Ever wondered the most unfortunate thing that can happen when you’re buying weed from a dispensary? Well, your weed may turn out not to be exactly what you ordered. This should never happen. This is why we provide you with this comprehensive guide to shield you from disappointments as you make your weed purchase. First, let us clear any ambiguity. Marijuana, Hemp, Hashish, Ganja, and Weed all refer to cannabis.
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There are 33 states in the US where medical marijuana is entirely legal. This means good weed is more readily available in these states.
So, what’s a bad weed, and why is it labeled as bad?
Bad weed is a weed that doesn’t make you feel relaxed or energetic and has some side effects such as panic attacks and anxiety. In most cases, bad weed is of low quality and cheap, mainly due to poor farming practices and handling. It‘s usually grown in people’s backyards, full of mud, stems, and seeds.
How do you differentiate between good and bad weed?
The difference between a good weed and a lousy weed is quite apparent when you see or consume it. However, there are several other ways you can judge the quality of weed.
The “Shelf” System
This is a great way to determine the quality of weed when purchasing from a dispensary. However, your budtender will guide you. Assessing the shelf system can help you determine if you are purchasing good quality weed.
Three Distinct Shelves
A standard dispensary has three distinct shelves:
You will find the cream of the crop on the top shelf. Usually, this rack contains a significant amount of THC. Weed from the top shelf will contain high THC if you are looking for a psychoactive effect. Top-shelf weed also has high CBD content. It’s grown with great care and dried to perfection. The weed on this shelf is the very best in THC, aroma, and flavor.
The mid-shelf consists of average quality marijuana. Though not exceptional, it isn’t bad either. It serves the purpose if you don’t want to go too high.
By now, you may have already guessed that marijuana at the bottom shelf is the cheapest. Sometimes, it’s a mixture of several clippings or broken pieces of high-quality marijuana. If you wonder about its psychoactive effect, it still has a psychoactive effect but only on beginners.
This weed can be very cheap, as cheap as 2 dollars a gram. If you are on a budget and quality isn’t a major factor, you may want to go for this. Plus, if you are satisfied with your bud from the bottom shelf, you may want to stop reading at this point because we will proceed to give you tips on purchasing high-quality marijuana.
However, you should note that differentiating between excellent and bad weed by merely considering the “Shelf” system isn’t foolproof.
- Don’t always trust labels: Not every dispensary operates in good faith or possesses the information required to make such qualitative decisions on weed quality.
- Pungency comes first: If you are smelling some weird or harsh odor, you will immediately know that this is not a top-shelf bud.
- Looks of a top-shelf bud: Bright, rich coloration in your strain is a sign of a high-quality product. This strain tends to be a precise combination of green and purple. On the other hand, bad weed is typically yellow, brown, orange, or red in color. You should consider not purchasing such weed if you’re looking for high-quality.
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Smelling weed to determine if it’s good or bad
Weed critics describe good weed with terms taken straight out from a culinary thesaurus: “Notes of dark purplish berries,” “Intense chocolatey undertones, “Hints of Indian spices” are just but a few of the common phrases you’ll see being tossed around when describing what good weed smells like.
Weed has a distinct smell that most people can recognize. With its steady legalization in the United States, you must have caught a random whiff of weed.
Different aromas during the plant’s life cycle
As a plant, weed gives off different scents throughout its life cycle. When in its early stage of growth, the plant is less potent. As it matures, it smells weedier (piney or skunky). Usually, the weed smell is heightened when the plant is exposed to heat so that you may notice a more pungent smell on a warm day. The scent also intensifies as the plant flowers or blooms.
If you are a novice in weed smelling and your nose isn’t trained to sniff out the top-shelf weed from the bottom-shelf weed, we are providing you with a quick guide into weed aromas.
So How Does Weed Smell Like?
It smells like a skunk.
While we rarely associate the smell of a skunk with something positive, it’s always a good thing when it comes to weed.
The so-called skunk-weed takes its characteristic scent from compounds like thiols, containing sulfur responsible for the gassy smell.
It smells like a fresh-cut fruit.
Terpenes present in weed are responsible for most of the scent coming from your weed. Many terpenes found in fruits such as blueberries, lemons, and strawberries pop up in weed. Now you know why your weed smells like an orange while it carries hints of banana peels.
It smells like pine trees.
Apart from the skunk smell, the pine tree smell is yet another great indicator of good weed. Weed pine-like scent comes from a terpene called pinene, and yeah, it’s the same terpene in pine needles and pine sap.
Now, let’s see how does bad weed smell like
It smells like lawn clippings.
If your weed smells like you just got done with mowing your lawn, then trust us, you have got some bad quality weed there.
Want to know the reason behind this?
Here it is. The processors who adequately cure their buds will have burped out all the gases released by the breakdown of chlorophyll (cells in plants responsible for the green color); hence, the smell of lawn clippings.
It smells like sweat or urine.
If your weed smells like an athlete’s drawer (quite a sweaty smell) or the inside of a gas station’s urinal, you are probably dealing with moldy or mildewed buds. It usually happens with modern weed cultivation due to the constant demand for new products and insufficient airflow in indoor growing. Overly moist conditions lead to spoiled weed, too.
It smells like burnt hair.
The smell of burnt hair from your weed can indicate excess chemical residues on or in flowers. It may be possible that you are smelling weird things from your weed, like burnt hair, because the cultivator went overboard with the growth nutrients.
Now you know what type of smell you are looking (or not looking) for in your weed.
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Color and texture of the weed
As you know, the first thing you notice about your weed is its color and then the texture.
What does good weed look like?
Great weed is usually lush green or dark green, or it might also possess some orange, reddish or purplish tints depending on the strain of weed.
What does bad weed look like?
Well, bad weed is usually light green or, sometimes, yellowish. It has quite a dry look, so dry that just the visual cue is enough to tell you that something is wrong with it. But only if you’re keen enough.
Steer clear of brown weed. It is the worst kind and very dry and may even be burnt.
The weed that’s dry or has a lot of cracks is nasty weed.
Remember that the buds that look bleached white (not frosty with crystals) are the unfortunate light buds (very high-intensity light). So, avoid such buds, since they won’t offer a quality experience.
Two essential components to examine
If you want to get deeper into examining your weed by just looking at it, you may want to explore the following components:
- The Buds
- The Ash
By far, green flowers are the most common hue associated with weed. However, the highest quality weed possesses green bases accented with vibrant, near-rainbow shades of orange, red, and purple.
The more colorful the buds, the more likely you have a complex, fresh strain.
When assessing the bud’s greenery, in particular, opt for hues that appear bright, light, and lush.
Fresh and high-quality weed leaves behind white ash, with no brown, grey, or black residue. Also, it should not have dust or ashy residue.
Now comes the texture of your weed.
The texture is often neglected when it comes to understanding weed strains. Many budtenders won’t let you touch buds with bare hands, but they may have some tools to evaluate texture-based aspects. This somewhat complements your other forms of assessment to assure the quality of your desired weed.
It usually has a “sticky” texture (this is the best sign of freshness). It also has soft and plump buds that seem ripe and evenly shaped no matter how you handle them.
Buds of bad weed are sharp, prickly, or thorny. If it’s scratchy, it means it may be very old or stale and has not been properly cut. It could contain traces of dried stem or clunky seeds that were not trimmed neatly when first harvested.
The color and the texture of your weed matters a lot. Make sure you are paying close attention to both.
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Crystals and structure
Good weed can leave you dazzled with its shape and structure. Perfectly-trimmed buds are known for their geometric intactness, showcasing the best geometrically shaped buds that indicate balanced and even growth.
Geometric balance (good weed vs bad weed)
- Experts compare the top-shelf weed to the shape of the pinecone when it is at its peak. This is one of the best geometric indications to assess weed quality visually. Bad weed, on the other hand, looks a lot like grass clippings.
- The buds of a good weed are often even sized and spaced. They are thick and full in appearance. The buds of the bad weed are oddly sized with hues of brown color.
- Good weed is not directly converted to a fine powder when crushed. Instead, it is crushed into chunks first. Bad-quality weed is grounded to a fine powder with minimal effort.
- Well-cultivated weed also makes snapping noises when you grind it down. No such sounds are made when grinding the bottom-shelf weed.
Structure and shape of the buds (good weed vs bad weed)
- The trimming of your weed also has a lot to tell about its quality. Good weed tends to be more meticulously trimmed, often by hand. Bad-quality weed is poorly cut, which becomes pretty apparent when there is very little trichome observed in such weed. (Poor trimming leads to low trichome and THC).
- Stigmas (female part of the flower) and bracts (small leaf-like structures) should be noticeable to the naked eye. No such thing visible in the case of bad weed.
- The buds of a good weed look plump and round. While the buds of a bad weed have a bad feeling, it dried up and burnt.
Crystal count of good and bad weed
The shiny small crystals visible on your buds indicate your weed’s potency, so the more crystals, the merrier. Similarly, fewer or no crystals are an indicator of poor-quality weed.
Tips to consider when looking at the structure or shape of your weed
- Check if weed is Hand-trimmed or Machine trimmed – If your pot is perfectly trimmed, this means it’s been cut by machine, not by hand. Such automated machines cause damage and shake off the precious trichomes. Machine trimmed weed tends to have uniform edges, whereas hand-trimmed weed tends to look asymmetrical. Asymmetrical weed is the best since it consists of carefully cut buds.
- Check for the number of Trichomes and Leaves – Another tip is to pay close attention to the bottom of your container. If you see a bunch of leaves and many trichomes at the bottom of the jar, it means that the weed was poorly handled during the processing and shipping. Even the darkest and the sugary weed will not have a pile of trichomes if adequately handled.
Hair and pistils
When you take a close look at the surface of your weed, you will observe miniature landscapes- valleys, peaks, all- made up of different glands, organs, and structures. Among the scenery, the pistils protrude the most (hair attached to the pistils).
These pistils are the sex organs of the female marijuana plant. They receive male pollen. Once they come into contact, the flower becomes fertile and swiftly proceeds to seed.
Pistils; progress markers
Apart from their biological role, pistils are critical progress markers in the following ways:
- During the early flowering stage, these structures display a brilliant whiteness.
- After several weeks, their appearance turns into solid dark orange.
The pistils, which seem like little hairs covering the bud, are very telling. They indicate that the plant is pollinated and has completely matured. The good weed has lots of orange pistils.
The more little hairs, the better it is.
Weed with white pistils signals immature or unripe weed.
When left to mature a little longer, plants with white pistils mature and unleash a complete terpene and cannabinoid profile.
Here is a tip if you are looking for good weed.
When eyeing buds, you should always look for deep orange pistils. Harvest should ideally take place when at least 70% of the hair turns this color. This color indicates that the buds are ripe, mature, and ready for snipping.
What’s in your weed? (lab-testing)
It is essential to purchasing only lab-tested products because you are assured of buying good quality weed. However, you should keep in mind that not all dispensaries have lab-tested products.
If you find a product that has been certified to contain little to no pesticides or contaminants, then there is quite a good chance that you are getting quality weed.
If your product is not already lab-tested and wants quality weed, we suggest you go for lab tests. Lab tests can be costly and take some time, so it is better to pick weed that is already lab-tested.
Lab testing gives you clear insight into the content of the weed you want to purchase.
Why does weed need to be tested?
Weed is tested for two apparent reasons:
- Safety of the consumers
During cultivation, weed becomes a sponge, absorbing all nutrients as well as heavy metals. For this reason, regulatory agencies have started looking into the limits of:
Residual solvents, pesticides, heavy metals, microbes, and mycotoxins. Pesticides and mycotoxins pose a potentially dangerous safety threat to humans when consumed. It can cause diseases such as asthma, allergies, or immune-system problems. This is a clear indicator of a lousy weed since good weed is lab-tested and least likely to contain any of these chemicals.
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Weed is also tested to determine chemical makeup. For instance, the number of cannabinoids and terpenes.
So, make sure your weed is lab-tested to know exactly what you are consuming.
Check for mold
Mold is a type of fungus. These are small organisms that live almost anywhere, both indoors and outdoors. They are usually harmless when in small amounts.
Moldy weed is horrible. It is the worst, does not have any positive effect, and may leave you sick. To avoid it, make sure that you are consuming good weed that does not show any mold signs.
Signs of molds
- Signs of moldiness are generally visible.
- There may be some webbing and some dark spots or spots in varied colors.
- You may experience a slimy texture.
- There might be some white-colored patches growing in some places.
The weed that displays any of the above signs is bad, and you should refrain from buying such weed.
Three times you are most likely to see mold on your weed.
- When your bud is quite leafy
- During the late flowering stage
- During drying and curing
What does mold feel like in a dried flower?
- The musty, sweet, or stale odor
- Grey or white fuzz
- Specks of white powder
- Allergic reactions and coughing after consuming it
Things to look for when you are growing a weed plant
- White powder developing on leaves
- Grey hairs on buds
- Yellowing or dying leaves
- Stinky roots
- Musty smelling buds
How to check for moldy weed
- The smell test
- The microscope test
The Smell Test
As discussed earlier, weed comes in different aromas, from hints of berries to skunks, but there is just one smell that is not bearable; the smell of human sweat or urine. So, look out for such a scent!
The Microscope Test
Only an experienced person can detect the presence of mold in weed. In most cases, mold is not visible. Sometimes, you need more than a naked eye or a microscope to spot mold.
Mold and mildew produce a little filament called hyphae. Hyphae look nothing like a bud’s natural trichomes. So, if anything seems out of the ordinary, it may be mold.
Good weed, on the other hand, never has any mold.
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Look out for seeds and stems
Consuming seeds, sticks, or stems of weed is not recommended. Bad weed often contains both or either. They have insufficient quantities of THC or no CBD. Stems and seeds produce toxins and carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) that damage the lungs and heart.
They can also cause:
- A raging headache
- Sore throat
Good weed does not contain seeds, and even bottom-shelf weed should not if it comes from a reputable dispensary. They add weight, giving you less usable weed for your money. They explode under combustion too. This will not only destroy your weed’s flavor but would also break the glass. Seedy weed is also less potent because if a plant begins to produce seeds, it produces less psychoactive compounds.
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A few stems naturally show up in your weed, but keep in mind that they should not be many. Stems and other unusual leaves in a weed jar or bag are known as “shake.” Good weed should not contain much shake.
How to avoid weed with seeds or stems in it
Well, the best way is to grow your own weed, and if not possible, you have to purchase from a certified vendor, and not just your friend down the street. If you are buying it from quite a reputable establishment offline or online, you have to verify the quality beforehand. You can ask questions on how well the plant was nurtured to avoid low-quality weed.
When you purchase your weed from such establishments, you will have the opportunity to smell and examine it, so you never have to purchase poor quality weed.
Feel them buds
How buds feel when you touch them says a lot about their quality. Good weed is tight and dense. Every grower hopes for dense and heavy buds at the end of each growing season. Those flowers usually hold more mass and are more healthy.
Grinding up dense weed flowers almost doubles up their size. Even a small chunk of compact flowers yields plenty of grounded fine powder.
Bad weed is airy, loose, and has fluffy buds.
On the other hand, flawed and fluffy buds yield utter disappointment and less potent matter. These flowers are a result of suboptimal growing conditions, lack of light, or nutritional deficiency. They appear soft, thin, and you can see through them.
Fluffy buds not only seem less appealing, but you will need to use more every time you consume your weed. These buds collapse by themselves and feel much more feeble to the touch.
Causes of fluffy, loose, and airy buds
Indica varieties usually have the tightest buds. Sativa strains may yield loose buds. But it does not mean that Indica strains would not suffer from airy buds. Nor does it mean that Sativa strains would not produce tight strains.
Airy buds grow when the light source is too close or far away.
Genetics play a huge part in this. Sativas do well in hot temperatures, and Indica does well in cold weather.
- Nutrients or fertilizers
- Air and space
- Time of growing and harvesting
How to avoid getting airy or fluffy buds
Once you know the causes of airy buds, correcting your problem is relatively easy.
- It all starts with the container the plant is grown in.
- During the germinating phase, the box needs to be small.
- After this stage, plants need to be moved to a larger container and should be kept there permanently.
- The size of the container depends on the ultimate desired length of your plant.
- Plants that are expected to grow to 12 inches need two to three gallons of water.
After taking these points into account, you need to consider all the factors that caused the airy buds to make sure that you are not repeating the same mistakes.
Having fluffy or airy buds may not seem like a big deal. However, the structure can reduce the potency of your weed. But growers need to know such buds’ causes and correct them to achieve dense and healthier buds.
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Even with the helpful indicators mentioned above, quality standards may vary widely. The most accurate way of determining the quality of the weed you want to purchase is by studying test data from a trusted third-party laboratory.
Now you know what to look for in weed, and you can identify the high-quality weed and steer clear of the bad stuff. This will make your purchase worth every penny since you will always get the quality you are looking for. You can relax and consume quality weed since this article has equipped you with all the knowledge you need to differentiate between the good and bad stuff. Put your newly acquired skills to the test on your next weed run!
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