What is a zip?

In the cannabis world, there are many terms and lingos that consumers need to be aware of when purchasing or using the herb. Terms can range from describing the amount of marijuana to describing how it makes you feel. With all these different terms, there are a select few that you should understand. One of those is a zip of weed.

If you’re new to cannabis or someone who partakes only occasionally, a trip to the dispensary or a conversation with your cannaseur friends might leave you feeling completely baffled as you try to learn some odd cannabis terms. There’s insider cannabis lingo on product packaging everywhere you look, and words that you’ve never heard of are used constantly by enthusiasts.

A zip of weed refers to an ounce of cannabis, typically in the form of flower. An ounce equals just over 28 grams. In case you forgot, an eighth — or a “slice” — refers to an eighth of an ounce, or 3.5 grams of weed. So a zip is also eight eighths of an ounce, like a full pizza, whereas an eighth is like one slice of the whole pie / the whole zip. 

A “zip” typically refers to one ounce of cannabis. The origin of the term is quite simple: an ounce of weed fits nicely in a large Ziploc bag—picture the one-gallon freezer bags, not a sandwich baggie. Full ounces are often sold this way on the black market. 

An ounce is the legal limit in many states where recreational cannabis is legal. Getting caught with more than a zip could land you in hot water and incur a charge of “intent to distribute,” which carries harsh penalties. If you live in a state with decriminalized or legal cannabis, check your local laws. You may find that a zip is the maximum amount of cannabis you can have in your possession at any given time. 

What is a zip?

Zip conversions

  • 1 zip = 1 oz = 28 grams
  • 1 zip = 8 eighths (3.5 grams each)
  • 1 zip = 4 quarters (7 grams each)
  • 1 pound (also called a “pizzle”) = 16 oz = 16 zips

Where does the term ‘zip’ come from?

Before medical marijuana legalization passed in California and other states, many medical dispensaries operated on a flexible, deli-style model for purchasing flower, rather than selling pre-weighed, pre-packaged amounts. 

The dispensary would often package a patient’s purchase in a Ziploc or generic resealable bag—a standard Ziploc bag can hold an ounce of cannabis, hence “zip.” Beyond legal dispensary sales, a zip is a way to refer to a sale or inventory without arousing suspicion from the authorities.

What does it mean to buy a zip?

You may already be familiar with some of the nicknames for cannabis amounts that are making their way into the mainstream, like “dime” (a gram), “dub” (two grams), “eighth” or “slice” (3.5 grams or an eighth of an ounce), and “quarter” (seven grams or a quarter of an ounce). 

This brings us to a “zip” — the gold standard of cannabis measurements. One zip equals approximately 28 grams, four quarters, or eight eighths. Or, to put it bluntly, one ounce. 

Familiarizing yourself with what an ounce of cannabis looks like is important since many states use the measurement to determine legal possession limits. For example, under legal pot laws in California and Colorado, adults 21 and older may possess and transport up to one ounce of cannabis. For a visual reference, consider the utilitarian Ziploc plastic bag. An ounce of cannabis fits nicely into a Ziploc, and may be what inspired the nickname “zip.” 

Though it’s hard to say for certain how the term originated, some basic logic probably applies. In the US, we shorten the word ounce to “oz.” It could be that the z from the abbreviation became the new shorthand. We also know that an ounce of weed fits in a Ziploc, so a second possibility is that the Z from Ziploc caught on. 

Urban Dictionary shows definitions for the term that date back to 2002. Most of the definitions cited show that “zip” is simply defined as an ounce of weed, while a more thorough definition says, “an ounce of any kind of illegal drug. Usually used as a code name by paranoid drug dealers over the phone.” 

How Long Will it Take to Smoke a Zip?

If you’re purchasing a zip of weed, you’re probably not just a casual smoker that takes a few tokes on the weekend. For occasional tokers, buying an eighth or a quarter ounce might be a better option. Even if you smoke a bowl every day, an ounce could last three, four, or even six months.

Purchasing in smaller quantities is more expensive, but if you’re smoking once in a while, then you might as well make sure you have the freshest of the fresh for your toke session.

Is a Zip a Better Deal?

What is a zip?

It’s very common to find that larger quantities of cannabis come with increased savings. It’s similar to buying food or paper supplies in bulk at Costco. One way to find out if you’re getting a better deal compared to a smaller quantity, such as an eighth or a quarter, is to compare the cost per dose.

To estimate the cost per dose, let’s use a few examples:

Example 1. Light Smoker
Say you only smoke one half-gram bowl daily before bed to help you get a great night of sleep. You’re considering buying a zip for $200. At 28 grams, you would enjoy 56 daily doses (almost a two month supply) for a cost of $3.57 per half-gram dose—similar to a grande cappuccino at Starbucks, before tax. This equates to roughly $25 per week and $107.14 for a 30-day supply.

Let’s assume instead that this light smoker is offered a zip for $250, rather than $200. The same 56 bedtime bowls would now cost $4.46 per dose. That’s nearly a dollar more per day. To continue with the coffee analogy, that’s like adding a shot of espresso or flavored syrup to your daily cappuccino. Some are willing to pay this extra fee if they feel that it improves the quality of their experience, while others would rather save that money for something else.

Example 2: Moderate Smoker
What if you smoke more than .5g per day? If you smoke an average of two 1-gram joints per day, a zip contains roughly a two week supply. At $200 per zip, a one-gram joint would cost about $7.14. If you smoke two of these per day, that brings your daily cannabis costs to $14.28 or about $100 per week. At $250 per zip, each joint will cost closer to $8.92.

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