Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on December 20, 2022

Joints are everyone’s friend. The feeling of anticipation while you roll one to the final moment when you light it is irreplaceable. Even if you use pre-rolls from a dispensary, the pleasure you get when you inhale your first puff of the day is the same. 

Today, cannabis strains are much more flavorful and much more potent than what they used to be decades ago. That means you get a lot more THC in a single joint. But have you ever wondered if there was a way to know exactly how much THC you’re getting? We’ll discuss all of this and more in today’s article, so stick around!

Smoking Cannabis With a Joint and the Bioavailability of THC

Inhaling cannabis is the most effective way to get THC to your system fast. It only takes about 10-15 minutes max for the THC to reach your brain and start producing its psychoactive effects. When you smoke cannabis, the THC enters your bloodstream directly through your lungs giving it immediate access to the endocannabinoid system, which is what makes smoking so effective for getting high fast.

However, when you smoke a joint, the bioavailability of THC can suffer a little. Bioavailability refers to how much of the THC found in the joint can be successfully absorbed by the body. Since smoking cannabis involves burning the weed at a very high temperature, part of the THC content in the joint will be destroyed because the cannabinoids (and terpenes) in weed are easily combustible. 

Therefore, even though smoking a joint is great at delivering THC fast, the bioavailability of THC is not perfect with this consumption method. But how does it compare to other inhalation methods?

Smoking a Joint Compared to Vaping and Dabbing

By far, inhalation is the most efficient consumption method of cannabis and it offers the best bioavailability compared to ingestion (edibles, capsules) and sublingual consumption (tinctures, lozenges).

However, there are three different inhalation methods of which smoking has the lowest bioavailability. Dabbing is the best because dabs are inhaled at temperatures below combustion point which means there’s minimal loss of cannabinoids, plus their THC levels are naturally higher than dry cannabis flowers. Vaping is similar because vaporizers heat the weed at moderate temperatures so that the cannabinoids can be released without combustion.

But, smoking a joint still remains a classic, and it’s a primary method of consumption for many cannabis users, so let’s see how you can calculate how much THC is in a joint.

How to Calculate the Amount of THC In an Average Joint

Unless you roll chunky joints, your average joint will be between 0.25 to 1 gram of cannabis. If you want to calculate how many milligrams of THC you will get in a joint, you can use a simple equation.

Marijuana weighs 1 gr in dry weight, or 1000 mg, for the purposes of our equation. Let’s say you have 1 full gram joint with 12 percent THC. So, to calculate the milligrams of THC in the joint, you should multiply the THC percent of the cannabis strain by the weight of the joint in milligrams.

Here’s a better illustration:

0.12 (percent THC) x 1000 mg (1 gram joint) = 120 mg of THC

Here’s another example. Let’s say you have a joint that weighs 0.5 grams, which equals 500 milligrams and the THC concentration of the strain you used is 15%. To calculate how the THC content in the joint, you should do the following:

0.15 x 500 = 75 mg of THC in 0.5 gram joint.

But, wait, there’s more.

How Many Milligrams of THC You Actually Get Per Joint Varies

While there is a way to calculate how many milligrams of THC you’ll get in an average joint, this is only in theory. When you actually light the joint, there are many other variables that will affect the THC content in a joint that can’t be calculated but can only be roughly estimated, and they are:

  • The THC levels of the cannabis strain you’re using. The higher the THC concentration, the more potent the joint is.
  • The amount of weed you’re using. Obviously, the more weed you stuff, the bigger your joint will be, which also means more THC.
  • The loss of smoke between hits and sidestream smoke. Like bowls, joints are notorious for their burning cherries which results in a lot of THC being lost to sidestream smoke. This is the smoke you’re not inhaling, but that ends up dissipating in the air.
  • The combustion due to high temperatures. As we said, a big part of the THC in joints (but also in blunts, bongs, and bowls) is lost due to the combustion because THC, along with all other cannabinoids and terpenes, is very sensitive to high temperatures and will easily dissipate.

The Amount of Cannabis You Smoke Overrides the Potency of the Joint

Some cannabis users seem to think that the only way you can get really high is if you use a strain with high THC levels. However, there is one element they are overlooking, and that is the amount of cannabis they smoke. 

The amount you smoke always overrides the potency of the weed. You can’t smoke five joints at a time and expect not to get high because the THC content will build up. Cannabis is not the same as it was 50 years ago when the most potent strains were barely 5 percent THC. In the 1970s, people could toke all day without getting too high because the average potency of weed just wasn’t as high as it is today.

So essentially, whether you smoke a low dose of a high potency Sativa or half a dozen low-potency Indica, it will produce more or less the same result.

How Many Hits Do You Get In a Joint?

It’s pretty hard to calculate how many tokes you get in a joint simply because this number is greatly affected by the size of the joint and whether the smoker is taking large or small puffs. However, cannabis users around the community estimate that you could get anywhere between 25-35 hits.

While we’re at it, taking deep hits will deliver more THC to your system, as well as taking big tokes. But, according to a 2008 study conducted at Leiden University in the Netherlands, it seems like taking smaller tokes can be just as effective as long as you don’t let the joint cool off between tokes. They discovered that if you let the joint rest for 30-60 seconds, the tokes were less effective.

Bottom Line

Out of all methods of cannabis use, inhaling weed delivers the THC to your system the most efficiently, but with smoking, there is a significant loss of THC due to combustion. Still, smoking remains a highly popular way of consuming weed, and knowing how to calculate how much THC you get in a joint will help you gauge how much THC you will be consuming and how much you need. 

There is a simple equation you can use, but you should also know that the amount of THC per joint will be greatly affected by other variables which can’t be calculated. Finally, how much you smoke is more important than the potency of the joint.

A passionate advocate for the benefits of cannabis. Fraser Horton, who has a background in botany and a strong love of nature, has spent years researching how cannabis affects the body and mind. He established Leaf Nation in 2020, where he has devoted himself to educating people about the legalisation of marijuana and its safe and responsible use. Fraser is committed to highlighting cannabis’ potential for improving wellness and working to dispel the stigma associated with its use.


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