How Much is a Dab and More on Dosing

Francis Cassidy February 21, 2020 0 comments

Calculating the dose in a dab or joint will save money and intoxication.

There are a myriad of ways to consume cannabis. While it all comes from the bud of a flower, the ensuing distillation and processing offer different potencies of THC. At the same time, there’s now a wide variety of commercial products, each of differing potencies. But if you don’t know how much you’re taking, this can be difficult. For example, exactly how much is in a dab?

Whatever condition a patient is medicating for, they should always strive to quantify the dose. When it comes to medicine, the minimum effective dose should be the aim. It saves money to only use what you need. And aside from this, consuming too much THC results in a tolerance. It also subjects the patient to the intoxicating effects — something that many medicinal consumers wish to avoid. Interestingly, those used to medicating with edibles usually have fewer issues when it comes to establishing dose. But, what about those new to dabbing or inhaling flower?

Calculating How Much is a Dab?

Dabbing is an effective way to administer high doses of THC. Most of the concentrates currently available contain THC levels above seventy percent. Some, like shatter, reach over ninety percent. Such levels of THC are far in excess of those found in cannabis flower, where levels of eighteen to twenty-five percent are typical.

While dabs do provide high doses of THC, it’s not always so easy to calculate how much is present. Any dabber looking to optimize the dabbing experience should invest in a jewelry scale designed to weigh small quantities accurately.

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Calculating how much is in a dab involves multiplying the weight by the percentage of THC present.

  • For example, a 0.3 gram dab of ninety percent THC shatter results in 270 milligrams of THC.

Although this may seem a formidable dose, bear in mind that as much as one-quarter of the THC in a dab is often lost through vaporization.

Vaporization and THC Loss

A Swiss study published in Forensic Science International (2018), found dabbing to be more efficient in terms of THC wastage, compared to smoking. But researchers still established that patients commonly consume seventy-five percent of the THC present in dabs, with the remainder lost through vaporization.

With this finding factored into the equation, the 0.3 gram dab at ninety percent THC would result in the administration of approximately two-hundred milligrams of THC.

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These are potent quantities, and it’s easy to overdo it with a dab. But for those not quite ready to handle the higher doses, flower is often the best way to medicate with THC.

how much is a dab might be what this person is thinking as they smoke a joint

How Much THC is in a Joint?

Three factors determine the amount of THC present in a joint: the weight of the cannabis, the potency of the chemovar, and compensation for the THC lost through combustion.

It’s in compensating for the latter where many miscalculate THC levels. It turns out that a surprising amount of THC is lost through the burning of a joint.

A 1990 study attempted to quantify the loss of THC in a joint. The findings suggested the loss of twenty-three to thirty percent of THC due to pyrolytic destruction. This simply means that it burns away. Then there was a forty to fifty percent loss in “side stream smoke.” This results in the administration of only twenty to thirty-seven percent of the available THC.

To calculate the dose of THC present in a joint, simply multiply the weight by the THC content and allow for the losses in combustion.

A standard joint will weigh approximately 0.3 grams. Taking the THC content of the chemovar to be twenty percent, and the losses to combustion to be thirty percent, this results in available THC levels of 18 milligrams.

how much is a dab might be what this person is thinking as they prepare to smoke this pipe and bowl of nugs

How Much THC is in a Bowl?

The amount of THC present in a bowl depends upon the size of the bowl and the THC concentration in the raw flower.

A standard bowl contains approximately 0.25 grams of cannabis flower depending on how tightly packed the bowl is, or how finely ground the cannabis is. For reference, 0.25 grams of a chemovar with twenty percent THC results in 50 milligrams of THC.

Here, the losses due to combustion are hard to quantify. When packed precisely, patients can maximize their intake of THC. By packing a bowl and clearing it in one hit, much of the THC reaches the lungs. Larger bowls may require several hits, and the losses to combustion may be as high as sixty percent.

When it comes to both joints and bowls, estimating the availability of THC is very much a rough estimate. For those concerned with precise THC dosing, dabbing may well be the most efficient way. That is if edibles or oils aren’t an option.

how much is a dab might be what this person is thinking as they smoke a bong

Establishing the THC Dose for Pain

THC has a variety of potential benefits, but its patient-reported ability to treat chronic pain is second to none. A 2018 report, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), claimed that approximately twenty percent of the U.S. population experiences chronic pain. With the rampant prescription of highly-addictive and deadly opioids to treat pain, THC is emerging as a viable alternative.

The dose required by patients differs widely and depends upon several factors. From age, weight, metabolism, sex, and existing tolerances, many things must be factored in. To complicate things, these ultimately include the condition a patient wishes to treat. So, someone experiencing minor joint discomfort will require a much lower dose than someone battling crippling pain.

While THC may be useful in treating pain, it also exhibits intoxicating effects. Consume too much, and although it will relieve pain, it may also leave patients unable to do much else.

To establish a dose, it’s best to start low and work up. For reference, 10 milligrams is a good starting dose to aim for, and patients should add 5 milligrams each time until they achieve the desired pain-relieving effects.

Intention Matters When Dosing

Ultimately, it’s important to consume THC with a solid intention. While many of those medicating with THC often consume the compound to numb out the pain, others find it enhances the ability to really tune into the body. And it’s by tuning in that many come to relate to underlying emotional issues behind the pain.

It’s also worth mentioning that much of cannabis’ medicinal benefits come from the interplay between THC, the minor cannabinoids, and the plant terpenes. Anyone looking for a truly holistic form of medication should consume full-spectrum oils or dab extracts. Many of the concentrates available on the market today have high THC quantities, but little else in the way of medicinal compounds.

Author avatar

Francis Cassidy
Francis Cassidy is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics. With a particular focus on the cannabis industry, he aims to help ensure the smooth reintegration of cannabis back into global culture. When not writing, he's to be found exploring his new base in British Columbia, Canada. You can follow his other works including his photography on his blog

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