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How to Tell Good Cannabis from Bad Weed

Calling all cannabis connoisseurs and curious enthusiasts! Prepare to embark on an enlightening journey as we unravel the secrets of discerning good cannabis from bad weed. From vibrant aromas to potent highs, this comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge and expertise to elevate your cannabis experience to new heights. Get ready to embrace the lush green world of top-quality buds and bid farewell to lackluster herb!
How to Tell Good Cannabis From Bad Weed

Whether you love cannabis and use it everyday or just socially with friends, one thing is for sure – we all wonder how to tell good cannabis from bad weed.

In this article, we’re going to teach you how to spot the difference between good and bad weed. We’ll start by discussing the appearance of good and bad flower, followed by a discussion on the feel, texture and of course smell. It should be noted this information only applies to dried flower and not other consumption methods like edibles or cannabis concentrates. Let’s get started!

What does good cannabis look like?

Good-quality flowers are often a deep green with flaming orange or red hairs. They can also express colours from deep purple to bright blue. The pistils, or the “hairs” on the dried flower, will be a deep orange or red colour. The trichomes, the sticky resin glands that produce the cannabinoids, will appear clear to milky white with the naked eye depending on the length of their stalks.

How does bad cannabis look?

Poor-quality flowers will often have a dull, olive green colour. They may also have a mix of colours including shades of brown, yellow, and even black. The pistils on these flowers will be a pale orange or off-white colour. However low-quality cannabis can display a number of different ways when it starts to degrade. From mud brown due to oxidation to lime green flower, nature gives us many visual clues when trying to determine a good plant versus one gone bad. 

Buds should be sticky and a bit spongy

Buds should be sticky and a bit spongy

Another simple way to determine the quality of cannabis is by the texture and feel of the buds. Top-shelf flower should be sticky to the touch and a bit spongy when you compress the bud between your fingertips.

When flower is lower quality, it will often be dry to the touch. It might also feel light and airy with very little density unlike the higher quality sticky flower. Plus, when your weed dries out like this it will become brittle and easily crumble into a powder. This loose flower is called shake and is a sign of lower quality marijuana. 

If the cannabis flowers are hard and fluffy, it could mean that the grower has used synthetic nutrients, which can create a bad taste if the plant is not flushed properly before harvest. Synthetic nutrients are chemicals that are used to control the growth of plants, which is the reason you should get your bud from licensed cannabis producers who grow organically, ethically and according to best practices.

Good cannabis comes in a variety of aromas

Top quality cannabis strains are cultivated and cured to high standards which means they generally produce strong and memorable aromas. You may have heard someone refer to cannabis as “dank” or “loud” indicating the flower has a potent smell. The terpenes found in weed are responsible for a number of aromas, including but not limited to berries, skunk, gas or diesel, citrus and pine. The common factor in all this is that good-smelling flower is distinct and unmistakable once you’ve had it.

On the flip side of the coin, low quality flower often has quirky fragrances that tell you the batch was likely bad or poor quality. Users generally refer to this cannabis as “schwag”, “brick weed” or “bottom shelf,” and often this flower will smell musty or like mildew. This straw-like or musty aroma is a clear sign of old weed or compromised cannabis. Generally if you store your cannabis in a cool place away from light and heat, it has approximately a one-year shelf life before degradation takes over.

Is cannabis that costs more always better

Is cannabis that costs more always better?

And vice versa does that also mean cheap weed is garbage?

It might seem like that would be the case, but I can tell you it’s not the reality. We’ve purchased very cheap weed that was incredible while also paying double normal price for what ended up being bunk bud. Ultimately you need to do your research and understand what you’re buying… which is the reason we started this website.

Also remember to check the harvest and package date to make sure you’re not getting something that has been sitting around for 6 months or more. Any cannabis strains that don’t pass the smell test should be treated with suspicion. The bottom line, however, is that finding good weed depends on your personal taste.


It doesn’t matter if the plant is THC or CBD dominant, the easiest way to determine it’s quality is the appearance. Good cannabis should be green and dense, with a sticky texture. Bad cannabis, on the other hand, can be brown and leafy, with a dry texture that feels brittle to the touch. Also top-shelf weed should have a strong and sweet, skunky, or earthy smell, while bad cannabis will smell musty or like mildew.

However cannabis is not only judged by it’s smell and appearance, the overall potency is another major factor. The higher the potency, the more effective it can be for producing the effects users seek to treat a multitude of medical conditions. Therefore, it is important to know how to differentiate between good and bad flower.

Now you know how to tell good weed from bad, so now it’s time to roll one up using our how to roll a joint guide and video. It’s a great guide especially if you’ve struggled rolling joints.

References and additional reading

  1. “The Complete Guide to Growing and Using Medical Marijuana” by Ed Rosenthal
  2. “Marijuana Horticulture: The Indoor/Outdoor Medical Grower’s Bible” by Jorge Cervantes
  3. “The Grower’s Handbook: A Guide to Growing High-Quality Cannabis” by DJ Short
  4. “The Essential Guide to Cannabis Quality and Testing” by Leafly
  5. “How to Tell Good Cannabis from Bad: A Guide for Consumers” by Herb
  6. “The Science of Quality Cannabis: A Guide to Understanding THC and CBD Levels” by Healthline
  7. “What to Look for When Buying Cannabis: A Guide to Quality and Potency” by Royal Queen Seeds

These resources can provide information on factors that determine the quality of cannabis, such as potency, aroma, appearance, and taste, and can be helpful for those who want to learn more about how to identify good cannabis.

Written by
A cannabis enthusiast, writer, and dab diva who is dedicated to helping you understand the constantly evolving world of recreational cannabis.

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