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Hemp & Cannabis Pre-Roll Production Process

Hemp & Cannabis Pre-Roll Production Process

Taking raw materials and putting them through a good manufacturing process for cannabis so that you get professional, branded pre-rolls inside of the best tamper-evident packaging may sound complicated, but it is actually quite straight forward when you have the best equipment. 

Jacob Dooley
September 27, 2021

Taking raw materials and putting them through a good manufacturing process for cannabis so that you get professional, branded pre-rolls inside of the best tamper-evident packaging may sound complicated, but it is actually quite straight forward when you have the best equipment. 

Our experienced team at Accelerant Manufacturing is dedicated to perfecting the automated pre-roll process that gives cannabis businesses the best products on the market while adhering to GMP (Good Manufacturing Standards) practices. That is why we have put together a complete guide that can take cannabis vendors through the process when using our equipment or when making the most of the automated pre-roll process in general.

Here is what that process looks like from start to finish:

1) Grind Your Flower

So, you have found your preferred flower supplier and it is now time to grind and mill all of that cannabis so that it is ready for the rolling process. Doing it by hand would, however, take an extremely long amount of time and lots of effort, which is why it is best to use an automated mill like the range offered by Mobius. 

The Mobius M210 cannabis mill is a great continuous throughput mill that follows GMP practices, meaning that it is made out of durable, safe, and easy to clean materials that will ensure the end product is safe for consumption and free of contaminants. This mill can process 110lbs of dry flower every hour with multiple screen options that allow you to customize how the output is filtered.

2) Sift Out Stems and Unwanted Material

After the flower has been run through the mill, it is time to screen it in order to sift out all of the stems and any other unwanted material that will get in the way of a quality product. We use the US Mesh system to measure screens and track particle sizes, and generally speaking it is best to first pass material through a US 16 screen that has holes that are 1.19mm (0.0469 inches) in diameter before then passing it through a US 40 screen with holes that are 0.4mm (0.0165 inches) in diameter. 

A tip at this stage is to use filter screens with circular holes instead of square ones as these give a much more accurate particle size.

Not only does this separate the larger stems and unwanted material from the milled flower, it also ensures a uniform-sized particle which helps to control the specific weight of each pre-roll so that some are not heavier (and contain more cannabis) than others. This stage works best when the cannabis has a moisture content of between 6-10%.

3) Select Papers and Control Environment

The specific type of pre-roll paper that you chose is going to affect air flow and therefore a pre-roll’s burn rate, burn temperature, and flavor. This is an opportunity to pair the right type of paper with specific strains or intended uses for the pre-roll for a more tailored experience. 

Your choices of paper for pre-roll cones and blunts is generally between refined white paper, unrefined brown paper, organic hemp paper, hemp wrap blunts, palm leaf blunts, rice paper, cotton cellulose, and some combinations of these options. You can find out more about their characteristics on our blog post Intro to Pre-Roll Material Types.

Before anything else happens, it is important to control the environment of the papers and the machine. The machine and papers need to be held between 50% and 60% relative humidity and at a temperature of 65-72F for at least an hour before running through the pre-rolling machine.

4) Fill Cones Using a Pre-Roll Machine

Perhaps the most exciting part is when the milled cannabis is packed into the cones using the famous pre-roll machine. Our automated machine, called the PRO (Pre-Roll Operator) is the first PaaS (Production as a Service) pre-roll filling machine that businesses can lease when they need to, rather than outright purchasing the machine for a large sum. Because it is a leasing arrangement, our team also takes care of the monitoring and repairing of the machine while you use it for optimized productivity.

5) Create an Assembly Line of “Work in Progress” Trays

After the cones have been packed, the time to weigh the cones and ensure that they comply with regulation weights comes, and the best way to do so is to have a collection of “work in progress” trays. 

These trays essentially streamline the entire process, as they will be loaded only with joints that have the correct weight so they can be passed along easily to the next employee and production stage, going through each stage together until the end. This allows workers to move more efficiently knowing that what they are working on passed the previous stage.

6) Humidity Storage Packs

The freshness of cannabis is all down to the specific humidity of the milled flowers inside of the pre-roll, so if the product is not immediately packaged and sealed then it will be necessary to store them in airtight containers with humidity packs that keep them fresh. 

Humidity packs can also be added into the final packages to ensure that the freshness is maintained right until it reaches the customer.

7) Thermal Printer for Product Batch Details

Thermal printers are much more efficient and cheaper to use than traditional ink printers. Although they only print in black and white, this is sufficient for printing all batch and compliance information on the packaging. Direct thermal printers are also great for printing fully-customizable labels onto tubes and boxes that have built-in thermal coating, streamlining the entire printing process since you don’t need to first buy blank stickers that need additional handling.

8) Select the Right Pre-Roll Packaging   

In most states, marijuana product packaging needs to be both child resistant and have a tamper-resistant or tamper-evident top, while hemp products simply need to have tamper-resistant packaging in order to be compliant.

For individual pre-rolls, pre-roll tubes are often the best option for maintaining freshness, flavor, and keeping everything secure. Most pre-roll tubes are childproof and do a great job of protecting pre-rolls while preventing the smell from escaping.

For multipacks containing multiple pre-rolls, both tins and boxes are great options as they are sturdy enough to keep the product safe if the customer stores them in their pocket where flimsy packaging would lead to a damaged product.

9) Label & Seal Tamper-Evident Pre-Roll Packaging

As mentioned above, marijuana products need to be both child resistant and have tamper-evident packaging, while hemp products just need to be tamper-evident. You can find more information here about labeling requirements, but the basics that need to be included on the label are:

  • Product identity
  • The net cannabis weight in the product in both metric and US customary units
  • The applicable universal symbol
  • The product’s UID (Unique Identifier)
  • The licensed business’s information
  • The date of packaging for retail sale

Tamper-evident packaging is necessary for showing that the package has not been opened after it was sealed. This can be done using either a shrink wrap sleeve over the product, or by placing a sticker over the product that must be broken in order to open the packaging.

10) Prepare Packages for Retail Display

Placing the packaged products into retail display boxes makes it so much easier to ship them to sellers while also giving you an opportunity to add additional packaging, and therefore marketing material, that the customer is going to see on the shelf. Retail boxes also serve the purpose of protecting the finished products while they are being shipped so that all of the hard work that went into them pays off in the end. 

Retail boxes should be provided for both single options and multi-packs and can be used to show off the range of different options available to consumers. That way, if they feel impulsive, they will have all of the information right in front of them along with the best selection of your product.

And that is the process of hemp and cannabis pre-roll production with some helpful tips that will hopefully get you on your way. If you need to speak with some of the leading experts in cannabis automation and the PRO pre-roll machine then please feel free to get in touch with our team at Accelerant Manufacturing to learn more about how we can help you to scale and grow your business. 

Jacob Dooley

Jacob is the Director of Sales and Marketing at Accelerant. He's an avid skier but lives in Chicago, IL. When he's not conducting pre-roll market research, he enjoys exploring the Chicago food scene with his girlfriend and their dog, George.

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