The appearance of low-quality flower is distinct. It can come in the form of discolored flower or an abundance of stems and seeds. There are many reasons for a discolored flower — mold, pesticides, chemicals, age. The bottom line is that you don’t want to buy it, let alone smoke it. One very important indicator is the appearance of amber-colored trichomes. With time, light, and heat, trichomes turn from clear to an amber hue. This is a dead giveaway that you’ve been swindled into last year’s harvest.
So get out there, look for the four main indicators — smell, look, feel, and flower structure — to find a strain that best suits your personal taste.
The best smoking experiences often come with the best marijuana buds. When flower is really good, you spark up and experience pleasant highs, great flavor, and relaxing aromas. The worst smoking experiences often come when flower is, well, just bad. We always want the “loud,” “fire,” “Private Reserve” weed, and want to avoid the “schwag,” “brick,” and “bunk” weed at all costs.
The common denominator is that a good-smelling flower is distinct, pungent, and unmistakable; the stronger the fragrance is, the better.
Cannabis cultivated and cured to the highest standards typically exhibits a pungent and pleasant aroma. Flowers emitting a strong fragrance are commonly referred to as having a “dank” or “loud” odor, indicating the overall quality of the flower. There are a variety of terms for the types of aromas high-quality cannabis emits, including “skunky,” “diesely” and “piney.”
High-end flower, like fresh, healthy produce, provides a few visual hints to help you determine its quality.
Top shelf flower should be sticky and slightly spongy when you touch or gently squeeze it between your fingers. Stems should snap and the bud should be relatively easy to break apart, but shouldn’t be completely dry or crumble when you touch it. Alternatively, buds shouldn’t be too wet or soft, since these have a higher chance of developing or containing mold or mildew.
There are four main indicators when delineating between high-quality flower and subpar flower: Smell, look , feel, and flower structure.
But at the end of the day, it’s all about what you like. What you prefer might be different than what the local budtender, delivery driver, or your friend likes. There are hundreds of strains grown by thousands of cultivators. The goal is to find the right one for you. It’s simply about finding the right product that works with your personal chemistry by a brand or cultivator that you like and can thus enjoy over and over again.
New to purchasing marijuana & cannabis products? Read our beginner's guide to buying marijuana and cannabis.
The most common risks to look out for with ingesting low-quality marijuana include:
“Hair” might seem like a funny thing to look out for when assessing the quality of marijuana. However, the anatomy of a cannabis plant does, indeed, contain an array of hair-like structures that play an essential role in governing individual bud quality.
- Anatomical Impurities: Low-quality cannabis tends to be composed of many different parts of a marijuana plant, including stems, shakes and buds all mixed and crushed together. While partial compaction is a near-inevitability in commercial marijuana production and distribution, low-quality strains tend to have a higher content of stems and shake filler, fewer buds, underdeveloped trichomes and thinner, smashed colas.
- Taste Impurities: Rather than striking the floral, aromatic and even sweet notes of quality cannabis, low-grade buds tend to taste bitter and acidic, or even ashy.
- Contaminated Buds: Premium bud clusters are far less likely to contain traces of dirt and dust, as well as insects, fertilizers, pesticides and other pollutants that taint the purity of the plant.
Don’t hesitate to shop around between multiple dispensaries to guarantee you’re getting the highest quality product for your purchase. Ask budtenders questions about a specific strain’s cultivation, harvesting and curing practices, as well as what would work best for your lifestyle or intended medicinal needs. If you aren’t satisfied with the thoroughness of their answers, look up other area dispensaries to seek their expertise.
Most importantly, the buds themselves should still look plump and round. Crushed, flattened or brittle-appearing buds are a tell-tale sign they’re not nearly as fresh as they could be.
Use your nose as the first detective indicator of the quality of your kush. There’s a reason cannabis smells are so potent, after all — those tiny, crystalline trichomes that dot their exteriors are resin glands that produce what’s known as terpenoids. Nearly 200 different variations exist in these terpenoid secretions, the combination of which is directly responsible for the smell and flavor profiles of strain types. It’s a pungent yet powerful plant fingerprint unique to a cannabis plant.
As a result, the condition of the buds deteriorates at a much faster rate than their freshly sealed or professionally harvested cousins. This results in noticeably dryer, lighter and thinner buds in muddier brown shades rather than the vibrant greens, oranges and other desired color schemes.
While many budtenders and dispensaries won’t let you touch cuts or buds with your bare hands, they may have tools to evaluate the texture-based aspects of prospective blends. This can easily complement your other forms of assessment to assure quality control with your desired marijuana type:
Use the following six factors as a guide for making safer, more informed judgment calls on the quality of marijuana.
Using fresh high-quality marijuana is critical for successful treatment. Check out our guide today to learn how to judge the quality of marijuana!