Why Are Pre-Rolls Often Cheaper Than Flower?

Have you ever noticed pre-rolls on a dispensary shelf that are actually cheaper than cannabis flower and wondered why? Turns out, there are a variety of reasons why pre-rolls might be cheaper than flower.

If you’re trying to decide whether to buy pre-rolled joints or roll joints at home or you’re a newbie to recreational cannabis and are curious about pricing and quality, understanding the factors that affect the price of pre-rolls will help you get the best bang for your buck.

Pre-Rolls May Contain Trim or Shake

The biggest single factor when it comes to the price of pre-rolls is the nature of the ingredients. In order to save money, some dispensaries and processors fill their pre-rolls with other plant material, such as the loose flower left at the bottom of the jar (known as shake). Manufacturers might also include trim or ground sugar leaves to fill out their pre-rolls.

In the best-case scenario, a pre-rolled joint will be made with the small “popcorn nugs” that are just as potent as their larger counterparts but don’t look great in a jar, which is why you usually won’t see them for sale in places like Seattle, Washington, where the legal recreational cannabis industry is well-established.

Flower Quality Plays a Role

Let’s assume that a manufacturer is using genuine buds to make their pre-rolls and only a minimum of shake to fill it out (flower with a little bit of shake can still make for a great smoke). The next factor that could lower the price would be the quality of the flower itself.

Cannabis flower comes in several grades of quality, taking into account factors like cannabinoid and terpene levels, how the flower was grown, how the marijuana was cured and aged, and how abundantly the plants produce flowers (the more abundant the production, the cheaper the flower can be sold). If pre-rolls are made with a lower quality of flower than the nugs that are sold at the dispensary, they will fetch a lower price.

Pre-Rolls Often Contain Multiple Strains

Pre-rolls can come packed with a single cannabis strain or a combination of strains. Strain-specific pre-rolls that feature flower from a unique, pheno-hunted strain will typically cost more than “mystery” pre-rolls made from assorted leftovers.

Most commonly, pre-rolls are made variously with sativa strains, indica strains, or hybrid strains that may be strain-specific or mixed. If you’re looking for a particular effect, ask the budtender which strain they would recommend and whether that strain is available as a pre-roll.

Pre-Rolls Often Contain Unsold Cannabis

The final reason why pre-rolls might be cheaper than flower is that dispensary owners are making pre-rolls with flower they can’t sell. Whether they have more stock coming in and need to make space or a particular strain isn’t selling as expected, making pre-rolls is one of the surest ways to recuperate some of the funds that would have otherwise been lost.

Typically, the budtenders will grind flower with a pestle and mortar over a sieve to catch any pieces of stem and use the ground flower to pack pre-rolled cones. They will then offer these pre-rolls for sale either as singles or in packs. The dispensary may decide to absorb the cost of the rolling papers and tips and offer their pre-rolls at the same price as buds (or less) for the lowest possible shelf price.

How to Decide Whether to Buy Pre-Rolls or Roll Your Own Joints

If the main concern behind pre-roll pricing is “are pre-rolled joints worth it?”, the answer is that it really depends. There are pros and cons to buying pre-rolls and making pre-rolls.

Advantages of Buying Pre-Rolls

Whether you’re looking for cheap pre-rolls or high-end joints wrapped in gold leaves, buying pre-rolls are an excellent option when:

  • You don’t know how to roll a joint

  • You don’t have time for rolling joints

  • You aren’t physically able to roll a joint and need the therapeutic benefits of cannabis

  • You prefer the convenience of buying pre-rolls ready-made

  • You’re buying cannabis products on your way to a friend’s house

  • You’re buying a special blunt as a gift

  • You want to try a new strain without committing to buying a large quantity at once

Advantages of Making Pre-Rolls

The disadvantages of buying pre-rolls are fewer than they used to be—back when dispensary pre-rolls were made with low-quality flower and trim. However, given that most pre-rolls these days are made with popcorn nugs (not trim), you might still prefer to roll your own joints:

  • If you prefer a special kind of rolling paper

  • If your local dispensary doesn’t have pre-rolls in your favorite strain

  • If you want a smaller or larger joint

  • If you want to make your own blend

  • If you want to create your own infused joint

If In Doubt…

If you’re still not sure if the pre-rolls at your local dispensary are high-quality products or if the experience will be better than rolling your own, it’s only a matter of buying a pre-rolled joint and opening it up.

If the plant material inside looks like cannabis buds and smells of terpenes, you can be fairly confident that it’s a high-quality pre-roll. If you have some rolling paper at home, you can then roll the joint again and take a hit to see how the experience compares.

The Verdict on Low-Cost Pre-Rolls

If you walk into a dispensary and see pre-rolls that cost less than flower, weight by weight, it might be that the pre-rolled blunts or joints contain low-quality flower, shake, or trim. However, it is more likely that the dispensary is cutting its losses and recycling its unsold flower in a form that typically sells faster.

Most dispensaries want to see their customers happy and have them return in the future, so it makes sense that they would sell the highest cannabis products they can at each price point. At the same time, boutique pre-rolls made from luxurious materials will inevitably come at a higher price. Ultimately, the choice is yours.