Testing J's That Look Like Ciggies

When I first smoked weed, back when my tolerance was low and glassware seemed unnecessary, I would roll the tip of an American Spirit between my fingers, emptying the strands of tobacco out the window or onto the pavement. Then I would stuff the hollowed paper with a pinch of crumbled weed and tear away the filter. The improvised joint offered an easy, discreet toke with some nicotine sizzle. Even smoking other smoke is enhanced by cannabis.

The problem, of course, is that smoking tobacco kills. Research has yet to conclusively link even heavy use of cannabis to lung damage, but studies have hinted that combining weed with tobacco actually amplifies damage from the latter. Whoops!

I burned through half a pack a day for eight years before quitting at the onset of fatherhood. I don't miss the shorter breath or the carcinogens, but I admit to fond recollection of the ethos cigarettes can imbue: dangled precariously from lips, emphatic gestures traced in wisps of smoke, the time afforded to sit and talk or watch the rain while the paper burns down, for there is nothing else to do on a smoke break except these things. Sure, there are joints. But they're an inefficient use of bud, appear shady to passing police, and remain stigmatized.

So once prohibition ended and the wheels of free-market economics began to turn, I've been wondering about the same question as a lot of other folks: When can I buy weed that smokes like a cigarette? Well, now you can. Two kinds, actually.

We got the Sitkas in Vancouver, Wash. They're from Seattle and come six to a pack in a flimsy gold tin. The bud is less tightly packed than Oregon-grown Pachecos, but the flower looked relatively intact within. The cancer sticks themselves are as lovingly designed as the tin: cool, off-white paper stacked on a black filter with a narrow gold band. The filter is porous for an even draw, but it's also the ugliest part of the smoke. The cig burned down well, but the finishing flavor reminded me it was still a pre-packaged joint. Considering what's available in this city, weed-wise, smoking one of these is like cracking a can of San Marzano tomatoes when hand-picked heirlooms are just down the street. The labeling purports a "sativa-forward blend," and early puffs set off some jitters, possibly because my brain was crying, "NICOTINE!?!??!" In any case, I readied myself for a mindstorm. Instead, the high was easy breezy and lightly energizing, about the buzz I hoped for from a midday burndown.

Pachecos is a fun word to say in a variety of accents. These coffin nails are the brainchild of Eco Firma Farms, and come in packs of three or five, priced just below $10 per cigarette. The labeling is neo-throwback and stylish, adorned with a leaf and gold stamping. Each smoky treat is tinted the color of biscotti with a short khaki filter and a double black-and-gold band. The smokes are a tad shorter and stouter than Sitkas, and offer a hearty gram of densely packed flower and kief in four options: heavy-hitting Hammerhead, uplifting Stryder, lower-strength Mazzy, and Keen, which is composed primarily of CBD strains. We tried the Hammerhead and Mazzy, and the effects of both were apparent, but a low dose of CBD allowed for steady function. The caveat here is a gram of high-grade bud is a lot to puff in one sitting, even for those with high tolerance.

Pachecos, like cannabis itself, are best shared, which is maybe a good thing. Perhaps new life can yet be breathed into the dying tradition of smoke breaks.