Smoking weed is easy. Deciphering the good, top-shelf weed from the bad, well, that takes a little bit more work. Typically, people don’t think much about it. But, the fact is, without a doubt, there is bad weed. And unless that’s your thing, you will want to know what to look for in both the bad and the good.
It would be convenient to think that strain and THC content are the only things determining good cannabis. But, there is more to marijuana than simply strain and THC. In this HighHello guide, you will be a marijuana aficionado in no time, quickly being able to detect a high-quality cannabis product.
Here is what to look for in buying good weed.
Aroma: Let’s start with the smell. Aroma is usually the most obvious tell-tale sign that you have encountered the “good stuff.” High-quality cannabis, carefully cultivated and cured, has a pungent yet pleasant aroma. You may have heard the term “dank” when people come into contact with high-quality weed. This strong aroma is what that term refers to. Yes! You want some dank weed!
Common aroma associations are those of skunk, pine, and even diesel. While these all smell different, an unmistakable, pungent, good-smell is analogous to the high-quality buds. And the more potent the smell, the more complex the terpene profile may be, and the better the experience.
Visual: When you stroll down the produce aisle, you can easily pick the old bananas from the fresh ones simply by looking at them. Using your eyeballs to determine a high-quality bud is similar.
High-quality weed will display vibrant colors on top of the green you expect. These nuances of color, which are found as tiny hairs on the buds, can range from flaming orange to deep purple to even bright blues. Look for buds with a range of colors that make the flowers pop.
Crystals: Have you ever heard someone say, “Dude, look at the crystals on that bud!” Well, their excitement is not unwarranted. A bud rich with crystals means the bud is filled with trichomes. Trichomes are tiny, crystal-like structures responsible for much of the plant’s magic, such as flavor, smell, and desired effects. If you can see these crystals with the naked eye, they are plentiful, and the plant is potent. Can’t see well? These little crystals can be seen easily with a magnifying glass.
Touch: Have you ever squeezed a bud between your fingers? Was it spongy, or did it crumble like dust? Good quality cannabis will be slightly spongy and leave a sticky residue on your fingers. The bud should easily break apart from the stem with a snap. If it crumbles, it has been stored for too long or under the wrong circumstances. The chemical composition will have also changed, reducing its potency. On the flip side, the bud should not be too wet. An overly-moist bud could lead to mildew, and who wants that?
Structure: Cannabis cultivated by a caring and skilled grower will yield buds with a specific shape and composition. High-quality Sativas tend to be lighter and fluffier. Indicas, on the other hand, take on a tighter, denser structure. While the structure of the bud has little to do with the experience, there are some apparent signs that buds were grown under not-so-hot circumstances.
Rock hard flowers could be a sign that a grower used plant growth stimulators. These products can also yield a funky, unpleasant taste. Overly fluffy flowers could mean insufficient light was used in the growing room. Poor lighting during growing would produce a plant that simply can’t live up to its potential.
Looking beyond the senses for good quality cannabis.
While the above quality determining tools rely on the senses, there are three other areas to look at to determine the quality of your weed.
Cultivation: When it comes to cannabis cultivation, you will want your cannabis cultivated under favorable circumstances. Ethical cultivation means avoiding synthetic fertilizers, using high-quality, living soil or hydroponics, and using sustainable agricultural practices.
Certificate of Analysis (COA): When it comes to Cannabis, a diverse cannabinoid profile is desirable. Seeking the Certificate of Analysis on any strain before purchasing is entirely acceptable and even encouraged. This certificate shows a comprehensive list of all cannabinoids in the product. It will also indicate which therapeutic terpenes are included and potential contaminants used in the growing process. Learning to properly interpret these results will provide a better, more consistent experience when buying from dispensaries.
How can you easily spot “bad” weed?
While we don’t think there is such a thing as “bad” weed, if “high quality” cannabis is what you are committed to, here are some equally easy-to-detect ways to sniff out the good from the bad.
Smell It: The lower the quality of the weed, the more questionable the aroma. This “bottom shelf” weed is often called “schwag.” You might catch whiffs of a moldy or mildew scent. If it smells like straw, it is likely too dry and aged and has lost its punch.
When stored properly, cannabis has a shelf-life of about a year. During the degrading process, unpleasant aromas begin to emerge. But these funky (and not in a good way) odors can also be attributed to mishandling, improper curing process, or age.
Appearance: You can spot low-quality weed just by opening your eyeballs. A discolored flower, which is not richly green, with lovely crystals and vibrantly colored hairs, could be a sign that something is off. This appearance could mainly be due to age, pesticides, chemicals, or mold. It might also have an abundance of stems and seeds to pick through.
Another visual indicator of older weed is the amber color that forms on the trichomes. Too much amber (beyond 20% of trichomes) could also indicate being harvested later than the ideal time.
Touch: Dry or brittle flowers (buds) indicate low quality. When held in hand, the bud will feel airy and very light. It will also easily crumble and turn into pot dust. On the flip side, if the bud is too wet, it is a sign that the cultivator skimped on the drying process, and wet buds are a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and bacteria.
Structure: This might be the easiest way to differentiate good buds from bad ones. If the structure looks different from the photos, pay attention. Inadequate lighting or growing conditions can produce awkward-looking buds. They might be fluffy, holding too much air. And while they may still perform the same, it is still a sign that a part of the growing process was not adhered to, which should put the buyer on high alert.
Price does not always equal quality.
The selling price of cannabis is not the best indicator of what is high or poor-quality. Prices can indicate the time, attention, and care given to the cultivating process but there are always exceptions.
If you find your weed’s price uncharacteristically cheap, check the harvest date. Go through the checklist listed above to determine the quality of your goods. And before anything, let your nose do the work. The smell can be your first indicator of a high-quality or low-quality cannabis product.
Overall, you should be most concerned about your experience with the plant. If your experience was a good one, make a note of that and visit that strain, dispensary, or cultivator again.
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