Cannabis is the most widely used “illicit” substance in the world, and that was true even before the wave of legalization took the United States and the international community by storm. But because cannabis has been prohibited for so long, there are a lot of questions about what “normal” cannabis behavior looks like. Of chief concern is quantity—how much weed are people smoking?
A Very Unscientific Answer
To get a general idea of how many grams people smoke a day, I gathered the responses from forum boards on Cannabis.com, Rollitup.org, Bluelight.org, and Grasscity.com about how much these forum contributors smoked a day. I included responses that could be calculated in grams. Comments measuring cannabis in bowls, joints, spliffs, or the very specific quantity, “all day, every day,” weren’t included in these numbers.
Based on the forum responses, it seems like most people consume a gram or less a day. In total, I recorded the responses from 131 people, and here's what I found:
- 51.9% said they smoked a gram or less
- 21.4% said they smoked about 2 grams
- 10.7% said they smoked about 3 grams
- 9.9% said they smoked about 4 grams
- 2.3% said they smoked about 5 grams a day
- 3.8% said they smoked more than 5 grams a day—one of those respondents said he smoked ten grams a day.
This wasn’t a super scientific survey. For one, there is no way to verify the authenticity of the claims made on forums. The contributors are anonymous and even in their responses, they admitted that the numbers they were sharing were estimates. Most importantly, the amount people smoke a day depends on a host of variables that often weren’t mentioned in the forum’s comments.
It’s hard to say what’s typical—or “normal”—because people smoke in different ways and for different reasons. Here are some of the factors that contribute to how much pot a person consumes in a day.
Inhalation method plays a significant role in the amount of cannabis consumed. Vaporizers are extremely efficient ways to inhale cannabis because they heat flower or oil at a much lower temperature than combustion methods do.That translates into less cannabis burned away before the pipe hits the lips. Though some ardently disagree, most smokers believe that joints are the worst option when trying to conserve because they burn at an extremely high temperature. That means a lot of weed is wasted to combustion. A rolled gram is not the same thing as a vaporized gram. The bottom line is that the way you inhale makes a difference.
Another important variable to consider is the purpose of the smoke. Consuming for recreation versus for medication is going to make a big difference in terms of daily consumption. Patients medicating chronic pain are probably going to consume at least a couple of grams a day. Patients who are medicating anxiety may smoke only before they know they are going to encounter a trigger. Or they may smoke all the time to avoid that altogether. Some people only smoke socially, while others enjoy life most when they are high.
The cost of cannabis consumption is one of its most limiting factors. People who grow their own pot are likely going to smoke more of it because it is far more economical for them. Those who choose to purchase their weed are looking at an average of about $10 per gram and about $300 per ounce. A significant portion of the forum posters made it clear that they would smoke a lot more if they could afford it.
Age and history of cannabis consumption are factors that contribute to daily intake quantities as well. Smokers who have made cannabis a part of their lifestyle for years are more likely to smoke larger quantities than those who have just started. At the same time, younger smokers may be more willing to risk larger amounts in one session than older consumers who may have more responsibilities than their younger counterparts and are consequently trying to avoid couchlock.
Is There Such a Thing as Too Much?
The more pot your smoke and the more frequently, the greater a tolerance your body will build to its effects. People who said they smoked more than three grams a day also tended to have a smoking relationship that spanned multiple decades while self-described novice smokers seemed totally content with a fraction of a gram. But outside of becoming more tolerant to the effects of THC, are there risks associated with smoking large quantities of pot on a frequent basis?
Cannabis is a psychoactive substance, and there are always risks involved when imbibing, no matter how great or small the quantity. That is especially true for certain people, especially given the paucity of evidence surrounding the consequences of their cannabis use. There is some evidence suggesting that cannabis use during adolescence could have a negative effect on brain development. Additionally, the effects of cannabis on a fetus during pregnancy or on breastfeeding infants aren’t known. That doesn’t mean that they would definitively be bad, especially in comparison to synthetic medications given to alleviate morning sickness, post-partum depression, or any ailment requiring opioids during or after pregnancy. It just means that cannabis consumption comes with a risk, and if you don’t have to take it, it might be a good idea not to.
Beyond these considerations, the answer to how much cannabis is “too much” depends. It’s a lot like food consumption. There is not a standard amount of calories and nutrients for human consumption. A sustainable and healthy diet is wholly contingent upon activity levels in the day, height, sex, metabolism, health, physical goals, and an array of conditions no blanket diet can cover. If you are using cannabis to medicate a debilitating condition, the severity of any risks of long-term consumption may pale in comparison to living with the disease without cannabis. At the same time, if the amount you consume gets in the way of your relationships, work, and/or financial obligations, you may want to take a closer look at your relationship with Mary.
Cannabis has an array of therapeutic benefits and plays a significant role in improving the well-being of those who consume it. But as with anything, respecting boundaries that align with the limits of your emotional and physical health are an essential component of consuming cannabis responsibly.