Spliff vs Joint: Similarities and Differences

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For fans of cannabis smoking on the go, two popular consumption methods reign: smoking joints and smoking spliffs. While the two are similar in many ways – such as how they are used or how they are made – there are some critical differences between them. The main difference is that spliffs contain tobacco, with a mixture of weed and loose tobacco leaves, while a joint contains only cannabis flower. 

Read on to learn the similarities and differences between spliffs and joints and how to pick the best option for your preferred smoking experience. 

a rolled joint with cannabis next to it

Key Takeaways

  • A spliff differs from a joint thanks to the presence of tobacco mixed with cannabis, while joints are pure cannabis cigarettes.
  • Joints and spliffs are hard to distinguish from one another and share many features in common.
  • Health concerns, cost-savings, and the strength of the high are all key factors to consider when deciding between a spliff or a joint.

What is a Joint?

A joint or pre-roll is a marijuana cigarette, with broken apart cannabis flower rolled or stuffed into a cone-shaped paper, sometimes known as rolling or joint paper. Joints are a trendy cannabis-consumption option, as they are convenient to stow on the go and easy to light up and enjoy quickly. Users can either roll their own joints or purchase them ready-to-smoke from a dispensary.

What is a Spliff?

The word "spliff" is slang for a cannabis cigarette that mixes ground cannabis flower with tobacco leaves, all rolled in cigarette or tobacco paper. Spliffs usually contain at least 50% tobacco, though those who roll their own can technically make a spliff with any ratio of tobacco to weed.

Spliffs are similarly straightforward to create and smoke. The presence of tobacco often smooths the harsh smoke of cannabis alone, as tobacco produces a more even burn. Individuals typically opt for spliffs to achieve a more energetic high, thanks to tobacco's focus-sharpening abilities, while using less overall cannabis than a pure joint. 

However, the nicotine in tobacco leaves can make spliffs addictive and — depending on the source — can contain harmful carcinogens that users inhale when they burn. 

Spliff vs Joint: Key Similarities and Differences


Joints and spliffs are so similar that many often confuse the two with a passing glance. Some key similarities include:

  • Shape & size: Spliffs and joints are both rolled into cylindrical cigarette shapes, though thicknesses can vary based on the materials used, amount of cannabis or tobacco, and user preference. Usually, they are about the size of a regular tobacco cigarette.
  • Appearance: Joints and spliffs are visually indistinguishable from one another. In social settings, it's important to accurately identify what you're about to inhale, especially if you're trying to avoid tobacco.
  • Rolling papers: Both options are made using rolling papers, either with hemp, wood pulp, or rice paper materials, rather than blunt wraps or cigar wrappers.
  • Dried cannabis flower: Spliffs and joints each contain some amount of dried cannabis flower.
  • Paper filters: A vital component of any cannabis cigarette, the filter helps the smoke of a spliff or joint last longer and stops users from accidentally inhaling plant matter.
  • Sizing: Both spliffs and joints are roughly the same size as a tobacco cigarette.
  • Convenience: Like cigarettes, joints and spliffs are easy to smoke on the go and transport. Most dispensary-sold joints will sell pre-rolls in a cigarette-like box for easy storage and transport.


Joints and spliffs also carry distinct differences that consumers should know when evaluating either:

  • Tobacco: spliffs contain some amount, usually 50%, of tobacco leaves, while cannabis joints contain only marijuana flower. The ratio of weed to tobacco in spliffs can vary based on user preference.
  • Addictive: Due to the nicotine in tobacco, spliffs can be more addictive than joints, which some users may want to avoid.
  • Carcinogens: Tobacco leaves can produce carcinogens when introduced to a flame that are more harmful than weed alone, which can cause breathing or other lung or respiratory issues in smokers with regular consumption.
  • Cost: Since spliffs contain less weed, they are a more cost-effective smoking option than a pure cannabis joint. However, this may not add up to a significant amount saved, as users may smoke more spliffs throughout the day than joints.
  • Potency: Joints contain more flower and thus higher concentrations of THC and other cannabinoids, which makes them more potent than spliffs. This could be good or bad, depending on how much potency a user seeks.
  • Effects: The tobacco and nicotine in spliffs produce a buzzier, more energized high that lessens the impact of any indica-produced relaxation in specific cannabis strains.
  • Burn: Tobacco leaves burn more evenly than cannabis alone, leading to a smoother overall smoke that may be less harmful to the throat.

When to Smoke a Joint

If a pure, cannabis-driven high is what you seek, joints offer pure weed smoke with higher potency than spliffs. Joints are also better for the health conscious since they don't contain nicotine or the carcinogenic effects produced when it's burned. 

When to Smoke a Spliff

Those who want to conserve their weed supply and enjoy a more energizing, focusing high may opt for spliffs. If you live in a place where high-quality lead is scarce or pricey, spliffs can help you save money while still enjoying a cannabis-infused smoking experience.

Spliffs are also a personal experience, as you can easily customize which rolling papers are used, the ratio of cannabis to tobacco, the type of filter, and many other smoking options. 

The Bottom Line: Which is Better?

Tobacco is the primary consideration when choosing between a joint or a spliff. If you want to save money, get a more energetic high with less weed, and smoke on the go, spliffs may be best for you. However, if you want a more intoxicating high and avoid tobacco and nicotine, joints will be your best bet. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a spliff and a joint the same thing?

Joints contain only dried cannabis, whereas a spliff features a mixture of cannabis and tobacco leaves. Both splifs and joints are different than blunts, which include tobacco and weed but are wrapped in cigar papers, usually producing a thicker cigar-like smoke.

Is a joint a blunt or spliff?

A joint is similar to a spliff or blunt but differs from the two in key ways. A joint contains only cannabis and is similar in size to a spliff, while spliffs and blunts have mixtures of tobacco and cannabis. A blunt differs from splints in size and wrapping materials, as they are rolled in cigar papers.

Why is a joint called a spliff?

While some may interchange the words joint and spliff, they are, in fact, two distinct types of cannabis products. They are both smokeable cannabis cigarettes, but spliffs contain tobacco. However, in Jamaica, consumers use the word "spliff" to refer to a cannabis cigarette without tobacco, so it is essential to clarify before you smoke.

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