Every toker has his or her own story of learning to smoke green. Somewhere in that story, for most weed aficionados, is the creation of their first joint….While humans have been consuming cannabis for thousands of years, it has historically been smoked through a pipe, hookah, or chillum. A relatively new innovation, the humble marijuana cigarette has managed to find its way into the heart of countless cultures around the world. Here’s a brief overview of its rise to fame.
The first recorded use of the joint is around 1850 in Mexico. A pharmacist at the University of Guadalajara found that workers in the fields were mixing marijuana with tobacco in their cigarettes. You don’t have to look far to spot the cultural ties that still linger from cannabis’s Mexican roots. In fact, the word “roach” got its name from the Mexican song “La Cucaracha,” which tells the story of a cockroach who can’t get up because he has no marijuana to smoke. At the same time, a publication in “The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal” suggested a treatment for respiratory problems. They thought mixing cannabis, belladonna and potassium nitrate would allow patients to increase oxygen flow and decrease asthma attacks.
In the 1920s, prohibition of alcohol increased cannabis consumption. Speakeasies were places where people would gather to drink whiskey and listen to jazz. With the increasing popularity of jazz, musicians began touring the country and bringing with them “jazz cigarettes”. Because the legal status of pot was different back then, they would smoke reefer in public and this helped spread the use of joints.
Many nicknames for the cannabis cigarettes were birthed in the 20s and 30s, some of which are still used to this day. The words “reefer” and “joint” originated in this era. As did the term “muggle,” since popularized by the Harry Potter franchise.
In the 1960s, after marijuana was made illegal, hippies took the joint to a whole new level to make it the staple it is today. They created jewelry and accessories to disguise clips and other paraphernalia; so only fellow tokers would know their smoking habits. Eventually the joint was ensconced in a place of honor, helping shape a lifestyle around marijuana consumption.
Rolling paper manufacturers were quick to cash in on this new market too. Companies created wider styles of papers to accommodate the stoner market, who traditionally rolled much thicker cigarettes than tobacco users. Packets of rolling paper were decorated with psychedelic patterns and pro-marijuana quotes. A company called Randy’s even invented the Insta-Roach wired rolling papers, which gave users a stainless steel wire to hold on to as they finished off the last of their joint.
Today’s discerning cannabis connoisseurs can customize their rolling experience to a degree that’s never been seen before. Consumers can choose from a huge selection of strains, treat themselves to special papers, and even purchase power-packed pre-rolls. Thanks to the internet, we’re also starting to see some incredible art emerge from professional joint rollers. Check out Tony Greenhand, currently the biggest pro roller in the scene.
Even though the joint may have been a latecomer to the smoke session, it has made its way into the hearts of all who appreciate smoking cannabis. Simple, convenient, and a time-honored tradition, it’s easy to appreciate a joint.