Yesterday, as I was sharing a pre-roll with a friend, things went sideways. A few tokes in the cone’s paper caught fire along the side and exposed a lengthy, knotty stem that stopped it from burning altogether. Unfortunately, issues like this occur all too often with cone-shaped pre-rolls giving them a lousy reputation. Regardless of their shortcomings, pre-rolls are super-convenient, inexpensive and, more importantly, here to stay. The cannabis pre-roll industry reported more than $1.12B in sales last year alone, making them one of the most popular cannabis products available today.
Beyond convenience, pre-rolls are effortless. As with any cannabis ingestion method, pre-rolls have several unique perks. First off, rolling requires a certain amount of dexterity and patience. If joints are your dominant mode for smoking, you also know that the process to roll your own can be messy. It’s easy to get cannabis everywhere, and there is a lot of waste connected with rolling joints. Besides, no matter how long you’ve been smoking weed, rolling a joint is harder than it looks.
Which brings us to the current state of the cannabis pre-roll market. During the rise of pre-roll popularity, when distributors wanted to create a large volume of cannabis pre-rolls (hundreds a day), it was a manual process requiring dedicated personnel to roll each by hand. Automated cone filling machines and manual knockboxes entered the scene and simplified this process. Pre-roll manufacturers could fill pre-made cones, sometimes dozens at once, to meet increased consumer demands. But, as time went on and cone filled pre-rolls flooded the market, their drawbacks became clear.
So, remember earlier when I mentioned those super convenient pre-rolls also have a reputation? There are a few commonly overlooked variables in cone-filling technology that make it difficult to deliver both terpene-rich cannabis and smokeable pre-rolls. Ideally, a pre-roll should provide the fullest experience of smoking a cannabis strain with the joy of not having to roll a joint yourself. And today, the ingredients inside a pre-roll are the only benchmark for determining its quality, with little emphasis placed on its ability to be smoked.
To address the drawbacks in cone-filling technology, engineer Kyle Loucks developed something completely new. Kyle founded RollPros and designed a machine to tackle the ignition, hitting, and burning issues with machine made pre-rolls. This machine, the Blackbird Rolling System, knows how to roll a joint properly–mimicking those rolled by hand rolled.
“As a consumer, I was so excited to get a pre-roll from a store. But it was awful. The cones were harsh; they canoed or clogged. It was just a terrible experience. Then I looked into it and found they were just filling it from the top, and that’s not how you create a good roll,” says Kyle Loucks, Founder and CEO of RollPros. The traditional “cone-stuffing” method uses a combination of machines and employees to fill pre-made cones. This imprecise method usually incurs an average of 20% flower waste and doesn’t offer a premium user experience. Loucks explains, “I started with trying to design a more efficient way to fill the cones. But I realized there was a fundamental problem; we were fighting physics. That’s when I decided to approach it differently and create a method that would roll like we would by hand.”
The Blackbird is tailored to fit the user’s smoking experience, instead of working around out-dated cone-filling technology that under-delivers. Shouldn’t pre-rolls be a cost-effective way to try new strains, fancy top-shelf options, or simply enjoy a joint without having to roll it yourself? The Blackbird is returning the cannabis pre-roll industry back to its roots, one machine at a time. I have long awaited the day I can go to my corner store and purchase a conveniently pre-rolled joint knowing it will deliver. Because truly, only a few things hit the spot like a long, smooth drag from a joint that stays lit from end to end.