Most weed stores have knowledgeable and personable budtenders to help you select cannabis. However, if you want to take it to the next level and have internal knowledge just for yourself, check out our guide to selecting high quality cannabis.
Name Brand Cannabis
Whether you’re picking out new sneakers or some pungent herb for medicinal or recreational purposes, name brands are one indicator of quality. Some of the name brands in cannabis will pop in and out of popularity over the years and some are regional favorites, but most have earned a good reputation and are more likely to be high quality.
Landrace strains originate from specific places, are indigenous; tied to the land – for centuries. For instance, Afghani, Thai, and Hawaiian literally announce their heritage. The name indicates a high likelihood of quality but not a guarantee as landrace strains have migrated to all parts of the world and have been handed down, interbred, and cultivated in varying environments. You’ll need other clues to quality than just the name brand. For instance, you might see Nike sneakers at a sidewalk table in New York City, but that doesn’t mean they’re real Nikes.
Heirloom strains are the ones from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, collected and cultivated by cannabis connoisseurs. Some of them are landrace strains and landrace children but most of them have cultural associations with the times. For instance, Tangerine Dream is an heirloom strain. These old-timers have stable genetics, which can indicate high quality. Many derive from old seeds when Hippies went to the Middle East or South American to acquire cannabis or marijuana as it was known then. Potency varies in the heirlooms, but most had average THC levels, the psychoactive component, so if you want to know what it felt like to be high in the 70s choose an heirloom strain.
Child strains from any of the landrace or heirloom strains are likely to be high in quality due to their stable genetic profile, even if interbred with a more modern strain. The children of the brand names are numerous and might have some of the rock star quality. While not a guarantee of quality, these mixed strains should have stand out qualities. Cannabis Cup winners are also likely to be high quality.
Evaluating Cannabis Scent, Look, and Texture
The cannabis industry is becoming like the wine industry where descriptive adjectives evaluate and define the product. If you’re looking for high quality cannabis, be like a wine-o-phile and smell your product first. Most dispensaries will let you stick your nose in the jar. You want to smell the weed because breeders and growers put a lot of effort into cultivating cannabis with distinctive bouquets. Some of the scent descriptors include woody, pine, floral, fruit, and so on. A distinctive aroma is a good indicator of quality. If the budtender won’t let you stick your nose in the jar, use the old chemist’s trick and wave your hand over the jar towards your face to direct the molecules into your nose.
You’ll be less likely to be allowed to handle the bud because budtenders don’t want contaminants on your hands to transfer to their bud. You can ask the tender to use a pair of tongs to grasp a bud and take it out of the jar so you can look at it. Quality cannabis buds will be medium to large size, dense, and have color variation – muted or vibrant green, purple, orange, and red. If you see plentiful trichromes, the sparkly white dust that’s sticky and infused with extra cannabinoid punch, you can assume good quality. Good quality cannabis will be trimmed well. The bud will be elegantly structured with few leaves.
Tiny, crumbling, porous, wispy and monochrome brown weed is probably not high quality. Bud with seeds, mold, mildew, or insects is not high quality and can make you sick. If you use low quality cannabis, you might not feel strong effects and could have adverse events like headaches. A low price, along with the visual and scent indicators, also indicates low quality.
The difference between low and high quality cannabis should withstand the friend test. Would you rather go home and say to your friends, hey look at my bag of brown shake or look at this awesome bud. Would you encourage your friends to smell your shake or evaluate the bud’s aroma like a fine wine.
Name brands and appearance/aroma are indicators of good genetics and high quality cultivation practices. They’re useful guides for Before you buy. After you buy, you’ll want to evaluate the effects of the cannabis so you’ll know if it’s high quality for you, a more subjective effort. If it works the way you want, you’ll be more likely to buy it again, which is a testament to its high quality.
To evaluate the effects, you’ll need some sort of roadmap going in, so you’ll know if you took the right road. If you’re looking for mild pain relief and you got super high and couldn’t go to work, then that strain wasn’t high quality for you.
So, you should know how the effects of cannabis work. Indica strains have a downer effect and Sativa strains have an energizing effect while the Hybrids have a little bit of both depending on the percentage or dominance. A lot of people use Sativa in the morning or during the day and use the Indicas at night or when they’re ready to relax. People seeking pain or anxiety relief turn to the Indicas. People with more serious medical conditions use high-CBD cannabis and recreational users often seek high-THC cannabis.
Deep Dive into Cannabis Quality
Experience is the best teacher and guide. Get to know your local budtenders, ask a lot of questions, and try different strains. Sites like Allbud offer strain information. Get to know the origin stories of your cannabis, its breeding lore, and improve your cannabis vocabulary in terms of appearance and scent bouquet. With a little exploration and in no time, you’ll be an expert in detecting quality cannabis.