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This article was published 16/10/2018 (465 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The ability to roll a joint in seconds flat is not typically thought of as a "marketable skill", but for Dillin Morgan, it was.
Welcome to Jen Tries, a semi-regular feature in which Free Press columnist Jen Zoratti will try something new and report back.
In this instalment, Jen Tries... rolling a joint.
The 26 year old is a new hire at Tokyo Smoke, a cannabis lifestyle brand that originated in Toronto and is opening four retail stores in Winnipeg. (The St. Boniface location at 55-B Goulet St. will be open Wednesday, the same day the new federal law that legalizes and regulates cannabis use goes into effect.)
Morgan is an educator, which means he’ll teach customers about cannabis as well as the products on offer. He is also a good sport who has agreed to teach me, an uncool woman, how to roll a joint.
Cannabis was not yet legal when we met up, so we’re using catnip. Moss, I learn, is also a pretty good stand-in for the real deal; Tokyo Smoke has offered several Joint Rolling 101 sessions at various pop-up events, including several in Winnipeg.
Just as there are many slang names for cannabis, there are many ways to consume it, but people are still reaching for an old-fashioned hand-rolled cannabis cigarette.
"It’s traditional," Morgan says. "I think that’s why it’s still as relevant, because it’s traditional. It’s the simplest way to grab and go. It’s communal, it’s nice — it’s the way you’re supposed to do it, I feel like. There’s the ritual of rolling your stuff. It’s a process for the person doing it."
And speaking of slang: ‘joint’ is still a thing people say, right?
"Absolutely, yeah," Morgan says. "There’s so many. People make up words all the time. I’ve made up words. Like, thoink. I don’t know why. You can roll a piff, roll an ooze, roll a wood, roll a jay, roll a fizz. The list goes on."
Rolling a jay is harder than it looks. Despite years of piano lessons and daily typing, I am not the most dexterous person. I am a hunt-and-peck texter, which is to say, I am not very good with my thumbs. I don’t like doing finicky, detailed crafts. And if I’m wearing a Band-Aid on any finger, forget it: my entire hand might as well be in a full cast.
Morgan, predictably, is an agile roller. For him, it’s as easy as "roll it, stick it, lick it, smoke it." (Except we don’t do that last step, because we’re essentially rolling joints for cats.) I, meanwhile, feel like I have a Band-Aid on every finger. There’s a fair amount of precision involved. You need to fill the paper up enough, but not too much. You need to establish a good tuck before you can roll.
Like a veritable doob Goldilocks, you have to get things just right. (Folding a little tray helps keep your product in, as does rolling in the optional cardboard filter.)
My first attempt is pretty good, according to Morgan. I roll a few more and they are... not great. Somehow, I’m getting worse at this.
"That one looks like a pregnant candy," Morgan says. Generally, joints are supposed to take on two shapes: the pinner, which is straight and skinny, and the cone, which is self explanatory. As you can see, ‘pregnant candy’ is not one of the shapes.
That said, joints don’t need to be beautiful. Joint Rolling 101 is, essentially, a pass/fail class. If your joint is smokable, it’s a pass. But there are a few hallmarks of a really good joint. "If it burns slow and evenly all the way around, if it doesn’t canoe... "
"When it canoes, the top part is burning faster than the bottom part, essentially," Morgan explains. "The top burns off and you’re left with a canoe. You don’t want that. If it’s too tight, it can be kinda tough to bring the air through — but sometimes people like it when it’s tight because it ensures it’ll burn slow."
Back to rolling. Morgan notices a joint in my pile.
"You did not roll that. Did you roll that?" he asks, pointing to what is, objectively, a perfect, cone-shaped joint.
I absolutely did not roll that. It’s one of his joints that has rolled on to my side of the table. "For a moment I was like, ‘Wow, as a teacher, oh my God.’"
Being the Lisa Simpson I am, I make him grade the rest of my joints. He’s supportive of my efforts.
"All of these are smokable," he says. The trick to all of this, he says, is to "take it easy."
And then he leaves me with some advice that, honestly, belongs on a needlepoint pillow. He’s talking about rolling joints, but he could just as easily be talking about life.
"Take it easy. Don’t get too frustrated. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Just keep on rolling."
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @JenZoratti
Jen Zoratti is a Winnipeg Free Press columnist and co-host of the paper's local culture podcast, Bury the Lede.