Despite becoming officially illegal in the 1930s, cannabis has indeed come a long way – new growing and cultivation methods along with production generally enjoying robust growth over the years.
However, one thing about the drug hasn’t changed much with time moving forward: measurements. And, it should not be underestimated how important understanding the cannabis measurement system is, whether you’re a manufacturer or a consumer using it for recreational or medicinal purposes.
If you think about it – it hardly makes sense to ask your budtender just to give you $20 or $100 worth of cannabis, without understanding how much actual content you’re getting for that money. And quite likely, you have even faced some embarrassment when your budtender asked if you wanted a dub or an eight.
Here’s the good news: you’re certainly not alone. We’ve been there at some point, just about all of us. Many folks who regularly buy cannabis have been in this awkward situation, one way or another. After all, cannabis measurements can get rather confusing.
Here’s what we propose – since the cannabis metric measurement system has been around for a long, long time – rather than change it to make it more understandable or easy for the average user, let’s do our best to get used to it, shall we?
We’ve dedicated this entire article to understanding common cannabis measurements and associated terms, so that you don’t end up asking your budtender something like: “A half cup of high-THC cannabis, please”.
Cannabis Measurements Explained
Cannabis is typically sold in predetermined denominations. You may have already heard of these – e.g. gram, eighth or quarter.
However, what are we referring to when we say a ‘quarter’? A quarter of what exactly? That’s a great question – when we talk about the price and quantity for a given amount of cannabis, we need to know that the ‘common baseline denominator’ is always an ounce.
The next time you come across pricing on eighths and quarters, you’ll know that those are, in fact, 1/8ths or 1/4ths of an ounce. Make sense? Don’t worry just yet if it doesn’t, we’ll be explaining this further in just a moment.
How the ‘Gram’ Was Born
The gram is a measurement of mass derived from the International Unit System, which originally refers to how much a cubic centimetre of water weighs. In modern times though, a gram is defined as one 1/1000 of a kilogram – the current base unit for the international metric system.
Now, here’s where the general confusion accompanied by somewhat vague measurement jargon arises: discrepancies between the American scientific measurement systems and the international metric system.
That’s it! That’s all there is to it – this is why cannabis measurements tend to be confusing when you’re trying to understand how much ‘merchandise’ you need to buy and use. As it turns out they are a mix of two measurement systems, you see. It’s almost like starting a rom-com movie which takes a wrong turn and transitions into a thriller/horror movie a few minutes in; with the result that you’re left rubbing your chin, wondering out aloud: “Uh, what just happened?”
And then there’s the barrage of slang terms you need to contend with that have been around for a few years now. No matter, we’ll get to those too.
Let’s Start with Understanding the Gram
A gram is quite literally the bare minimum amount of cannabis you might expect to buy from a dispensary or caregiver. For some, this is a good starting point – if you are not sure how you will react to a specific strain, a gram is just the right amount to ‘test the waters’.
Here’s an everyday reference: a pre-rolled joint bought from a dispensary usually weighs around a gram, while hand-rolled joints may fall in the just under half a gram to over 1-gram cones category.
A gram of cannabis may cost anywhere between $7 and $15, but this amount is also the least cost effective. However, a gram is the perfect amount for testing a strain if you like to pack it in chillums or one hitters – ideal for a quick solo session, wouldn’t you say?
For further reference, a gram of cannabis equals the size of a grape.
Eighth of an Ounce
This is 1/8th of an ounce which comes to about 3.5 grams. Given the affordability factor for this amount, it happens to be the most common weight bought by majority of cannabis users. If you’re a casual-moderate smoker, ‘eights’ are ideal as this lets you roll about 7 half-gram joints or, in other words, 14 quarter-gram bowls.
Prices for an eighth of an ounce can vary – for instance, in the West Coast, you might find it to be around $25-55 while in the East Coast, prices kick off at $60. This amount, by the way, is perfect for carrying in a 5.75” x 2.75” smell-proof safety case – useful accessories typically reserved for tobacco use.
If we had to compare this amount to another fruit, we’d say it’s about the size of a kiwi.
Quarter of an Ounce
Also known as a ‘quad’, a quarter is 1/4th of an ounce which weighs 7 grams. Buying by the quad is a common practice by more regular smokers and consumers as it gives them the opportunity to really get up close and personal with the strain – an eighth just isn’t practical as it can be consumed fairly quickly.
Prices can vary on quarters, which fall around $20 for low-quality strains and hover around $60 for high-quality buds and strains.
A quarter of an ounce is about the size of an apple.
Half an Ounce
A half ounce is the equivalent of 14 grams of cannabis. You may get price breaks at the half-ounce quantity on a per gram basis.
Interestingly, a number of edibles such as cannabis oil recipes and infused butter require half an ounce of dried cannabis. However, you can certainly cook your edibles with less, although potency will suffer.
The size of a grapefruit is the best reference we can provide for this measurement.
A complete ounce of cannabis is 28 grams. Majority of users rarely go over this range as it is considered sufficient to last a single person (for at least a while). Prices usually range between $80 and $160 although some dispensaries may charge higher for finer quality cannabis by the ounce.
Buying an ounce happens to be a very cost-effective way to buy your cannabis online as many caregivers and dispensaries will offer ‘ounce specials’. If you’re a daily user, an ounce makes a lot of economic sense.
For reference, an ounce of cannabis is the size of a coconut. More than enough to last you a while, we assure you!
Common Lingo and Slangs Revolving Around Cannabis Measurements
There are quite a few cannabis slangs and terms floating around these days, and as a regular user, it pays to be familiar with each. Your budtender may refer to a few choice terms the next time you buy – you certainly don’t want to be in that awkward position where you’ve no clue what he/she is talking about:
Dime and Dub
A dime bag or dub sack is slang for cannabis worth $10 and $20, respectively. However, bear in mind that the amount you get for $10-20 may vary depending on what part of the world you’re in.
Eighth, Quarter and Half
These aren’t exactly slangs but just to reiterate, they refer to the exact same quantities highlighted above. So an eighth would mean 3.5 grams, a quarter would mean 7 grams, and, a half would refer to 14 grams of cannabis.
Ounce, ‘Full O’ and ‘Z’
The first one here, again, isn’t a slang term, but the other two certainly are. A ‘full O’, as you might imagine, refers to a complete ounce of cannabis – that’s 28 grams. In a number of US states, this is the maximum amount you can legally possess at any given time.
While a ‘full O’ is pretty much self explanatory, you may wonder what the ‘Z’ refers to. Well, the exact origins of this term got somewhat blurred in the haze of time, but most long-time users agree that their cannabis forefathers used the term to point to ‘full O’ in a quick and discreet way – without having to announce that they want to buy a full ounce!
We know what you’re thinking: “Saying an ounce doesn’t sound all that wrong, so why bother?”
You might recall that just a few years ago cannabis used to be lumped up with a host of illegal and much stronger drugs like heroine. These were sold in increments which included the ounce. And if anyone ever heard you asking to purchase an ounce, they would be led to believe that you were looking to buy something ‘super-illegal’. And so, the codeword ‘Z’ was likely born.
We’re sure that after giving this article a thorough read, your cannabis math finally adds up. On a related note, did you know that Snoop Dogg smokes 81 blunts a day? One blunt has a gram of ‘stuff’ – you do the math!
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