These days you can ingest THC six ways from Sunday–from electrolyte-enhanced “sports drinks” to vaginal suppositories. And while most of this new technology is fun, sometimes nothing beats a classic joint. But despite the old-school cachet of smoking a jay, some of today’s pre-rolls are anything but basic. Today we’re looking at the joints that stand out from the crowd–either through brand story, packaging, engineering, exemplary ingredients, or sheer power to pack a punch.
“What’s the best luxe pre-roll?” When I posed this vital question to the MJ Brand Insights/MJ Unpacked office, Leira was at the top of most lists. Granted, most of the team lives in Washington, Leira’s home state, so we may be prejudiced. But how can we not be proud that Leira, a homegrown family-run brand, is considered a gold standard of the cannagar? Leira branding plays into the fun, over-the-top baller aspect of weed culture, while promising the quality that high-rolling cannabis connoisseurs should expect: the cannagars are rolled in “hand-selected” leaves or gold leaf and contain a core of premium flower from Gold Leaf Gardens, which is acclaimed for its organic growing techniques.
To be honest, we’d buy Willie’s Reserve High Five Pack for the reusable tin alone, which is a perfect representation of Willie Nelson’s classic outlaw aesthetic. In the words of marketing director Nicole Kennebeck, “Our packaging is designed to be practical, reusable and when you pull it out of your stash, you let the world know ‘I’m with Willie.’” I mean…We’re in? But the brand takes care to let consumers know that they’ve taken equal or greater care with the contents: Their joints are “hand-packed with terpene-rich, fresh flower—with no trim or shake.” We’ve no doubt that you could stamp Willie’s name on dime bags of dirt weed and sell out, so it’s nice to see this brand putting out a product that must make the legend proud.
Dogwalkers have a fun brand story: In the words of the founders, “Dogwalkers are cannabis pre-rolls inspired by the simple pleasure of leisurely strolls with our special pup, Bailey. We believe the best pre-rolls offer a moment of unconditional enjoyment, just like a walk around the block with your four-legged friends.” Our fearless publisher George Jage is evidently their target market. Every chance George gets, he brings up how smoking a “mini dog” is his favorite way to enjoy a stroll with his lab Lucky. (No, he’s not a sponsored representative. And yes, we do trust his taste in joints.)
Good marketing can come down to brand story. Yet an exemplary brand story is seldom the work of a marketing team, but rather stems organically from the company’s history. This is the case with Helmand Valley Growers Company, which was founded by veterans and gives 100% of its profits back to Battle Brothers Foundation for research on the medical benefits of cannabis for veterans living with PTSD and other conditions. The San Diego-based company takes equal pride in its product–hand-rolled joints housed in glass deliver a full gram of high-THC (27%) weed, available in three different strains.
A certain set of consumers are drawn to splashy presentation, while others are just concerned with how lit they can get. For those concerned with both, there’s Napalm’s Grenade pre-roll, which comes in a grenade-shaped collectible glass container and delivers a gram of live resin diamonds and 7 grams of indoor flower sourced from various cultivators, including Wonderbrett, Originals Family Farms, and Fiore. The rolling paper is infused with live-resin terpenes and capped with a ceramic tip to “provide consistent airflow and an even burn.” While the imagery of this L.A.-based brand is not for everyone, the flip side is that they’re definitely setting themselves apart from the pack.
For consumers who like nice things but don’t go in for the diamond-studded approach to smoking, Sunday Goods have a luxe yet understated vibe. The Arizona-based brand’s pre-rolls come in a variety of strains of sungrown weed that’s grown without pesticides and wrapped in hemp paper. The white and gold tin is both discrete and appealing.
The Clear TWAX
The Clear markets its TWAX pre-rolls to customers who are looking for something heavy-hitting; a single 1.25g pre-roll contains more THC than a 350mg disposable vape. We spoke with Patrick Haske, director of marketing, who put it this way, “The Clear created TWAX to be the perfect product for the experienced flower consumer. We use premium flower infused with The Clear’s AAA grade distillate to create a potent and unique twist on one of the most popular methods of consumption. The infusion method makes the product extra potent and gives the joint a nice smooth and slow burn.” Our verdict? On the mark. Too many brands are marketing to the cannacurious, and the brand’s retro label and high octane engineering are likely to appeal to old school stoners, aka the “experienced flower consumer.”
Jushi, a company known for brand-forward thinking, markets The Bank as “designed for the modern cannabis connoisseur,” which certainly comes through in their luxe packaging. Long gone are the tie-dye and pot leaf motifs of yore: instead, the black-and-gold design seems more appropriate to a Wall Street cigar bar or, you know, a bank. But beyond the rich styling, their marketing material touts superior plant genetics and gets into some detail about how the fine grind is extracted into “a perfectly formulated crumble that is mixed with popcorn flower to create a weighted ratio.” Currently available in Nevada and Pennsylvania.
COOKIES doesn’t need gold-leaf packaging to convey that their pre-rolls are legit. They represent the arguably most impressive example of a big brand that has created cachet by selling themselves as unabashed weed aficionados and by choosing collaborations that emphasize that story–not just with musicians like Killer Mike and El-P, but with credible growers. In their own words, “What makes COOKIES ‘premium’ is unique genetics and a commitment to working with OG cultivators.” But what makes COOKIES notable is their ability to effectively deliver that message.
In addition to being the Cookies’ Colorado producer, Veritas makes its own pre-rolls. And like Cookies, their claim to premium is not about packaging but genetics and process. Other brands with a similar commitment to quality should take note of the way Veritas conveys this message to consumers. Their marketing material is process-oriented and describes exactly how their weed is hand-harvested, trimmed, and cured. The level of detail should be convincing to those of us who know a thing or two about the supply side of this industry.
This California company makes a range of cannagars rolled in “all natural hemp wrap,” and their branding has a luxe yet playful vibe. According to their press, “The full flower used is hand-broken, never ground, and scientifically fused with the diamonds before it is hand-rolled by a master cigar maker, cured for 72- hours, and finished with a glass filter.” We don’t know what they mean by “scientifically fused,” but hand broken and hand-rolled should speak to the connoisseurs. Speaking of the weed nerds, El Blunto recently released a special edition blunt filled with Kush Cake flower and “brilliant-class” cannabis diamonds from Mohave Cannabis Co.
Rolling a perfect joint is an artform and you’ll never beat the product, quality, and process control that you get when you choose from your own stash. No matter how many varieties of fancy pre-rolls you can buy, some consumers will always prefer to roll their own. But that doesn’t mean they can get away with totally ignoring industry trends–because the quality of rolling papers has improved and diversified. Take OCB, a venerable brand that dates to 1918, but which has in recent years branched out to use fibers from organic hemp and bamboo, which seal with vegetarian, GMO-free Acacia gum. To match the eco-friendly products, the rebranded California cool aesthetic should appeal to its intended audience of true heads.