Weed Measurements: The Marijuana Metric System
Do you tell your budtender just to give you $20, $50, or $100 worth of weed without knowing how much actual medicine you’re getting for your money? Have you ever felt embarrassed when your budtender asks if you want a dub or an eighth because you have no @#!$ing idea what they are talking about?
Does the world stop making sense when your budtender tells you how much an ounce of your favorite strain costs? It’s ok, you’re not alone. We’ve all been there.
Many people who are green to buying grass have felt this way at one point or another. That’s because weed measurements are messed up.
There, we said it! Weed measurements are messed up. Whew, feels good to get that off our chest. Seems like someone should reform this particular speed bump in canna-culture. But, honestly, the marijuana metric system has been around for so long that it’s going to be nearly impossible to change. Better just to get used to it.
That’s why the experts at Honest Marijuana have produced this instructional article—to help you make sense of the various standard amounts that you’ll find in your local dispensary. That way, you don’t have to look like a total newb when you make your first buy. Weed measurements no longer need to be a mystery!
Along the way, we’ll also:
- Explain all the ganja jargon commonly used among cannabis users in the United States.
- Break down some regional pot prices by size so you can make sure you’re not getting ripped off by your reefer retailer.
- Establish some cannabis concentrate conversions so you know roughly how much marijuana it takes to make butter for concentrates, edibles , oil , and tinctures .
If you want to become an expert in marijuana measurement, read this guide from start to finish. If you’ve come here looking for something specific, we’ll help you find it. Follow these links to each section of the article:
And don’t feel bad if you don’t get it all down on the first try. It may take a while to understand all the conversions and jargon. But with a little practice, you’ll be talking like a long-time stoner in no time.
Marijuana Measurement Madness
Most Americans are used to measuring things with the United States’ Customary Units as opposed to the International System of Units , better known as the Metric System.
Indeed, one of the most confusing things about purchasing and consuming cannabis in the United States is that we use a combination of international metrics and US units to describe the quantities of cannabis we use in our everyday lives.
Ounces and pounds are examples of US Customary Units that we borrowed from the British before General Washington’s hemp-clad continental army won our nation’s independence.
The gram , a measurement of mass from the International System of Units, originally referred to the weight of a cubic centimeter of water. A gram is now more simply defined as one one-thousandth of a kilogram , which is the current base unit of the international metric system.
The general confusion and vague jargon that every single cannabis consumer has to comprehend in order to keep track of how much medicine they buy and use is the result of the discrepancies between international and U.S. scientific measurement systems.
That’s why weed measurements are so confusing: they are a mix of two different measurement systems. It’s like watching a movie that starts off as a rom-com and then suddenly changes to a horror movie about twenty minutes in. At the end, you’re left scratching your head and wondering what the hell just happened.
But it doesn’t stop there. Even if you understand the whole grams-ounces-pound thing, you still have to contend with the long list of slang terms that have come and gone over the years.
In the next section, we’ll clarify the conversion between grams and ounces and introduce you to the corresponding ganja jargon.
Ganja Jargon for Measuring Weed
There’s a lot of marijuana slang floating around out there. For the most part, though, it all revolves around a few choice terms. Your budtender will typically refer to their Mary Jane by the following names:
- Full O (or just O)
- Z (yes, just the letter Z)
Here’s the definition of each.
Dime & Dub
A dime bag or a dub sack of weed is stoner slang for $10- or $20-worth of weed respectively. The amount of weed you’ll actually get in exchange for $10-$20 varies wildly depending upon where in the country (or the world) you’re buying your pot.
Eighth, Quarter, Half
The terms Eighth, Quarter, and Half are slang for portions of an ounce of pot. Here are the gram-to-ounce equivalents:
- An Eighth = 3.5 grams
- A Quarter = 7 grams
- A Half = 14 grams
Ounce, Full O, Z
“Ounce” isn’t a slang term, but “Full O” and “Z” certainly are! A Full O (or just O) and a Z refer to a full ounce (or 28 grams) of marijuana. An ounce is also the most marijuana that a resident of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington can legally possess in public.
“Full O” is fairly self-explanatory (short for full ounce), but you may be wondering where in the wide weed world the term “Z” came from. As with most cannabis slang , the exact origins of the word are lost in the pot haze of time.
Most long-time stoners agree, though, that they — or their canna-forefathers (and foremothers) — used the term as a sort of code so they didn’t have to say ounce directly.
“Why couldn’t they say ounce?” you ask. Well, remember, not so long ago, weed was lumped together with a host of really nasty drugs like heroin and crack. Most of these were sold in increments that included the ounce.
So, if you were overheard asking to buy an ounce, there was a pretty good chance you were looking to score an illegal substance. Hence the need for a code word like “Z.”
But why “Z” and not “R” or “J” or something else entirely? Again, we don’t know for sure, but the consensus usually falls into one of two camps, with the second being the most common.
- “Z” refers to the final letter in the abbreviation for the word ounce (i.e., oz.). Sounds good, right? Still, it does seem like a bit of a stretch. The next explanation feels a lot more likely.
- Back in the day, we didn’t have the cool packaging we have now. A glass jar was a bit cumbersome and prone to break should a sky-high stoner drop it or fall down. To avoid this danger, buds and other marijuana products were often sold in plastic baggies. When Ziploc bags came on the market, it was only natural that cannaseurs would use them to keep their weed fresh. And by a stroke of good fortune, an ounce of marijuana would fit nicely (most of the time) in these containers. See where we’re going? So if you wanted to buy an ounce of pot, you could say, “I’d like to purchase a Ziploc baggie of your finest marijuana product, good sir.” Or you could just say, “Gimme a Z, man.” Which would you choose? Yeah, us too.
We hate homework too, but there’s a reason schools have been doling out take-home assignments since the dawn of time — it works. Practice — though it won’t make perfect — does make better. And that’s all we really care about here: improving the way we buy weed.
One of the best ways to do that — to get a grip on the marijuana metric system — is to measure amounts for yourself at home.
And when you think about it, this type of homework isn’t nearly as bad as memorizing multiplication tables (some of us still can’t remember the product of 8×7) because it involves everyone’s favorite topic: dating Mary Jane.
Plus, we actually suggest that you burn a blunt before tackling this homework and then treat yourself to a pizza when you’re done.
You might even want to incorporate weed measurements into your next toke sesh with friends. Guessing what weighs what would make an entertaining game to play before, during, and after the smoke circle.
But, hey, do what you want. There’re no hard or fast rules for this homework. You won’t even be graded. You will, however, be judged by those around you which can be the harshest grade of all.
What You’ll Need
You will need some supplies for this, so plan accordingly.
- Food scale
- Marijuana substitute
- Seven bowls for separating your stash
- Measuring spoons (we’re just using these to scoop small amounts so don’t worry about trying to convert from grams our ounces to teaspoons)
Food scales are cheap and easy to find, and you can probably find a suitable model at your local market. As a bonus, once you’re finished practicing your weed measurements, you can use the scale to weigh your food.
Be sure to purchase a model that allows you to switch between ounces and grams.
As for the marijuana substitute, we prefer oregano for its symbolic value in cannabis history and culture.
Honestly, you don’t need a marijuana substitute if you’ve got a lot of the real thing lying around. But be warned, we will be weighing out 4 ounces (¼ pound), so you’ll need at least that much to get through the assignment.
Now you see why we suggest a substitute? A quarter-pound of weed purchased all at one time will run you anywhere from $400 to $800 (check local listings). A quarter-pound of oregano purchased at your local market will run you less than $2. The choice is obvious to us.
- Set your food scale to grams. If your model doesn’t offer this feature, you’re stuck with ounces. Don’t worry. We’ll make due.
- Reset the scale to zero by pressing “tare.”
- Scoop or sprinkle a small amount of plant matter (marijuana or equivalent substitute) onto the scale until you reach 0.5 grams (0.017 or 0.018 ounces). It won’t take much.
- Dump this amount into one of your seven bowls.
- Reset the scale.
- Add plant matter to the scale until it read 1 gram (0.035 ounces).
- Dump this amount into another bowl.
- Compare the two amounts.
- These are the most common gram units you’ll find in the marijuana metric system so try and get an eye for their relative size.
- Set your food scale to ounces.
- Reset to zero.
- Scoop plant matter onto your scale until it reads 0.125 ounces (3.5 grams).
- This is an eighth of weed.
- Dump it into another bowl.
- Reset your scale.
- Pile on enough plant matter to take the scale to 0.25 ounces (7 grams).
- This is a quarter (of an ounce).
- Dump it into another bowl.
- Reset your scale.
- Measure out 0.5 ounces (14 grams).
- Dump it into your fifth bowl.
- Reset your scale.
- Measure out 1.0 ounces (28 grams).
- This is, as you might guess, an ounce, an “O”, or a “Z”.
- Dump that into your sixth bowl.
- Reset your scale.
- Now, just for fun, measure out 2.0 ounces (56 grams or ¼ pound).
- Dump that into your seventh bowl.
- Stand back and visually compare each amount.
- Repeat the process for even more practice.
Being able to visually recognize the general size of a pile of weed — even if it’s not exact — makes buying it even easier.
When you think you’ve got the size of each pile in your head, try this test:
- Weigh one of your bowls on the scale.
- Remove the bowl and reset the scale.
- Pick an amount of weed you want to try to measure (let’s say, an eighth of an ounce).
- Pour what you think is that amount into the bowl.
- Place the bowl on the scale.
- Subtract the weight of the bowl from the new reading.
- That number is how much plant matter is in the bowl.
Did you get close to the number you were trying to measure? Try it again with another amount.
Asking for a dime usually means you are asking for $10-worth of cannabis . This amount of cannabis (often 0.5g) is usually just enough weed to roll into a decent-sized joint. That said, it is becoming increasingly rare to find so-called “ dime-bag dealers ” who will sell such a small amount of sinsemilla .
Asking for a dub usually means you are asking for a full gram of cannabis. One gram of weed is what you’ll typically find in a single blunt or cigar leaf joint. You can expect to pay $20 for a dub of weed in major cities in the Midwest and along the eastern seaboard (Chicago all the way to Boston).
However, Harrison Tesoura Schultz, co-founder of Occupy Weed Street, has paid up to $50 for a single gram of pot from delivery services in New York City.
Anything less than 1.5 grams for $20 was a rip off in Oregon prior to July 8, 2014, when recreational cannabis became available for sale. Now it’s common to get 3.5 grams or “an eighth” of high-quality cannabis for $20 in Oregon.
The cost of an ounce of weed will vary widely according to the quality and popularity of the strain , of course. However, regulating and taxing marijuana drives down the price of pot and helps cannabis consumers save lots of money.
A high-quality ounce of weed typically costs between $200 and $245 where recreational reefer use is legal in California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. An ounce of pot costs comparatively more in states where marijuana hasn’t been legalized yet. Cannabis costs close to $300 per ounce in Florida, nearly $360 in New York, and just over $350 per ounce in Illinois, according to priceofweed.com .
The price for an ounce of pot is the basis of the prices for the other common portions of weed that are typically sold. For example, the best deal you’ll find in New York City (a.k.a. the marijuana arrest capital of the world) is $45 for an eighth of an ounce ($360 divided by 8).
You can purchase the same amount of high-quality cannabis for as little as $25 (or less) in certain cities in Oregon.
Purchasing a small electronic scale is the best way to make sure that you’re not paying more than you should be for pot. It’s also the most accurate way to measure your doses of medicinal marijuana. You can get a sense of how much you can expect to pay for pot in your part of the world from priceofweed.com, a global database of crowdsourced cannabis prices.
We highly recommend reporting any really good (and really bad) deals you get on your medicine to that same website. This will help control the market and make the average price of marijuana more affordable.
Cannabis Concentrate Measurements
It’s typical to produce about two to six grams of dabs or butane hash oil ( wax ) from a full ounce, or 28 grams, of ganja. Vaporizable cannabis concentrates can cost anywhere between $20 (if you’re lucky) up to $100 per gram.
An ounce of pot will also produce about three to four grams of the same cannabis oil that Rick Simpson used to save himself and thousands of other medical marijuana patients from terminal cancer.
Colorado residents can buy Rick Simpson oil for $25 dollars a gram from legal dispensaries, such as Caregivers for Life.
You can make way more cannabutter than you would ever want to eat in a single weed edible serving with an ounce of weed depending on how well you can make it.
Most marijuana users make their own cannabutter , but you can buy a 1.5-ounce jar of high-quality cannabutter from top THC chef Julie Dooley for $35-$30 dollars.
An eighth of an ounce of high-quality cannabis produces about 30-34 doses of marijuana tincture if you make it yourself, and a small bottle of about 100 drops costs around $20 dollars.
Making the Marijuana Math Make Sense
Is the marijuana math adding up? You should be able to calculate that Snoop Dogg is smoking not quite three (2.89) ounces of cannabis a day since he says he smokes 81 blunts every day, given that 1 blunt equals about 1 gram and there are 28 grams in one full ounce of marijuana.
It is entirely possible that Snoop has smoked nearly an entire ton of cannabis over the course of his life if we take his estimate as accurate.
The marijuana metric system is a confusing class of Standard International Units and US Customary units. But when you boil it all down, the main cannabis conversion you need to remember is:
- 1 ounce of weed = 28 grams
From there, it’s pretty easy to decipher the ganja jargon to calculate that “a half” equals 14 grams, “a quarter” equals 7 grams, an eighth equals 3.5 gram, and “a dub” will typically equal one full gram of marijuana.
Once you know how to do the math, you can determine if making your own marijuana concentrates, oils, edibles, and tinctures will help you save on cannabis costs based upon the price of weed in your area.
Make sure to support legalization efforts on behalf of groups such as NORML and the Marijuana Policy Project if you want to help make marijuana increasingly more affordable for yourself and your community.
Need help deciphering the common weed measurements? The experts at Honest Marijuana explain the marijuana metric system so you can buy your pot like a pro.