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Rolling papers explained: History, Application, and Types

Rolling papers have a long and storied history. They originated in Alcoy, Spain back in the 1500s where they were known as cigarette papers, primarily used for tobacco. Today, rolling papers have taken on an entirely new identity as essential tools for any cannabis consumer. Even rolling paper companies themselves have caught on, designing their products with cannabis specifically in mind.

Thanks to cannabis’ ever-growing popularity, the modern herb consumer has nearly unlimited options when it comes to their rolling paper. Not just when it comes to brands either! Today’s consumers can even choose what material they want their rolling paper to be made from.

Here are some of the most popular brands on the market:

  • JOB Gold 1-1/2 size  (100% wood fibers)
  • Zig Zag  (made from wood, pulp, hemp, and flax)
  • Raw (made from flax and hemp fibers)
  • Element  (made from pure rice)
  • OCB (made from flax, bamboo, wood, and hemp)

Here are the rolling paper material options consumers can choose from:

  • Bamboo
  • Cellulose
  • Flax
  • Gold
  • Hemp
  • Rice
  • Tobacco
  • Wood pulp

» Explore 
rolling paper types and alternatives in depth.

Even with all these cannabis-specific rolling papers, some consumers still prefer more traditional tobacco papers. When these are used, the end product is called a blunt. Buyer beware; if tobacco is not for you — you will not enjoy a blunt.

The History of Rolling Papers

Rolling paper’s history goes back hundreds of years. There are many different versions of where rolling papers come from or originated, but most, lead you to a town in Spain called Alcoy. Legend says that Christopher Columbus brought tobacco leaves and cigars to Spain when he returned from the Americas. Cigars were expensive as they were new, and only rich people, known as aristocrats, could afford them. Aristocrats would smoke their cigars and frivolously toss the butt wherever they chose. Poor people would pick these butts up and re-roll the tobacco using old newspapers.

Allegedly, someone saw these poor people using newspapers to roll tobacco and had an ingenious idea. Somewhere in the 1500s, rolling papers were born. The first rolling papers were more of a roll of paper comprised of big sheets that were folded and cut to size. The first rolling paper company, Pay-Pay, established itself in 1703. In 1765, Dominican monk Father Jamie Villanueva Estingo reportedly redefined how rolling papers were distributed, placing them in pre-packed booklets.

Of course, Spain wasn’t the only one entertaining the concept of rolling papers. An old campfire story recounts the tale of a Frenchman, Alexandro Lacroix, trading a soldier champagne for papers in 1532. Alexandro replicated these papers and started making them himself. Nearly 200 years later, a descendant of Alexandro named Francois Lacroix founded the Lacroix Rolling Paper Company. Another hundred years would pass, and this company would go on to become what is known today as the legendary Rizla Rolling Papers.

Unpacking the Popularity of Joints

Joints have grown in popularity over the years. Today, they are a staple of cannabis consumption. Even with the advent of healthier smoking options like vaporizers, many still choose the classic joint.

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Many people start and end their day with a good joint. When you smoke in the morning after waking up, it is referred to as a wake-n-bake. Wake and bakes can be done with bowls and bongs, but for many, a good old-fashioned joint is still the go-to option.

Rolling papers explained: history, application, and types

The art of rolling joints is one that is an acquired talent. Joints can be rolled into all kinds of different shapes. Simply put, if you can imagine it, there’s somebody out there who can roll a joint in its shape. I’ve seen joints rolled into helicopters, scorpions, bowls, and more.

(RAW Rolling Papers show how to use their rolling papers in unconventional ways)

Decades of government anti-cannabis propaganda brainwashed a nation into believing cannabis, or marijuana as they called it, was the devil’s lettuce. Of course, this campaign against cannabis was built on the foundation of racism, sexism, and greed. To protest this, it’s not uncommon to see crowds smoking joints or even crowds smoking a huge joint. At this point, it’s hard to argue that the humble joint hasn’t risen to the status of a powerful political tool.

Could you imagine a world with no joints?

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