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"Joint roller" is actually a job

Rolling 'em up


Pack flower gently into a paper cone, roll, repeat. - DANIEL JITCHAKU
  • Daniel Jitchaku
  • Pack flower gently into a paper cone, roll, repeat.
It’s not an exact science, but a math equation does apply. At a rate of about 40 rolls an hour, Danielle Anderson is responsible for rolling about 6,000 joints in the year and two months she’s worked for Quality Choice dispensary in Colorado Springs.

Once prohibited, the cannabis industry has its share of out-of-the-ordinary job titles. Joint-rolling as a profession is one of them. A joint is basically cannabis flower rolled up in paper, to be smoked like a cigarette. With a status earned long ago in the counterculture, the joint has gone from illegal accessory to a dispensary staple. It’s the
commercialization of a classic.

“It needs to be done,” Anderson said of rolling joints, noting it’s a good way to stay productive during lulls in customer traffic. Plus, she adds, “We have a lot of patients who love joints.”

Anderson, whose official title is budtender, says she spends at least an hour a day rolling joints most days of her 40-hour workweek. Quality Choice, which opened its second location, at 1905 N. Academy Blvd. (the first is at 2398 E. Boulder St.) in November, is one of 138 medical-only cannabis dispensaries in the Springs, according to Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) data from Dec. 1.

With three years of experience as a budtender, in both recreational and medical sales, Anderson says she prefers the latter. Originally from Connecticut, she cultivated cannabis in California for a time before moving to Colorado to join a sibling. She arrived just before the 2012 vote for full cannabis legalization in the state, with recreational sales beginning in 2014.

“I love the medical side; getting to know patients’ problems and helping them. That’s a great feeling,” she says, describing recreational sales as more focused on serving as many customers as possible.

It’s common for big recreational dispensary chains to have a staff member solely dedicated to rolling joints, while smaller shops tend to divvy up the duty among budtenders, Anderson says. When she’s on the task, she can roll about 19 joints, also referred to as pre-rolls, at 1 gram each in half an hour. She prefers hand-rolling to joint-rolling machines, which, in some cases, look like foam boxes with about 30 shafts that hold paper cones to be stuffed and then shaken to settle the flower.
But even when they’re hand-made, the term “rolling” might be considered a misnomer as it applies to joints these days. Many dispensaries get pre-made paper cones then pack them with flower. Asked how she picked up her current technique, Anderson says a patient taught her: Take a bit a flower product, pack it into the paper cone — usually with a pen — to create a solid base. Then add more product and gently pack until done.

“When patients say ‘I liked it!’ I get to say ‘I rolled that,’ and I love that,” Anderson says.

Anderson has noticed that older patients tend to prefer joints, and many can’t roll their own because of arthritis or other ailments. Generally speaking, joints are also a popular choice for a no-brainer, grab-and-go kind of purchase. (Some buyers will later cut them open and gather the loose bud for smoking in some other manner — it can be cheaper by weight than buying straight-up flower.)

“I think it’s because it’s the original way of smoking,” Anderson says. “It’s old school. These days, us kids have so many different ways. It’s overwhelming.”

For her, the strains Tangerine Kush and Black Sugar Rose tend to be the easiest to roll due to a “fluffy” flower structure and “less stems.”

Rolling thousands of joints can be tedious and there’s some stress in back-of-the-house operations — much like in the food service industry — but Anderson says she enjoys her mostly laid-back work.

“I’m getting paid for it,” she says with a smile. “I can’t really complain.”

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