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Is Science Right About the Average Size of a Joint?

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For years people have been trying to figure out just how much marijuana is in the average joint – the estimates have been all over the charts, some saying the typical joint has as much as a gram of tree and others claiming much less, at around half (0.5) a gram. This number is said to be an important one that will help us to determine how much cannabis people consume in an average smoking session and it should also help determine important information in regards to the illegal sale and trafficking of cannabis.

“It seems like an odd question but major policy questions depend on the answer,” says Greg Ridgeway, an associate professor of criminology and statistics at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ridgeway, along with his colleague Beau Kilmer, have used a plethora of information including data on over 10,000 marijuana transactions over the course of 11 years and throughout 40 communities in order to determine how much marijuana is actually in the average joint. All of this data has led them to the conclusion that we have been highly overestimating the amount of marijuana in our joints for years – and the average joint only has around 0.32 grams of marijuana flower, below even the most recent estimate from 2014 of 0.43 grams.

“It turns out to be a critical number in estimating how much marijuana is being consumed [nationwide], how much drug-trafficking organizations are putting on the market and how much states might expect in revenue post-legalization,” Ridgeway says.

While this number may be helpful to those who are looking to profit from pre-rolled joints or a similar product, there are a lot of things that may change the answers to the questions they are asking. When trying to figure out how much cannabis trafficking organizations are putting on the market, you cannot look at it only as joints – they sell concentrates like liquid for vape pens and wax as well. Even looking at just marijuana flower, breaking down pounds into joints could make for some unnecessarily difficult math.

Also, for those trying to determine how much cannabis is consumed regularly, joints may once have been the dominant form of toking – but it might not be now. The popularity of detailed glass pipes has definitely grown in recent years, as has the popularity of splitting open a cigar and re-rolling it filled with cannabis. There are some people who hardly smoke joints at all and those who smoke almost only joints. The better way to look at cannabis consumption would likely be by sales (in legal states) – especially if IDs are tracked when making a purchase.

Not only are these factors something that needs to be considered when asking the questions they are hoping to answer – but there should be one more thing to consider: everyone rolls different. Some people roll skinny joints, either because they are smoking it themselves or perhaps don’t need much to get stoned. Other people will always roll them fatter because they share with people and/or require a higher dosage to reach the high they desire. It can also depend on the potency of the bud they are smoking – so saying that “a joint is scientifically proven to be X grams” may not be the most accurate – but on average 0.32 grams may sound like a really small joint to some, but it appears to be the closest to an accurate scientific estimate we’ve had so far.

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