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Getting the mix right is half the art of joint-rolling. There's plenty of scope for choice but quantity is never a substitute for quality. Don't waste your lungs on inferior ingredients.

The female's flower-tops are by far the most potent part of the cannabis plant. Thanks to cannabis farmers all over the world there are thousands of strains and varieties. The quality, strenght and nature of which can differ enormously. This has led to the rise of the "Weed Connoisseur" who will say things like: "Oh my, what a subtle Sativa!" and talk about "bouquet" and "body".

Imported bud is often forced-dried and compressed for storage or transit, this can simply be broken up and crumbled into the mix. Better quality bud which has been properly cured and stored should be handled with care to protect the delicate THC glands. Use sharp scissors to break-up the bud and store the remainder in a cool, dark place. Discard any seeds or stems as they contain little THC and are harsh to smoke. Fresh bud may develop mould if stored incorrectly and (painful as it may be) this should be thrown away as it can damage the lungs and cause infection.

Bud is often combined with tabacco, leaf or another herbal smoking mixture to allow it to breathe in the joint. The numerous Skunk or Nederweit varieties which are genetically bred for extreme potency should be used sparingly until the user is familiar with, and can predict, their effects.

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Cannabis leaf is a common ingredient in commercial weed. If you can stand the lightly acrid taste, some leaf (especially that from the top of a flowering female plant) can be surprisingly potent. Only use well-cured leafs and remove any stems before crumbling them into the mix. The larger sunleafes from around the lower part of the plant are too harsh for use in joint-rolling and are best left for the water pipe.

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Hashish comes in many different forms from hard and rocky Lebanese to soft and oily Nepalese. As with all cannabis there is a huge variation in quality. The very best hashish is made by rubbing the sticky resin from flowering-tops. Most however, contains processed plant material and binding agents and the worst is adulterated with chemicals. Hash is normally heated with a flame, crumbled into a powder and then mixed with tobacco or herbal smoking material. Good hashish should catch light and crumble with ease. Alternatively, very soft hash can be broken up with fingernails or rolled into thin "sausages" and placed along the length of a joint.

NEVER over-fill joints with hash, or use large chunks, it will burn badly and much will be wasted. A brief spell in the microwave will give you a perfect hashish and tobacco blend.

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Genuine resin oil is very hard to come by but, if you can get it, the real McCoy is incredibly potent. It comes in the form of a black, brown or transparant oily fluid which is smeared across the rolling papers or blended into the mix. Consumers in the Netherlands should be aware that the country's relaxed drug policy does not extend to this substance.

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Tobacco is the main ingredient in virtually all joints rolled in europe. When used with hashish or strong bud it allows the cannabis to burn properly and improves the taste of the smoke. The nicotine rush also adds a certin quality to the smoke and speeds the onset of effects. The well-known problems of addiction, respiratory disease, horrible death and ashtray breath have led many to reject the "evil weed" entirely. Non-smokers who find it difficult to stop smoking joints may have unknowingly pickep up a hard-to-drop nicotine habit. Time to strap on the patches or succumb to the loving arms of the great god Marlbro...

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Commercially available highs have come a long way in the last few years. Most are derived from psychoactive plants which have been used for centuries. Although claims of effect comparable to the real thing are usually false there are many genuinely psychoactive and therapeutic herbs which can be used as ingredients in a smoking mix. Legal smoking mixtures can make a good alternative to tobacco and are an option for smokers seeking a buzz under cannabis prohibition. There is some evidence that certain herbs can amplify the effects of more psychoactive substances. Always follow the instructions supplied and remeber that herbal and legal do not necessarily mean safe.

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Whilst the ingredients are a matter of choice, taste and availability, a good mix is always a consistent one. Uneven mixes burn erratically, often resulting in ruined t-shirts, collapsing joints and wasting smoke. Making you mix before adding it to the joint is a good plan. Some experienced smokers make the mix in the palm of their hands, others use a mixing bowl.

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