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What is a Thai stick?

A Thai stick is an ancient form of a cannabis “cigar” that originated in Thailand. Thai sticks were popular in the United States in the 1970s. A Thai stick typically consists of cured flower skewered on a bamboo stick, wrapped in fan leaves, and tied together with hemp string. 

thai stick
A Thai stick typically consists of cured flower skewered on a bamboo stick, wrapped in fan leaves and tied together with hemp string. 
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

In the modern age of cannabis legalization and product innovation, the luxury blunt or cannabis cigar has become a more prominent dispensary item in legal regions. But the modern canna-cigar's precursor, the Thai stick, is of ancient origin, and its basic form has barely changed since the days of its inception. 

The construction of a Thai stick is, at its core, fairly simple and straightforward, though the smoking experience it provides may contrast significantly with that of a traditional joint or blunt. 

Most cannabis users will be familiar with the essential elements — long stocks of cured cannabis colas skewered or pressed around a bamboo stick, then wrapped in fan leaves. The Thai stick may also possibly be dipped in concentrate and/or sprinkled with kief. When the bamboo stick at the center is removed for smoking, the remaining hole in the center allows for sufficient airflow to properly burn the pressed flower, oil, and leaf wrap.  

History of Thai sticks

Thai sticks are an ancient creation of the hill tribes from northeast Thailand, though the exact time frame remains unknown. It wasn't until the 1960s and '70s that the Thai stick made its way to the US when American surfers and Vietnam War veterans started taking trips to Thailand and smuggling Thai sticks (possibly dipped in opium) back home. 

The supply chain through which Thai sticks were smuggled to the US fizzled out in the 1980s, and it wasn't until the current boom in legalization that these ancient canna-cigars made a comeback. Most online sources trace the modern Thai stick movement back to a cannabis connoisseur known as afgoo head on Instagram. 

Afgoo head was reportedly the first to bring the Thai stick method into the modern age by crafting a variety of cannabis cigars that followed the same pattern. His modern Thai sticks eventually caught the attention of other aspiring cannabis cigar makers such as Roger Hinkley and Nathan Zeeb, co-founders of Artisan Kanna Cigars, who would then take the Thai stick concept and recraft it to make updated canna-cigars for the modern cannabis connoisseur. 

How to make Thai sticks

The process of making Thai sticks is relatively simple, though it does require significant labor and hand-eye coordination. You might find it best to make several at a time to maximize the results of your efforts. 

To make each Thai stick, you'll need: 

  • Bud of your choice  
  • A bamboo skewer, chopstick, or other small stick 
  • Hash oil or other cannabis oil or concentrate
  • Parchment paper or clean, small paper bag
  • Hemp wick
  • Fan leaves

Once you have your supplies assembled on a clean surface with room to work, follow these steps.

  1. Coat your bamboo or chopstick in concentrate or skip the oil and careful skewer your bud onto the stick.
  2. If using oil,  press your bud into the oil, coating the entire stick.
  3. Use small bits of bud to fill in any gaps — don't leave any of the stick showing.
  4. Carefully and generously wrap the whole thing with the hemp wick.
  5. Wrap the Thai stick in parchment or the paper bag and store it in the fridge for two to three days.
  6. Carefully unwrap the hemp wick without disturbing the bud underneath — save the wick.
  7. Coat the bud in concentrate or oil and wrap the fan leaves in single, overlapping layers to cover the entire Thai stick. Then wrap the wick around it again.
  8. Wrap it in paper again and put it back in the fridge for two to three days.
  9. Repeat this process until you have three layers of fan leaves.
  10. After completing the third layer, put the Thai stick back in the paper and place it in a warm skillet or hot plate for a few seconds to melt the oil and bind everything together.

After you have made your Thai stick, you can proceed in one of three ways:

  1. Smoke it.
  2. Rewrap the hemp wick, seal it in a zipper bag, store it in the fridge for a week, and then smoke it.
  3. Rewrap the hemp wick, seal it in a zipper bag, bury it underground for a month or more, and then smoke it.

Tips for making a Thai stick

There are a few notes to keep in mind when making Thai sticks. 

  • Weed: choose whatever strains you like or mix and match strains for flavor and effect. Make sure you use the fluffiest buds at your disposal to optimize airflow for the end product. Pack the bud together but be gentle and don't pack too tightly or crush it.
  • Size: Lay the nugs out next to each other to get an idea of how big you want your Thai stick to be. About 1.5 grams makes an average-size joint and 3 grams gives you a fat cannagar.
  • Time: Some people opt to speed the process by wrapping all three layers of fan leaves at the same time. Some people also opt to skip all the waiting around but time and patience are what give Thai sticks their characteristic smoothness. Some sources suggest trying all three timing methods and choosing your favorite.
  • Oil: Once you've finished wrapping the leaves, you may also want to add an outer coating of oil or concentrate, as well as a coating of kief. Just remember, you've already got multiple buds and concentrate in there so it's going to be quite potent. 

How to smoke a Thai stick

Unwrap the hemp wick and carefully remove the center stick. With all the wrapping and concentrate “glue,” it should hold together just fine. Thai sticks and canna-cigars may burn as slowly as a quarter-inch per hour. They should be smoked in a similar fashion to a cigar, only with more inhaling once the end is sufficiently lit. 

A torch may provide the optimal way to light Thai sticks, but they can also be lit with a lighter or hemp wick as well. Once the entire end is glowing red, you can start to inhale. Don't inhale while lighting because you'll essentially be inhaling the flame through the hole in the middle. Given the amount of weed and concentrate in a Thai stick, this might be the perfect time to share with friends. 

Modern Thai sticks

What's the difference between the traditional Thai stick and a modern-day canna-cigar? In short, not much. Whether you've seen them labeled as cannabis cigars, canna-cigars, or cannabis caviar, you're likely looking at some variation of the Thai stick. Rather than coat the Thai stick in opium, as the original creators might have done, most modern Thai stick makers opt for coating the cigar in high-quality concentrates and/or kief.

Frequently asked questions

What is in a Thai stick? 

Thai sticks consiste of weed (it can be any strain), some type of concentrate, and cannabis fan leaves. They are constructed around a stick skewer of some sort and wrapped in hemp wick, both of which are removed prior to smoking.

Can you still get Thai stick? 

Yes, in states where recreational cannabis is legal, it's possible to buy Thai sticks. You can also make your own following the directions above. 

What strain is Thai Stick? 

While there is a Thai Stick strain, modern Thai sticks can be made from any strain. Traditional Thai sticks made in Thailand in the 1960s and '70s were probably made using Thai landraces. 

How much does a Thai stick cost? 

Purchasing a Thai stick in a US dispensary may cost anywhere from $65 to more than $100, depending on the state.