Rolling Out a New Age for Pre-Rolls

man's hand holding a pre-roll joint between his index finger and thumb
Photos: RollPros

Some of the most innovative ideas come directly from passionate consumers. Pre-rolls consistently represent a huge portion of the cannabis marketplace, yet they often feel like an afterthought. Online forums are filled with users voicing their frustration with the quality of pre-rolls offered by dispensaries. RollPros founder and Chief Executive Officer Kyle Loucks was just another frustrated consumer once upon a time, but he knew he could offer something better.

Like many who remember their initial dispensary experience, Loucks’s first pre-roll started with excitement and quickly shifted to disappointment. “As a consumer, I was so excited to get a pre-roll from a store,” he said. “But it was awful. The cones were harsh; they canoed or clogged. It was just a terrible experience. Then I looked into it and found they were just filling the cones from the top, and that’s not how you create a good roll.”


He didn’t give up on pre-rolls or seek a new method of consumption that might better suit him. Knowing pre-rolls were popular and convenient, he got to work on making them better.

Designing innovative solutions is a challenge Loucks enjoys. In the past, he created products to assist surgeons and also worked with Oculus to improve future consumer electronics in the virtual and augmented reality space.

“I started with trying to design a more efficient way to fill the cones,” he said. “But I realized there was a fundamental problem: We were fighting physics. That’s when I decided to approach it differently and create a method that would roll like we would by hand.”

He quickly realized most of the pre-roll-making machines on the market suffered from a serious flaw. “The current standard in cannabis pre-roll manufacturing is to pulverize flower into sand in order to fill cones evenly,” he said. “Cones rely on physics. Filling a cone evenly requires dispensaries and retail brands to grind their flower to the consistency of fine sand. This process strips the flower of all those marvelous trichomes and degrades its quality.”

To change the game, he developed RollPros’ Blackbird, which relies on patented TruRoll technology that employs a “radial compaction method to deliver uniform, high-density pre-rolled joints, similar to those rolled by hand,” Loucks said. “In comparison, vibrating cone-filling machines are an option with a relatively small initial investment, but the quality and consistency of their pre-rolled products suffer. Vibrating cone-filling machines produce inconsistent pre-rolls.”

Although consumers stand to benefit quite a bit from superior pre-rolls, the Blackbird machine offers dispensary operators many benefits as well. The Blackbird can produce up to 750 pre-rolls per hour and requires only one person to operate, which can lead to significant labor-cost savings. Additionally, the machine eliminates the use of pre-roll cones. With the Blackbird, each pre-roll can be made with only three cents’ worth of paper filters.

Tyler Vaughan, director of sales and marketing at RollPros, said the Blackbird also helps maximize valuable floor space in dispensaries. “A significant benefit of automating pre-rolls with the Blackbird automated rolling system is the ability to program the machine to work on a table and within confined spaces, ensuring valuable floor space isn’t wasted,” he said.

He believes the Blackbird is a worthwhile investment for both large and small operations. “Engineered to scale up with a pre-roll business, the unit is completely modular, so they can continue to add components as their needs change,” Vaughan said. “The future RollPros’ product line will include more opportunities to customize and further automate the pre-roll process.”

Vaughan believes pre-rolls will continue to be a huge hit with consumers, especially as new markets develop and consumer numbers grow.

“If you don’t know what form of cannabis consumption is for you, it’s not worth it to invest a lot of money in a high-end vape or an expensive hand-blown glass bong,” he said. “What if you don’t like vapes or cannabis cartridges? Pre-rolls are much more affordable, and all you need is a lighter to enjoy.”