What Is Cannabis Thai Stick And How to Smoke One?

Sophia Delphi August 16, 2022 - 7 min read
Fact Checked
Illustration for Thai Stick

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

Actually, we’re only talking about fifty years ago, and right here on Earth. But it seems like it was a different world — because weed was not only illegal, it was illicit as well.

Back in the 1970s, just about all marijuana had to be imported. (To put it another way, it was smuggled into the country).

If you were broke, there was ditch weed from Mexico. Most of the best stuff came from Central or South America, or Hawaii. And if you were lucky, you could get your hands on the primo weed that came from Asia.

Most fortunate of all were the folks who were able to get their hands on some Thai Stick.

The original Thai Stick hasn’t been around for decades, but a new version has hit the weed world and the story is fascinating.

What Was Thai Stick?

In simple terms, it was a cannabis cigar.

The traditional Thai Stick eventually found its way to America came from the hills of northeast Thailand, where extremely high-quality cannabis (a sativa strain that was also known as Thai) was grown in the 60s and 70s. It’s said that people in the area had been making and smoking cigars for centuries.

An authentic Thai stick was made of layers of weed wrapped around a hemp or bamboo stalk, and then coated with hash oil, covered with cannabis leaves, and cured underground. According to some reports, many Thai Sticks also contained opium. When a Stick was ready for smoking, the stalk would be removed — creating a passage for airflow.

Combining the potent flower produced in the Thai hills with hash oil was said to create an experience that could rival any marijuana product from any area of the world.

It’s not clear how Thai Stick first came to America, but the best guess is that Vietnam veterans who had discovered the product while in Southeast Asia smuggled it into the country. Once a market developed in the United States, “imports” increased dramatically.

A story in The Diplomat [1] by Peter Maguire, who spent years researching and publishing the definitive book on Thai Stick, claims that the same product that sold for the equivalent of $3 per kilo in Thailand could be sold for $4,000 per kilo in America. Maguire says that about a thousand pounds of Thai Stick were exported from Thailand during the years 1968-1972.

Thai Stick quickly became the stuff of legend. Why was it largely a legend? Because not enough products could be brought into the country to meet demand. Instead, dealers began simply using twine to wrap any sort of weed they could find around bamboo sticks, and selling the jury-rigged cannabis cigars as “Thai Stick.”

The boom was short-lived. In the late 1970s, the U.S. government helpfully supplied funding to the Thai government for a “war on drugs.” Even though the war’s real target was opium production, marijuana farming was essentially wiped out as well — or it was bought out, as farmers were paid to grow coffee instead of weed.

Authentic Thai Stick was virtually impossible to find in the decades that followed.

The “Rebirth” of Thai Stick

In recent years, renewed interest in Thai Stick was triggered by an Instagram user who calls himself afgoo head. He began creating homemade cannabis cigars that more or less followed the traditional recipe.

afgoo head’s IG posts attracted a lot of attention. One of the people who began interacting and working with him was a California entrepreneur who eventually started his own company, Artisan Canna Cigars.

The company now sells nearly-authentic Thai Stick products, both cigar- and joint-sized, through dispensaries in California and Washington State. However, they’ve used modern technology to alter the manufacturing technique. They vacuum-seal each layer of flower instead of curing the finished product underground, and use live rosin instead of hash oil.

However, Artisan Canna Cigars’ version of the traditional Thai Stick is powerful and delivers an intense smoking experience.

Other companies followed suit, with varying degrees of success — and the legend of Thai Stick lives on in today’s cannabis culture.

Can You Make Your Own Thai Stick?

Thai sticks with pressed bud and concentrates on a table

The original Thai Stick was 4-6 inches long. Needless to say, making one that size would require a lot of flower. You’ll also need fan leaves, a strand of hemp wick, hash oil (or another type of concentrate), a paper bag, and of course, a stick. You can use a stick you pick up outdoors, a chopstick, or even a shish kabob skewer.

If you’re game, here’s how to do it.

  1. Roll the stick in your hash oil.
  2. Thread your weed onto the stick. Do it carefully, and make sure the entire stick is covered with bud so that no wood is showing.
  3. Slowly and carefully roll the entire stick in the hash oil, so all of the buds are coated. If that’s too delicate an operation for you (or the flower you’ve chosen), you can sprinkle some kief or solid concentrate on the entire length of the stick. You can also use canna oil if you don’t have access to hash oil.
  4. Wrap the hemp wick around your Thai Stick, to hold the weed in place. Put it into the bag and refrigerate it for a few days.
  5. Remove the wick, roll the Stick in more hash oil, and wrap a thin layer of fan leaves around it so the bud is completely covered. Secure with the wick and refrigerate in the bag for a few more days.
  6. Repeat the last process two more times, so there are three layers of fan leaves around your weed.
  7. Leave the finished Thai Stick in the bag and heat it for ten seconds. That will melt the oil and seal the cigar.

Your Thai Stick is now ready to be enjoyed. If you want it to become even more potent, store it in a dark cool place for a month or two first. (That’s the equivalent of burying it underground in the Thai hills.)

How do you smoke it? Remove the hemp wick and then slowly pull out the stick. That will leave a hole through which you can inhale.

You’ll probably need a torch to light your Thai Stick because it’s so large. And we’ll close with a pro tip: puff and don’t inhale when you’re lighting up. If you try to take a huge hit as you’re sparking up your Thai Stick, you’ll end up inhaling flame. Trust us, that’s not pleasant. Wait until the Stick is fully lit before savoring its potent smoke.

Thai Stick: FAQ

Q: How long will it take to finish a Thai Stick?
A: Let’s put it this way: you’ll probably be finished with it long before it’s finished with you. It can take as long as 4-6 hours for a Thai Stick to burn down if you’re smoking it on your own; this is a treat best enjoyed with a group of your closest friends.

Q: Are there strains that are best for making a Thai Stick?
A: The weed grown in northern Thailand was some sort of sativa landrace strain. If you want to be authentic but don’t have access to a Thai landrace (you can buy seeds from seedbanks but the flower isn’t commonly sold by dispensaries or dealers), use something like Durban Poison or Acapulco Gold. In reality, though, you can use any sativa strain to make a Thai Stick.