(By: Panama Red)
This article covers our readers' questions about various terms for measurements of marijuana, like what's an 8th of marijuana, what's a nickel or dime bag, and explains all these terms. First, weed has been measured in metric system terms as that's how it's always been weighed in the origin country of Mexico. Here in the USA, it's been measured by bulk (bags) and in ounces and pounds. Let's take a run through the easy metric system and terminology.
Kilos, Bricks and Sugar Weed
In Mexico, where marijuana has historically been grown and then smuggled into the USA, the growers would measure grass by the metric kilo, which equals about 2.2 pounds or about 36 ounces. A kilo is exactly 1,000 grams, although Mexican bricks may weigh more or less than an exact kilo. When dried the Mexican suppliers would press this approximate measurement into a brick.
Methods for pressing bricks required taking the bulk marijuana and placing it into a form and pressing it with a car jack or some other device which would compact the buds. If the weed was too dry, Pepsi or Coca Cola was often added to help keep the brick together. However we haven't seen any of these sugar weed bricks for 30 years. Oftentimes a car frame would be used or some type of a box. The weed was placed into the form and pressure from the car jack would press it into a tight, compact block or brick. A standard size brick was about 12" long x 6" wide x 3" high. Bricks were wrapped in heavy colored paper and taped off or re-wrapped with cellophane. The bricks were placed in flour sacks or other flexible bags with about 20 to 25 in a sack for easy handling. Another reason why soda was used as a binder, was that it added weight and changed the smell of the marijuana. Sugar weed was hard to light up and smoke, and lost out to unadulterated weed. So the Mexican term kilo became synonymous with a brick of weed. A brick was referred to as a kilo, which became shortened by usage or drug culture code to a key. A kilo is a "key" of marijuana.
When the keys arrived in the USA, they were fluffed up by separating the buds, stems and seeds. This separation process was always called, "breaking up a brick." The weed, sometime prior to the mid 1960s, was placed in bulk into the 1 ounce red Prince Albert tobacco cans. The culture terminology for decades was that you bought a "can" of weed. The bulk of weed that stacked on the lid of the Prince Albert can sold for a lesser price and was called a "lid" of grass. These were all bulk approximations and nobody needed a scale when they purchased a "can or lid" of marijuana. Another standard bulk measure commonly used were "matchboxes." a big matchbox was equal to a "can" while a small "matchbox" was equal to a "lid." A lid was only about an 8th of an ounce. At some point the term "can" and "lid" became confused and both referred to 1 ounce of marijuana. These early day cans and lids sold for $5.00 to $10.00, and were referred to as nickel [$5.00] or dime [$10.00] bags. By the 1960s marijuana was either accurately weighed into 1 ounce bags or measured by eyeball into approximately equal wax paper sandwich bags. You probably can't even find these wax bags anymore as people went for plastic Glad bags, the original "baggie." Later when the zip locks came out they became the standard bag and still are today.
Marijuana weights and measurements
Marijuana and measurements in general are explained starting with grams. A gram is the smallest term you will hear. It takes 1,000 grams to equal a kilo [kilogram] which is about 2.2 pounds. It takes 28 grams to equal 1 ounce. 16 ounces equals 1 pound, and 36 ounces equals 1 kilo. Get the idea?
A pound is 448 grams, etc. Big paper sacks weigh about 1 ounce, and that too has to be factored in or you will come up short. This may be basic, but we've had hundreds of questions from readers about measurements. An 8th bag should weigh exactly 1/8th of 1 ounce. Since we know 1 ounce is 28 grams, an 8th of 28 grams is 3.5 grams, and exactly 1/8th of 1 ounce. A 1/4 ounce bag [2/8ths] is 7 grams, half ounce bag is 14 grams, etc. Just because somebody tells you it's an 8th bag, doesn't mean it's an 8th. The only real way to know is if it's weighed. Nickel and dime bags really don't exist anymore, unless you're buying something less than an 8th bag. There is no standard for nickel and dime bags like in the old days. So buyer beware on all measurements. Also the weight of the bag has to be considered and subtracted from the bulk marijuana. Usually a 1 ounce sandwich size zip lock type bag weighs 3.5 grams. So if 1 ounce [28 grams] is expected, the bag weight has to be considered as you can lose 3.5 grams, an 8th , if the bag weight isn't considered. An ounce in a bag, if weighed, should be around 31.5 grams, as you are paying for the net weight and not the bag weight. If in a bag it weighs only 28 grams you're losing an eighth of weed, and paying for the bag weight. Don't get burned in a deal like this and always consider the container's weight.
Bud Life moisture loss study, and a formula to determine weight lost in the drying process
Did you ever wonder how much weight is lost in drying buds? Here's a simple formula to determine your bud's weight loss. Take the weight at picking. 24 hours later weigh again. Take the new weight, subtract it from the old weight. Divide the lost weight by the picking weight, from yesterday. This will tell you the % of weight your bud lost in 24 hours from drying out the moisture. Repeat this every 24 hours. You can also use the sum total of weight lost (over the days) divided by the original weight for total weight lost.
11 grams total weight when the spongy bud is picked. Called, "picked weight."
24 hrs. later the total weight is 7 gr. Loss of 4 grams, or 4 divided by original 11 grams is a moisture loss of .36%, of the original Bud weight.
24 hrs. later, the total weight is 4 gr. for a loss of 3 more grams of moisture, or .42% of the 7 gr. Bud weight from yesterday.
24 hrs. later, the total weight is 3 grams, for a loss of 1 more gram, or .33%, loss.
The daily weight loss is: day 1: 4 grams, day 2: 3 grams, day 3: 1 gram.
The total moisture lost is: 8 grams
The 11 gram bud, now dried, weighs only 3 grams.
Divide this 8 grams lost, by the original 11 gram weight (8 divided by 11). This formula shows that the total moisture lost, is now .72%. Daily weight loss will vary with the density of the bud, and average room temperature of the drying spot. Here the drying temperature was 70 degrees. We know that spongy buds will lose about 70% of their picked weight.
Expert witnesses are paid thousands of dollars to testify in criminal court cases about this simple formula. Remember the cops busting growers will use the picked weight to get a longer sentence. This is wrong. You can only smoke it when it's dry. If you get busted growing, this formula may help you out. 1 pound wet will be more like 4-5 ounces dried. Also take out the weight of stalks & stems. Get the idea? This formula can also help you determine what weight your growing buds may produce when dried.