Let’s check out some examples of low, medium and high-quality cannabis so you can better assess the quality of the buds you’re acquiring.
You’ve learned the visual difference between cannabis quantities and how to properly store your cannabis, but can you tell the visual difference between poor and high-quality cannabis? At Leafly we constantly receive questions from our community about how to tell the quality of buds based on photos or their appearance alone. While there isn’t an exact science for selecting cannabis (most of it comes down to personal opinion), there are a number of visual cues you can look for when scanning the selection of buds at your favorite dispensary.
Examples of Low-Quality Cannabis Buds
Picking out cannabis is a lot like selecting fresh produce or flowers — you’re looking for something that looks appealing, has a good color, and produces an enticing aroma. Additionally, you want to avoid any glaring defects like mold and mildew, insects, and discoloration. Different qualities can come from the same plant; for example, I’ve seen many dispensaries that separate the prized colas from the small wispy buds found on low- hanging branches (I call these “popcorn nugs”).
Also called: Fire, primo, top shelf, loud, kill, chronic, dank, headies, flame, kine, kind, and a host of other regional naming trends
Medium-quality cannabis is where most domestically-grown US cannabis lands on the quality scale. Northern states also see an influx of mids and regs from commercial Canadian cannabis, known as Beasters or BC Buds (though the influx is starting to dwindle now that the US is shifting towards legal access).
If you are looking for a nice way to relax at the end of a tough day as you curl up with some Scooby Doo and Cheetos, Reggie might be able to help facilitate that.
When we talk about weed quality, there is no topping a nice, dank, beaster. Dank weed is really an advent of the medical and now recreational era. This stuff has been engineered through science to be as dope as possible.
The THC levels on a mid-strain are probably going to float somewhere around 17%-24%. While this is still substantially more than an average reggie it’s still not nearly as potent as weed can get.
Reggie has the typical skunky smell that is commonly associated with cannabis, though many also detect a faint sweet component to the odor as well.
Depending on the growing and curing process, the marijuana could be a mix from dry to mildly wet, but there is a vibrancy to this stuff that you will notice when it doesn’t crumble up in your fingers the way that crummy dirt weed does.
The important question to ask is: does the bud look like it came from a healthy plant? It is not uncommon for quality buds to have hints of purple, pink, blue, etc. However, if the majority of the bud is rusty red, brown, tan, or yellow in color, it came from an unhealthy plant.
Trichome ripeness, on the other hand, is a bit more difficult to assess without the aid of a magnifying glass or jeweler’s loupe. The question at hand; was the plant grown to maturity, or was it harvested prematurely (or even late)?
Avoid buds that smell like hay or have no discernible smell at all. If it doesn’t have that characteristic dankness, you probably don’t want it. Pungency is directly linked to potency and terpene content.
Trichome density is relatively easy to distinguish with the naked eye; i.e. how ‘frosty’ is the bud? Quality buds will be covered in trichomes that sparkle like crystals, whereas poor quality buds will lack trichome coverage.
For reference, sativa buds are typically covered in more pistils (little orange/red hairs) than indica buds. The pistils should be dispersed throughout the bud, not clustered in some areas and absent from others.