If you’re new to cannabis culture, you probably already know what joints and blunts are, but you may not have heard of a spliff.
Here you’ll learn what a spliff is, how the spliff got its name, and the possible benefits and drawbacks of smoking a spliff.
Similar to a joint rolled in white cigarette paper, a spliff has the same appearance but with an added twist: it contains both cannabis and tobacco mixed together. Blunts, which are typically rolled in brown cigar paper, also contain tobacco, but spliffs have much higher concentrations. Spliffs, then, may be considered hybrids of joints and blunts.
The strong tobacco infusion often leads to a more energetic buzz for users. Spliffs are especially popular outside of the United States, notably in Europe, where many users enjoy a combination of tobacco and marijuana for their smoking experience.
In short, spliffs are cannabis cigarettes with a tobacco twist.
Should I roll a spliff?
Rolling your own spliff has several distinct advantages. First, you can control the ratio of tobacco to cannabis, making the ingredients equal or choosing one to dominate the other depending on your desired effect. You can also select the type of paper to use, with flavored and unflavored options available. Tobacco paper is generally sweeter than hemp paper, so you can pick the paper according to the flavor profile you prefer. Rolling paper flavors come in numerous varieties, including banana, honey, green apple, and watermelon. The rolling process is straightforward and if you know how to roll a joint, you’ll be able to roll a spliff too.
A spliff is like a joint, but it has tobacco and cannabis mixed together in a rolling paper. They usually have more tobacco than a blunt, so will have even more of the energetic, buzzy effects of tobacco. Spliffs usually have crutches too.
Spliff smokers can alter the ratio of cannabis and tobacco to their preference—lots of cannabis with a little tobacco, lots of tobacco with a little cannabis, or somewhere in between.
Why is it called a spliff?
The word has West Indian origins and may have been coined in Jamaica. However, in Jamaica a spliff refers to a cigarette containing only marijuana, not tobacco. The term is commonly used in Jamaican English slang to refer to a joint that may be especially large or potent. The exact meaning of “spliff” is unknown, unlike the meaning of the word joint, which derives from the French verb joindre translated as “to join.”
Benefits of spliffs
Spliffs offer a number of benefits that joints and blunts may not. Here are the top three benefits of spliffs.
- Easier: While the ease of rolling a joint depends on the texture and quality of the cannabis, spliffs have the advantage of tobacco to act as a buffer. Tobacco tends to make a roll more workable and consistent, which equals less time preparing and more time enjoying.
- More subtle: If you’ve ever rolled and smoked a joint at home, you know that the smell can be overpowering and last for hours if not days. Spliffs, in contrast, are more discreet because they tend to smell like tobacco cigarettes rather than more potent-smelling marijuana. Of course, the aroma of marijuana is more desirable to many people than the smell of cigarette smoke, so this advantage may not matter to you if discretion is not a concern.
- Smoother: Unlike a joint, in which one side can burn faster than the other or extinguish altogether, a spliff offers a smoother experience without these interruptions. From start to finish, the tobacco in spliffs provides consistency, whether you’re rolling or smoking one.
Disadvantages of spliffs
The most obvious disadvantage of spliffs is that they contain tobacco, a known carcinogen. Cannabis, on the other hand, has been studied for its potential anti-cancer properties. Research has shown that cannabis may inhibit the growth of certain types of cancerous tumors. Some cancer patients also prefer cannabis over opioids to manage pain. The chemicals in a spliff could cancel or at least diminish any possible health benefits of cannabis.
In addition, marijuana tastes better than tobacco to many palates. The same principle applies to fragrance, as a whiff of acrid cigarette smoke can be offensive to some people, whereas marijuana may be more inviting. However, as already noted, smoking a spliff can emit a subtler overall scent than smoking a joint, so it ultimately boils down to preference.
One way to work around these disadvantages is to limit the amount of tobacco you roll in a spliff. For example, instead of a 50/50 ratio, try blending 80% cannabis with 20% tobacco. But if health and aesthetic issues are a concern, you may want to stick with pure weed joints.
Do spliffs get you higher?
Spliffs have many benefits, but getting you higher is not one of them, especially if your idea of high involves a sensation of relaxation. Joints contain significantly higher levels of cannabis, often containing a full gram of marijuana versus half that amount in a spliff. Plus, because of the tobacco content, the stimulant nicotine factors into the equation. If you like your highs more energetic, then this could be an advantage. But if you prefer to mellow out with your smokes, then joints may be the better choice. Whatever you smoke, cannabis strains containing higher THC concentrations are key if you are seeking a psychoactive experience.
The paper differences between joints, blunts, and spliffs
Paper choice is important to your smoking experience; it’ll impact the amount of weed you need (the size of the paper), the flavor (tobacco papers are notably sweeter than hemp paper), and burn (thicker papers tend to burn slower than thinner papers).
Papers and blunt wraps can be flavored, but they aren’t for everyone. Some consumers think flavored papers meddle with the complex tastes and aromas of cannabis, while others are loyal to specific brands because of their distinct flavor additives (this is more common among blunt aficionados).
Consumers also choose papers based on rolling ease and functionality. The best papers don’t tear, seal seamlessly, handle well between your fingers, and burn uniformly. Nothing is a surer sign of a failed roll than a joint that runs, i.e., burns lengthwise along one side.