PUFF I just had a friend tell me that her new goal for this year is to learn how to roll a joint before she turns 40. This quickly hit a sore spot. I, too, had made a dream of learning how to roll a perfect joint many years ago, and here I was way post-40 and still trying to master the art of the roll.

Now my style of rolling a doobie is the Dollar Bill Method. I grind up my weed. (I tear cannabis for bongs and pipes and grind for joints.) I get my rolling paper (orange Zig-Zags if I have my way), and I fold a trough at the bottom, opposite from where the glue is. I then roll my paper along the trough up and down to loosen the paper and make it want to roll up.

I get a used dollar bill—new ones are too stiff and very old, used ones can be too soft. I crease the dollar bill in half and place the rolling paper on the bill with the folded edge of the trough along the crease in the middle of my dollar bill. I carefully sprinkle the weed along the trough.

I pick up the bill carefully and start rolling my fingers along the bottom edge slightly condensing the weed into its final shape. Then I press and roll up with my thumbs and if I am lucky and the paper wants to roll, and it just rolls right up and out pops a joint. Voila!

Sounds good but it can easily lead to a too-tight doobie which is difficult to smoke. Sometimes the paper is being a pain and won’t roll but goes straight up leaving me with a trough of weed with no paper rolling around it. It just won’t catch. 

If I try and roll without a dollar bill, I usually get a torn paper or a joint that rattles like a maraca when I shake it, and everyone is sad. The few times I used a rolling machine, they came out too tight.

Now if you are hanging with Big Stoners, you will want to impress them with your joint rolling skills which is great if it goes well but embarrassing if it turns into a mess.

One of the greatest joint-rollers I ever came across was a production manager named Bruce, who hired me to work on a dinosaur documentary that a Canadian crew was shooting in the Dallas Metroplex. It was a small crew, and we all got along well—so well they hired me to help with the rest of their shoot. 

One day after a hard night of drinking, we had to shoot an interview with a scientist in Glen Rose, TX which is below and just west of Ft Worth. So there we were, hungover, driving through Dinosaur Valley State Park which looked like the middle of nowhere. The heat was beating down on us. In order to get to this guy’s compound, we had to go off-road on extremely bumpy terrain. 

I’m driving a big van with Bruce by my side. I watched as he casually pulled out a paper, dribbled weed into it and just rolled it into this perfect joint sphere. The van was knocking us all over the place and he never stopped talking while performing this amazing feat.

We toked in that bumpy van. The joint was delish, but I got way too high. When we finally get to this scientist’s compound, I had to babysit an emu, which is like a silvery cousin to an ostrich. It was taller than me and took a shine to my belt buckle and kept on trying to peck at me.

It was a very surreal experience. 

To this day, I think of Bruce rolling that joint with such ease in those extreme circumstances. A Zen stoner master. The Art of the Roll is something few can master and the rest of us spend a lifetime trying to achieve.

I really respect those who piece together several rolling papers and roll a mega Cheech and Chong joint. Now that’s talent!

Of course these days I can cheat and just buy an awesome pre-roll at a dispensary, but sometimes I still hear the call of the wild, and I will get out that grinder and papers to roll my own. When it does go well and you lick that adhesive edge to seal your smokable art, you are a truly a master of your stoner domain. 

It’s part of our cannabis history.

Please share with me in the comments section below any tricks of the trade you use to roll a doobie. I hope I learn lots of new things. 

Best of luck to my friend Veronica. Girl, I hope you are rolling killer joints as 40 comes a knocking.

Now it’s time to light up a hand-rolled spliff!

Dan Karkoska is an independent producer, promoter, film critic, and DJ on the San Francisco scene. He also works with Maria Konner at Under the Golden Gate and is currently producing and hosting PUFF, the first queer marijuana rock-and-roll drag party every first Thursday at The Stud. He is a big stoner. Photo by Sari Staver.