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What Does Cannabis Smell Like?

When it comes to cannabis, there are a few key factors that always come into play when it comes to the aroma of the plant.
what does cannabis smell like

When it comes to the smell of cannabis, there are a couple of factors that come into play.

The first is the strain. Each cannabis strain has its own unique smell that is often determined by the terpene profile. The second factor is the growing environment. This includes everything from the soil type and pH to the humidity levels. The third factor is the cultivation method. Indoor growing often results in a different smell than outdoor growing.

So if you’re smoking cannabis for the first time or just looking to learn more about this incredible plant, you can use this article to explain what it smells like to you.

Why cannabis smells the way it does

The smell of cannabis is caused by a variety of factors including type (indica or sativa), strain, growing environment and cultivation method. The first factor is the strain. There are hundreds of different cannabis strains with each one having a unique smell that is determined by the terpene profile. Terpenes are highly aromatic botanical compounds found in flowers and plants. Researchers have over 135 terpenes identified in cannabis.

why cannabis smells the way it does

The second factor is the growing environment. This includes everything from the soil type to the humidity levels. The third factor is the cultivation method. Indoor growing often results in a different smell than outdoor growing.

The age of cannabis when harvested can also contribute the aroma. If the harvest occurred at a younger age then the smell is typically milder, less skunky, while marijuana that’s mature tends to have an earthy aroma.

The aromas commonly associated with cannabis

There are a few common scents associated with cannabis which relate back to the strains dominant terpenes. The first aroma (and also a classic) is skunk or musky, which is often caused by myrcene and limonene. The second is earthy or herbally, which is created by caryophyllene and humulene. The third is woody or floral, which can be produced by linalool.

Here are the most common terpenes found in marijuana and their associated aromas:

  • Myrcene: earthy, musky, herbal aromas comparable to mangos or thyme
  • Β-caryophyllene: a woodsy, peppery, clove-like scent
  • Α-humulene: earthy tones with spicy notes, similar to beer
  • Α-pinene: pine needles, rosemary, and basil
  • Limonene: lemon notes, like citrus peel
  • Linalool: a floral fragrance also found in lavender and rosewood

Sometimes new users can mistake the skunky smell of high grade cannabis as meaning the product has gone bad. However rest assured that aroma is a very good thing as thiols are efficient antioxidants

Why does raw cannabis smell different then burned cannabis

When you roll up a joint to smoke cannabis, you’re actually burning the terpenes and cannabinoids. This destroys many of the molecules that give cannabis its unique smell. This is why fresh weed often smells different than smoked weed. The fresh weed has not been burned and the terpenes and cannabinoids are still intact. This results in a more potent smell.

Why does raw cannabis smell different then burned cannabis

If you want to keep your cannabis smelling fresh, there are a few things you can do.

The first is to store it in an airtight container. This will prevent the terpenes from evaporating and losing their smell. The second is to store it in a cool, dark place. This will prevent the terpenes from degrading as you want to avoid contact with direct sunlight.

What bad cannabis smells like

While the smell of weed can indicate freshness or maturity, it can also point to the presence of mold or bacteria. Here is a few tips to tell good cannabis from bad weed.

Cannabis that has been improperly stored or has gone bad will often smell unpleasant. The cannabis will be dry and brittle, and it will crumble when you try to break it up. The skunk smell will be more intense, and the marijuana smell will be absent. The weed will also be less potent, and it may give you a headache if you smoke it.

If you come across cannabis that smells bad, do not smoke it. This could potentially be dangerous and may give you adverse effects. Throw the cannabis away and do not consume it.


When it comes to marijuana, there are a few key factors that affect how the plant will smell. The type of plant (indica, sativa or hybrid) and strain are both quite important, as different strains will have their own unique terpene profile which produces unique flavours and smells.

The growing environment is another important factor- things like soil type and humidity levels can have an impact on the final product. Last but not least, the cultivation method can also play a role. Indoor grows often smell different than outdoor grows.

References and additional reading

  1. “The Science of Terpenes in Cannabis” by Leafly
  2. “The Aroma and Flavor of Cannabis: A Guide to Terpenes” by Herb
  3. “The Complete Guide to Understanding the Smell of Cannabis” by Medical Marijuana, Inc.
  4. “Terpenes in Cannabis: Understanding the Role of Aroma” by Royal Queen Seeds
  5. “The Connection between Terpenes and Aroma in Cannabis” by Culture Magazine
  6. “Terpenes: The Key to Unlocking the Aroma and Flavor of Cannabis” by High Times
  7. “Cannabis Terpenes: The Science Behind the Aroma” by Science Direct

These resources can provide information about the chemical composition of the odor of cannabis, the role of terpenes, and how to identify different aromas, and can be helpful for those who want to learn more about this topic.

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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