The High Life: How to roll a hawg leg

City Paper

During the Baltimore Uprising, people smoked blunts everywhere—especially in the Western District. In front of the precinct the smell of burning blunts was everywhere. Same at Penn North every night of the curfew. We’d pull up and immediately that cannabis-cigar aroma suffused the air. Until the teargas came. But ever since then, I’ve been smelling blunts burning all over the city. That’s the kind of police slowdown we can use.

I’ve been pretty big on the vaporizers lately, but the aroma of the burning blunts got in my blood and it is feeling like summertime, so I started craving a good smoke. I’ve struggled with tobacco for decades. I’d smoke cigarettes for a few years and quit and then I’d start some other tobacco—I dipped, smoked crappy cigars, and even, for a long time, did nasal snuff—and soon I’d have a goddamn pack of cigarettes in my pocket again. So I’m staying away from the blunts and rolling joints instead. Also, I’m an old-time white guy who learned to smoke back in the 1980s in a part of the country where we called big joints “hawg legs.” So joints are what I know.

I’m going to assume you already know how to roll a joint. The goddamn New York Times Magazine had a how-to-roll-a-joint column a few weeks back, for god’s sake. But what is a bit tricky is how to make a good joint with today’s super sticky herb, such as the dense sticky purple buds I’ve been smoking. Their deep green color contains eponymous hints of an intense ultraviolet and it feels too dense to burn well in a spliff. 

Start with really thin papers. I have been using some promotional rolling papers a rock band, Dirty Heads, sent me when I first started at City Paper back in 2012 (they got lost in a drawer and I recently found them—thanks y’all). They’re super thin, long papers, which is especially good for a joint of the sticky modern weed. Use a grinder to get it as fine as you can and don’t let it clump up as you spread it in the crease of the paper.

You can rip off a bit of the flap on the rolling papers and make one of those little European mouthpieces if you want to—they can help, but if you don’t keep the edge of the cardboard in perfect abutment with the cannabis, it can create a loose spot to get gunked up with resin and spit.

The other option is to cut the joint in half. Less sticky plant material for the air to work its way through equals better combustion. And unless you’re with a crowd a half a joint is probably all you need at once with the high-powered business we’re talking about. Then burn the other half later. It makes for two roaches, which could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your personal preferences, but if you’re smoking with one other person, it makes for a perfect nightcap.

And remember. Boss Hög, that fucking asshole of a governor, vetoed the bill to decriminalize paraphernalia. So even if there is a police slowdown, they could still decide to fuck with you on the pipe or bowl or vaporizer instead of dealing with a shooting or a homicide. If they do come up on you, eat that fucking joint. The paper is the only thing that can get you locked up.

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