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Buying cannabis: A size guide for newcomers

Newcomers to cannabis can feel overwhelmed by everything there is to learn Toronto dispensaries: the differences in strains, how to consume it, practical knowledge concerning edibles and concentrates, the dizzying number of names, percentages of THC and CBD, terpene profiles of particular varietals. The list is long, and it can be daunting.

Today, we’re looking at one simple question: how much cannabis should I purchase? To get a sense of the most common cannabis terms, check out our glossary.

Cannabis: Weights and measures

In Canada, cannabis is sold by metric weight. In the past and in other countries, however, measurements for portion sizes began in metric for smaller amounts, and then switched to imperial measures as the size increased. Seasoned consumers may still use the old terminology and it’s worth knowing what they refer to.

The size guide

  • Pre-rolled joints: This handy purchase comes ready to smoke, all you need is a flame to get it burning. Typical sizes of commercial pre-rolled joints start at 1/2 gram, but may contain as much as a full gram or more.
  • 1 Gram: One gram of dried cannabis flower will be about the size of a large cherry or a kumquat. This is often the smallest portion of cannabis available for retail purchase. Casual smokers and beginners should be able to roll 2-3 small to medium-sized joints from a single gram of cannabis. Thrifty consumers or people who use pipes or vapourizers can make this portion size stretch even farther.
  • 3.5 Grams (a.k.a. an “eighth” or a “half quarter”): The next step up in commonly available portion sizes of cannabis is 3.5 grams. This may seem an arbitrary number, but it’s based on the old imperial scale of measures. 3.5 grams equals 1/8 of one ounce, thus the nickname “an eighth”, or the clumsier “half quarter”.
  • 7 Grams: Similarly, seven grams equals one quarter of one ounce of cannabis. Imagine a packet of dried cannabis equal in size to a cue ball. Popularly called “a quarter”—this amount of cannabis should be enough for a casual consumer to sample and get to know a particular cannabis strain over several sessions.
  • 14 Grams: One half of one ounce of cannabis.
  • 28 Grams: One full ounce of cannabis. About the size of a small cantaloupe, this amount of cannabis is best saved for a strain that you know and enjoy, as it may last you a while. You’ll notice price breaks at this quantity compared to the price of a single gram.

Any more than that? You’re on your own.

Cannabis by the numbers

There are a few more things you should keep in mind when considering portion sizes of cannabis.

  • 30: This is an important number you should keep in mind, as it’s the maximum amount of cannabis you can legally carry in public in Canada. It’s also the maximum weight you can pack in your suitcase while travelling from one Canadian destination to another.
  • ZERO : This is the maximum amount of cannabis you can travel with from Canada to another country, even if that country has also legalized cannabis.
  • 4: This is the maximum number of cannabis plants you can grow in your own home in Ontario. Note that this number is per household not per person within the household.
  • 5 mg: Cannabis edibles and concentrates tend to measure their potency in milligrams. 5 mg is considered a safe and reasonably gentle strength for people experimenting with the effects of edibles weed.  Remember that cannabinoids (like THC and CBD) that are eaten rather than inhaled take much longer to be felt. Take your time and wait before you eat any more.
  • 100: There are more than 100 cannabinoids and more than 100 terpenes found in the cannabis plant, and we’ve only just begun to research and explore their potential benefits for the human race. It’s worth taking a moment to marvel at the complexity of this wonderful plant.
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