Drugs

7 Ways to Stretch Your Marijuana Dollar

Here's a good New Year's resolution: Spend less money on weed.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/Kovalev Maxim

Marijuana is increasingly legal and growing in acceptance, but it still ain't cheap. The national pound price is around $2,000, the ounce price is over $200 even in most legalization states and over $300 in other parts of the U.S., and a good rule of thumb is that if you're buying small-scale retail, you'll be paying around $10 a gram or more. If you're a regular smoker, that can add up, and even if you're an occasional toker, why spend more on weed than you need to?

There are plenty of things you can do to stretch your pot dollar, from growing your own to toking smart and beyond. Here are seven ways to conserve your cannabis budget.

1. Smoke efficiently.Smoking a blunt or joint is the most wasteful way of burning weed because much of the smoke just escapes into the air. Use a pipe or a bong instead. If using a pipe, try to ignite only a portion of the bowl, a technique known as cornering. That avoids unnecessarily lighting the whole top of the bowl and allowing more of that precious smoke to be wasted. Cornering also works with bong bowls.

2. Wait a while before you smoke more.You've had a couple of hits off that first bowl and feel a nice buzz coming on. Resist the urge to immediately pack another one. Enjoy your high for a half hour or so and decide whether you're high enough already. Mindlessly sucking down more weed is not only redundant, it costs you money, too.

3. Try vaping instead of smoking.Using a vaporizer is about twice as efficient as smoking. According to one study, the Volcano vaporizer converts 46% of available THC into vapor, while a joint converts less than 25%. The same amount of weed that will get you high once in a joint will get you high twice in a vape.

4. Get a grinder and save your kief. A good grinder grinds your bud into efficient-for-smoking nugs and saves the kief (THC-containing trichomes) that falls off during the grinding process. That kief is very high-THC content material. It can be sprinkled on your bowl to enhance the high or you can use it to make marijuana edibles.

5. Make edibles with your leftovers. Not just the kief, but also the trim (if you grow your own) and even buds you vaped can be used to make marijuana-infused foods. Edibles you make yourself are edibles you don't have to purchase.

6. Store your buds to last.The ubiquitous plastic baggie is not the ideal marijuana storage container. It exposes the pot to light, which degrades it over time, and the THC-containing trichomes can get rubbed off by the baggie. Much better to use a mason glass jar, or even better, a dark glass jar. Keep it sealed and store it in a cool, dry, dark place. Pot won't last forever, but it will last for months if you store it properly.

7. Grow your own outdoors. And here's the big way you can save—a single clone from a known variety will cost you between $10 and $20. You might pay another $20 for a couple of bags of potting soil and another $20 or $30 for organic fertilizer. Sunlight is free, and the gallon or two of water a day is hardly worth mentioning. With a little loving care and nurturing, that single plant will grow five or six feet tall and produce a half-pound or more of fine bud. Your initial investment of less than $100 will return pot worth about $800 to $1000. But you can only do this where it is legal or you assume the risks of growing illegally.  

Bonus item: Don't play with your pot plants. You know you want to fondle those beautiful little buds. Don't do it. Every time you touch your buds, you're knocking those precious trichomes off. Handle with extreme care, even while the buds are still on the plants. Pick them up by the stems if you can, and if you're trimming your own, leave enough stem on the bud to be able to grab it. This may not be California dispensary standard, but for your weed preservation purposes, better a little wood than a lot of lost trichomes. 

Phillip Smith is editor of the AlterNet Drug Reporter and author of the Drug War Chronicle.

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