The California Pre-Roll Battle Royale 2021

I think we all in California can agree: buying a good pre-roll pharmacy can feel like a crapshoot.

Regardless of the pandemic restrictions, consumers could never actually smell samples of premade joints or see how they can when purchasing flowers or concentrates.

On the one hand, there are packaging regulations. There are also supply issues due to pandemic demand and the slow pace of licensing new farms.

That’s all to say, how do you know if the Doobie they are buying is a good one?

Since pre-rolls are like cannabis’ hot dogs, Leafly has put together a group of cannabis professionals from the Bay Area independently nominate their favorite brands, put them to the test and set the record straight. The top three pre-rolls are guaranteed to be worth your time and money, and that’s how we found out.

Californian pre-roll battle royale judge

Decades of combined industry experience judged the joints of the state.  (Leafly)Decades of combined industry experience judged the joints of the state. (Leafly)

Two candidates per judge; 9 in total

Each judge nominated two pre-rolls with only flowers of their choice that they believed could bring gold. The range includes options for indoor and outdoor, indica and sativa.

Some were from pre-roll-specific brands like Island and Juniper, others from larger companies that were more focused on flowers and / or extracts with side joints, like Alien Labs. Other popular nominations include 710 Labs, Wonderbrett, Archive California, Henry’s Original, and UpNorth. This competition could not be bought. Leafly spent nearly $ 800 fitting every judge with all nine joints from retail stores.

The rules of the royale

For the sake of smokers across the state, our judges threw themselves into a grueling week of smoking for all nine participants. In the evening, we met for video chat to determine the best options based on the airtight science assessment criteria included in this article.

This was not a blind test, so all aspects were considered using a rubric that not only rates how tasty and strong the cone smokes, but also aesthetic and productive choices.

  • How thoughtful is the branding?
  • Does the joint itself have structural integrity?
  • Is this doob tube airtight at all?

It should be noted that while potency is part of the evaluation criteria, the numerical value of cannabinoids has not been taken into account.

We met three times on Google Hangout to prevent anyone from falling asleep and smoked an average of three joints per session. We made sure not to smoke too many with similar effects or similar terpene profiles.

Some joints seemed promising in the tube, but failed to produce results after lighting because they lacked taste, effect, or airflow. Others surprised us and there was seldom a unanimous decision as to which was best. Some would probably have scored more points if they hadn’t been made a year ago.

After evaluating each j individually, the grand totals were averaged to determine the overall winner, which illustrates all aspects of a pre-roll worthy of your hard-earned greenback.

The California Pre-Roll Battle Royale 2021 – Winner

The Stardawg Pie # 9 from 710 Labs combines exotic indoor, high-quality flowers, hand rolls and freshness - for victory.The Stardawg Pie # 9 from 710 Labs combines exotic indoor, high-quality flowers, hand rolls and freshness – for victory. (Leafly)

The proof lies in the pasta: 710 Labs’ Stardawg Pie # 9 is a win against the hard-hitting Alien Labs and Wonderbrett.

Despite having the lowest THC in the group, the Stardawg Pie was full of terps and textural sound, and was ideal for a smooth hit and strong relaxation. The unique “mascara” -like packaging, a crutch made from dry rotini pasta, and overall freshness have also helped the brand beat other front runners. 710 Labs is best known for its reputation in the solvent-free concentrate market, but the hash starts with the best flowers.

As Judge Terryn Buxton put it, “I can fucking try this!”

David Downs said, “It got me so high that I have to lower other points for high.”

Brad Melshenker, founder and CEO of 710 Labs, tells Leafly that he made the dinks for people like himself and other self-identified pot snobs.

“I was convinced the pre-rolls were too dry, badly rolled with too much paper, and probably made with shake or dried out lower small buds. So I said, “We’re going to put something out that I want to buy,” he says.

Brad Melshenker, 710 Labs

Stardawg Pie was a natural fit due to its grape-heavy taste and high resin production. 710 Labs uses just as little paper as possible, rolled top colas with a noodle crutch that helps keep air flowing without getting clogged and sticky.

What is not to like? The main downside, however, is access. Hash is the bread and butter of 710 Labs, not joints. In fact, only two employees produce the pre-rolls for quality control, which makes scaling almost impossible if quality is to be maintained.

Runner-up in the California Pre-Roll Battle Royale 2021

Second and third place, Atomic Apple from Alien Labs and DJ Short Blueberry from Wondebrett could easily have won gold too, and are scaled to be much more consistently available and generally accessible.

The five best pre-made fumes are all made by flower companies, not brands that focus on pre-roll:

2nd place: Atomic Apple, Alien Labs, 48.8 / 55 Ave. Points


Just 0.1 point behind, Alien Labs’ Atomic Apple is an equally delicious option.

3rd place: Blueberry, Wonderbrett, 48.5 / 55 ave. Points


Despite a packaging date for 2020, all judges tickled the bright blueberry nose. The smoke left us all fairly still, but the aroma didn’t fully carry over to the taste.

4th place: GMO, UpNorth, 48.4 / 55 ave. Points

This was one of Judge Xochi Segura’s favorites because of its rocky effects and garlicky terps.

5th place: Lemon Cane, Archive California, 47.6 / 55 ave. Points

Despite its middle position and a relatively older packaging date, the Archive Lemon Cane was praised by Ellen Holland, “tastes fantastic, super smooth lemon is present but not overwhelming” and was the winner for more than one judge.

6th place: Biscotti, Juniper, 35.3 / 55, ave. Points

After the top five, the bottom five fell off. Xochi Seguara called this flower “deceptive” outdoors, with strong packaging and a fragrant nose, but lacking when smoking.

7th place: Chem Jam, IC Collective, 34.6 / 55 ave. Points

We’re so excited to try an IC collective that we forget to check the date of manufacture. That joint was from October. Ellen Holland said, “The nose is fine, especially considering the age of our sample, but it’s hard to ignore the unpleasant taste.

8th place: Donut Shack, Iceland, 33.6 / 55 ave. Points

David Downs noticed that his hose was not airtight. It’s a smaller joint too, and not tough enough to hang with the big dogs.

9th place: Black Mamba, Henry’s 31.3 / 55 Ave. Points

“I liked the raw paper and the Clean Green logo.” Xochi’s doob tube was warped.

Better pre-rolls are yet to come

David Downs said it best, “It’s hard out here for a pre-roll. The best pre-roll brands don’t exist yet. “

Neither the winner nor one of the top five entrants is from a brand that focuses on the pre-roll. The two biggest determinants of a killer joint are raw material and corporate infrastructure. Old, dried out weeds cannot be hidden in a paper. The company must also have the means to get its grout off the packaging line and onto the shelves quickly and consistently.

Judge Xochi Segura speculated that smaller farms might be the way to go. The judges agreed that for many brands, pre-rolls are often an afterthought or more of an inexpensive teaser than a real representation of brand quality.

Speaking as a budtender myself, I see that high quality pre-rolls cost at least $ 15 if many consumers don’t want to spend more than $ 10. Investing in quality pays off!

What brands should be in our next battle royale?

We surveyed some big names in California prerolls, but nine competitors barely scratch the preroll surface of a state with as much cannabis as California. So we ask you readers: What brands should be in our next battle royale?

The Jeeter?

Jay-Z’s Monogram No. 01 Hand Roll?

Whatever you have chosen, be sure to check these manufacturing dates!

Comment below with your preferred pre-roll brand and why.

Amelia Williams

Freelance cannabis journalist Amelia Williams is a longtime budget tenderer and a graduate of San Francisco State University’s journalism program. Williams has contributed to the San Francisco Chronicle’s GreenState, MG Magazine, Culture Magazine, and Cannabis Now, and is the author of the Barbary Coast Pharmacy’s Bud Blog.

Show article by Amelia Williams

The latest from varieties and products

Show everything

By submitting this form you are subscribed to Leafly news and promotional emails and agree to Leafly’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. You can unsubscribe from Leafly email messages at any time.

Post a comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *