Do Pre-Rolls Have Filters?

Published November 08, 2022

Do Pre-Rolls Have Filters?

Pre-rolls are undeniably convenient, but they can take a little getting used to for new users. It’s clear from a glance that pre-rolls aren’t cigarettes, but there’s enough of a resemblance that you’d be forgiven for mixing the two up.

Upon closer inspection, it’s plain to see that the filter-like object at the butt-end of your pre-roll isn’t a filter at all, but a rolled-up piece of cardboard. Does this part of your pre-roll serve the same purpose as a filter, or does the lack of a filter on your pre-roll mean there’s something wrong with it? Find the answers in this guide.

What are pre-rolls?

The term “pre-roll” most commonly refers to a pre-rolled cannabis joint. The type of cannabis contained inside pre-rolls varies — the types of pre-rolls you can buy at an adult-use cannabis dispensary usually contain high concentrations of THC, but pre-rolls bought online may contain CBD, CBG, or CBN instead.

Offering all the benefits of joints but imposing none of the elbow grease or mess, pre-rolls are understandably popular among cannabis users of all demographics and experience levels. There are big differences between cannabis pre-rolls, though, aside from the cannabinoids they contain.

What do pre-rolls do?

Pre-rolls make it easy and convenient to smoke a joint whenever you want. There’s no need to find a grinder and fiddle around with a rolling machine — just pull your pre-roll out of its package, and light up.

The effects your pre-roll will provide once smoked depend on the cannabinoids it contains, but pre-rolls usually kick in instantly and offer effects that last 45-90 minutes. Pre-rolls should come with packages that make it easy to stash a half-used joint without drawing any attention to its aroma.

What do pre-rolls contain?

Pre-rolls shouldn’t contain anything aside from ground-up, trimmed cannabis buds. When filled with shake or trim, pre-rolls don’t taste good, and they aren’t as potent. The bud in pre-rolls should be properly dried and cured before it is ground up, and it should be taken from the upper branches of the plant — no popcorn buds.

Perhaps most importantly, all the ingredients contained in pre-rolls should be 100% organic. Agricultural contaminants can seep into even organic cannabis buds, though, so the nugs in your pre-rolls should be indoor-grown as well as organic.

Anatomy of a pre-roll

What, exactly, does a pre-roll contain? Find out below:

— Bud

First and foremost, your pre-roll should contain sticky, icky cannabis buds. The buds inside should be slightly moist and very sticky, and they should smell like weed, not leaves. Open the end of your pre-roll and take out a small amount of cannabis to ascertain its quality.

— Paper

For a pre-roll to be a pre-roll, ground-up cannabis bud must be contained inside a paper of some kind. Over time, the cannabis community has reached a general consensus that hemp paper is the ideal material for rolling pre-rolls since it’s naturally very light and keeps things in the cannabis family. Raw, organic hemp papers are the best.

— Filter tips

Finally, we get to the component in question: The filter tip. Turn your pre-roll on its end, and look inside. That squiggly line with a circle around it is the filter tip, and while it doesn’t necessarily “filter” anything, it is certainly a “tip.” We’ll learn more about what pre-roll filter tips are and do below.

What are filters in pre-rolls for?

In cannabis pre-rolls, filter tips are primarily there to provide you with something to hold onto with your fingers, avoid wasting cannabis, and keep “scooby snacks” from flying into your mouth. As you can see, filtering the smoke going into your lungs isn’t one of the purposes we listed.

That’s because filtering cannabis smoke would serve a different purpose than filtering cigarette smoke. With tobacco cigarettes, fiberglass filters prevent much of the tar and incinerated material from passing into your lungs, but they allow nicotine to flow through much more freely.

As comparatively large lipid molecules, however, cannabinoids get stuck in fiberglass filters, reducing the potency of the smoke you inhale in a way that does not occur with tobacco cigarettes. Also, while the overall safety of smoking cannabis remains unknown, it’s a fact that natural cannabis does not contain the killer cocktail of chemicals artificially added to tobacco cigarettes, and cannabis buds themselves seem to be much milder on your lungs than tobacco leaves.

So, it’s not really necessary to filter cannabis smoke, and doing so could diminish your high. You still need something at the end of your joint to hold, however, which is where pre-roll filter tips come in. To summarize, the three primary reasons pre-rolls have filters are:

  • It’s hard to hold the end of a pre-roll without them,
  • Ground-up cannabis would enter your mouth when you inhaled otherwise,
  • And you would end up wasting the cannabis filling the end of the joint.

The bottom line: Do pre-rolls have filters?

Yes, cannabis and hemp pre-rolls have filters, and it’s a good thing they do. Without them, you wouldn’t have anything to hold onto while smoking your joint, you’d end up with a considerable amount of wasted, unsmokable cannabis, and your smoking experience would be plagued with tiny bits of acrid cannabis entering your mouth — blech.

At this stage in the evolution of the cannabis industry, if your pre-roll doesn’t have a filter tip, you should be concerned about its quality. The same can’t be said for blunts, however, for which filter tips are still optional — and sometimes even frowned-upon by purists.

Pre-roll filter FAQ

Ready to learn more about pre-rolls and their filters? Dive into the FAQ section below for answers to tangential questions:

1. What are joint filters called?

Generally, the filters at the end of joints or pre-rolls are called “filter tips,” but there are lots of other names for them as well, including:

  • Crutches
  • Mouthpieces
  • Filters
  • Roaches
  • Etc.

2. Are pre-roll filters the same as cigarette filters?

No, the filter tips in cannabis pre-rolls are very different from the conventional filters found in tobacco cigarettes. While cigarette filters are made from fiberglass (or, at one time, asbestos), joint filters are made from cardboard — in the case of one major brand, unbleached cardboard made from organic hemp paper.

Furthermore, the purpose of a pre-roll filter tip is different from that of cigarette filters. In the case of the cigarette filter, the function is to protect the consumer from the harmful components in cigarettes. In the case of joint filter tips, however, the primary functions are to provide users with a way to hold joints and keep weed from getting in their mouths. 

3. Is it okay to throw pre-roll filters on the ground?

Since fiberglass takes a long time to properly biodegrade, you should never discard used tobacco cigarette filters on the ground. In almost every case, though, pre-roll filters are simply made from hemp cardboard, making them much less harmful if littered. You should never litter, but cardboard pre-roll filter tips will biodegrade in a matter of days or weeks at most while fiberglass from cigarette filters stays in the environment indefinitely.

4. Why do people put filters on joints?

Cardboard filter tips are placed on the end of joints to make them easier to hold, prevent cannabis chunks from entering your mouth, and make it as easy as possible for you to use as much of the cannabis in the joint as you can. It’s unusual to put any types of filters on joints aside from cardboard filter tips, though.

5. Do you need a filter when you roll a joint?

No, it isn’t strictly necessary to place a filter at the end of your joint, but you’ll be happy that you did. Just as the joint-rolling experience with a simple handheld rolling machine is so much better than trying to roll a joint manually, slipping a cardboard filter tip into the end of your joint provides a vastly improved smoking experience. Since filter tips are affordable and easy to use, there’s no valid excuse for putting yourself through the discomfort of not using them in your joints.

6. Are filters good in joints?

The right type of filter tip can be an excellent addition to your joint, but you don’t want to use the wrong type of filter by mistake. Fiberglass filters used in hand-rolled tobacco cigarettes, for instance, are not suitable for hemp and cannabis pre-rolls. The types of filters that are good to use in joints are:

  • Best option: Cardboard (preferably organic, unbleached hemp) filter tips
  • Runner-up: Reusable glass joint tips (can break — ouch)
  • Acceptable: Carbon joint filters (may reduce potency)

7. Do blunts have filters?

Filter tips aren’t as common in blunts as they are in conventional pre-rolls, but they’re catching on. Especially popular are reusable tips made from glass, corn cob, or a variety of other materials. Those who roll their blunts themselves, however, generally do not deign to stoop so low as to mar their perfect creations with filters.

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