The first time I encountered a CBD pre-roll, I was at work. As a writer for a cannabis lifestyle website, brands would send all kinds of products our way, the bulk of which contained high levels of THC. This was back in early 2017 when CBD had just begun taking off and the idea that you would smoke something with less than 20% THC—let alone none at all—sounded absurd. As we examined the cigarette-like filter and packaging, my coworker laughed. “The only thing that's good for is wasting money,” he said.
I was inclined to agree. What's the point of smoking something that doesn't get you high? Why not roll up some dried rose petals or oregano and call it a day? Still, I was curious. So, I took the pack home with me and lit one up on my back porch. I smoked the whole thing and waited. And waited. When I still couldn't feel any noticeable difference in my body or mind twenty minutes later, I assumed my coworker was right. CBD pre-rolls had no place in a stoner's life.
It would be another two weeks before I tried again, this time in the anxiety-charged aftermath of a deeply upsetting phone call. As I puffed away, I could feel a wash of calm gaining momentum, slowing my torrent of dark thoughts down to a trickle by the time the ash reached the filter. I wasn't a ray of sunshine by any means, but I was calm and clear-headed. I realized there might be something to these high-less joints after all.
A word on myths and benefits
If you've tried a CBD product before and didn't feel a damn thing, you're not alone. With so much misinformation out there, it's hard to know what dose you should be taking or if what you bought actually contains any CBD at all. It doesn't help either that the conversation around CBD has vacillated between two extremes: either it's god's pain-relieving, anxiety-crushing, sleep-inducing gift to earth or snake oil designed to fool the unassuming masses.
As with most things that cause such rancorous debate, the truth lies somewhere in the murky middle. In terms of hard scientific evidence, the FDA approved a CBD-rich, cannabis-derived drug after research proved it to be effective at treating severe forms of epilepsy. According to a comprehensive WHO report, CBD could help wean addicts off of opioids, cocaine, and tobacco (albeit much more research is needed).
Very, very early research shows CBD may even assist antibiotics in killing off increasingly resilient bacteria. But before you go stocking up for the apocalypse, know that much more research needs to be conducted before we can understand what dose or frequency is required.
That's the clinical stuff. For our purposes, there's plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest CBD can help alleviate stress and mild aches and pains. In my personal experience, CBD feels most akin to an over-the-counter pain reliever or supplement. When I feel perfectly fine, it does nothing for me, but if I'm in mild pain or discomfort, it can do wonders.
Not that it's all about feeling something. Noticeable psychoactive or physical effects are well and good — that's what most of us have traditionally looked for in a THC experience. But there's something to be said for subtle shifts and adjustments. For instance, I like to consume some CBD along with a second cup of coffee to feel a boost of focus and energy — minus the heart palpitations.
When done right, I tend to notice less what CBD is adding to my experience and more what it's taking away.
Why CBD pre-rolls?
For all the CBD-infused products I've tried and enjoyed, I love CBD pre-rolls the most because they're highly shareable and you cannot mess it up. I can share them with my grandma and THC-fearing girlfriend without fear they'll overdo it and have a bad experience. And unlike edibles, which involve a lot of guessing and waiting around, pre-rolls allow you to self-titrate in real-time.
For more experienced smokers like myself, they can quickly balance out a high that's taken a turn for the jittery. I'm not alone. I can't tell you how many times I've gleefully watched my stoner friends feel the subtle, calming shift and enjoy it despite themselves.
All of that said, you have to do your research to make sure what you're buying is legitimate. Filling your Amazon cart with anything and everything labeled “CBD” is not going to cut it. The simplest way to find reputable products? Visit a licensed dispensary. While requirements do vary state to state, you're far more likely to find lab-tested products in a dispensary than from a random online retailer.
If you don't live in a legal state, one hack is to look for brands that sell CBD pre-rolls in addition to ones with THC. Going through the arduous process of getting licensed to sell THC products is a good indication they've put in the effort to sell reputable CBD products as well.
A few of our pre-roll recommendations
No matter which route you go, hemp CBD and high-CBD pre-rolls offer a gentler, wider path for more people to enter the weed world and experience all the benefits the plant has to offer. Below, check out some of the CBD brands we've come to love.
Alive & Kicking
Alive and Kicking is one brand that sells low-THC, high-CBD pre-rolls in dispensaries in addition to hemp-derived CBD pre-rolls by mail. They come in $26 packs of 14, and the cigarette-like joints are so tiny you could easily smoke one to yourself. I find them adorable and very convenient for a quick smoke break, and even my girlfriend — who is the champion of weed lightweights — loves them.
Available: Nationwide (pre-rolls with THC only sold in California)
I'm a fan of the single CBD pre-roll and lighter kit sold by Her Highness. (Full disclosure: I was recently hired to write their product descriptions and tried just about all of their products in the process.) For $15, you get one extra-long pre-roll and a reusable gold lighter. I would like to see a CBD pre-roll pack from them since I'm not about to buy a new lighter every time I want a pre-roll, but in terms of a gift for your lightweight friends, it's pretty ideal.
East Fork and Friends
Alternatively, if you want the most bang for your buck and don't mind a little elbow grease, East Fork and Friends sells premium craft hemp online for $95 an ounce. That'll leave you with 56 half-gram joints for about $1.60 apiece. Not bad.
If you're still skeptical about boarding the hemp CBD train, may I suggest trying high-CBD pre-rolls? For a balanced mind-body buzz, try Henry's Original. It's a reputable brand with a range of high-CBD pre-rolls that deliver a gentle yet still psychoactive experience.