You and your scientist friend walk into a dispensary to grab some primo cheeba to celebrate them winning the Nobel Prize. As you both stride up to the counter and ask for an “ounce” of their finest and dankest bud.
“28 grams coming right up.” The budtender smiles.
“Excuse me,” your scientist friend interjects “what about the rest of it?”
“What do you mean?” asks the budtender, respectful of the Nobel Prize hanging from their neck.
“An ounce isn’t 28 grams. It’s 28.35 grams.”
You pull out your phone and do a quick fact check. They’re right. Scientifically, an ounce is 28.35 grams. No wonder your friend won the Nobel Prize. You do a little math on the calculator. If an ounce is really 28.35 grams, then an eighth of weed isn’t 3.5 grams. Instead, it should be 3.54375 grams.
So what gives? Have you and the entire cannabis purchasing public been getting short-changed this whole time by disreputable dispensaries and dealers? Even a small amount adds up over time. Should the industry be more concerned about accurate weights? Or, does this even matter? After all, how much weed would you have to buy for that difference to equal a whole extra eighth? Or a whole extra ounce?
Put on your math hats, smoke a focusing sativa, and let’s dive into why an eighth of weed is actually 3.54375 grams, and if it really matters in the big picture.
How Much is an Eighth of Weed Exactly?
Way back in the pre-recreational legalization times (or as 32 states call it, present day), a weed dealer was weighing out grams, eighths, quarters, and ounces on their own scale. Usually, this was a standard, cheap kitchen scale, which doesn't exactly splurge on decimals points.
Being off by a tenth of a gram could add up for a dealer in the long run, but being off by a hundredth or a thousandth of a gram wasn’t worth concerning themselves over. It was just easier for everyone to round the weight to an even 3.5 or 28 grams despite being slightly underweight, and over time, this became the widely accepted standard. So, how much is an eighth of weed? It depends on who you’re asking. To the cannabis industry, it’s 3.5g; if you’re in a laboratory, stick with 3.54375g.
Are Dispensaries Benefitiing From Under Weighing an Eighth of Weed?
Nowadays, dispensaries and grows are likewise packaging dozens if not hundreds of ounces a day. Spending resources to acquire accurate scales that can measure an eighth of weed to 3.54375 exactly, and having workers get them to this exact point, means less weed out the door and less money overall. Even if the dispensary is packaging it themselves in the shop, rounding down is just easier than trying to be scientifically accurate.
But are dispensaries and growers benefitting from saving that extra .35 grams of weed every ounce? Added up over the long run and done at volume, they could be gaining a couple extra ounces of weed every month or so that could be going to the customer. But it’s also likely that slight overweighing and underweighting of each ounce means it all breaks even. When you do the math, you’ll find that even if they’re coming out consistently ahead, it still isn’t by that much.
Does That Extra .04375 Grams Matter?
For the sake of argument, let’s say that instead of rounding down for convenience, each dispensary has intentionally been intentionally shortchanging their customers. Using only the most accurate of scientific scales, they demand each of their workers remove that extra .04375 grams with tweezers as they laugh maniacally and rub their hands together in villainous glee. Each resulting eighth of weed sold by these Mr. Burns-esque cannabis businessmen would hypothetically weigh exactly 3.5 grams to the atom (remember, this definitely isn’t happening). How much weed would you have to buy for that difference to equal a whole eighth of weed?
If we divide 3.5 by .04375, the answer is 80. So, for every 80 eighths of weed that you buy, you’ve lost out on a whole eighth. If your weed consumption is a little heftier than that, for every 80 ounces you purchase, you’re missing out on one whole ounce of weed.
Should We Demand Accurate Eighths of Weed?
This is one of those situations where even if this rounding error is not in your favor, most cannabis consumers are not missing, or even noticing 1/80th of a gram of weed missing on any given day. More than that is lost to carbonization in a bowl, or the final dry crumbles in a baggie. The amount of weed you would have to be smoking in order for those missing decimals of a gram to add up to any real weight would be huge.
Again, let’s do some math. If you’re smoking an eighth of weed a day, it would take around 2 ½ months for that extra 100th of gram to add up to a whole eighth. If you’re smoking an ounce of weed every week, it would take about a year and a half for you to have lost out on an ounce in under-weighed product. And, if you are smoking an ounce a week for non-medical purposes, a T-Break might be more a beneficial option than chasing those lost tidbits.
Even if you’re a stickler for value, it wouldn’t be worth the hassle. It wouldn’t cause the entire weed industry to get more accurate about weighing an eighth of weed or an ounce. Every dispensary and grow would have to buy scientifically accurate scales that could register gram weight to the hundred-thousandth place. Packagers would have to take time away from their other responsibilities to be certain that they measured out accurate eighths, quarters, halves, and ounces. This could mean adding or subtracting crumbs with tweezers to get the measurement accurate. In the end, this could raise prices, and all of this for an additional 1/80th more weed than you’ve already purchased.
Then there’s the additional issue: weed doesn’t even weigh the same weight over time.
Weed Loses Weight
During the drying and curing process, excess moisture and other compounds are constantly evaporating off of the cannabis buds. As these compounds leave or break down, their additional weight goes with them. Bit by bit, the longer a bud sits, the lighter it will be. In the early stages of freshness, these changes can add up to significant amounts. This is just the nature of dried cannabis flower, it is not a fixed-weight item the way that other goods are. Think of how dried leaves or flowers weigh less than fresh ones. Why does this matter?
Legalized cannabis markets are required to track their products “from seed to sale” and that includes taking accurate weight measurements to report to the state. And guess what? In order to maintain accurate readings, states must allow for a margin of error, which is caused by these moisture changes.
Let’s say a pound of weed is added to a dispensary’s inventory. Over the next few weeks or months, that weed sits on the shelves as it is sold off to customers in smaller denominations. Each gram, eighth and ounce is weighed as they go out the door. At the end of the month, the total weight of the product sold will naturally be less than what it weighed when it came in the door.
Thus, even staunch cannabis regulations must allow for weights to be off by a certain percent. If the industry did not account for cannabis flowers’ shifting weight, each and every dispensary would be held responsible for a certain weight of product that simply doesn’t exist. When you factor these minute changes into the issue of accurately weighed denominations, rounding the amounts starts to make even more sense.
3.5 Grams is Still a Good Amount
To wrap it all up, your scientist friend is right as usual. That’s why they won that Nobel Prize. Precise, scientifically accurate measurements matter when you’re combining chemicals into new life-saving compounds or building a space telescope. However, weed is less of an exact science and more of a plant medicine.
While it can feel a little unfair to get shortchanged by a business after spending your hard-earned money, in the end, it’s too little weed to notice. As you walk out of the dispensary with your scientist friend and your slightly-less-than-an-actual-ounce of weed, rest assured that you two will still get baked enough that you won’t even notice the missing .35 grams extra. Don’t let it get in the way of your celebration.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is an Eighth the Same as 3.5 grams?
In weed terms, yes. It’s an eighth of an ounce of weed.
What is 3.5 g Considered?
3.5 grams is considered an eighth of an ounce of weed.
How Much is a Zip?
A zip is a full ounce, or 28 grams of weed