Whether it’s “dro”, “fire”, “dank weed” or just plain good, it’s sometimes tricky to find high-quality cannabis. Cannabis flowers are dense, which can make it a little tricky to keep dried buds fresh tasting and smooth to inhale. With cannabis access increasing around the world, here is a handy guide to learn how to tell if weed is good.
What is Dank Weed?
The phrase dank weed is reserved for only the highest quality cannabis. Dank weed is the kind of weed that gets you higgghhhh — with a high THC concentration, sticky weed, healthy buds, and just as importantly, few seeds and little stem.
What is Reggie Weed?
Reggie weed is a slang term for bad quality weed. It’s the kind of weed most of us have seen, but all hope to never see again. It is low in THC, meaning you’ll have to smoke more to feel anything, and may even be full of seeds and stems, meaning you will spend more than a few, tedious minutes, cleaning it before you can smoke it, yikes!
How Do You Know That You Bought Good Weed?
To start, if you want to know how to know the best way to buy weed, first you should know that it helps to know where to go. While there is no doubt that high-quality cannabis can come from a home garden, perfected by the love and care of master growers.
However, unless you happen to know a master grower, finding high-quality cannabis can be difficult. In legal adult-use and medical cannabis states, the best place to find quality cannabis is from reputable dispensaries and compassion centers.
Reading reviews on delivery services can help you figure out which local access points have the good stuff.
The products sold at dispensaries have a higher likelihood of being laboratory tested, which limits consumer exposure to molds and potential pathogens.
Apart from sourcing high-quality herb, there are a few tips to keep in mind when trying to discern high-quality from low-quality cannabis. Here are 15 tips for picking out good weed:
1. Understand the shelving system
At dispensaries, cannabis products are often divided into three different “shelf categories.” These categories are top, middle (mid weed), and bottom. Bottom shelf products tend to be the lowest in price and quality.
Older samples, less potent samples, or products like sugar leaf trim are often make up the lower shelf products.
Middle shelf products are fairly good in quality and average in price. These are some of the most popular products, as they likely provide the most value for your money.
Top shelf products are the highest in price, but the buds that make the cut are the cream of the crop. Generally speaking, if a flower is fetching top-shelf prices, it tends to be higher in potency, cured well, and of excellent quality.
2. Follow Your Nose
While it may come as a surprise to some, your nose is one of the main tools you need to discern the quality of your cannabis. Wondering if you bought good weed? High-quality cannabis should smell, well, good.
Cannabis bud that is fresh and has been well-stored and well-cured should have a strong and pleasing aroma. A strong aroma is a sign that the cannabis has not yet been exposed to an abundance of oxygen, which degrades aroma molecules over time.
If a particular flower smells too musty, damp, foul, or has only a very faint scent, these are signs that the sample may be low-quality, exposed to mold, or not cured correctly.
Hoping to find the best bud for you? Find the one that smells the best.
3. Opt for laboratory-tested cannabis products
One of the easiest ways to find high-quality cannabis is to opt for samples that have been laboratory tested.
Samples that have been laboratory tested must show that they have low levels of molds and pathogenic fungus.
They also must show that they are free of residual pesticides, fungicides, and chemical nutrients. All of these factors can diminish the quality of the bud.
Not only do these things affect the taste and smoking experience of cannabis flowers, but the presence of molds and chemical agents can potentially cause negative health consequences.
4. Pick samples with ample visible trichomes
However, an easy way to tell whether or not your bud is worthwhile is by the trichome coverage over the plant.
Trichomes are the crystal-like resin glands that coat cannabis leaves and flowers. A tell-tale sign that you bought good weed over shitty weed?
Look for samples that have a thick and shiny trichome coating. The more trichomes, the more likely you are to have a potent cannabis experience.
5. Check for moisture content
Cannabis flowers that are either too wet or too dry are problematic. A properly cured cannabis flower should be kept between 63 and 67 percent humidity.
At this percentage, buds should be able to be broken up easily, but should not crumble apart.
Flowers that are too wet taste poorly and increase the chances of developing molds and mildews.
Cannabis buds that are too dry are difficult to smoke and vaporize. Dry cannabis leads to coughing and lung irritation.
6. Opt for dispensaries that use tongs or chopsticks
No one likes having their bud mishandled. Cannabis flowers are sticky and trichomes are delicate.
Every time your cannabis flower is touched, residue can either stick to the herb or trichomes can break off.
Over time, this makes the cannabis less potent and impacts the overall quality of the product.
If you are picking up cannabis from a dispensary, collective, or compassion center, opt for locations that weigh out material with chopsticks, tongs, or use gloves when working with the product.
This reduces the amount of hands on your cannabis flower.
7. Avoid products that contain visible stems and seeds
Seeds in weed are a good thing if you’re planning to grow, but you don’t typically want to find them in your bud.
Seeds add weight to your flower, meaning that you aren’t getting as much psychoactive goodness from your purchase.
Instead, you’re paying for weighty seeds. Cannabis flowers that have produced seeds are also more likely to be less psychoactive.
When the female cannabis flower puts energy into producing seeds, it allocates fewer resources to developing large psychoactive flowers.
Likewise, cannabis samples that contain a lot of stems are also low-quality.
It is not recommended to smoke or inhale vapor from cannabis stems (even using the best weed vaporizer), though they can be used in teas. When purchased flower contains a fair number of stems, this means that less of the overall weight contains usable cannabis material.
8. Check for color - Avoid brown weed
Cannabis can come in a bouquet of colors. While nearly all cannabis flowers contain green coloration, they can also feature purples, blues, reds, and pinks. What your flower shouldn’t be, however, is brown weed.
Brown coloration on a cannabis flower is a sign that it has been oxidized and is now old. Cannabis buds that contain significant brown coloration will likely be harsh to smoke, low in potency, and may promote a sleepy cannabis experience.
9. Avoid samples with excess leaf material (Leafy weed)
High-quality cannabis has always been given a nice haircut. Prior to being trimmed, the central bud features wispy sugar leaves.
These leaves are typically trimmed away because they feature less resin trichomes than the flower itself.
Cannabis samples that feature a large amount of leafy material will feature less overall THC, CBD, or other cannabinoids per weight purchased.
10. Avoid pre-packaged bud with excess shake
In some locations, like Washington State, cannabis can only be sold in prepackaged containers. When you have to purchase prepackaged flowers, you have less ability to see and smell the sample you’re purchasing.
While budtenders may be able to provide an in-house sample for you to look at and smell, most consumers are left to judge their cannabis by visual appeal.
To make sure you’re picking the high-quality cannabis versus low-quality cannabis, its best to avoid packages that contain a large amount of shake or feature buds that have already broken up inside the package.
Shake is the term for the loose cannabis particles that accumulate after a dried flower is handled and broken apart. Too much shake is also a sign that the cannabis is too dry, which lowers the quality.
11. Cannabis should be sticky to the touch
If you touch or break apart a cannabis bud and it is not sticky weed, the herb is likely not fresh and is too dry.
Cannabis resin should be sticky, slightly clinging to your fingers when you handle the herb.
However, because of this stickiness, it’s important to handle the cannabis flower with clean hands or use a clean utensil like a grinder or scissors to break it apart. Otherwise, you can lose a decent chunk of the resinous trichomes because they stick to your hands.
12. When inhaling, the flower should lack a chemical taste
The final ways to to know that you bought good weed vs bad weed involved the inhalation experience.
When you inhale, high-quality cannabis will not provide consumers with a harsh mineral or chemical taste.
If the flower tastes metallic or harsher than normal, it is a sign that some of the excess nutrients or pesticides have not been flushed from the plant.
Good weed will have a pleasant taste and smooth smoke, though a little coughing may still occur.
Bad weed will have a metallic, musty, chemical, or overly sweet taste. Molds and mildews are responsible for musty and overly sweet tastes.
Residual chemicals cause a metallic, mineralized, or harsh cleaner taste.
13. Inhalation should not cause chest pain
Another sign of bad cannabis is that it causes chest pain upon inhalation.
While it is essential that those with severe chest pain seek medical attention, mild chest pain and discomfort may be a sign that your cannabis is contaminated with residual pesticides, molds, bacteria, or other unsavory items.
A high-quality cannabis strain will offer consumers a pleasant smoking or vaporizing experience, not one that is difficult or excessively harsh.
14. No visible mold
As already mentioned above, cannabis flowers can get moldy. An easy way to spot bad cannabis right off the bat is to look for signs of visible molds and mildews.
Molds and mildews can come in a variety of colors. The most common being grey, white, black, and green.
Smoking or vaporizing moldy cannabis products can be harmful to health.
Not only will these flowers smell and taste poorly, but moldy weed puts consumers at risk of developing lung infections and more severe illnesses.
You know your cannabis is bad if you see visible mold spots between cylaxes or on other parts of the flower. It’s best to avoid cannabis products that show signs of mold and mildew.
What Does Moldy Weed Look Like?
Moldy weed is a massive bummer — it should never be smoked because it can cause some serious lung issues (no one wants aspergillus in their body), but how can you tell if your weed is moldy? Sometimes it’s obvious — you crack open your beautiful bud only to see a fuzzy white and/or black clump inside, but sometimes it takes the form of just a few grey fuzzy strands around the stem. Powdery mildew is also a problem — it gives flowers a dull, whitish hue. It’s important to be clear — healthy trichomes can be milky in color (they can also be more golden) but they sparkle like diamonds. Powdery mildew in weed looks like a fine white dust on the flower or stems — no bueno. If you do have a moldy bud, sorry, you’ve gotta toss it, it is just not healthy to inhale fungus. Your chance of getting nice, healthy buds is increased if you buy from a dispensary, but it’s not a guarantee — sometimes buds develop mold after shipment and there is no way to know.
15. Avoid purchasing from shady sources
Taking into consideration the cannabis plant’s tendency to mold and retain residual pesticides, it’s best to avoid shady “weed dealers” when seeking out good weed.
Not only is this cannabis less likely to be laboratory tested for potency and contamination, but it increases the likelihood of running into cannabis that has been adulterated and coated with something else.
For example, a cannabis bud can be rolled in dish soap, salt, and other drugs to make it seem more trichome-dense or potent. While these tactics certainly are not common everywhere, it is important to avoid situations that seem sketchy, dangerous, or make you uncomfortable.
Good Weed vs Bad Weed
There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding if you bought dank weed or reggie weed — the look, feel, and smell of a bud can give you clues to the weed quality. Look for the following indicators:
Why is weed sticky? Well, trichomes are the fine crystals found on buds — they’re what makes sticky weed and what gives dank weed that beautiful powdered sugar look. Trichomes contain resin and a good majority of cannabinoids, otherwise known as the compounds that get you high so their presence is important. Good weed will have A LOT of trichomes and be at least slightly sticky when you touch it — there’s a reason “that sticky icky” is glorified in rap songs, it’s good weed. And what does bad weed look like? Well, it will feel dry and not have all those dank crystals covering it.
Color is another clue to the quality of your weed — if the flower material has a rich coloring, whether it’s deep green or contains purple streaks (we’re looking at you Purple Haze), then it’s probably at least decent. Low quality flowers look yellowish or brown. Yellow may indicate that the flower was grown on a sick plant or that it didn’t get enough sunlight, both will produce a lower THC count than a healthy plant grown in full sun. A brown color may indicate oxidation, meaning that it’s been around for a while, and time is the killer of even the dankest buds.
In nice buds, there are no seeds, certainly not visible ones, the shape is appropriate for the strain, and there is no mold or mildew. Reggie buds may lack structure, feel “fluffy”, have loads of seeds, and perhaps worst of all, contain mold.
Dank buds should be at least slightly sticky, indicating lots of trichomes and they should be perfectly cured — not too wet or too dry. One caveat here — you should be the only one touching your weed — better quality dispensaries and budtenders use tongs so as not to knock off all the trichomes and let the natural oils on hands oxidize the flowers. Bad weed is dry, sometimes crumbling when handled, and there is no resin to stick to your fingers.
Dank weed has a smell — the kind of weed you’d be afraid to put in your bag when you spend the weekend at your parent’s place for fear of them finding it. The exact smell depends on the strain — it can range from skunky to citrus fruit, but whatever the genetics, it should smell gooooddd. There should be no chemical smell and if it has no smell at all? Well friend, unfortunately you have bought yourself reggie weed.
|Good Weed||Bad Weed|
|Trichomes||Many, cloudy to golden in color||Few present, clear resin may indicate the bud was unripe when harvested|
|Color||Rich flower colors — Greens, Purples||Brownish flower|
|Mold||ZERO||Hidden in the fat parts of the bud, or worse, visible on the stem|
|Leaves and stem||Trimmed off cleanly without shaving off trichomes, little stem visible||Sugar leaves still visible Lots of stem visible,|
|Buds||Dense, hard, with a nice shape for the strain eg. more round for GSC, more triangular for strains like BD||Larfy — loose, poorly shaped, and lacking structure|
|Moisture||Cured so the buds have the ideal moisture content (8-1||Too wet or so dry it turns into dust in the hand|
|Smell||A full bouquet of weed scents — from citrus to skunk||A chemical smell or no smell at all|