This CBD Brand Rolls Hemp Blunts for a Better Smoking Experience
Sway founders talk origins, inspirations, and hopes for a more modern blunt culture.
When it comes to subcultures within cannabis, few are more established than blunt culture. From the lyrics of hip-hop legends to the iconic visuals of on-screen tokers, they have a rich, romantic set of associations that can make every puff feel special—and a little badass.
If you’ve never partaken yourself, a blunt tastes and smokes very differently from a joint: There’s more weed per inhale because of the wider size of a blunt and a more potent, heady high from the traditional tobacco wrapper used as a paper.
Compared to rolling a joint, it’s a different art altogether. Roll a crappy joint with a tiny amount of weed, and you can make a sesh out of it. Roll a bad blunt? It’s back to square one. It requires too much weed to waste on a poorly assembled blunt, and because it requires an ample supply of flower, it’s not always a practical mode of smoking.
For all of these reasons, Melody Wright and Sonia Fay Wright founded Sway in 2019—a CBD brand rolling hemp blunts that can ship nationwide. Their blunts are filled with CBD-rich hemp flower and wrapped in fan leaves from hemp plants, so they don’t contain any tobacco. They come in a mini Pinner size, a .5-gram Slim size, and a 2-gram Thai Stick rolled in a maté and cacao hemp wrap to impart more of the traditional Swisher Sweet blunt flavor.
The brand also experimented with other non-tobacco wraps like banana leaf (“almost a chicory taste”), and they collaborated with smoking herbs brand Barbari on a beautiful custom blunt coated in blue lotus petals.
Wright and Stolfo sat down with us in their manufacturing space in Portland, Oregon to talk origins, inspirations, and hopes for modern blunt alternatives.
Thrillist: Tell me about your first blunt experience.
Melody Wright: I was 17 or 18, and I wanted to wear my big brother’s shoes to school. I grabbed them out from under his bed, and when I went to put them on, I found like an ounce of weed inside. I not only wore the shoes that day—I took his weed, too. I went to my friend’s house down the street later, and she was like, “I know what to do with this.” She rummages in her garage and pulls out an ancient Swisher Sweet package, and without breaking up or grinding the weed at all, sort of smashed it into a cylinder. A lot fell out of the blunt, it didn’t smoke well at all, but it was perfect.
Sonia Fay Wright: Honestly, I think my first blunt was with Mel. A profound early smoking experience happened when I was in college, though, while on a sort of homestay in East Africa. We spent time with hunter-gatherers in Tanzania, and each night, we’d spend hours with them around the fire, drinking beers and playing each other music. One of the ways the touring company would pay these people for hosting us was giving them a huge bundle of tobacco wrapped up in newspaper. These people would just tear off little bits of newspaper and roll up the tobacco with it. I tried it—very harsh—but such an interesting experience that I brought with me into Sway.
Here are people who still built a fresh grass hut home every couple of days, depending on where they ended up. And here we are, rolling up stuff to smoke together. It struck me how this tradition of humans smoking plants is a very, very, very old tradition, and very much a part of the human condition. We just love to smoke plants.
How did Sway get started?
SFW: When we first started dating in 2016, Mel had an idea to make Thai stick blunts for the THC market. I decided to help her try to do that, although we soon realized you basically have to have millions of dollars to get a cannabis producer license in Oregon, get a facility, and all of that. We found a partner to make it possible, and then that fell through. By now, it’s 2018, and the Farm Bill is kicking off the hemp industry, and we were like, ok we can still do this.
Where did the name Sway come from?
SFW: It comes from this idea of what your smoking ritual does to your state of mind and body. To me, I think of those heart monitors at hospitals, and how cannabis makes me go from rapid, up-and-down, zig-zag patterns to a calm, steady beep. When you’re meditating, sometimes you’ll find your body naturally moving back and forth a little. It’s that concept of getting centered and calming the extremes.
Do you think your customers are mostly traditional blunt smokers looking for a healthier option?
SFW: We tend to serve two groups of smokers: one being people who enjoy blunts, spliffs, etc., but don’t want tobacco, and the other being the people who like smoking pot but realize they aren’t very functional on it. That’s me—I’m one of those people who has to stop myself from smoking all the time. I love smoking. But I can’t smoke as much weed as I want, because then I’ll just take a long nap, and then my whole day has gone to shit.
MW: Our Pinners are that perfect little throat hit to help you satisfy the craving and quit tobacco. They’re ideal for smoke breaks when you need to take a beat, and the Thai Sticks are more ceremonial and celebratory.
How are the blunts constructed?
MW: We don’t condone littering, but you could litter a Sway roach. The hemp filter; the hemp paper—it’s all compostable, biodegradable hemp. Right now, I roll every single blunt. I use a mold for thai stick construction, using a dowel to stack the flower around, and wrapping the fan leaves around as the paper. The pinners are rolled with a hand roller to keep things a little more consistent at that size.
What makes blunts special to you?
MW: Joints are special, they just burn so fast. When you really take the time to roll a good blunt, pack it well, it just keeps going. Around and around. They give you more time in your sesh, and more time in that head space.
SFW: Also, you don’t have to hesitate to take a pause with a blunt. If somebody passes you a joint, and you take a minute to keep talking, someone’s going to tell you to hurry up. With a blunt, you have time.
MW: Exactly—you can’t rush a blunt. Also, a great blunt roller is just something to behold. You know it when you see them inspect it as they roll it up, carefully ensuring there are no flaps, no air pockets that will affect the burn. They take a lighter and run it along the finished product to finish the seal. Rolling a great blunt is like casting a hypnotic spell.