When you’re new to cannabis, you probably think that every stash of cannabis flower is similar in terms of quality. You couldn’t be more wrong.
The same way there is much diversity when it comes to cannabis strains, there is a quality range.
You’ve probably heard of the term “top-shelf weed”.
That simply refers to superior quality, which means the opposite is a reality, and if you’ve visited marijuana dispensaries, you’ve witnessed the dramatic price tags.
Some products go for as little as $20, and others go into the hundreds. What affects the prices is usually quality, and that’s determined by factors like strain type, chemical profile, and cultivation practices.
If you’re uncertain what to look for to determine the quality of buds, we highlight the steps to help you evaluate cannabis flowers.
Step 1: Harvest Date
It probably won’t seem like a big deal because dried buds take a while to go stale. But just because your stash is nowhere near the expiration date doesn’t mean it can’t lose potency.
Checking the harvest date assures you that what you’re buying is at its best. Buying weed falling within 120 days of its harvest is advisable. Longer than that, and the flowers may not hit as they would when fresh.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that established brands tend to get their flowers on the shelves as soon as possible to maintain quality.
Step 2: Trichomes
If you’ve noticed cannabis flowers looking powdery, it’s due to what is known as trichomes. These are fine protrusions that give buds their hairy appearance.
But the presence of trichomes is not by chance. These outgrowths carry most of the chemical compounds present in the cannabis flower.
You can use trichomes to determine the quality of buds because a healthy plant with good genetics will be full of trichomes. If it’s not fully covered in trichomes, it’s lacking.
Step 3: The Smell
Remember, the quality of cannabis buds is not about having high levels of cannabinoids. There are other chemicals as well, like terpenes which contribute to the whole entourage effect.
The good thing about terpenes is that they are aromatic. So if a flower has a rich terpene profile, it’s going to have a strong smell. The more pungent the smell is, the stronger the terpene profile.
Basically, if the flower doesn’t have a distinctive aroma, its quality is questionable.
Step 4: Varying Shades
Cannabis flowers have a green undertone but often have varying shades of green as their main color. Then you have other colors like yellow, red, purple, blue, gray, and so on. These secondary colors make up the complex color scheme of cannabis buds.
While each marijuana strain looks different due to its color scheme, they have one thing in common: they are colorful.
If your stash looks pure green, brown, or anything else, it may have come from an unhealthy plant, or it has stayed on the shelf for too long and lost value.
Step 5: Shape
How the flower appears in shape and structure can be a good way to determine quality.
Indica buds often assume the dense, tight characteristics associated with the plant. If the buds don’t look dense but rather fluffy like sativas tend to appear, they may not have come from a healthy and mature indica plant.
However, remember that hybrids may take the form of both indica and sativa. Therefore, appearance wouldn’t be the best judge of quality.
Step 6: Cultivation Practices
Besides physical traits, another way to determine the quality of cannabis flower is to check whether the product meets the standards of ethical cultivation.
If unethical cultivation practices such as synthetic fertilizers are used, it affects the quality of buds. In fact, unethical practices could lead to chemical contamination, making the flower unsafe for consumption.
While physically you can’t determine if unethical cultivation practices were used, you can check for quality assurance labels like Clean Green Certified or Sun+Earth.
The quality of top-shelf cannabis comes down to its richness in nutrients like cannabinoids and terpenes. If the flower is of low quality, it should show some signs like the ones listed. Hopefully, these tips will help you buy quality weed the next time you visit a dispensary.