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high quality weed

Overly “wet” buds have stems that don’t snap and tend to stay put when squeezed. The extra moisture content makes for the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. Wet nugs that tear apart rather than break apart are a sign that a cultivator didn’t properly dry and cure their cannabis.

While top-shelf flower is the hallmark of a great dispensary, good flower comes in many shapes and sizes and has more than a few nicknames.

The best smoking experiences, edibles, tinctures — even CBD oil — often come from the best source material, or “top-shelf bud.” In terms of slang, premium weed is also commonly referred to as the “loud,” “fire,” “dank,” and “Private Reserve.” Low-grade weed is often referred to as “schwag,” “brick,” “ditch,” and “bunk” weed.

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And is cheap weed always bad? Rae suggested that a low price point could indicate an older product past its shelf life but said that sometimes, “You can often get a nice-smelling, fresh flower for a good value. Beware if a pricey flower has a high THC level, but often a high price reflects the extra care and attention required to make a truly craft product.”

Check the harvest date and test the aroma before buying weed that appears unreasonably cheap. Marijuana that doesn’t pass the smell test just might be dirt weed. The bottom line, however, is that finding good weed depends on your personal taste.

“Flower” refers to the dried and cured female cannabis plant’s blooms, often called “nugs” or “buds.” Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

4. Flower structure: Poor flower structure can be easily detected with a discerning eye. While a properly cultivated flower will often be aesthetically pleasing, a carelessly grown plant can produce inferior-looking flowers. Though a plant’s structure really says nothing about its chemical composition, it can still tell a story. Improper lighting or growing conditions can lead to “fluffy” or “airy” nugs, and while they may contain high levels of cannabinoids and terpenes, their density is still widely and harshly dismissed by the cannabis community.

If the trichome color has an amber tinge to it, the plant was probably harvested too late and may contain higher levels of CBN. Although this cannabinoid has some potential medical benefits, it can result in a reduced high that makes you feel queasy or super tired.

Stems are more or less useless and will do very little in aiding your quest to get high. Seeds are even worse because they have a nasty tendency to explode when set on fire!

The bottom line is that unless you’re an experienced user, dealers will typically see you coming from a mile away and jump at the chance to offload their brick weed. If you’re in this situation, or if you want to boost your knowledge of cannabis, you must learn to differentiate between high-grade ‘dank,’ mid-grade marijuana, and low standard garbage. Here are five easy tips for how to tell good weed from bad weed.

5) Bud Structure & Trim

There is a price to pay with trimming machines. They lack the care of experienced human trimmers and can even wreck the trichome content of the weed (as a result, you end up with less potent marijuana). If the cannabis looks mangled by a machine – or if it contains a lot of fan leaves – buy something else.

Never underestimate the potential impact that crap weed has on your health. Smoking low-grade marijuana can be brutal on your throat and will not be much better for you than using a few tobacco cigarettes. Also, don’t forget to check your weed for signs of mold or rot. Moldy weed will look similar to what you find on expired cheese, bread, etc.

In places like California or Colorado, where cannabis is entirely legal, it is relatively easy to find good Mary Jane; all you have to do is find a licensed dispensary. The level of competition in these states is so fierce that the folks who sell bad marijuana go out of business pretty quickly. It’s that simple.

When you check for trichome content, you are looking for prematurely harvested weed. If you can see underdeveloped trichomes, the plant was likely harvested before it was entirely “ripe,” and you should avoid it.

Healthy plants have the best chance of producing a robust cannabinoid profile, and while most people are looking for maximum THC content, one of the most beneficial cannabinoids is called cannabidiol, or CBD.

Commonly sold in concentrated forms such as tinctures or softgels, CBD can also be found in high concentrations in organic hemp flower (Lifter strain from Canna Comforts shown below), the source material from which those concentrates are extracted.

Usually, the problem is prematurely harvested buds as opposed to those which are over-ripened (especially with sativa strains, as they have longer flowering periods). Premature harvesting is especially common in illegal states where the underground cultivators seek to complete more flower cycles in a year to maximize yield (at the expense of quality).

Mold and Pests

The color of the glandular trichome head is the easiest way to determine trichome ripeness. Ideally, the trichome heads should be milky white, possibly with a hint of amber. If the trichome heads are clear, the plant was harvested prematurely, and if all the heads are amber, the plant was harvested after peak ripeness.

Well-grown, quality cannabis buds should have a pungent, identifiable smell — that skunky aroma that ranges from slightly sweet to earthy to diesel-like — indicating high terpene content. Alternatively, inferior buds often lack any smell or smell similarly to hay or alfalfa, a sure sign of poorly grown and/or cured cannabis.

Though it doesn’t get you high (unlike THC, it is non-psychoactive), athletes and travelers find CBD incredibly helpful for pain relief. Others find help with anxiety and stress, and it is used to treat drug-resistant epilepsy and other inflammatory disorders.

The good news is that you can avoid being stuck with subpar weed if you know what to look for. In our experience, there is no substitute for a smoke test in a perfectly rolled joint or blunt, but a methodical visual inspection of the buds will give you a good idea as to the type of strain and the conditions in which it was grown. Once you know what to look for, you’ll always have the best in your 420 travel kit.