How to Grow a Spliff from Scratch

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By: Gabriel Adam 

Many of you culturally attuned smokers appreciate the benefits, aroma, and taste of the tobacco plant just as much as you appreciate the psycho-active, herbal deliciousness and potency of cannabis. Hence, you regularly combine tobacco and cannabis in a spliff. (The word “spliff” comes from Jamaica; its likely etymology is an ingenious and evocative blend of “split”, referring to the ready-made wrap, and “whiff”, pointing to the distinctive odour of the smoke).

Perhaps you used to enjoy a cigarette with your coffee, but those mass produced, nicotine laden, factory cigarettes did not agree with your nerves, physiology, or bio-chemistry, or perhaps others objected to both the immediate and lingering noxious smoke and smell of tailor-made cigs. Or you may have had the after joint smoke like many and noticed it shifted the high from the cannabis or reintroduced its affect. 

For whatever reasons, you started to roll some tobacco in with your cannabis. It’s all part of how and why you enjoy the spliff and also why you, like many others before have become enamoured with the richly aromatic goodness of spliffs.

Personally, I enjoy experimenting with ratios. For instance, in the morning with my coffee I’ll often rely quite strongly on the tobacco component, using the dark Virginia tobacco with a sativa. In the evening, I’ll tend to use organic Northfield’s or Yuma, an organic blend from Germany, with a heavy indica. I also enjoy smoking spliffs while drinking peppermint tea: my mouth feels fresh and clean, but I still bask in the flavours of the smoke.

This summer was a horticultural joy, growing my own tobacco plants on a balcony at home. As I am an ACMPR licensed producer, I found that growing in tandem both cannabis and tobacco (two spirit plant miracles) was an education. It’s vital not to grow these two plants too closely together as the tobacco plants may have a virus that could harm the cannabis plants. Not all, but many, tobacco varieties are prone to this virus.

I have my cannabis garden on land far from my home.

Growing Your Own Spliff

Growing your own tobacco is relatively easy; curing it can be more challenging.  You will need a hot house or a home made curing box.  

The simple tobacco curing technique I used was the same one I used for cannabis flowers: I placed the leaves in a large glass jar which I would periodically open to let oxygen in, and then close again, without letting the leaves fully dry. The end result was a nice, smooth smoke, but a slightly less flavourful one than a traditionally cured rolling tobacco.

You can also use the leaves when they are almost dry and still have some bend to them for a delicious, natural blunt wrap. Alternatively, if the leaves are fully dry, but not cracked, place them over a steaming kettle for a bit, and then roll away.

Although some people do use the inside of a factory cigarette to mix a spliff, I would not recommend doing so: it can be quite hard on the throat and lungs – definitely not a classy move.

You might wish, however, to experiment with a filter tip that you roll up and then slide into a previously rolled spliff. If you are using the finest plants in the spliff, you will get the complete, unfiltered flavour this way. These filters are usually used for joints. You can also try a regular cigarette filter that you roll into the spliff or insert post-rolling. Such filters may be made from cellulose acetate fibre, paper, activated charcoal; in my experience, they tend to modify the smoke or subdue it by retaining some particles – that is, filtering the actual smoke.

You need to fine tune and adjust your rolling skills: you want a complete filter seal, both to prevent it from falling out mid-smoke and, also, to achieve ideal suction efficiency.

Often, I’ll have a spliff that is heavier on the tobacco side; I’ll use a plastic, skinny cigarette filter tip. I’ll use that same filter if I don’t love the flavours I’m working with in the spliff as the filter removes some of the taste; in fact, the filter is visibly used after the smoke.

Lastly, finding quality tobacco seeds is key. Ask around at your local garden store or look online: you will find plenty of resources and other enthusiasts to help you out. As for varieties, I personally like Virginia tobacco for rolling, but I did grow one Havana variety plant that was very successful; it had a darker leaf and a rich aroma.

Be patient when germinating tobacco seeds; they can take a few weeks to sprout, ideally in a dark, humid environment. As soon as you see them break through the soil, place them under a grow light. Once they are approximately an inch tall, transplant them to a large paper cup. Then, when they are 4-5 inches tall, they are fine to go outside. The rest is easy as they are fairly hearty plants and will thrive in most Pacific Northwest climates. Greenhouses are an option, but my plants did great on my balcony in Vancouver from May to September. 

Support your local tobacconist and/or dispensary whenever possible. Enjoy your spliffs friends.