of Cannabis Control. Instead, companies offer deals like Buy One Get One for a Penny during in store brand pop-ups to side step the control of gifting the plant. Second, pre-rolls on the shelf at your local dispensary since July of 2018 are completely varying from blended trim joints for $5 to strain specific full flower joints featuring concentrate additions for an ultimate high for upwards of $30+.

When peering over the counter to the countless 1g, 2g, 3.5g, and 7g pre-rolls in singles and packs it can be intimidating to discern what it is you need. Here are some terms to use when trying to understand if you should purchase a $5 joint or the $58 dollar pre-rolled cigar in hemp leaf. As an aside, if it’s the dispensary’s house joint from their own cultivation please remember to always support your local growers. Your purchase of their house joint supports their local cultivation and cannabis efforts.

Strain Specific — Exactly how it reads, pre-rolls that are strain specific feature only ONE specific strain’s genetics which it is labeled as. For example if the product is labeled “SATIVA – Strawberry Cough” that strain and its characteristics are all you should expect to experience.


Blend – Pre-roll blends feature multiple strains to produce the ideal influence the consumer is seeking. For instance, there could be a sativa blend featuring three sativas like Strawberry Cough, Blue Dream, and Amnesia Haze that all come together to produce a really elevated, creative, and cerebral high which may have not been possible with only one strain. As an aside, I personally prefer to know what the strain is from the packaging of my pre-rolls so look out for the information or ask your budtender. I like knowing how my body will be influenced.

Full Flower — Flower is a term used for the dried cannabis bud, as it is indeed the female cannabis plants flower. Full flower pre-rolls include ONLY ground up flower. It is not trim, sugar leaf, or shake. Full flower pre-rolls usually maintain their trichomes, taste, aroma, and are true to how you would experience smoking a joint you rolled yourself from your own ground flower.

Shake — Shake, trim, or sugar leaf all describe lower quality portions of the bud usually removed during the trimming process of soon to be jarred product. Biomass is then put into pre-rolls to increase the company’s profit margins. For pre-roll options under $10 be sure to inquire with your budtender whether or not the pre-roll is shake. Shake pre-rolls can be tougher to smoke producing a cough and can sometimes often produce headaches. The taste also lacks, in my opinion. Explore at your own risk.

Concentrate pre-rolls — These pre-rolled joints can be a variety of strain specific or blended cannabis flower, and shake or flower quality (depending on the brand you choose, be sure to ask your budtender for more details, as they are usually educated by the brand on the product they sell.) mixed with concentrated cannabis in the form of hash, CO2 extracted wax, live resin, and/or dipped in kief or honey oil. These bangers are usually in the price range of $20+ and are fantastic for producing an elevated mood, relaxed body, and hazy mind. Not for the beginner.

CBD pre-rolls — CBD pre-rolls feature CBD rich flower in ratios to produce the desired level of wellness, such as 1:1, 2:1, 3:1, 5:1, 8:1, and 20:1. These CBD rich pre-rolls DO NOT produce a high level of psychoactivity, for those seeking none at all start at the 20:1 ratio and work your way down to discover your preferred ratio of CBD:THC. These pre-rolls are the ultimate in taking care of anxiety, inflammation, digestive issues and more while you are on the go.

Pre-roll Packs – Pre-roll packs feature multiple pre-rolls within a tube, case, box, or tin usually ranging from 2g-7g in quantity. The joints themselves in the packs will either be .5g, .7g, or 1g. Be sure to ask before purchase.

Pre-roll Single – Pre-roll singles are one single pre-roll, usually .5, .7, or 1g.

I hope this guide helps you navigate your next experience at the dispensary when you want a quick on the go option for your smoking needs!