The weird world of creative cannabis rolling

Pokémon, dinosaurs, and fully functioning crossbows: a new selection of smokeable weed art is taking over Instagram

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Tony Greenhand’s smokeable Pikachuvia @tonygreenhand / Instagram

To the uninitiated, rolling a joint can be a challenge. It’s a serious skill – a craft so complex that machines can now actually do the job for you. There are YouTube tutorials, how-to guides, and a 243-page book dedicated to the subject. Even Waka Flocka Flame, a seasoned smoker, is willing to shell out $50,000 a year for his own full-time blunt roller. It is an art form. But what happens when the art goes too far?

Thanks to Instagram, we now have a pretty good idea. Over the last few months, a trend for competitive “creative” joint rolling has smoked out the site; filling it with hundreds of smokeable weed sculptures. There are scorpions, Spidermen, dinosaurs, Eiffel Towers, and Pokémon. One particularly prominent member of the movement, the “professional joint roller” Tony Greenhand, took the skill to the next level with a 4.2-pound creation that was shaped and painted like a watermelon. His hand-made designs now sell for thousands of dollars.

“I was absolutely enthralled that he could roll something so artistic, that could be smoked,” says fledgling creative roller Nick. His Instagram account, @UncleSnoopsBodega, proudly flaunts his handpainted selection of hummingbirds, aeroplanes, and cult cartoon characters – all of which were inspired by Greenhand’s creations.

“I think the cannabis community is still largely enamoured with the criminal history it needs to get away from. So I'll never roll guns or anything I feel is 'too gangster'” – Cody VanGogh

“For me, it’s the functionality of the joint that is most impressive,” he explains. “Not only are his rolls beautiful, but they seem to smoke better than most ordinary joints. I was inspired to give basic creative rolling a try and started by rolling a braided joint, pipe joint/blunt, tulip, and of course a cross joint. My love just grew from there.”

The movement also includes Cody VanGogh; a Canadian roller who once spent 40 hours building a joint shaped like Joan of Arc. His more recent creations include a ornate bridge and groom, as well as an expertly-crafted ‘ship in a bottle’. “I'm always looking to roll things that are whimsical in nature,” he says of his designs. “I think the cannabis community is still largely enamoured with the criminal history it needs to get away from. So I'll never roll guns or anything I feel is 'too gangster'.”

Although not legally able to sell his designs, VanGogh currently works as a “freelance patient caregiver” in Canada; preparing medical marijuana for patients who don't have “the time or ability” to prepare it themselves. “I'm sponsored by Cannabis Emporium; the largest cannabis accessories shop in Ottawa, so I get all my papers for free,” he explains. According to him, many of his creations end up “in public displays and private collections” across the country. “They're quite popular attractions for cannabis businesses and heady glass collectors.”

Another competitive roller, known as ‘thegrasshoppa’, proves to be just as dedicated as VanGogh; spending 40 hours on a joint that doubles up as a fully functional crossbow. “I used to work in the music industry but I've found that creative rolling has become a new niche vehicle in the canna community,” she says. “(There are) custom orders, appearances at events, and opportunities to build canna cigars (cannabis Thai sticks). It's truly wonderful to be able to stay creative and help people feel better.”

The movement is such a big deal that it’s even sparked its own ‘National Joint League’, with aspiring US rollers regularly putting their sculpting skills to the test. “The NJL is a head to head, bracket style, creative rolling competition,” stresses the official website, before highlighting its impressive celebrity following. It name-drops 2Chainz, The Game, and Rihanna (who has apparently been built “custom blunt weaves” by league rollers). 

“The league is such an amazing thing to be a part of,” concludes Nick, fondly. “Everyone is so open and helpful to each other. Our discussions are the greatest thing that you could imagine for a creative roller, sharing tips, techniques, and any thing that may help one another. It is the original rolling competition that has brought some of the greatest people I know into my life.”

“I watched as a fan for a couple seasons before I had the guts to give it a shot,” he adds. “I'm incredibly glad that I did.”

Learn more about creative rolling – or try entering yourself – on the National Joint League website here. You can also follow the latest league results on Instagram here.

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