If you’ve been buying weed in baggies for as long as you can remember, quality is what’s available. You either trust your dealer or pay for what he calls “quality.” Some dealers have gone “high road” — charging what they can get for the quality they go out of their way to find. For the rest of us, there are some visual glues to selecting high-quality cannabis.
What constitutes “high-quality” cannabis?
Regardless of the flavors and aroma you prefer, regardless of the THC: CBD ratio you enjoy, quality cannabis has certain qualities. Craft cultivated and master grown cannabis features near bursting translucent trichomes, complex terpene chemistry, and fragrant aromas. And, they carry this profile from seed to flower, harvest, curing, and sale.
The best product has been farmed with special soils, organic nutrients, and pesticides. It has been formed outdoors under close monitoring and care. Grown indoors, the plants benefit from controlled heat, air, and light. And, it will harvest at the right moment under prime conditions.
Producers trim the top shelf piff by hand, cure it under control, and package and distribute nugs in their prime.
Where will you find it?
Top shelf cannabis is likely to be on the top shelf at the dispensary. It’s the freshest, most potent, and latest trend in strains. For them, it is a retail and inventory issue. Cannabis has a shelf life, so the best stuff is displayed above the mid-quality shelved that it sits at eye level. Retail marketing holds the eye-level product moves faster.
Budtenders won’t hide it from you, but they are ready to match your taste to your budget. You should be able to trust them not to push stale weed on you. But you’ll soon figure out the price range as you go from the bottom shelf to top. And, you can learn everything you need to know about pricing with some research online.
That bottom shelf doesn’t offer bad cannabis, but it will be the least potent or novel. It may also include trim and debris from other strains and broken nugs. It may be a place for first-time users to start. It’s likely to be better than the bags available on the street, and it should deliver enough punch for the novice to enjoy before moving to the top shelf.
What does high-quality look like?
Cannabis is not exactly fresh produce, but it is a plant. So, you can imagine how the retailer wants to move product. There are several things to look for if you are after primo product:
- Check the bud. You will find Indica plump and tight with frail red hairs. Sativa comes lean and wispy. Hybrids fall somewhere in between.
- Look for fans. Fan leaves naturally surround the buds. If you see them, chances are the cannabis was harvested by machines than may have damaged the fire. Hand-trimmed production is the best, and good dispensaries will further trim the product as it arrives. This presents the nugs better and reduces the weight of your purchase.
- Watch the price. If you look around the dispensary, you will see big gaps in the pricing. The lowest-priced item offered at big discounts is a clue it’s not a real bargain.
- Count the seeds. With prices high, you don’t want to pay for seeds and sticks. If the display jar has a lot of seeds at the bottom, it may be older than you want. Once it is bagged for sale, you don’t want the bagged product weighed with debris.
- Magnify the search. It’s not unusual to see serious shoppers use a pocket magnifier to examine the buds offered. You want to explore the trichomes. Fresh cannabis has shiny sticky Trichomes where the “magic” sits. Most fresh cannabis nugs are very beautiful when viewed closely.
- Trust your nose. A veteran cannabis user will stick their nose into the display jar or bag. A good budtender will offer the jar like a glass of wine for a whiff to take in the aroma. Rich aromas will suggest the fragrance, flavor, and freshness that add up to potency.
- Avoid the brown and yellow. Rich fresh cannabis is varying shades of green. The green should be pronounced but mixed with bright purple, yellow, and/or orange depending on the strain. If those colors have faded, it’s a sign of age.
- Tickle the wisps. The fine wiry orange “hairs” extending from nugs are pistils. Some will be lost in harvesting, curing, and packaging. However, they are a sign of freshness, so you might opt for the hairy product.
- Touch it lightly. Some dispensaries let you touch and feel. If it seems too wet, it is susceptible to mold. If it is too dry, it may break apart and crumble easily. If it is sticky without flaking, the quality should be very good.
- Opt for potency. Loud cannabis has a thick, exterior, crystalline “fur” of sticky resin containing the cannabinoids and terpenes you are shopping for. They hold the flavor and psychoactive potency.
- Read the test results. An increasing number of dispensaries, anticipating compliance mandates, are publishing third party lab test results. If your dispensary promotes these products, the results should appear on the labeling.
Finding high-quality chronic —
Sooner or later, you must trust your source. If a dealer gives you what you want, so be it. But if you want to step up to reach the top shelf, you want to find a quality dispensary. Some dispensaries are shady operations, and they will prosper in large difficult to oversee markets like Los Angeles.
But if you are willing to do some research and some comparison shopping online and in person, you’ll find a reliable neatly priced source for your favorite high-quality cannabis strains.