Joints vs. Blunts vs. Spliffs: What Are the Differences

Sophia Delphi May 21, 2022 - 8 min read
Fact Checked
Blunts and joint rolls

Someone who isn’t overly familiar with the subject might look at the difference between blunts, joints, and spliffs this way: hip-hop stars smoke blunts, Jamaicans smoke ganja in spliffs, and everyone else smokes joints.

That’s not completely wrong, but it’s a vast oversimplification.

Someone else might say that blunts are big, joints are small, and spliffs are somewhere in the middle.

Again, partial credit. But not fully accurate.

Here’s a simple explanation. The primary differences between the three ways of smoking weed are what’s inside of the “THC delivery devices” — and the type of wrapper that’s used to roll them.

Let’s take them one at a time, and then figure out why a cannabis connoisseur would choose one instead of another.

What Is a Joint?

This is the easy one since we’ll bet that everyone reading this article has had the pleasure of smoking a joint.

Here’s the obvious starting point. A joint is a weed wrapped in some sort of paper.

Rolling papers, like the ones that have been used to roll tobacco since the 16th century, are most often used to make joints. But substitutes like tissue paper (the stuff used to wrap presents, not Kleenex) or the paper that comes inside gum wrappers can be used in a pinch.

Rolling papers made by companies like Zig-Zag and Juicy Jay’s are legendary, of course, but an enormous number of companies offer papers in standard widths including one inch (often called single wide), 1¼ inches, 1½ inches, and larger sizes like double-wide, king, and jumbo.

The smaller options can handle around one-quarter to one-half gram of weed. The latter ones are great for rolling fat joints for a smoke sesh. A double-wide can accommodate as much as 1½ grams.

Papers are generally made from — you guessed it — paper, which is designed to burn slowly thanks to the type of glue used to seal them and the possible inclusion of materials like chalk. Many other options are now on the market, however. They include rolling papers made from hemp, flax, and rice straw, flavored papers and ones with fancy colors and designs.

Placing a filter, or “crutch,” on the end of a joint is becoming more and more common. If someone’s ever passed you a wet, sloppy, disgusting joint at a party, you can understand why.

That’s a lot of detail, but it shouldn’t obscure the obvious. A joint is simply weed wrapped in paper.

What Is a Blunt?

Blunts soared to popularity in the cannabis community in the 1990s, after many famous rap stars and hip-hop celebrities publicly embraced them.

They’re not as popular today as they were back then, as some former devotees have realized that there are health hazards associated with blunts. Even so, one survey found that about one-fifth of weed smokers still consider blunts their favorite way to enjoy marijuana. [1]

Here’s what distinguishes blunts from weed: blunts are traditionally rolled in cigar wrappers instead of paper. Cigar wraps are made from tobacco, which is why smoking blunts carries more of a health risk than smoking joints.

It provides more of a buzz, too. The tobacco in cigar wrappers contains lots of nicotine, which can make a weed high more active and energetic.

And there’s one more important feature of blunts: cigar wraps are much larger than rolling papers, so they can hold 1-2 grams of flower. That’s more than enough for even the most dedicated stoners, and a great way to share your stash with a large group of friends who love the green.

Blunts are usually made by buying a cigar or cigarillo, slicing it open, emptying the tobacco, and replacing it with cannabis. A number of cheap drugstore brands are commonly used to roll blunts including Swisher Sweets (the blunts are then called Swishers), Dutch Masters (Dutchies), and Phillies Blunts — which is where the original name “blunt” came from.

These days, companies sell pre-made blunt wraps that are easier to use. Some are made from tobacco leaf, others are made from hemp and are a great option for those who want to avoid tobacco and nicotine. There are also flavored blunt wraps and pre-rolled cones that are ready for you to just drop in your weed and smoke up.

The bottom line, though: blunts are traditionally weed rolled in a cigar wrapper.

What Are Spliffs?

Casual weed users are likely to associate the term “spliff” with reggae artists or natives of Jamaica, and for good reason. The term originated in the West Indies, where it was often used simply to refer to a joint.

Surprisingly, the term spread to Europe before it came to America. There it became the common way to refer to a joint rolled with a combination of weed and tobacco. Its eventual use in America took on the same meaning.

So a spliff might be considered as being somewhere “between” a joint and a blunt: it’s a mixture of tobacco and weed that’s rolled in paper for smoking. That is, at least in America. In Jamaica “spliff” usually still refers to a joint that contains only marijuana.

The tobacco in a spliff gives the smoker even more of a buzz than they get from a blunt because the nicotine is more plentiful and more available. The flip side, of course, is that smoking spliffs are more hazardous to the smoker’s health than either joints or blunts.

There is no set ratio of tobacco to cannabis that identifies a spliff. As long as there’s tobacco mixed in, it’s a spliff and not a joint. Most spliffs end up being larger than joints because shredded tobacco has a larger mass than ground weed.

How Do You Determine Which One Is Best?

Here’s another question. Which is better, chocolate, vanilla or strawberry?

It depends on a person’s likes and dislikes — and the same is true when you want to choose between blunts, joints, and spliffs. Each has its advantages and drawbacks.

Pros and Cons of Joints

Joints are the universally-accepted method of smoking weed. They’re great for sharing or solo use, they can be smoked partway and saved for later, they fit easily in a pocket or purse, and they’re easy to roll once you’ve gotten the hang of them.

That learning curve does take some time, though, and forget about discretion; the odor produced by a joint leaves no question about what you’re smoking.

Pros and Cons of Blunts

Many smokers view blunts as a “party” smoke, great for celebrating or for sharing in large groups. They’re still quite portable, and newer types of blunt wraps make them easier to roll than they used to be. They also kick the energy level of your smoke up a notch, or “level off” the calming effects of some strains. Finally, passers-by or roommates may think you’re smoking a cigar instead of weed.

On the negative side, the tobacco in most blunt wraps can make the smoker more subject to the same health risks of smoking cigarettes, although an occasional blunt probably won’t do much harm. Cutting apart a cigar to turn it into a blunt can take some practice, and the wrap alters the taste of most weed strains.

Pros and Cons of Spliffs

Most of the advantages and disadvantages of spliffs are tied to each other.

The nicotine buzz is quite noticeable, and spliffs are more discreet than the smoking pure flowers. Those who “defend” their smoking by saying “hey, it’s a lot healthier than weed!” have less to stand on, though, since they’re smoking both tobacco and weed. The smoke will also taste more like tobacco than a distinctive weed strain.

And of course, some people choose spliffs because less weed is required to roll one.

Blunts vs. Joints vs. Spliffs: FAQ

Q: Are all three varieties of rolled cannabis smokes seen all over the world?
A: America’s really the only place where you’re likely to find substantial numbers of weed smokers who enjoy all three. Spliffs are more popular than joints in Europe, but joints are a more popular smoke in the U.S. where weed is cheaper and the health hazards of smoking tobacco are a greater concern. Blunts are essentially only a big deal in the United States.

Q: Which one is easiest to roll?
A: Blunts, if you’re going to purchase a pre-rolled cone and just drop a gram or two of flower into it. Otherwise, most people find joints and spliffs easier to handle because they’re smaller and the papers come ready to be rolled.