How to Tell Good Weed From Bad Weed

Understanding how to tell good weed from bad weed and the differences between the two is not always easy, especially without sampling. Just like food, cannabis flowers offer distinctive and tantalizing varieties of aromas and appearances. But sometimes, even the most delectable looking dishes can disappoint the palate. Here’s a handy beginner’s weed buying guide to help navigate the journey to becoming a connoisseur of cannabis - or simply a discerning dabbler.

What Makes Weed Good

Whether you’re a new or seasoned user of cannabis, the marijuana plant and its flowering buds offer a host of positive benefits to explore. Happily, with legalization, there are more varieties and boutique strains cultivated for particular needs to explore than ever before! That being said, cannabis is a complex plant, so careful selection is the key to achieving the desired effect.

Here are five key aspects to look for when buying weed:

  1. Use Your Nose: The sense of smell enriches our lives in so many ways. The olfactory system is located in the brain so a particular scent will either attract us towards something pleasurable, such as smelling a flower or a favorite food, or it will jolt the mind to warn us - proceed with caution! When it comes to weed, you’ll learn to identify top notes and accents, just like a perfume. Some varieties of weed will smell rich and spicy; others will present tangy citrus notes. Still, others will smell dank and slightly musty. These distinct smells are the terpenes, or aromatic compounds present in every cannabis flower. Unfortunately, for many legalized cannabis products, smelling a hermetically-sealed package doesn’t provide any olfactory clues, nor does it guarantee that you’ve found good weed.
  2. Appearance: Great weed has a crystallized appearance - these crystals are white and look like salt or a light dusting of snow. These crystals are the glands in the plant that produce a sticky oil that’s rich in cannabinoids. THC is just one of more than 113 known cannabinoids. CBD is another. Both provide very different benefits, and each cannabis strain has its own distinct chemical composition and balance. A general rule: bigger crystals usually mean better weed and a stronger effect.
  3. Color: Cannabis comes in many natural hues, just like flowers. Shades of greens, pinks, purples, golds, blues, reds, and oranges can be found in different strains of weed. But color is not an indicator of good quality weed. Avoid anything that looks bleached out or has irregular color saturation on the buds, as it can indicate staleness or prolonged exposure to light and degraded potency and flavor, or it could also just be a particularly light-colored strain. The legendary Acapulco Gold is a classic example - it’s naturally light in color but packs a wallop that’s made it a prized heirloom strain. Watch out for the bleached appearance, but otherwise, color is not the best indicator of potency.
  4. Bud Size: Appropriately, the largest and most potent buds grow at the cannabis plant’s highest points. Growers must trim the leaves from the cannabis flower before sale. Look for large, well-trimmed buds with irregular edges - that’s the prime indicator of careful cultivation and hand trimming, as opposed to automated machinery that can damage or shake off the oil-rich crystals.
  5. THC Content: Every legal state requires growers to test the flower and label each product with its THC/cannabinoid percentage. However, the assumption that the higher the THC percentage, the better and more potent the weed is not always true. It’s the richly diverse terpenes that make the experience, and each person will react differently to the strain.

The difference between mediocre and awesome is all a matter of taste and your desired effect. The best way to find a great weed variety for your particular needs or desired experience is to rely on an experienced budtender’s advice. Happy hunting!