Love Pre-Rolls? A Shortage Might Be Coming Soon
Published on 1/14/22
There are few things more icon about cannabis culture than the joint. The most popular method of consuming cannabis, both past and still present, is as closely associated with the culture and mystique surrounding cannabis as anything else.
Joints are so popular that despite them being less discrete, harder to travel with and use in public and much more challenging to put together than the standard disposable vape that people can purchase at any dispensary, a majority of people still prefer smoking them. In fact, American cannabis consumers love pre-rolled joints so much that they're about to cause a massive shortage due to their popularity.
This article is going to break down the history of pre-rolls, when & how they got so popular in the first place, touch on a few of the supply chain factors associated with that shortage, why it might happen sooner than everyone thinks, and give some tips on what cannabis consumers who are missing their pre-rolls can do if they can't get their hands on any from the dispensaries!
The Rise of the Pre-Rolled Joint
Joints have been around for as long as cannabis culture has been present here in America. From Cheech and Chong to Snoop Dogg sparking up on stage during his latest performance, joints are the primary method of consumption for the vast majority of people.
After all, that makes a lot of sense. Joints are somewhat discrete, easy to use, and simple to pass around a circle with friends wherever you are when compared with other methods like a bong or dab rig. The only problem with joints is that someone needs to know how to roll them, something that's long been art and talent to some and a bane to many more. So it only made sense that when someone introduced the idea of a pre-rolled cone with the filter included or the option to head to the dispensary and buy some already rolled and ready bud, the American consumer jumped on it fast!
From there, pre-rolls became a staple of pretty much every recreational dispensary on the West Coast and have begun to slowly and steadily spread out from there. After all, why not let someone else do the rolling for you so you can focus on the best part of the joint, smoking it!
So Why is There a Potential Shortage?
The answer to that question is, just like many other things for nearly the past two years, the ripple effects from the COVID-19 pandemic are causing a supply chain bottleneck.
As grocery stores, toy stores, and even Apple stores struggle to their internationally produced goods imported, dispensaries and head shops can't seem to get their hands on pre-rolled cones or rolling papers. But why is that? After all, there are paper mills and trees everywhere. Why is it so hard to get rolling papers when they need them? The answer lies in where and how rolling papers are produced.
For the vast majority of the 20th century, anyone who needed rolling papers for their tobacco or cannabis products was getting them from one singular place; Alcoy, an area of Spain where some of the first-ever paper mills were established. Companies would buy from them wholesale, then slap their own label onto the papers before selling them as their own. Today, despite the incredibly lucrative rise of the cannabis industry, things aren't all that different from how they were 100 years ago.
According to Alen Nguyen, CEO of supply chain management for MainStem, the vast majority of the world's pre-rolled cones and rolling papers come from "less than ten" factories in Indonesia and a few scattered throughout India. That bottleneck of cone production is due to one Dutch inventor introducing the concept of a pre-rolled cone and opening up the first facility to do so in Indonesia. That brand, called Hara Supply today, is "the largest pre-rolled cone manufacturer in the world," even still to this very day.
Due to the many work stoppages and facility shutdowns that have happened due to the COVID pandemic, along with severe unionization effects from the Indonesian workers in those factories, production of the pre-rolled cones has been slowed significantly to the point where there's a massive shortage on cones.
So What Can Cannabis Consumers Do Instead?
While joints and pre-rolls might be an incredibly popular form of cannabis consumption, it's far from the only one that's available for consumers. Just from a single trip to their favorite dispensary, cannabis consumers can get their hands on dried cannabis flower, vapes, edibles, pills, capsules, transdermal creams & tinctures, just to name a few. None of those products require rolling papers or pre-rolled joints to enjoy.
That same dried cannabis flower you can find in a pre-roll can be smoked with a bong or a convection vaporizer. Concentrates can be found in the form of disposable pens or vaped using a dab rig. Edibles, capsules, and tinctures can be consumed at an appropriate dosage.
Thankfully, the world of cannabis consumption is much more diverse than some other fields. Otherwise, you'd be stuck back in your high school days of tearing things sheets of paper out of books or rolling your joints in receipts from the pharmacy or grocery store. Thankfully, smart and savvy cannabis consumers have a lot more options than just that!
Are you a fan of pre-rolls and sad to hear the news? Let us know your favorite brand below!