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What’s the difference between joints, blunts, and spliffs?

January 7, 2015

The popularity of vaporization has left little time for conversation on the art of rolling. However, this minimalist, easily accessible, tried-and-true consumption method still reigns supreme globally, and combustion aside, the creative potential and skill required to craft a functional roll is celebrated among many cannabis enthusiasts.

If you’re new to cannabis, there are three broad categories by which to delineate rolls (substantiated by withstanding popularity): joints, spliffs, and blunts. Each can be defined by their content (cannabis-tobacco ratio) as well as the paper material (tobacco, hemp, wood pulp, etc.).

Joints vs. blunts vs. spliffs: What’s inside them?

What are the differences between joints vs. blunts vs. spliffs

Joints and blunts only contain cannabis, but blunts are rolled with tobacco paper (distinguishable by their thicker weight and dark brown color) whereas joints are rolled with lighter, partially translucent papers. Joints often include a paper filter known as a crutch, which adds stability to the roll and allows you to enjoy your joint without burning your fingertips.


How to roll a perfect blunt: A step-by-step guide

Spliffs are essentially hybrids, part tobacco and part cannabis. They’re rolled in the same paper spectrum as joints and also often include a crutch.

The three rolls most notably differ by experience. Tobacco provides an initial head rush and energetic physical buzz (similar to coffee), which precedes the effects of cannabis. This sensation is most notable in spliffs because of the loose tobacco presence. Blunts are generally considered to be the heaviest hitters due to the interaction between the tobacco paper and cannabis, contrasting strains with indica effects (or complementing sativa-bent strains).

The paper difference between joints, blunts, and spliffs

Joints, blunts, and spliffs: the paper difference

Paper choice is paramount to your smoking experience, impacting the product’s quantity (which is contingent on paper size), flavor (tobacco papers are notably sweeter than hemp paper), and burn (thicker papers tend to burn slower than thinner papers). Consumers utilize loose papers to roll joints and can use both loose papers and pre-rolls to make spliffs, the latter requiring careful deconstruction to keep the paper intact.


What’s in a Pre-Roll?

The aromatic potency of the paper is pertinent for all rolls, but especially joints. Some consumers think flavorful papers meddle with the complex aromas of cannabis, while others grow loyal to specific brands thanks to their distinct flavor additive (this is common among blunt aficionados, who tend to cherish the sweetness of the tobacco paper).

Consumers also choose papers based on rolling ease and functionality. The best papers don’t tear, seal seamlessly, handle well between your fingers, and burn uniformly. Nothing is a surer sign of a failed roll than a joint that “runs” (i.e. burns lengthwise along one side).

Global preferences to joints, blunts, and spliffs

Global preferences to smoking joints, blunts, and spliffs

The popularity of joints, blunts, and spliffs varies regionally, reflective of cannabis culture across the globe. Spliffs are predominant in Europe, where joints are commonly seen as “wasteful” — however, this has the potential to change as cannabis prevalence and accessibility rises. Consumers in the United States are more inclined to roll joints than spliffs, possibly in part due to the adverse health effects of tobacco effectively broadcasted by the media over the past few decades.


Consider the Spliff

Global differences in terminology are also interesting to note. In Europe, for example, the names are reversed: a joint refers to a roll with cannabis and tobacco, whereas a spliff refers to rolled cannabis exclusively. This is because a “joint” is a combination of two items instead of just one.


How to roll a joint

Finally, it’s important to note that joints, spliffs, and blunts are only the beginning. The landscape is expansive, and even within these three delineations, the room for artistic creation is vast. This can mean multiple connected rolls (like a cross joint), or a simple, pristine cone that showcases your dexterity and precision. What do your rolls look like?

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Kayla Williams

Kayla is a writer with an emphasis in holistic health, bioengineering, and nutrition/dietetics.

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  • KRKPipe

    Couple of points.
    1. The crutch – or roach as it’s called in England, correctly or otherwise, is in no way exclusive to rolls that contain tobacco. It’s to stop you getting a mouthful of whatever you may be smoking and to save you from wasting the end of the joint. And it’s not exclusive to Europe – you can buy packs of pre-cut filters in almost every head shop I’ve been in from Delaware to California.

    2. Joint and Spliff are used interchangeably in Europe – they both mean the same thing and the presence or lack of tobacco has no bearing on the name used (in England, Scotland & Holland anyway, I can’t speak from personal experience for the rest of Europe).

    The main reason tobacco is more commonly used there is the prevalence of hash, at least in the United Kingdom. Because their first experience is so often with hash, the English toker goes on to add tobacco with weed more because it’s what they’re used to than anything else. Once accustomed to this practice it does then seem a little wasteful to smoke a ‘pure joint’ (or pure spliff) but some still do.

    • Marty14

      A joint and a spliff are different. The only reason they may be used interchangeably is the lack of knowledge and degradation of the value of each individual term. There’s a reason things have different names and should not share them. Anyone using the term ‘Spliff’ when they are actually referring to a ‘Joint’ should be corrected, and vice versa.

      • Derek

        Yes, joints are called joints because they are long and thin with a knob some where on it. It gives the finished roll the look that has a “joint” in it. Not sure where “spliff” came from but I have the impression it’s mispronunciation for “split”. I learned to roll a spliff as a way to save on marijuana. You put a bowl on the end and fill the stem of the rollie with tobacco. You smoke the tip and toss the rest, no roach and less waste. The thing I see people confused the most with is a cyclone and a spliff. A cyclone is a nearly perfect cone you use a filter on the end of. A spliff is more like a golf ball on a T.

    • Renee Sherer

      yes but like us in the US aren’t there people that want to stop using tobacco? for me, i’ve used pot to stop smoking no add to it. just saying.

  • Str8up

    Just another way for you fucking idiots to get stoned.

  • Mastertoot

    Joints are called joints because before king size rizlas you’d have to join two papers together to make a joint. I always thought that was pretty obvious.

  • Slan

    Not sure why anyone would want to mix tobacco with good cannabis. Tobacco is poison! Super-thin rolling papers work great, and it’s not hard to perfect the rolling technique. I’ve lived in Europe, where hash was plentiful, but you just use small pipes or chillums, not mix in tobacco. The lazy way was to just pull out some tobacco from a cigarette, stuff in some hash, & cap with a bit of the tobacco. If you can’t handle rolling joints, vape. Tobacco KILLS!

  • Kinnery Chaparrel

    speaking of differences in terminology… what you call a “run”, we call “canoeing”. maybe it’s because i’m from canada? also i’ve heard “spliff” and “joint” used pretty interchangeably here. but most of our english is a weird hybrid of american and british so i guess it makes sense haha

    • I take it a ‘run’ is when it burns up the side of the spliff/joint? We call that an ‘Elvis’ (Sideburn) 😀

      • Kinnery Chaparrel

        haha for us it’s a canoe because that’s the shape it becomes (i think lol)

  • Derek

    Sadly in Europe joints and “spliffs” contain tobacco. There is no tradition here of smoking pure cannabis. Some of us are trying to change that #tokepure

  • You should note that the terminology differs worldwide. I’v been smoking cannabis for more than 20 years in the UK and the terms ‘blunt’, ‘spliff’, and ‘joint’ are interchangeable and refer to anything that resembles a cigarette and can be smoked.

    • Ole Sørensen

      You’re right. But these differences in language usually stem from errors, such as people misinterpreting what someone said, jumping to an assumption or otherwise whimsical talk. For instance, in Norway, someone heard the word keef and took that to mean hash, whilst it’s true meaning is canna-powder, such as that found in the bottom chamber in grinders. Nowadays with the interwebs and all, we have sites such as Leafly to rectify our sloppy use of expressions meant to be quite specific.

  • Vikingskipper

    Degenerates, all. Get high on life!

    • Steven Casey

      then why the hell are you on this site?

      • Vikingskipper

        Smoking pot is bad for the lungs. Also gives you the silly giggles.

        • Steven Casey

          not true. Research has shown increased lung capacity from smoking pot…the opposite from tobacco…granted, it isn’t all that extensive of research

          • Vikingskipper

            Make that brain, not lungs, per NIH:

            Marijuana also affects brain development. When people begin using marijuana as teenagers, the drug may impair thinking, memory, and learning functions and affect how the brain builds connections between the areas necessary for these functions. Researchers are still studying how long marijuana’s effects last and whether some changes may be permanent.

            For example, a study from New Zealand conducted in part by researchers at Duke University showed that people who started smoking marijuana heavily in their teens and had an ongoing marijuana use disorder lost an average of 8 IQ points between ages 13 and 38. The lost mental abilities didn’t fully return in those who quit marijuana as adults. Those who started smoking marijuana as adults didn’t show notable IQ declines.5

          • Steven Casey

            that may be um, somewhat correct, but I hold suspect the depth of their research. While it may show that mental faculties may be affected, especially in those younger, I do not think it is anywhere near the cognitive disruption caused by other means such as chemo and radiation. And having had both, the chemo and radiation caused way more cognitive disruption than pot ever did. Granted, I started when I was 17, and am now 62. I also was never a chronic user, but was a frequent user. Again, the most drastic issues I’ve faced were from chemo and radiation for cancer.

          • Vikingskipper

            The best of luck to you.

    • Micah Da Not Pro

      Why are u even on here then

  • Aaron Maharaj

    In Trinidad and Tobago(in the caribbean) we roll the joint onto a cigarette. We call this a ‘roll on’. All the weed smoke is filtered through the cigarette and after the joint is done you have a nice weed flavoured cigarette that intensifies the high.

  • Ike Carumba

    Tobacco in a joint is a crime! Bleccch! Quality cannabis is about flavor. Tobacco does not taste good and it’s physically addictive (and who wants to be a tobacco junkie?). Only foolish Canadians and Europeans mix tobacco with their herb.

    By the way hemp rolling papers don’t taste any different than regular papers (sweet paper?). I like Raw brand unrefined hemp papers, 1-1/4 size. The best I have tried. Flavored rolling papers are for kiddies or those who can’t get flavorful herb.

    A spliff is a Jamaican style joint, rolled like a cone, no tobacco.

  • Jeff Hudson

    I do not like to point out the obvious that many are either forgetting or just flat out do not know but tobacco is addictive. I smoked tobacco for many years, quit a few different times only to restart and finally quit about 20 years ago. I want all readers of my comment to understand my position unequivocally that I will not knowingly consume tobacco ever again. I highly recommend the same for any reader.

  • Brian Dahlen

    I would never mix the two together… to me mixing tobacco in with weed would kill the sweet taste of the weed…. but this is not saying I didn’t use tobacco at the same time, I would always smoke a cigarette afterwards thereby giving me a nice chilled overall buzz…