Are Pre-Rolls Better Than Flower?

Published Tue, November 08, 22

You can get your cannabis pre-rolled into joints, or you can buy it “raw” in nug or flower form. While it might be so fundamental a question you’ve never stopped to ask it before, now’s the time to wonder — which is better? 

Ultimately, we think you’ll see that pre-rolls and flower get along much more than they disagree. At the same time, there are considerable differences between these cannabis product categories that should be thoroughly considered. Get to the bottom of the matter in this guide.

What are pre-rolls?

A pre-roll is the same thing as a joint, a term used to refer to “marijuana cigarettes” for nearly a century. The name derives from the fact that your joint is pre-rolled at the dispensary or the manufacturer’s facilities, sparing you the hassle of grinding up bud and rolling a joint yourself.

Plus, “joint” will forever have a connotation with intoxicating forms of cannabis while “pre-roll” more generally refers to any form of cannabis that has been rolled into a smokable “cigarette” form. Being more inclusive, joints are more often called pre-rolls on the internet while they retain their original name within dispensary settings.

What is flower?

Just as “pre-roll” refers to cannabis joints containing a wider range of potential cannabinoids than merely delta 9 THC, “flower” refers to weed that might contain a cannabinoid aside from what you’d expect. These days, hemp flower can contain high concentrations of CBD, CBG, or even CBN, and as efforts to breed rare cannabinoids accelerate, this list will continue to grow.

Even though it might contain any number of new and impressive cannabinoids, cannabis flower looks and smells the same regardless of the cannabinoid profile it contains. It’s also true that CBD or CBG hemp flower is just as tricky and difficult to work with as THC buds — even if raw flower is still what’s demanded by most purists.

Pre-rolls vs. flower

Curious how pre-rolls and flower compare side-by-side? Learn more about the comparative convenience, potency, shareability, pricing, selection, customization, and purity of pre-rolls and flower below:

1. Convenience

It’s a hard and solid fact that pre-rolls are more convenient than flower. In reality, this is one of the main attributes pre-rolls have going for them.

Simply pull it out of the pack, pop it in your mouth, and light it. It’s as easy as smoking a cigarette, and there are no grinders or bowls to fiddle around with. Pre-rolls are easy to take with you wherever you go, and unless anyone gets close enough, it will simply look like you’re smoking a cigarette.

2. Potency

In the category of potency, we’re probably going to have to give the win to flower simply because you can take some seriously massive rips with the right kind of bong. Comparatively, the unfiltered puffs you take when smoking a pre-roll don’t have the capacity to force you onto the couch where you then hack up a lung for three minutes before completely spacing out.

That’s not what many users are looking for in a cannabis experience, though. For low-key, social smokers, the limited potency of pre-rolls might be preferable.

3. Shareability

This category is something of a mixed bag. If you’re on the go or otherwise away from home, pre-rolls are probably more shareable. In your own special cannabis zone, though, you might have amenities like high-end glassware that’s designed to be shared among large groups. To make sure you’re always able to share cannabis whenever you want to, it might be best to invest in a mixture of both pre-rolls and flower.

4. Price

There’s enough of a discrepancy between pre-roll and flower pricing online that Google is beset with questions like “why are pre-rolls so expensive?” Paradoxically, though, questions like “why are pre-rolls cheaper?” are just as common, so let’s break down the factors that might be at play here:

  • Some pre-rolls contain the lower-quality components of the cannabis plant, and they might therefore be offered at lower prices than flower.
  • High-quality pre-rolls, however, contain the same tier of flower as average of even top-shelf nugs, so they might be offered at the same price as flower — or even slightly higher to account for the extra materials and labor that goes into pre-rolls.

Essentially, if you come across pre-rolls that are offered for considerably lower than the average price of flower, they probably aren’t worth your time and could even contain dangerous contaminants. 

5. Product selection

In general, more cannabis flower products are available than pre-rolls, but that isn’t always the case. Some online vendors, for instance, focus exclusively on pre-rolls, but this might be a red flag.

If a cannabis company offers pre-rolls but not flower, what do you have to compare their flower to? How do you know if it’s reasonably priced and comparable in quality to at least medium-tier nugs?

You’re best off finding a reliable, customer-approved cannabis producer that offers both flower and pre-rolls. As you pore over the vast number of cannabis products now available across the country, keep those basic standards in mind.

6. Customization

There’s pretty much only one thing you can do with a pre-roll: Light it, and smoke it. With flower, on the other hand, the sky’s the limit. Options include:

  • Smoking it in pipes, bongs, or bubblers
  • Grinding and rolling it into joints
  • Baking it into edibles
  • Vaping it with a dry herb vape

7. Purity

In the end, there’s nothing more pure than smoking a bowl of flower. Even though it can be organic and derived from hemp, some cannabis smokers still take issue with inhaling the incinerated paper that comes along with the bud contained in joints.

With flower, however, endless ways to smoke — or vape — are at your disposal. Some smokers derive their flames from hemp wicks to avoid even the tiny amount of butane you might inhale while igniting your bowl, and it’s possible to inhale flower without any flame at all (vaping), something you can’t say for pre-rolls.

Summary: Should I buy pre-rolls or flower?

Overall, we would not say that either flower or pre-rolls are superior over each other. CBD flower may offer the wider host of advantages, to be sure, but CBD pre-rolls offer undeniable convenience, a source of value uniquely their own.

Perhaps it’s best to consider CBD pre-rolls and CBD flower not as antithetical but as complementary. CBD flower is there for your everyday, general-use CBD needs while CBD pre-rolls are on-hand for when you’re on the go or those times you simply can’t be bothered to grind another nug or clear another ashed bowl.

Since even the pricing between CBD pre-rolls and flower is practically the same, there’s truly no reason to use one at the exclusion of the other. Rather, incorporate both into your growing hemp stash, and consider even adding buds and joints containing other cannabinoids like CBG and THCA.

Flower vs. pre-rolls FAQ

Deepen your knowledge of the differences between flower and pre-rolls below:

— Is a pre-roll the same as a joint?

Yes, for all meaningful intents and purposes, pre-rolls and joints are the same things. The term “pre-roll,” however, refers to cannabis joints containing a much wider potential array of cannabinoids while “joint” exclusively refers to cannabis pre-rolls containing delta 9 THC.

— Are pre-rolls more expensive than flower?

No, pre-rolls shouldn’t generally be much more expensive than flower, though it’s reasonable to tack on an extra 5-10% over the price of flower to account for the labor and components that go into making pre-rolls. It can actually be a good sign if pre-rolls are slightly more expensive than flower since that might mean they contain higher-quality buds.

— How long will a pre-roll last?

Generally, cannabis pre-rolls are designed to be used in one sitting, though it’s also reasonably common to split a pre-roll into two sessions. Any more than that, however, and you’ll end up wasting a considerable amount of cannabis every time you ash, and your pre-roll will taste terrible once it reaches its end. 

— Are pre-rolls smell-proof?

Pre-rolls are usually shipped or sold in air-tight, aroma-free packaging, but they certainly aren’t smell-proof once you open their packages and take a whiff. Pre-rolls also smell quite pungent when smoked — even if your pre-rolls contain cannabinoids aside from THC, nobody passing by will be able to determine the cannabinoid profile of your cannabis by aroma alone. They’ll just think you’re smoking weed.

— What do I look for when buying pre-rolls?

Pre-rolls should be made from all-hemp components and contain at least 0.5g of cannabis each. Organic hemp cardboard filter tips are preferred, and the bud inside the pre-rolls should have a cannabinoid potency of 15% or higher.

If possible, consult customer reviews before making a purchase, and look for any reviews that mention the texture or flavor of the smoke. Pre-rolls containing low-end flower consistently taste terrible and can even cause throat burn while high-quality cannabis pre-rolls taste excellent, hit smooth, and deliver on their expected effects.

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