If you’re just getting into the wonderful world of cannabis, one of the most important questions you can ask before shoveling out your hard-earned cash on a little baggie is: “how do you know if weed is good?”
Realistically, this is one of those questions that should be incredibly easy to answer but at the same time, can be a little difficult to describe to those who have no previous experience with marijuana whatsoever.
In order to tell good weed vs bad weed, you’ll need to consider several different things regarding appearance, texture (feel), and smell.
Again, though, if you have no experience at all with what quality weed should smell or look like, it can be a little difficult to pick out the ‘dank’ stuff from the ‘stank’ stuff.
In this article, we do our very best to answer the question of ‘how to tell if your weed is good’ by providing some basic, helpful tips – in addition to one super simple trick that you can use after the bud is already burning.
How to tell good weed from bad weed: The absolute basics
For the sake of thoroughness, we’ll go ahead and consider that there are people out there who have NO idea what should good weed look (or smell) like.
If you’re buying from a ‘dealer’ rather than a licensed dispensary (which we’re NOT recommending by the way), the possibility of getting ripped off with terrible quality bud is certainly possible.
As such, it’s imperative to at least know some very basic things to look out for, so that you can (hopefully) at least walk away with some smokable bud rather than some glorified oregano.
What color is it?
So, hopefully you at least know that weed should be some shade of green. If we were to offer any one single piece of advice to someone that’s buying bud for the first time, it would be to make sure that the nugs are not brown.
Granted, you will likely see small spatterings of rust/red/orange/brown hairs on the nugs, but these are actually pistils, and in fact are a sign of nice, healthy marijuana (more on that below).
When we say ‘don’t buy brown weed,’ we’re talking more about the color of the buds as a whole; if it looks brown, old, and/or dead, then don’t buy.
Weed should be green — there are no ‘ifs’ ‘ands’ or ‘buts’ about it.
Do the nuggets have stems or seeds?
Another very basic thing you should look out for is whether or not the weed you’re buying has seeds and stems in it. Not that the presence of stems and seeds is necessarily indicative of ‘bad quality’ marijuana, but generally speaking, it’s not good.
For one thing, weed is typically priced according to how much it weighs (1g, ⅛ oz, ¼ oz, etc), so if half the weight of the nugget is made up by stems and seeds, you’re getting ripped off.
Secondly, the presence of seeds is indicative that the female plants have been pollinated by male plant(s), which is not good for the quality and potency of the flower.
Simply put, if you’re paying the going rate for marijuana, it most certainly should NOT have stems and seeds in it!
Don’t buy pot (leaves)!
Oddly enough, the iconic pot leaf that you see all over reggae/hippy/stoner t-shirts and what not is not the actual part of the marijuana plant that you want to be smoking. This is what’s called the “fan” leaf or “water” leaf, and it typically has very little THC in it.
Instead, what you should be buying are the nuggets, or buds. The buds themselves are actually the female reproductive organs of the plant, and are the part that carries all of the potent THC.
Use that sniffer…
If you’ve never smelled marijuana before, you’re of course not going to be able to tell good weed from bad weed just by smelling it.
In all honesty, probably the single best way to describe the smell of weed to a complete rookie is that it kind of smells like a skunk.
You’ll hear a lot of terminology like ‘dank’ or ‘musky’ or ‘diesel,’ but this won’t really mean anything to you until you’ve actually had the chance to experience them each individually.
If your weed smells ‘grassy’ (like fresh cut grass), ‘wheaty’ (like hay), or something along the lines of like what you remember your grandfather’s farm smelling like, you’re probably getting ripped off. Weed has a very, very distinct smell, and if doesn’t smell like that, then it probably ain’t weed.
Good weed vs. bad weed: Using that eagle eye
Now that you know some of the absolute basics of what to look for when it comes to telling good weed from bad weed, we can go over a few more ‘advanced’ techniques that will help you pick out the ‘fire’ stuff from the low-quality ‘regs.’
Ultimately, there are three key things you’ll really want to visually inspect for when you trying to tell whether or not your weed is good:
- The presence of trichomes
- The absence of mold
- The presence of orange ‘hairs’
Otherwise known as ‘triches’ (pronounced “trykes”) or ‘crystals,’ trichomes are basically resin deposits of THC, which is the compound in weed that’s actually responsible for getting us high.
To the naked eye, trichomes kind of just appear like a white or translucent fuzz on top of the actual green parts of the nugs. Generally speaking, the more trichome crystals there are, the more potent the marijuana.
Mold (and spider webs)
Mold on marijuana is one of those things that is either grossly obvious or deceptively tricky to spot. And to the untrained eye, it could even be mistaken for trichomes.
| “The major difference between mold and trichomes on marijuana is that mold is much more dense.”
While triches are kind of translucent (i.e. you can sort of see through them to the green leafy part of the nug underneath), mold is typically so densely white that you can’t see anything below it.
Also, one key distinguishing factor is the fact that mold will grow on top of the actual trichomes. That is to say, if you spot some white fuzz on your buds and you’re trying to tell if it’s mold or triches, see if you can spot triches underneath the fuzz. If you can, the fuzz is probably mold, and the weed should be thrown away. (Do NOT smoke moldy weed, or even try and pull off the mold! Throw the whole nugs away!)
Lastly, spider mite webs are fairly common on marijuana buds, and can typically be spotted if you look hard enough. They basically look like any other spider web you’ve seen before; like super thin, clear, weightless, silky thread.
While they aren’t always indicative of THC potency, the presence of little orange hairs on marijuana buds usually mean that the flower is healthy, mature, and was properly cared for during the cultivation process.
The little hairs are actually the flower’s pistil, which is the part of the female plant that collects the male pollen for fertilization.
Generally speaking, the more red hairs there are, the more mature and developed the buds are – which is a good thing.
How to know if weed is good: A general summary
As we said earlier, hopefully it’s obvious to you that marijuana should be green, and not some weird shade of brown, grey, or, well… pretty much any other color.
That said, cannabis can definitely take on some pretty radical variations in color (depending on the strain), so don’t freak out if you seem some deeper shades of violet, purple, or even some blue-ish hues somewhere in there.
Additionally, some other things you can check when trying to answer the question of how to tell good weed from bad is:
- Moisture content
- The size/density of the nuggets
- The taste
Moisture content: What do the buds feel like?
This is another thing that’s hard to describe through text, but basically quality marijuana should have a little “stickiness” to it. The moisture content is indicative of how properly the buds were cured after harvesting; too sticky means that there is still too much moisture content, and the flower won’t burn right. Not sticky at all, however, means that they buds are way too dry and will burn ridiculously fast.
Ultimately, the buds should break apart easily, without feeling ultra dry and crispy (and basically just falling apart in your hand).
If they’re too wet and sticky, they won’t really “break” apart at all – they’ll kind of just mush between your fingers.
Size and density of the buds
Overall bud size and density is another good indication of the quality of marijuana. Basically, the larger and tighter-packed the buds are, the better (though there’s a fine line between being naturally dense, and awkwardly “squished” to give the presence of density).
Generally speaking, taste is one of those things that will only come along with experience. That said, our bodies and taste buds have evolved over millions of years to be able to intrinsically detect when something is “bad for us,” so if you smoke some weed that has a chemical or otherwise “unnatural” flavor, odds are that it is very low quality (or even contaminated) marijuana.
A BASIC SUMMARY OF GOOD MARIJUANA VS BAD MARIJUANA
|QUESTION||GOOD WEED||BAD WEED|
|What’s the color?||Good weed should be some shade of green (duh…)||Bad weed is brownish|
|Do you see trichomes?||Good weed should have THC-laden trichomes (a clear crystal fuzz/glaze on the buds)||You probably won’t be able to see many triches (or any at all) on low-quality weed|
|Are there red/orange hairs?||Red hairs (pistils) are indicative of good, healthy, mature, potent flower||‘Regs’ or ‘mids’ weed typically doesn’t have a lot of red hairs|
|How’s the “stickiness”?||Marijuana that has been dried/cured properly will be a little sticky to the touch||Low-quality and/or poorly-cured bud will either be too wet/sticky or too dry|
|Is there mold?||Good weed does NOT have mold||If weed has ANY amount of mold on it, it is bad weed. Do not smoke it|
|Are there stems and seeds?||Top-shelf buds should not have any stems or seeds||Poorly-grown/low-quality nugs will likely be chock full of stems and seeds|
|How does it smell?||Weed should smell like weed; that nice, musky, ‘skunky’ smell||Weed should NOT smell like freshly mowed grass, hay, or anything else that is obviously not weed|
|Does it taste normal?||High-quality bud should have a totally natural herbal taste that hits the throat fairly smoothly (unless you accidentally take way too big of a hit)||Bad weed may taste have a chemical or otherwise “unnatural” taste. Listen to your senses|
|Are the nugs dense?||Good nugs should be nice, big, and densely-packed||Low-quality nugs are typically small, scrawny, and leafy or “airy”|
What about the ‘one simple trick?’
So in the title of this article, we promised ‘one VERY simple trick’ for how to know if your weed is good. Since we’re not ones to disappoint, here’s the trick (though be advised it really only applies to smoked weed that is already rolled up in a joint):
Simply put, after you’ve rolled up your weed in a joint in fired it up, check the ash: as the old saying goes, “if it ain’t white, it ain’t right.” In other words, the ash on high-quality marijuana should burn white rather than a tarry black.
If you’re getting a scary-looking black ash, it may be indicative that the marijuana hasn’t been “cleared” properly of the minerals used to grow it.
All in all, a nice clean ‘salt and pepper’ look with plenty of white ash is generally a sign that the weed you’re smoking is high quality.
Final thoughts on how to tell good weed from bad weed
Well, hopefully we’ve been able to at least help answer the question of ‘how to know if your weed is good.’ All in all there are really only a few key things that you want to look out for.
Namely, when comparing good weed vs bad weed, you’ll want to ensure that your bud:
- Is some ‘healthy’-looking shade of green (rather than brown)
- Has at least some trichomes on it
- Does NOT have any mold on it (or any other unwanted contaminants like spider mite webs)
- Is not full of seeds and stems
- Is not too dry or too wet (overly sticky)
Have any additional questions or concerns? Did we miss something when it comes to how to tell good marijuana from bad? Feel free to pitch in your two cents in the comments below!