The packaging for Raw papers makes rolling a joint that much easier. (Ben Livingston, The Cannabist)

Raw papers’ genius packaging sparks stoner flashback (review)

Remember when we used to smoke joints? Brush off the cleanest surface around with quick hand sweeps and a few puffs of air. Hand crumble the herb or grind it fine, or sometimes Quirky Old Hippie would use those big-handled flower snips to granulate the ganja. With a pungent pile of pulverized pot, grab the pack of papers, flip the cover and pull out a single leaf.

Crumple the paper, uncrumple it, then pinch it into a U-shape around the index finger using the thumb and middle finger as a vise to hold it taut — maybe with a piece of thick paper rolled into a tubular “crutch” to keep the tip from gumming up. Pouring the pot into the paper using a flexible card or just pinching it in by hand, even out and tamp down the herb with an opposing finger.

Then the moment of truth: Tuck the front of the paper over the now-encased cannabis, roll it tight, lick the gummed liner, and pray it sticks. Practice makes perfect, of course, because joint rolling, like riding a bike or mastering one’s innate Jedi powers, is a non-intuitive skill that must be honed.

Holding up the newly-twisted reefer for scrutiny, we’d admire its beauty or, on occasion, its lack thereof, before placing the end between pursed lips. Drawing air through the unlit joint, we’d taste the uncombusted flavor of the particular strain — the sweet Blueberry, the spicy Plum, the musky Longshoreman’s Daughter — and pass the doobie around for a dry run before firing it up.

Remember those days? Before Micki Norris convinced us that sharing a joint has the same health risks as kissing each other? Before some of us decided electrified vaporizers are a healthy alternative that don’t leave us smelling like an ashtray? Before Quirky Old Hippie started smoking hash oil all day?

I don’t typically wax nostalgic over my joint-smoking days, but when I stopped by a local dispensary the same week the Raw papers sales rep visited, I was amazed at the overwhelming variety of products they sell. There are small papers and large papers and — oh my goodness — papers for rolling one-ounce joints. You can get them in hemp. You can get them pre-rolled into cones.

But what amazed me most in the pile of rolling papers was a product called the Raw Artesano series. The double-wide pack of papers unfolds to reveal a pack of standard Raw papers, and two small books of crutch tips. But the coolest thing — what made this stoner laugh — is that the unfurled cardboard cover can be scrunched into a little rolling tray to hold ground cannabis.

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The built-in cardboard tray is ingenious simplicity. And it’s bound by an elastic band that holds the tray form securely, so more than being a great stoner idea, it actually works really well. I didn’t expect to be surprised by rolling-paper technology, but the folks at Raw seem to be innovating unlike few other paper producers.

It seems like a little thing, really, but life is about little things, especially when you’re trying to roll a joint on the go. For such mobile rollers, the Raw Artesano rolling paper pack can’t be beat.

Retail price varies, but expect to pay around $5 a pack. And watch out for those flashbacks, man.

Map: Colorado medical dispensaries and recreational marijuana centers