There may finally be some clarity to the long hazy debate on exactly how much marijuana is in an average, pre-rolled joint. The answer, according to two researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, is 0.32 grams.
That number is far lower than some reports, which have been as high as a gram. But the number generally falls within the range of the many estimates that have come before it, which is typically between 0.30 and 0.75 grams.
Nailing down the average amount in a pre-rolled joint may not seem all that important to some, as many users now use vaporizers. But Penn drug policy expert Greg Ridgeway, one of the researchers behind the new estimate, argues it is. "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," he said in a news release.
For these reasons, researchers have long tried to get at that average. In informal online surveys of High Times readers in 2015, users estimated that their joints contained between 0.5 and 1.0 gram, suggesting that somewhere around 0.75 grams may be the norm. The government, meanwhile, estimated that joints typically contain 0.43 grams. Pre-rolled joints in recreational dispensaries in places where cannabis is legal are usually 1g.
In a 2011 study, researchers got pot smokers to roll out fake joints using dried oregano to try to simulate typical content. That yielded an estimate of 0.66 grams, but with a standard deviation of a whopping 0.45 grams. And “the relative density of oregano to marijuana is unknown,” Ridgeway and his coauthor, Beau Kilmer, note in their new study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
For a more scientific approach, Ridgeway and Kilmer analyzed 10,628 marijuana transactions, which occurred between 2000 and 2010 in more than 40 communities across the US. Detailed data on those transactions were collected because all of the transactions resulted in arrests. Through a now defunct federal program called ADAM, arrestees were asked about quantities of marijuana, both the number of joints and weight, plus the purchase and/or asking price, and the location of the transaction.
Knowing the price per gram and the price per joint, the researchers can make inferences about how much pot is in each cigarette. However, their analysis wasn’t quite that simple; the pair also accounted for things like inflation over the time period, price differences in different markets and cities, and bulk discounts.
In all, they found that the average joint contained 0.32 grams, plus or minus about .03 grams.
This may be lower than some estimates because users may exaggerate their usage or may simply be different types of users than the ones represented in the study, the authors note. “While it is not uncommon for connoisseurs in on-line forums to cite figures between 0.5 and 1.0g per joint, this could be a very different population than the arrestees who were booked into jail and participated in the ADAM interviews,” Ridgeway and Kilmer write. “Indeed, the vast majority of marijuana use days in the US are by those with less than a college degree, fluctuating between 83 percent and 89 percent from 2002 to 2013.”
While their estimate for the average may not account for this connoisseur minority, the two researchers say the new number could be useful in policy and health discussions.
Ars Technica story reference - Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2016 - http://www.drugandalcoholdependence.com/article/S0376-8716(16)30150-8/abstract
By Beth Mole - Ars Technica/July 15, 2016
Photo: Chuck Grimmet
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