Ask anyone who smokes cigarettes about what got them hooked and you’ll hear a similar story:
“I worked in restaurants and it was the only way I got breaks.”
“I started in college because all of my friends smoked.”
“I only smoke socially but it’s hard not to when I have a drink in my hand.”
Given what we now know about cigarettes, the “cool” factor once associated with smoking has long faded. For those who still choose to smoke, non-smoking bylaws have made it increasingly difficult to light up in public. These are good things considering tobacco smoking is up there with alcohol consumption as one of the leading risk factors for disease in Canada.
So why do people still smoke? Why did I smoke, and shit, why did it take me so long to realize that I was paying tobacco companies (and the federal government nearly 20 cents a dart in taxes) to poison myself?
It took a legendary book and some cleverly designed pre-rolls to finally get me to kick my stinky, on-and-off habit.
In my early 20s, after years of begging my father to quit smoking, I had the brilliant (read: naive) idea that perhaps if he saw me smoking, it would compel him to quit. Eventually he did… but I continued to smoke casually, telling myself that a cigarette here and there wouldn’t have much of an effect on my health, and that I could stop at any time. For over 10 years, I grouped myself in the “social smoker” category, bumming cigarettes at parties from whoever would lend them to me and buying packs for weekend getaways.
This went on for longer than I would have liked. Working in hospitality, and then at a sport fishing lodge where drinking and smoking came second only to working, made it hard to completely stop. Even when I quit buying packs, I struggled to let go of the annoying habit of bumming smokes from friends. I would give smoking up for months at a time, promising myself not to waste any money on the filthy habit, but the minute someone offered me one, I’d say yes.
Then, when COVID hit and headlines warned that smokers could be at greater risk of contracting it, I responded in a way that made very little sense: I started buying packs again.
Chalk it up to stress, fear, or stupidity (I’d say it was a combination of all three): being cooped up in my apartment for weeks made me feel entitled to indulge in something that I had been fooled into thinking relieved my stress. As soon as I recognized how problematic (and costly) this thought pattern was, I ordered myself a copy of Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking, a book several former smokers had recommended.
It was the book’s key message that really broke my habit. Though I believed like so many others that smoking relieved my stress, the truth was it was only relieving the stress I had created by puffing on the previous cigarette. Non-smokers, Carr wrote, don’t have that stress!
By the end of Carr’s book (which is intended to be repetitive and hard to read until about 100 pages in), my desire to smoke cigarettes was completely gone. Almost immediately, the smell of secondhand smoke was anything but tempting. I didn’t miss the tobacco, but a little part of me missed the ritual.
I had heard about Redecan’s cigarette-shaped pre-rolls and was immediately intrigued by their size and shape. Would 0.35 grams of cannabis even get me high? When the first legal retailer opened up in New Westminster the week after I quit, I took it as a sign and decided to find out.
Getting the weed
Walking into Queensborough Cannabis, I went straight for the pre-roll cabinet. At this private retailer, a pack of 10 Shishkaberry Redees ran me $24.99 plus tax. In my mind, this was a fair price point for an eighth on the legal recreational market (until I learned that I could have saved $10 purchasing them directly from Redecan as a medical consumer).
A quick conversation with the budtender and I learned that Redees were popular among the store’s female customers. This didn’t surprise me. (I later learned on Twitter that these pre-rolls weren’t just popular locally. According to Ryan Roch, director at Lake City Cannabis in Chestermere, Alberta, in just a few short hours, customers scooped up almost 100 units of Redees, clearing the store out completely.)
Everything but smoke
Pulling out one of the pre-rolls, I took note of the packaging. Inside a childproof bag was a small cardboard box containing all 10 pre-rolls, for easy transport and little risk of everything getting crushed in my pocket or purse. I expected to see a cotton filter à la tobacco cigarettes, but was pleased to see that Redecan opted to use cardboard instead. Opening one up, it was clear that this wasn’t exactly the company’s highest quality product, but it smelled like berries, had a bright green colour to it, and wasn’t bone-dry. It was also packed just two months before I purchased it, which was a vast improvement over my previous experiences with legal products.
I had wondered whether or not these skinny joints would canoe, but not only did this product look and feel like a cigarette, it smoked just like one: evenly. Given the quality of the bud, I expected the smoking experience to be harsh or irritating. Instead it was smooth, delivering a pleasant, sweet taste, and “taking the edge off” in a way that a real cigarette never could.
This is only the fourth pre-roll I’ve acquired from a legal retailer, but it is easily my most pleasant experience with one thus far. Plus, it appeases the oral fixation I for so long associated with cigarettes. (At home, I’m a strict bong user.)
Although it took me less than two minutes to finish, the feelings of ease and relaxation brought about by such a small amount of cannabis were a nice surprise. Since my initial purchase, I’ve returned for a few more. Fielding questions at the beach like, “What kind of cigarettes are those?” is my new favourite thing.
This delivery system and the size of these pre-rolls are great for a quick buzz. Not the greatest quality cannabis, but an experience this former smoker quite enjoys.
Editor, Inside the Jar
Hippie. Tripper. Grappler. Author. Anarchist
Help Fill Our Jar!
Inside the Jar is dedicated to publishing independent journalism—without a paywall. We maintain several arms of support, a crucial one being membership. Your support helps us invest in new voices, and produce long form investigative journalism. Interested in filling our jar? Become a member today.
Seed. Stem. Stash. Smoke.
Despite the perception of Canada as a cold and snowy landscape, cannabis has been grown outdoors here for generations, long before prohibition was lifted in 2018. In Rock Creek, a small town in British Columbia’s Okanagan region, an area adored for its long, dry summers and endless rows of wineries and fruit orchards, a portion of a sprawling 2,200-acre ranch once dedicated to ginseng and cherries is now filled with rows upon rows of cannabis and hemp.
“My partner and I set a goal to make the best cannabis-infused cookie we could. What we learned very quickly was that our cookie recipe was great, but the process of infusing our butter was damaging its integrity. So we set out to find a way to infuse butter—not for maximum potency—but for the best possible flavour, and to preserve what makes butter magic.”
“Weed infused in various candies, brownies, or cookies generally takes much longer to kick in and there’s inevitably a few moments half-an-hour post-consumption in which I say, out loud: “I’m not sure this thing is working.” Then, like one of Mike Tyson’s fists to the face, the full might of a deceptively delicious baked confection takes hold, and for the next few hours—I’m high. High high. And sometimes, too high.”