Recreational weed has only been legal in California for a few years now. That means that every day, there are people visiting dispensaries for the first time. Whether it’s your first time using cannabis, or your first time using legal cannabis, walking into a dispensary for the first time can be intimidating. That experience becomes even more intimidating when you’re faced with unfamiliar cannabis measurements.
So what is a gram of pot? And eighths, quarters, and halves—what is that measurement referring to? Is 20 percent THC going to be an intense strain or a mellow high? And what about edibles?
If these are questions you’ve asked yourself recently, then you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn more about how to measure weed, and where you should start as a new cannabis user.
What About Edibles?
Wondering how to measure the weed present in edibles? Well, first you’ll need to forget everything you’ve learned so far about how to measure weed.
Edibles are an entirely different ball game because edibles are absorbed into your body in a much more potent, long-lasting way than when you smoke pot. That means it’ll take a lot less weed to get high and stay that way for several hours.
Instead of grams, the potency of edibles is measured in milligrams—or one-thousands of a gram. Edible potencies can range anywhere from 5 milligrams of THC in a serving to 500 milligrams, and higher.
As with flower, it’s a good idea to start on the lower end of the edible spectrum. Edible highs can last for up to eight hours—so if you eat one that’s too strong, it could be a seriously traumatic experience for you.
For your first edible experience, try a 5 milligram serving to see how you like it. If you enjoy 5 milligrams, you can start slowly working your way up the spectrum to see which potency suits you best.
And if you ever do eat an edible that’s too strong, don’t panic—try making yourself as comfortable as possible, put on some relaxing music or a calming movie, drink lots of water and remember that it’s only a temporary situation.
Start With a Gram
Butter comes in sticks, eggs come in a dozen, and milk comes in a quart container. That’s what a gram is for pot; it’s the basic starting place for measurements of weed.
A gram is one-thousandth of a kilogram—or, for a more familiar metric, one gram of weed will make for about two average-sized joints. If you’re new to smoking pot, or just want to try out a new strain, you can’t go wrong with a gram.
A gram is also typically the smallest unit to buy pot at a dispensary—though sometimes you might be able to buy a half-gram pre-rolled joint.
Prices for grams will greatly vary depending on the quality, supply versus demand, and where you’re buying it. But, generally speaking, you should be able to pick up a gram of decent flower for between $10 and $20.
Eighths, Quarters, Halves and Ounces
If buying a gram of pot is like purchasing one can of soda, then buying an ounce of pot is like picking up a 24-pack of soda. It’s a way to buy in bulk, so you can save money in the long run and be stocked up on flower for a while.
In fact, one ounce is equal to about 28 grams. Other cannabis measurements that you might come across at a dispensary are also based on ounces.
An eighth is one-eighth of an ounce or about 3.5 grams. A quarter is about seven grams. And a halve is about 14 grams.
If you come across a strain that you particularly like, then it’s a good idea to buy a larger measurement—especially if it’s a popular new strain that might sell out quickly. Dispensaries will also typically have better deals on flower as you buy it in larger quantities.
An ounce is typically the largest amount you’ll be able to buy at a dispensary in a single day.
Why is it vital to calculate edible dosage correctly?
Edibles are distinct from other methods of cannabis delivery in several key ways. For starters, the human body processes the THC present in edibles differently. The digestive process transforms THC into 11-hydroxy-THC, which is more potent, long-lasting, and has more pronounced sedative properties. Edibles also have a delayed onset thanks to the digestive process. The high can take up to two hours to fully kick in and once it does, it can last six hours or sometimes longer. Finally, edibles can affect individuals differently. History of cannabis use, weight, age, genetics, diet, and gastrointestinal health all influence an individual’s response to edibles.
An overview of edible potency
The potency of edibles is measured differently from that of flower or concentrate. In edibles, cannabinoid concentration is expressed in milligrams rather than as a percentage. THC and CBD concentrations, along with the total cannabinoid content, are typically identified on manufactured products.
Before you pull out the recipe for your favorite homemade edible, first familiarize yourself with the potency of your chosen flower. Confirm the percentage of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids in that sampling of flower. THC potency can vary dramatically across different varieties, and flower is generally much stronger today than it was 40 years ago. If you don’t know the potency of the flower you’re working with, you will not be able to calculate the edible dose accurately.
Next use the flower to create a weed-infused butter or oil by gently heating it within a carrier fat. “Remember that you can’t just use raw cannabis because raw cannabis doesn’t contain much THC, it contains the precursor, THCA,” said Dr. Jordan Tishler, cannabis physician and instructor at Harvard School of Medicine. “To convert the THCA to THC, you have to carry out a step called decarboxylation.”
How to Calculate THC Percentage
Now that you understand how to measure weed, you might be curious about what the percentages on the weed menu are referring to.
Those percentages are telling you how much THC or CBD there is per volume in that particular flower strain. THC is the psychoactive element present in cannabis, while CBD is used to treat anxiety and pain relief.
Typically, THC percentages will be in the 10 to 30 percent range, with a few special outliers on either end.
If you are new to using cannabis or haven’t used it in years, then you might want to start with a strain that has a relatively low THC percentage, like 10 or 15 percent. Cannabis you buy in a dispensary in 2020 is typically going to be much stronger than the joint you smoked once at a concert 20 years ago, so starting on the low end will ensure you don’t have a bad first experience.
Once you’ve gotten a better feel for what you can handle, you can start experimenting with different strains with higher THC percentages.