This article was originally published on Weedmaps, and appears here with permission.
Blunts have been synonymous with cannabis for at least 25 or so years, most popularized by rap and hip-hop artists from decades past. But these extra-large, tobacco wrapped versions of a joint have a hazy history.
One of the most shareable ways to smoke, a blunt is formed from a pre-made wrapper, a broken-down cigar or whole-leaf tobacco, also known as fronto. Fronto is hugely popular in New York City, via the Caribbean where it is cultivated and used to roll cannabis, tobacco and cigars. It’s also sometimes crumbled and smoked in a pipe or a joint.
It’s this Caribbean connection that likely bore the blunt — and there is a strong correlation between immigration from Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Puerto Rico and the rise of this smoking method in New York City.
Since we don’t have a written or oral history of the first person to smoke a blunt, based on these cultural intersections it was likely imported from the Caribbean to New York City.
Why are blunts a big deal in New York City?
New York City’s love of blunts isn’t isn’t just an affinity for a particular brand of cigars like Backwoods and Swisher Sweets, the price hike has some cultural significance to the New York cannabis community.
As Desus Nice explained on his podcast the Bodega Boys on June 25, 2018 “Listen, I’m from the Bronx. You got to smoke a blunt.” And it’s not just because blunts provide the extra rush of tobacco from the cigar paper, or that the thicker composition of the paper burns weed at a slower rate, but has more to do with “the communal aspect of it.”
And much of that community comes from Caribbean descent. In the 1990s, the foreign-born population in New York City increased by 788,000, totalling 2.9 million. Data from the 2000 Census found that Caribbean foreign-born residents accounted for 20.8% of the city’s population. New York City’s community now included more Dominicans, Jamaicans, Haitians, and people of Trinidadian and Tobagonian descent than any other major city in the United States.
And the wave Caribbean immigrants brought pieces of their culture along with them, including their rich culture of cigar smoking.
Rap and hip hop culture were also on the rise in the …