Weed Measurements Guide: Understand Grams, Eighths & Quarters


    It can feel rather confusing the first time that you go into a dispensary to buy weed; everyone seems to be talking about eighths and quarters, and you have no idea what these measurements mean. It can easily appear as though the industry has its own secret language that everyone understands but you. But do not be put off, because once you understand the basics, the rest just falls into place.

    There are a few important things to understand before you get into the exact terminology of these measurements. The most important is that the system uses a mix of metric and imperial measurements. This strange combination of measurement systems makes it difficult to get your head around exactly how much weed you are purchasing. Small quantities of weed are referred to in grams, while more massive amounts are measured in ounces. If that was not enough to confuse you, there is what feels like a never-ending array of slang words that are used to refer to the most common qualities of weed.

    Let’s take a look at the most common measurements you will come across when talking about weed and what they mean.

    What is a Gram of Weed?

    A gram is the smallest quantity of weed that is sold in most places these days and is roughly enough weed to roll one joint. A gram of weed packed together is around the same size as a grape and used to be sold in small ziplock bags that were called dime bags. So, if you ever hear somebody refer to a dime bag when discussing weed, they are probably talking about a gram of weed. A gram is sometimes also called a ben, a draw, and even cotton candy, although these are not as commonly used.

    How long a gram of weed lasts is going to depend on your tolerance levels and how much you decide to smoke in one go. For an experienced user, a gram is enough to roll one joint and will likely be consumed in one sitting, whereas for novice smokers, it is possible to make a gram last multiple days. If you are planning on smoking with a friend or two and have low tolerance, a gram of weed should be enough for you to share in one session and still feel moderate to strong effects.

    What is an Eighth of Weed?

    An eighth refers to 1/8 of an ounce and is the smallest quantity of weed that uses the imperial measurement system. A 1/8 of an ounce is around 3.5 grams and, when packed together, is roughly the same size as kiwi fruit. For somebody who smokes maybe once or twice a day, an eighth can last anywhere from a week to two weeks. With an eighth, you can expect to roll 3 to 4 joints, which should be enough for a group of friends to enjoy over the course of an evening.

    What is a Quarter of Weed?

    A quarter is double an eighth and weighs in at 7 grams. It is the size of an apple when packed together. A quarter is sometimes referred to as a ‘Q’ for short, so if somebody says they have a Q of weed, you know that they have a ¼ of an ounce. Another common name for a quarter is a matchbox because a quarter of weed fits perfectly into a matchbox. The name originates from the 1940s when weed would often be sold in matchboxes, and is still sometimes used today.

    A gram, an eighth and a quarter are the three main terms that you will hear being thrown around within the industry, but there are a few other measurements that it is worth being aware of.

    Other Measurements That Are Worth Understanding

    Once you start to understand the measurement system and know that the fractions being referred to are in relation to an ounce, everything starts to slot into place. For example, a half is another common measurement that is used when talking about weed and perfectly follows the rule, being half of an ounce. A half is equal to 14 grams and is roughly the size of a grapefruit. For recreational purposes, this can last anywhere from one to three months depending on how often you smoke. A half is sometimes called a sandwich bag, as 14 grams of weeds perfectly fits into a standard size sandwich bag.

    An ounce is the maximum amount of weed that you can purchase at one time in the majority of states in America where recreational weed is legal. An ounce is 28 grams, or the size of a coconut, and has a number of different names that you might hear used. The two most common names that are used are ‘O’ – an obvious shortening of an ounce – and a ‘zip.’ An ounce got the nickname zip because it is enough weed to fill a ziplock bag, which is commonly how it used to be packaged and sold. Some of the stranger names that an ounce has been given of the years include a can, a lid, and a zone.

    If all of this talk of grams and ounces was not enough to confuse you, there is one more unit of measurement that is important to understand: A pound. Rather self-explanatory, a pound is just that, a pound of weed. For the sake of comparison, this is 16 ounces or 453 grams. This is not a term commonly used by people outside of the industry due to this being more weed that it is legal to purchase at one time, filling as much space as a watermelon.

    What These Measurements Mean for Purchasing Laws

    Understanding the terminology of weed measurements is not just useful for conversations with friends, but also understanding how much you are legally allowed to purchase and carry with you at one time. Each state has its own laws about how much you can purchase at one time.

    Let’s take a look at the 11 states where recreational weed is legal and what restrictions are in place with regards to quantities.

    Some states like to keep it nice and simple. For example, in Alaska, 1 ounce is the maximum that you can purchase and have on you at one time, without obtaining an exclusive license. Other states like to make it slightly more confusing. In Colorado, the amount you can purchase at one time depends on the form that the weed is in. If you are looking to purchase weed in flower form there is a limit of 1 ounce; but as a concentrate, the limit goes up to 8 ounces; and when buying edibles, the measurements completely change with a limit of 800 mg. Milligrams refers to the CBD or THC content within the edible, rather than the weight of the entire product.

    Massachusetts is not far behind Colorado in terms of complexity, with only a slightly more straightforward system. In Massachusetts, you can buy 1 ounce of weed at a time; however, up can only purchase 5 grams as a concentrate. There are separate laws regulating how much you can purchase if you have a medical marijuana card within Massachusetts, with a limit of 10 ounces every two months.

    Most states have distinguished between medical and recreational use, setting different limits as to the amount of weed that you can purchase and have on you at one time. In California you are currently only allowed to purchase 1 ounce at a time for recreational use but up to 8 ounces if you have a medical card. There is absolutely no consistency between states, with Maine allowing 2.5 ounces of recreational weed to be purchased at one time – over double the limit in California – but it then has much stricter limits on how much you can purchase with a medical card. In Maine, you can only purchase 5 ounces of weed for medical purposes per month.

    Nevada and Washington are two states that seem to be able to agree that 1 ounce is an acceptable limit for recreational use, although their medical limits are very different. In Nevada, you can purchase 5 ounces for medical use, but this cannot exceed 2.5 ounces every two weeks. Whereas, in Washington, there is a clear limit of 3 ounces per month to be purchased. In Oregon, things get really confusing, with a 24 ounce limit for medical use and an 8 ounce limit for recreational use, with an added addendum that you can only have 1 ounce in your possession in public spaces. Washington D.C. decided to keep things simple, with a 2-ounce limit regardless of your intended use.

    With recreational weed still being relatively new in most states, laws are still unclear and are very much working progress. In Michigan, there are currently no dispensaries for recreational purchasing, and as a result, there is no limit in place, although there are restrictions as to how much weed you can have in your possession and in your home for recreational means. If you have a medical card, you can only purchase 2.5 ounces at one time. Another state that is still working on setting limits is Vermont, where you can currently purchase 2 ounces every 30 days if you qualify for medical marijuana but state legislators are still in the process of deciding the limits regarding recreational weed.

    Final Thoughts on Weed Measurements and What They Mean

    While it might appear daunting at first, you quickly get used to the terminology surrounding weed measurement and, once you learn a few simple rules, you can logically infer the rest of the necessary measures that are used. The key measurements to keep in mind are an eighth and an ounce; once you understand these, the rest just slots into place.

    Now that you know all the weird, esoteric little ways of measuring weed, you can feel confident ordering it at your local dispensary. It may be confusing, but hey, who knows? Maybe the weed world will one day properly switch to metric and save everyone a headache.

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