These days the fine art of rolling a joint may appear to take a backseat to more efficient means of getting you there — like the trusty pipe or newfangled dry herb vaporizer. But whether you’re old school or new, there’s nothing quite as enjoyable as smoking a beautifully hand-rolled joint. Like line-dried sheets or grandma’s famous pasta recipe, sometimes it’s the care and attention that’s put into the work that makes the product so enjoyable.
Now with RAW natural, unrefined rolling papers you can take your joint rolling to the next level. Never before has a rolling paper contained so much history, smarts and soul. The papers, made exclusively in Alcoy, Spain — the birthplace of rolling papers since 1650 — are created with natural fibers and never contain chlorine or other harmful additives.
Josh Kesselman, founder of RAW Rolling Papers, said he became interested in rolling papers at a young age when his father would perform a magic trick that included making a rolling paper “disappear” into thin air.
“My dad loved to entertain us and while we were all sitting around the dinner table, he would light a sheet of Marfil Arroz cigarette rolling paper and throw it into the air. As we watched, the paper would suddenly disappear! The paper was so thin and pure that there was no ash.”
By the 1990s, Kesselman was a full-on rolling paper enthusiast, sharing his rolling paper collection online and actually trading with other collectors from Europe. At the time, “all of the papers available in the U.S. were garbage,” he says, so he set out to make a superior kind of paper specifically designed for great rolling papers. He recalls a key meeting that took place after he discovered a man was reopening the oldest rolling paper factory on earth.
“I went and met with him,” says Kesselman. “I was pretty young and he asked me why I cared about rolling papers. I told him about my dad’s magic trick with the Marfil Arroz paper and the man said, ‘I made Marfil Arroz! My father and grandfather made those!'”
After that meeting, a relationship was born and Kesselman found himself headed to Alcoy, Spain. He also found that the respect and love for the rolling paper trade absolutely permeates the town.
“Ferraris are made only in Maranello, Italy,” he says. “It’s the same idea with rolling papers — Alcoy, Spain is this town where the Moors first brought paper to the west. It’s all part of a chain that goes back a long way. The people who make that paper in Alcoy can trace their families back like nine generations. We still today employ people who are not even on the payroll anymore — pensioners in their 70s — who continue to want to work for free adjusting the watermarking machine.”
That watermarking machine is one key proprietary aspect of RAW’s papers, which creates a crisscross marking on the paper that prevents runs and “canoeing” or unwanted and errant burns in the paper during use.
RAW papers, particularly the classic 1/4 inch size, really are a treat to roll with. They’re thin and translucent but incredibly strong and maintain a smooth, even burn with zero chemical taste. RAW is also a company that puts dollars towards loads of humanitarian efforts, so you can know that every joint you smoke is saving lives.
“Two years ago we dug our first RAW deep-bore water well in drought stricken southern Ethiopia,” says Kesselman. “Our well there saved hundreds of lives and improved hundreds more.”
Respecting the tradition and skill behind the making of rolling papers is key to Kesselman’s mission. “There’s this tree of knowledge and if I don’t get it out there, it dies with me,” he says. “We’ve been doing this for a very long time. I have the attitude of let’s not just make the greatest rolling papers in the world — let’s really have a significant impact on the world. We’re smokers and we’re getting things done!”
What type of rolling papers do you use? Let us know in the comments.