High Quality Cannabis: How To Identify Good From Bad

There is no exact description of high quality cannabis because everything boils down to preference. But there are few things to remember when buying cannabis to make sure that you will only purchase the tastiest and most effective cannabis on the shelf. Here are some of the key characteristics of high quality cannabis to help you recognize those that make the cut.

Shelving System

It is important to understand the shelving system of dispensaries. Dispensaries often divide cannabis products into three different categories: top, middle, and bottom. Those cannabis products placed at the bottom are the cheapest and the lowest in quality. Older and less potent products are placed on the lower shelf. Those placed in the middle are fairly good; average in price and quality. Often, the products at the middle shelf are the most popular since they are budget-friendly and are fairly good in quality. Top shelf products are the most expensive and also the cream of the crop. They are of the highest quality, highest potency, and they have undergone excellent cultivation and curing processes.

Visual Inspection

The first thing to pay attention to is stems or seeds. Stems and seeds only cause nasty taste when smoked and are a real nuisance when cannabis is being rolled. Look for cannabis with less stems or seeds, or suffer the headache of separating them when crumbling your cannabis. The untrimmed stems and seeds only indicate the rushed cultivation process.

Indica buds must be tight and dense, while sativa buds must be light and fluffy. They are covered in orange or reddish hairs and these hairs must be spread all over the bud and not just clustered in some areas.

High quality cannabis is green and not brown in color. The shades range from light, frosty, dark to forest green, with hints of purple to pinkish to golden. If the majority of the bud is red, brown, or yellow in color, most likely it came from an unhealthy plant. Avoid buds with bleached white shade; these are indicators that it came from a plant subjected to extreme light. These bleached white buds will not give a quality smoking experience.

Look for trichomes because they store the CBD and the terpenes, and are excellent indicators of high quality cannabis. High quality cannabis has densely packed ripe trichomes visible on the surface of its buds. They must be covered in trichomes sparkling like gems. Also, inspect the color of the trichomes because it is a gauge of whether the buds were harvested prematurely. Quality buds have milky white trichomes with a hint of amber. Trichomes that are clear are a sign that the bud was harvested prematurely; while pure amber-colored trichomes means the buds were harvested past its ripeness.

The Smell

High quality cannabis should smell overwhelming. As soon as you break the buds, the smell shall envelop the entire room. The pungent smell is an indication that the product contains high terpenes meaning the product is high-grade and highly potent. Well-cultivated strains give off the most powerful scent. 

Cannabis that smells like citrus, fruits, pine, and diesel indicates high-quality and powerful effects. Those that smell earthy and stinks like body odor also indicates high-quality. Cannabis that smell nothing, or smell like fresh grass clippings or hay are very low quality. Also check if the cannabis smell like mold, it is a clear sign that your buds are infected.

The Density

Buds that you can easily break apart from the stem is an indication of good cannabis quality. But those that turn to dust with a slight touch are low quality and are overdried. On the other hand, buds that feel like clay and are compact even when pressed with the fingers are a result of bad cultivation, and improper drying and curing process. 

High-quality Indica buds are dense and tightly-packed, indicas are airier and a bit leaner, while hybrid contains both characteristics of indica and sativa. 

Generally, high quality cannabis buds are not too airy or scrawny; rather, they are tight-trimmed and well-manicured.

The Moisture Level

When cannabis is poorly dried, it negatively impacts the taste and effects. Check the moisture level of the buds, because poorly dried buds may be infected with mold and pests. With proper curing method, high quality cannabis is slightly dried but feels sticky to your fingertips. Buds that are too dry are of bad quality. Cannabis that is too dry doesn’t have a significant CBD profile needed to produce impactful experience. Remember that the best cannabis is a little dry but sticky enough to crumble when you grind it.

Go find perfectly balanced dry and sticky cannabis, just be wary of soggy and moist buds- they are a sign of bad quality.

The Stickiness

High quality cannabis contains a huge amount of resins in their trichomes. This resin gives high quality cannabis stickiness when touched. Cannabis with high trichomes and high resins indicates that it is richer in CBD, hence, more potent, more impactful, and overall higher quality.

The Taste

You should taste robust natural flavors with high quality cannabis. Cannabis shouldn’t taste like metallics; those that do probably were given pesticides, fungicides, or other contaminants that weren’t flushed from the plant. These can pose a risk to your health and can alter your overall cannabis experience. Foul-taste is a sign of bacteria growth, mold, or pests.

High quality cannabis will have a pleasing taste and smooth smoke, causing little to no cough. Bad cannabis tastes metallic, chemical, stale, moldy, or overly sweet.

Ash & Smoke

The color of the ash can indicate your cannabis’s quality. Analyze the remains of your cannabis. Black ash could mean that there are residual chemicals on your bud that wasn’t properly flushed, or there might be too much moisture in it indicating that your bud was badly cured. 

Check the smoke. High quality cannabis feels smooth upon inhaling. Those that cause uncomfortable feelings in the throat are bad quality and are not recommended because it could mean that the bud still has traces of chemicals and impurities.

No Molds And Fungi

Molds growing on cannabis are very common, so look for visible signs of molds and mildews. Molds and mildews are dusty, powdery, clumpy, and are commonly gray, white, black, and green in color. Not only that smoking moldy cannabis is distasteful, but it is also harmful to health and puts you at risk for developing lung infections and other illnesses.

It’s Not About The THC

Determining the best types of cannabis is not a question of which has the highest THC. Cannabis is a unique complex plant with so many different elements and compounds, all simultaneously playing a part to deliver the health benefits, and the “high.” For instance, A THC-dominant cannabis may lack terpenes and CBD needed to produce a certain taste, and may lack health benefits.

A cannabis batch with a high percentage of THC doesn’t make them high quality.

A Few More Tips

Purchase from dispensaries that use tongs. The trichomes in cannabis are delicate and every time the cannabis is touched, trichomes can break off. This lessens the potency of cannabis, and ultimately degrades the quality of the product. So, pick a dispensary that gently uses chopsticks or tongs when picking up samples. 

Another tip is to read their labels. Know their harvest dates and packaging material. Cannabis tends to lose its effect and overall quality as time passes. Cannabis loses most of their terpenes within 6 months. You should also account for its packaging. Plastic bags destroy trichomes while glass jars preserve the quality.


Knowing how to determine the quality of your cannabis is a valuable skill. Cannabis quality can be assessed in several different aspects: its visual appearance, smell, density, moisture level, taste, and many more. Generally, high quality cannabis is found on the top and middle shelves; they are green in color and are made of buds covered with trichomes, they have a strong scent and smooth taste, and they are in perfect dry-to-sticky ratio. Bad cannabis is placed on the bottom shelf; they are often brown with noticeably few trichomes, excessive stems, stale scent, and taste.

It is important to keep in mind, still, that the standards of quality vary based on the geographical location of the cannabis you are attempting to purchase. Environmental factors, local laws, culture, climate, and weather all impact the standards and outcomes.

At the end of the day, it’s all about what you enjoy the most. The goal is to find what works best for you and at the same time ensure that what you are getting is safe.

Buy only from reputable and licensed dispensaries to get certified high quality cannabis. Smoking low-grade cannabis will do you harm; it can cause be too harsh to the throat, and you may not reap the benefits of cannabis if you are after it. Purchase only products that have been tested by certified laboratories. Check their lab tests; results must conclude that the product doesn’t have any harmful bacteria, molds, fungi, residual pesticides, fungicides, and other toxins.

The best cannabis experiences come from best buds, so never settle for less.

Another Consumption Technique

If you want a different consumption technique, you can check this out. Vaporization produces little to no weed smell. Vaporization is a kind of permanent solution in terms of removing the weed smell, which is a challenging situation for everyone. 

Edibles can also guarantee a smell-free weed experience. The only downside is that you will not have the same feeling as smoking.