How to Make Pre-Rolls on a Budget

Making a cheap pre-roll is pretty straightforward. All you have to do is source some trim or old flower, pulverize it in a blender, fill some cones, throw it into a doob tube, slap a label on it, and there you have it.  As you can imagine, the quality of these pre-rolls does not make them the most desirable. Thankfully, with only a few extra steps, you can create a pre-roll that is both economical to make and is enjoyable to consume. Here’s how you do it!

Fresh Flower: The Essential Ingredient for a Quality Pre-Roll

Pre-rolls have skyrocketed in popularity over the past few years. Companies are expanding into every area of the pre-roll market, and this has made the space extremely competitive. The low-quality pre-rolls are finding it harder and harder to compete, as customers are beginning to expect higher quality when they buy pre-rolls.

Making a quality pre-roll starts with quality flower. First off, instead of using something like trim, you are going to want fresh flower that has been properly dried and cured. Bulk flower prices are typically high when cannabis markets first open, but they always come down. If you are already in a mature market, you should have no problem sourcing decent flower for a good price, but you’ll have to decide on how low you are willing to go in terms of price and quality.

Grinding Flower

Grinding is the first step in processing flower for pre-rolls. Hand-grinding plant material is labor-intensive and inefficient. The most cost-effective way to grind your plant material is using a blender. Yes, the same blenders you use in your kitchen and can be bought at a store for $30, but it does come with some serious drawbacks. Blenders have no way of creating a consistent particle size, and a pre-roll packed with inconsistent particles will burn unevenly. Blenders also have a high RPM motor. These motors create heat that destroys terpenes. So, why it might be cheaper to use a blender, it comes at the cost of quality.

Investing in an industrial grinding machine that is designed to process cannabis properly won’t have the highest price tag, but it is still a startup cost. Considering that it impacts the flavor, aroma, how well the pre-roll burns, and the overall effects of the cannabis, it makes sense for a grinder to be one of the first machines you buy for pre-roll production.

Sifting Ground Flower

Sifting is a step a lot of producers still decide to skip, and if you are desperately looking for something in the process to cut, this is definitely it, but, again, there are cons associated with missing this step. Sifting will remove stems and other particulates that can damage a pre-roll, cause it to taste harsh, and keep it from burning properly. These particulates will also be lacking in cannabinoids and terpenes, so the potency of unsifted pre-rolls will be lower than sifted pre-rolls.

If you want to sift and don’t want to invest in a sifting machine, you can always sift by hand. This will be more labor-intensive and time-consuming, but sometimes the extra effort is worth it—especially when you know it can up the quality of your product. What’s great about sifting machines is that you can purchase spare screens. You can use these screens to sift by hand, and when you are ready to invest in a sifting machine, they can be used. No wasted parts when upscaling!

Filling Pre-Rolls

Once again, you will have the opportunity to do this by hand, and, once again, you will find that it is labor-intensive and time consuming. Hand-rolled pre-rolls are very much still a thing in the cannabis industry, but this process is typically reserved for high-end, connoisseur pre-rolls. When it comes to creating a pre-roll on a budget, having a filling machine that can help you fill and pack them quickly is a must. Thankfully you can start out small and upgrade as you grow.

The Fast Fill machines are going to be a great option if you want to start with as little startup money as possible. They offer two models, and both come in under $1,000. If you are in a position to invest more money upfront in a filling machine, the Fill and Fold machine is also a great option, as it has the added benefit of being able to finish rows of pre-rolls at a time. Think of how much time you’ll save not having to close each pre-roll individually!

If you are looking for a machine that gives you versatility, there isn’t a better option than the King Kone. Not only is it a durable machine that allows you to produce more pre-rolls at once, but it also lets you make three different sizes of pre-rolls right out of the box. There are even add-ons that can expand that versatility and increase its efficiency. [HB1]

A Third Way to Customize Your Pre-Rolls

Saving money on packaging and branding can be difficult. Incorporating customizations into a pre-roll will not only increase the price, but it will also make lead times longer and will often come with large minimum order requirements. Of course, if you go with unbranded materials, you will have trouble distinguishing your products in a competitive market.

Thankfully, there is a third option that pre-roll producers can use to get their pre-rolls noticed. Designer Cones are a curated selection of customized cones that have the same lead time as an unbranded cone and are less than a penny more per cone. These cones come in a variety of designs, colors, and sizes—allowing you to give your customers a variety of themes and colors. Also, as an easy alternative for fully customized packaging, you can customize your own unbranded packaging and display boxes with stickers.


The best part about this way of customizing your products is that you can always include more customizations as you grow. The branding decisions you make today aren’t forever. Designer cones and sticker branding give your pre-rolls that little extra you need to get noticed today and give you more time to plan a more robust branding strategy.

Jumpstart Your Pre-Roll Production

When compared to the machines you need for growing, extraction, and edibles, the machines you need to produce pre-rolls are cheap and easy to use. A King Kone and Industrial Grinder Starter Pack starts at $4,000 and gives you everything you need to jump-start your pre-roll project. Just source the flower, find a table that can fit your machines and starting materials, and you’re off!

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to the Pre-Roll Experts at Custom Cones USA. As the trusted source for all things pre-rolls, they have the knowledge you need to make your pre-roll project a success.

The Pre-Roll Experts

We at Custom Cones USA know there is a lot to consider when launching a pre-roll project. Even when everything is going according to plan, your list of to-dos can feel overwhelming. It makes sense to partner with someone that has experience navigating the landscape.

The Pre-Roll Experts at Custom Cones USA know exactly what it takes to launch a successful pre-roll line. Whether you are planning or troubleshooting, we have the experience and know-how you can rely on to find solutions. Reach out today and ask us how we can help you bring your pre-roll project to life!

Content created in partnership with Custom Cones USA.

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