It’s 7:00 a.m., and Tony Greenhand is rolling the biggest joint you’ve ever seen. He hasn’t cooked breakfast, gone for a run, or read the news — he may or may not have even changed out of pajamas.
He’s surrounded by about an eighth’s-worth of cannabis crumbs, a mishmash of rolling tools, and an ashtray full of roaches. Another burning joint hangs from his mouth. It’s not his first of the day, and it’s far from his last. He’ll continue smoking and rolling, with manic energy and few to no breaks, until he goes to bed again tonight. In the space of a few years, he’s become the greatest joint roller in the world.
A confluence of forces both within and beyond his control — from Greenhand’s Herculean work ethic to the mainstreaming of cannabis as a lifestyle commodity — have catapulted him to a level of cannabis celebrity that, not so long ago, would have been impossible. Today, he’s made the nascent world of legal cannabis his playground. Greenhand has reached a point where he can — and will — roll just about anything, whether it’s his grandma fighting a tiger or a macaroni noodle riding a hot dog. “I want a million people to smoke these,” he says, looking up from the two-and-a-half-ounce joint sculpture he’s currently shaping, of Mike Tyson eating a smokable avocado with a smokable spoon. “I want everybody to smoke Mike Tyson.”
A Pro Roller’s Daily Grind
With a name known throughout the industry and a celeb-strewn clientele including the likes of Tommy Chong, B.o.B., and The Flatbush Zombies, you might anticipate finding Greenhand in an LA penthouse, puffing on gold-wrapped blunts and living the 20-something stoner dream. Instead, I tracked him down living unassumingly with his girlfriend Courtney, an array of chickens (Blue Andalusian, Speckled Sussex, Crested Polish, Silver Laced Wyandotte), and two pitbull mixes in a fixer-upper tucked away down a side street in the small town of Albany, OR. He welcomes visitors to his home with an openness and joie de vivre that’s contagious from the moment you walk in. Easy to talk to, joke with, smoke with: he’s the cool stoner-artist friend we all wish we had.
On average, Greenhand consumes 20 joints (1.5g with 0.3g concentrate), five blunts (3–9g each), countless dabs, and six cups of coffee every day.
Greenhand alternates between joints, blunts, dabs, and coffee from dawn to dusk. If friends stop by, he’ll likely smoke more. His energy is boundless and yet at the same time he’s the chillest guy in the room. Tony Greenhand is not his real name (he likes to keep that to himself). His favorite strain is God’s Gift. His favorite munchies are salt and vinegar chips. (Also Cheez-It Grooves. Also Kazoozles. Also Atkins diet lemon bars.) He attends myriad cannabis cups and industry events. When he’s in nearby Portland, he frequents the dab bar at Northwest Cannabis Club. When he’s not rolling a joint, “I’m normally smoking a joint. If I’m not smoking a joint, I’m probably looking for some weed to roll into a joint.” He also hikes, plays with his dogs, plays Call of Duty (find him as xTonyGreenhandx), and works on remodeling his house (having recently finished the bathroom, the kitchen — its walls currently torn out — is next).
After Greenhand dropped out of high school, he was told by many that he wouldn’t amount to much. It hasn’t taken him long to prove them wrong. Even Greenhand himself is in disbelief over what he does for a living. At 27, meetings with major talent agencies, filming his process for a reality show, and dealing in his unique art pieces worth thousands of dollars are all his norm — he even has an apprentice. “I never really wanted to do it professionally,” he says of creative rolling. “People just wanted me to do it … [and suddenly] this is a job.” When prompted to state his occupation for a video clip we’re filming, it’s clear he hasn’t given it much thought.
“I don’t know how I would describe who I am…I mean, I’m Tony Greenhand, and I roll joints. I’m a joint specialist? I roll joints for a living. I dunno.” He takes a breath and tries again. “My name’s Tony Greenhand, and I’m a joint specialist slash joint roller slash cannabis breeder slash cannabis entrepreneur slash—” he stops abruptly and holds up the joint he’s smoking to two off-screen companions, “—does anybody wanna hit this?”
● ● ●interview in which Greenhand expressed his desire to roll one thanks to mishearing a friend’s request. “It’s meditative to wake up and start something that requires so much of my attention,” he says. He’s had to put a limit on how late he works, because he also used to wake up in the middle of the night to continue projects. Yet he doesn’t worry too much about the tally of hours (thousands) that he’s spent rolling, “because I can look at what I’ve done with it and I can be like, ‘Yeah. I’m proud of it.’”
“I love making people’s days with joints. Any joint! It doesn’t have to be Mike Tyson ... Some people don’t have dexterity in their hands to be able to roll; it just makes sense to share what you’re good at, right?”
This is representative of Greenhand’s day-to-day: he’s less concerned about the nitty-gritty of making his profession professional, and more interested in honing and sharing his talent. In the beginning, he refused all monetary compensation, only trading joints for flower and other things he needed when recipients insisted. The thought of turning down a request was unthinkable, which is how he got so good. “Everybody I knew was growers, they all had a bunch of weed lying around. They all wanted something cool. And like, they’re my friends. Of course I’m gonna [roll them a joint],” says Greenhand. For him, rolling is a matter of principle — it mirrors the principle of sharing your stash that has long been a signature element of underground cannabis culture.
This inclination, coupled with the power of social media (he has a quarter million followers on Instagram alone) and prodigious creativity (which he attributes to cannabis, confidence, and the internet) have been the primary factors driving his rise to the top of the creative rolling world. There are, of course, pressures that come with being so visible: he’s swarmed with close to 1,000 messages a day, and even gave up biting his fingernails thanks to comments on his photos. But he also interacts with as many fans as possible, drawing a bulk of his inspiration from follower suggestions and other artists’ posts — and he relishes that give and take.
How Greenhand Does It: The Mechanics of the World’s Greatest Joints
Greenhand didn’t start out with a natural knack for rolling. “The first time I tried to roll a joint I had seen all my friends rolling joints before and was like, ‘Seems right up my alley, I could totally do that,’” he recalls. “I thought it was much easier than it was. I ended up struggling for like 30 minutes … It was unsmokable. And everybody was like, ‘We’re not gonna let you roll again.’”
But Greenhand didn’t give them a choice. “I took that as, ‘I should try harder,’ so I bought an ounce for myself, I rolled over a weekend, figured out how to do it,” he says. “Ever since then I’ve been the guy that rolls the joints.” Growing up, Greenhand had whittled, worked with clay, and dabbled in other artistic media. He enjoyed this newfound pursuit even more. About a year after he started rolling, he found out about creative rolling and dove in headfirst.Back then, “creative rolling” meant rolling a big joint out of three papers, or rolling a cone shape, or maybeweaving blunt papers together for visual appeal. No one was making joints shaped like planes, trains, or automobiles. “None of that existed,” Greenhand recalls, “so when it came down to it, I just wanted to make it exist … to apply what I already knew about sculpting to joints.”
Basic joint engineering allows joints of any shape to smoke properly — the trick is to use a slim rod or skewer to maintain an opening within the joint, which when removed allows air, and smoke, to pass through unhindered. This opens up any design and shape as a possibility for creative rolling.
Greenhand’s toolkit for shaping his joints is simple:
- an X-Acto knife;
- hair-cutting scissors;
- slim skewers or sticks, sharpened to make indentations or inserted to maintain airflow within the joint;
- grinder or food processor;
- rolling papers (Greenhand prefers OCB);
- cigar glue (potato starch mixed with water);
- natural dyes;
- cutting surface.
He contends that with enough practice, anyone can do what he does. His advice to new rollers? Have steady hands. Practice. And use the cigar glue.
Once a core shape is created, it’s the details that take a joint from good to great. Details Greenhand incorporates are a curious mix of realistic and ridiculous: the smokable avocado Tyson is preparing to chow down on, for instance, is almost the size of Tyson himself, yet Greenhand did careful research to ensure that the ties on Tyson’s boxing gloves are interlaced exactly as they would be in real life.
While we’re visiting, Greenhand is working on Tyson’s tattoos and crotch, chuckling as he browses Google Images results for ‘Mike Tyson’s bulge’ (“my search history is ridiculous”). “Instead of the Che Guevara tattoo [on Tyson’s side], I could just have Che’s head popping out of his body, eating another avocado!” he suggests — or, referencing a 2014 photograph of Kim Kardashian, “I could add a champagne bottle and have it arcing over his shoulder into the spoon and splashing on the avocado! That’d be sick!” He also considers putting Tyson on (working, smokable) roller skates; adding a bubble butt; or taking all his teeth out.
These manifestations of Greenhand’s imagination are just the tip of the iceburg. He counts a robot devil, Harambe the gorilla, Tommy Chong, a T-rex, Pikachu, a kraken, a deep-dish pizzafish, and a world record-breaking 4.2-pound watermelon among his recent masterpieces. Next up, Greenhand will roll an E.T. New concepts from the day we spent with him included a robotic joint and a drone joint that flies in when you want to take a hit. “The possibilities are endless, as long as I believe they’re endless,” he says. “If you have dreams and you don’t think you can roll it, tell me. We’ll make your dreams come true! This is something that I’d love to smoke with everybody, too. Like maybe you tell me, and I end up smoking it in your backyard … there’s no shame in even trying it yourself. You may have a good idea that you could execute, you just need to practice.”
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An Inspiration for the Industry
As legal and illegal cannabis crash together in a tectonic shift of historical significance, Greenhand is enigmatic for many reasons. Most significantly, it’s because he exists at the apex of the industry as it changes. His creativity and views on cannabis were shaped by elements of underground stoner culture prior to legalization; now that the dominoes of recreational cannabis have started to fall, he’s shaping the future of the industry and the possibilities within it.
For one thing, he’s proving that being a dropout cannabis consumer doesn’t mean being a deadbeat — rather, he’s decidedly well-informed, well-spoken, and well-connected. He’s a medical cannabis patient, and not only does he roll, he also grows, breeds, sells seeds, and more. He understands the politics of cannabis and worries about their relation to the wider US political climate. He’s deeply concerned about how legalization is implemented, from taxes and testing to med and rec regulations. He believes that if done properly, cannabis could be the number one cash crop in America.
“I love weed,” he says. “It’s a really multifaceted industry. It keeps you on your toes. Laws are always changing. It’s semi-dangerous because of that. It’s nice, to have something that’s always evolving.” Case in point: his unique career makes him the first of a new kind of cannabis professional — the joint artist. Given the number of individuals he’s inspired to follow in his lead, he won’t be the only one for long. Since he began rolling, a National Joint League for competitive rolling tournaments has even been born, catalyzed in part by Greenhand himself.
For now, Greenhand knows he’s uniquely positioned to shape an industry he cares deeply about, and is happy pushing the movement forward in every way he can dream up. But that may not always be his mission. “I feel as though I could do whatever I want,” he says. “I probably, if I wanted to, could go discover animals in the Amazon. Or I could learn how to be a lawyer. Read up on that and go back to school.” In short, Greenhand doesn’t feel restricted by having made cannabis his only career choice up until now — and that’s a very new thing for the industry.
If believing in himself and putting in the hours can turn a subpar joint roller into the world’s best, Greenhand is proof that at this point in history, anything is possible in the cannabis industry — and beyond. “I hope everybody takes that away from this,” Greenhand says before we go, “that if you wanna do something, do it. Nothing’s stopping you. You can go out and do it … you just have to believe. Like joints, I hope I roll joints for people until I die. Do I think that I’ll do just this until I die? I doubt it. I’ll do whatever I want.”
Images: David Alvarado for Leafly.