Despite the fact that competitive joint roller Dawn Doan’s Wall-E blunt contains an ounce of weed and is fully smokeable, she has a problem. She can't find anyone to smoke him with her.
“I keep taking Wall-E to festivals and people refuse to smoke him!” Doan tells me. “Once they see him they’re like, ‘Oh my goodness, this is art!’ But I can’t smoke him by myself—it’s an ounce.”
Doan’s is a competitive joint roller, and she’s one-of-a-kind. As the only woman in the National Joint League, Doan’s complicated works of smokeable art redefine what it means to be a creative pothead. Like many artists, Doan credits a formative encounter with a creative auteur—in her case, rolling legend Tony Greenhand—for sparking her interest in the field.
“I saw that Tony Greenhand had made a Spider-Man and was blown away,” Doan tells me. “I was like, wow, this exists? Literally, from that point I thought, I can do anything. Why am I sticking to these basic shapes?”
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After much trial and error, Doan summited her personal Everest: the first completely square paper joint. “That was when things just went insane,” Doan recalls. “The National Joint League introduced themselves to me, and things just went crazy."
The National Joint League is like the Ivy League of stoners, only cooler—think joints rolled with the technical expertise of an elite Mossad operative, and the panache of Dapper Dan, if Dan was a pothead. Like the Bilderberg Group, you can’t apply to be a member: only the best rollers get invited to join. “It’s a nice family to be a part of,” Doan says modestly. “The guys have been so supportive.”
Much like being a pothead—which requires a level of commitment I personally have never been able to manage, despite my best efforts—competitive joint rolling is a complex, demanding discipline. There are two mains way to roll: freehand, using paper to conjure shapes out of thin air, and a figurine-based approach, where you construct a joint around papier-mâché shapes. Doan began as a freehand roller, but has lately moved into figurine work.
“People are always amazed it takes so long,” Doan tells me, telling me that the drum kit she rolled freehand took 25 hours, and Wall-E, 30. Lately, Doan’s started taking on paid-for commissions, which she prices at between $30 and $50 per hour of rolling.
Unsurprisingly, 4/20 is her busiest time of year, and as we speak she’s working on a pineapple shaped-joint with a marijuana-leaf top, which she’ll ship—unfilled—for a New York customer to fill on their own. (Joints shipped in California, where weed is legal and Doan is based, are filled with her preferred strains of Gelato or Sunset Sherbet.)
Buoyed by the success of cannabis industry, which in 2018 is projected to hit $3.7 billion in her home state alone, Monterey-based Doan is also expanding into a mail-order collection of creative joints you can roll yourself.
Business ventures aside, Doan’s creative aspirations are higher than a teenage pothead smoking White Russian for the first time. As a huge Lady Gaga fan, Doan says she wants to roll an entire band to send to the singer. “I really want to get a trumpet at least into her hands,” she tells me. “Ideally a few different instruments, too.”
“I’ll be honest, I tried to do the Kung Fu Panda character freehand, but I literally gave up and trashed it,” she admits. “It never saw light.”
Doan, a perfectionist, prides herself on her clean and detailed work—but the smokeable panda wasn’t aesthetically to her liking. “It was too cartoonish,” she complains. “I tore it up. Kung Fu Panda is no longer in existence.”
And Wall-E? Doan’s hopeful that she’ll find some takers for the Pixar favorite on her next night out. “Hopefully I’ll take him to the next festival and find a crowd around me who have the balls to smoke him with me,” she tells me.
If you’re in a park in Monterey, California and see an enormous Wall-E being passed around—don’t trip. Dive right in.