An Ode to the Simple Joint, Still the Best Way to Get High
We are entering the Golden Age of Pot, and as much as we love vaporizers, poppers, and bongs that look like alien weapons, the joint remains the best way to consume marijuana.
Fellow and future potheads,
We are at the beginning of a golden age. Weed has never been more accepted, available, and accommodating. There are currently a variety of ways to acquire and consume marijuana. Worried about the health effects of smoke? Try a vaporizer or a vape pen. Want to get annihilated in a way that would make David Crosby wish he had never picked up a guitar? Try a dab or whatever this guy is up to.
The future is now, ganja enthusiasts. That's why I wish to take a moment, before these halcyon days become permanent, to make a case for the joint as the best way to imbibe the sweet, sweet green.
The joint is the family station wagon of weed-smoking methods. A nostalgia object, on borrowed time, waiting to be replaced by more efficient, more expensive ways to smoke weed. It's a waste of weed, it doesn't get you high enough, it's unhealthy—these are the common complaints against joints. Yet these are also some of the reasons why I love the joint.
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The appeal begins in the creation of the joint. There is a ritual, a skill at play. You have to take time and care with a joint. You have to know how much the paper can handle, when the weed is evenly distributed, and when it's ready to be flipped over and rolled. The final motion, licking the sticky strip and twisting the joint, is a craft that rewards patience and dexterity. A joint encourages you to take a moment to get it right. Its very nature requires you to step out of the demands of the day—what's happening on your social media, that report due tomorrow, dinner with your significant other's parents—and, for a moment, focus on your hands, your mouth, and your drugs.
Disclaimer: As my friends can attest, I suck at rolling joints. No matter how many tutorials I watch on YouTube, my joints always come out spindly and weird looking, like an old miser in a Dickens novel. It's possible that this inability has led me to fetishize Js.
Compare this to a pipe: Whether it's a $5 special obtained from a disapproving convenience store clerk or a $90 piece that looks like it was made by a glass blowing student under the influence of psychedelic mushrooms and fantasy novels, there's no process or technique to using them. Stuff bowl, smoke all stuff in bowl, repeat. Then watch as what once was a clean looking object becomes filled with brown resin that seemingly represents all your unfulfilled ambitions.
Then there are bongs, the pick-up truck-owning big brother to pipes. My problem with bongs is they reflect a bullying, domineering aspect of pot culture. An immaturity that still clings to marijuana, a reminder of the high school parking lot roots of getting high. The goal is to get as fucked up as possible and, more importantly, to be able to handle getting that fucked up. Bongs represent getting high as something the cool kids do—it's weed as an exclusive club. I don't think weed should be scary, it should be welcoming for anyone to try, but it can be hard to convince someone to smoke weed when you are smoking out of a device that looks likes it should be used for killing aliens.
Joints are more transportable than bongs, more subtle than pipes, and more welcoming than both. A joint is an invitation to a community. It's for sharing. They can appear anywhere they are needed: Sitting at the beach or in a field watching a band, suddenly a joint is produced from the backpack or purse of some highly-appreciated soul. That magical moment is a lot harder to imagine with someone pulling out an eight-chambered bong during dusk at a music festival.
It's this generosity that I feel is the key value of marijuana, the leftover hippie vibe that gets rolled into every doobie. That's why vaporizers and vape pens miss the point of weed with their efficient vaporizing. Weed is a rare part of our culture that works by the values of the potluck. Weed should be about an overzealous generosity, a sharing that leaves your shelves and stocks bare and empty. I am comfortable sharing all my weed because I know it will return tenfold. Weed is always a waste—you're wasting time, wasting thoughts. That's the whole damn point. Vaporizing devices are the opposite of that. They highlight their efficiency, bragging about how far they can make your weed stretch as if it were a $10 bill.
And in regard to the argument that vaporizers offer a healthier, cleaner high, that's only true if you don't take into consideration the drop off in vitamin D that occurs when you become a vaporizing shut-in. Everyone I know with a high-end tabletop vaporizer ends up orbiting that thing permanently, leaving it only on rare food excursions.
Weed is going to become legal in our lifetime, and when that happens the floodgates will be wide open. Weed gadgets and new strains—our wildest pothead dreams are going to be realized and also capitalized. But before marijuana becomes a productive member of society, ready to buy a condo and pay its taxes, I'd like to remember what drew me to it in the first place. The idea that there can be alternatives to the values continually shoved into our faces, that it's important to take time to pause and reflect, that introspection and friendship are their own rewards and that ownership is far less important than generosity. That's why I ask that we not leave joints behind, fellow enthusiasts, lest we forget what made this stuff great in the first place.
Unless it's this joint. We can probably leave that one behind.
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