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How Much Weed Is in a Joint? Pot Experts Have a New Estimate

How much marijuana is in a typical joint? Believe it or not, the question has perplexed experts for years. A new study claims to have an accurate estimate based on federal arrest data, and it’s less than regular users think.

Arriving at a trustworthy estimate is important for many reasons, including informing policy makers, law enforcement officials, health care providers and researchers.

Casual and scientific analyses have yielded a wide range of guesses as to the average contents of a marijuana cigarette, whether purchased or prepared at home.

At least one study placed the typical weight at 0.66 grams. The federal government has said it is closer to 0.43 grams.

The estimates from pot smokers are, shall we say, higher: Roughly one in four people responding to an informal poll last year by High Times, the cannabis magazine, said a typical joint contained one gram of marijuana. But nearly as many said it contained half that amount. Perhaps it depends how you roll.

The actual average may be much less. The new study, an analysis of federal drug arrest data published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, found the average amount of weed in a joint to be much smaller than those estimates: just 0.32 grams.

Such estimates about more than better understanding a high. Many users report marijuana consumption in terms of joints smoked, a statistic that is useless to researchers, authorities or policy makers without an accurate approximation of what that means.

“In order to get good projections, you need to be able to turn those answers — ‘I’ve had one joint in the last 30 days’ — into a quantity,” said Greg Ridgeway, a professor of criminology and statistics at the University of Pennsylvania who helped write the study with Beau Kilmer, a director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center.

“These estimates can be incorporated into drug policy discussions,” the two researchers wrote, “to produce better understanding about illicit marijuana markets, the size of potential legalized marijuana markets, and health and behavior outcomes.”

Their estimate is based on marijuana purchase data collected from interviews with people who were arrested from 2000 to 2003 and from 2007 to 2010 under a Department of Justice program. While the answers came in many forms, Dr. Ridgeway and Dr. Kilmer focused on the more than 10,000 responses in which marijuana was measured in grams, ounces or joints.

The average price per gram, they found, was $6.81; the average joint was $3.50.

They couldn’t stop there. Although dividing the joint price by the gram price yields a rough estimate of a joint’s weight — about half a gram — it ignores how prices vary by location, time and quantity.

Those factors can significantly influence the estimates. Bulk discounts, in particular, modulate price. For example, the average price per gram jumps to $9.30 if the analysis is limited to purchases of five grams or less.

“When people buy an ounce of marijuana, they get a real volume discount,” Dr. Ridgeway said.

To account for those variations, the researchers applied a mathematical drug pricing model to the data, yielding their answer of 0.32 grams in the average joint.

Dr. Kilmer and Dr. Ridgeway acknowledge that their estimate is imperfect. It reflects just one population of marijuana consumer — people who have been arrested — and only in a smattering of counties across the United States.

But it is a convincing measurement nonetheless. Indeed, in 2015 a global drug survey conducted by academics found that most users get about three joints from a single gram of marijuana, or roughly 0.33 grams per joint.

Of course, weight is just a piece of the puzzle. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical that produces the main psychoactive effects of marijuana, matters. And, like weight, THC content fluctuates, too: In a 2014 report, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy estimated that marijuana’s average THC content rose from roughly 5 percent in 2000 to 8 percent in 2010.

Data from drug-related arrests offered a new insight into a matter critical for marijuana research and drug policy.

What is a spliff?

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Contents

  1. Spliff definition
  2. Why is it called a spliff?
  3. Should I roll a spliff?
  4. Benefits of spliffs
  5. Do spliffs get you higher?
  6. Disadvantages of spliffs

If you’re new to cannabis culture, you probably already know what joints and blunts are, but you may not have heard of a spliff.

Here you’ll learn what a spliff is, how the spliff got its name, and the possible benefits and drawbacks of smoking a spliff.

Spliff definition

Similar to a joint rolled in white cigarette paper, a spliff has the same appearance but with an added twist: it contains both cannabis and tobacco mixed together. Blunts, which are typically rolled in brown cigar paper, also contain tobacco, but spliffs have much higher concentrations. Spliffs, then, may be considered hybrids of joints and blunts.

A spliff has the same appearance as a joint, but with an added twist: it contains both cannabis and tobacco mixed together. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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The strong tobacco infusion often leads to a more energetic buzz for users. Spliffs are especially popular outside of the United States, notably in Europe, where many users enjoy a combination of tobacco and marijuana for their smoking experience.

In short, spliffs are cannabis cigarettes with a tobacco twist.

Why is it called a spliff?

The word has West Indian origins and may have been coined in Jamaica. However, in Jamaica a spliff refers to a cigarette containing only marijuana, not tobacco. The term is commonly used in Jamaican English slang to refer to a joint that may be especially large or potent. The exact meaning of “spliff” is unknown, unlike the meaning of the word joint, which derives from the French verb joindre translated as “to join.”

Should I roll a spliff?

Rolling your own spliff has several distinct advantages. First, you can control the ratio of tobacco to cannabis, making the ingredients equal or choosing one to dominate the other depending on your desired effect. You can also select the type of paper to use, with flavored and unflavored options available. Tobacco paper is generally sweeter than hemp paper, so you can pick the paper according to the flavor profile you prefer. Rolling paper flavors come in numerous varieties, including banana, honey, green apple, and watermelon. The rolling process is straightforward and if you know how to roll a joint, you’ll be able to roll a spliff too.

With spliffs, you can select the type of paper to use, with flavored and unflavored options available. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Benefits of spliffs

Spliffs offer a number of benefits that joints and blunts may not. Here are the top three benefits of spliffs.

  • Easier: While the ease of rolling a joint depends on the texture and quality of the cannabis, spliffs have the advantage of tobacco to act as a buffer. Tobacco tends to make a roll more workable and consistent, which equals less time preparing and more time enjoying.
  • More subtle: If you’ve ever rolled and smoked a joint at home, you know that the smell can be overpowering and last for hours if not days. Spliffs, in contrast, are more discreet because they tend to smell like tobacco cigarettes rather than more potent-smelling marijuana. Of course, the aroma of marijuana is more desirable to many people than the smell of cigarette smoke, so this advantage may not matter to you if discretion is not a concern.
  • Smoother: Unlike a joint, in which one side can burn faster than the other or extinguish altogether, a spliff offers a smoother experience without these interruptions. From start to finish, the tobacco in spliffs provides consistency, whether you’re rolling or smoking one.

Spliffs offer a number of benefits that joints and blunts may not. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Do spliffs get you higher?

Spliffs have many benefits, but getting you higher is not one of them, especially if your idea of high involves a sensation of relaxation. Joints contain significantly higher levels of cannabis, often containing a full gram of marijuana versus half that amount in a spliff. Plus, because of the tobacco content, the stimulant nicotine factors into the equation. If you like your highs more energetic, then this could be an advantage. But if you prefer to mellow out with your smokes, then joints may be the better choice. Whatever you smoke, cannabis strains containing higher THC concentrations are key if you are seeking a psychoactive experience.

Disadvantages of spliffs

The most obvious disadvantage of spliffs is that they contain tobacco, a known carcinogen. Cannabis, on the other hand, has been studied for its potential anti-cancer properties. Research has shown that cannabis may inhibit the growth of certain types of cancerous tumors. Some cancer patients also prefer cannabis over opioids to manage pain. The chemicals in a spliff could cancel or at least diminish any possible health benefits of cannabis.

In addition, marijuana tastes better than tobacco to many palates. The same principle applies to fragrance, as a whiff of acrid cigarette smoke can be offensive to some people, whereas marijuana may be more inviting. However, as already noted, smoking a spliff can emit a subtler overall scent than smoking a joint, so it ultimately boils down to preference.

One way to work around these disadvantages is to limit the amount of tobacco you roll in a spliff. For example, instead of a 50/50 ratio, try blending 80% cannabis with 20% tobacco. But if health and aesthetic issues are a concern, you may want to stick with pure weed joints.

What is a spliff? Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents Spliff definition Why is it called a spliff? Should I roll a spliff? Benefits of