With cannabis still being illegal in many locations across the world many consumers need to know how to identify high-quality cannabis without knowing the strain, grower, or cannabinoid content.
These easy tips, used by cannabis sommeliers in North America, will allow you to examine your own cannabis and its quality.
A highly recommended tool for cannabis enthusiasts is a jewellers loop or miniature microscope and many cannabis growers already use these tools to check the progress of their home grows.
How to Identify High-Quality Cannabis: Visual Cues
Even just looking at a cannabis bud can give a great insight into the quality of what you are about to smoke or vape.
The integrity of the Bud: Look for consistency within different buds from the same batch of cannabis. A size difference is fine, however, the consistency of the shape of the bud is very important in terms of knowing how well these buds developed during their growth stage. There several issues to watch out for including fox tailing, popcorn buds, and an excess of stems.
Trichomes: Are the trichomes consistently covering the bud? If a bud is covered in trichomes and sticky, it is usually assumed that this cannabis will be high in cannabinoids and terpenes. In order to check the health of the trichomes, a jeweller’s loop or microscope will be needed. The health of trichomes is indicated by colour and clarity; the scale of trichome health runs from clear (under mature) to cloudy amber (over mature).
Is the Bud Well-Trimmed? If cannabis is trimmed well, there should be no sugar leaves surrounding it. Similarly, stems are undesirable and should be trimmed to be contained within the bud.
How to Identify High-Quality Cannabis: The Smell Test
Cannabis can also be identified as high-quality through its aroma and there are two main techniques to identify high-quality cannabis by smell.
How Strong is the Smell Up Close? The strength of the smell of cannabis is a reflection of the terpene content found within the plant. These scents can also indicate the lineage of the cannabis you are consuming. Terpenes are also found in fruits and vegetables and many have documented medicinal properties.
How “Loud” Does it Smell? This term has become a common term in the lexicon of cannabis consumers, but what does it mean? The “loudness” of cannabis is a way to compare the smell of cannabis to a loud sound, or, something you can ‘hear’ from far away. This odour can be pleasant, or unpleasant to some, depending on taste.
How to Identify High-Quality Cannabis: Smoke Testing
Flavour: The flavour of cannabis can be tested before smoking and also during. Using the ‘dry pull’ technique can help to identify some of the major smells and even terpenes found within your cannabis. While smoking, inhale slowly and exhale through your nostrils. This will allow you to get a very good grasp of the flavour profile. The greater the profile, the more terpenes found within. In addition, the longer the flavour lingers on your palate, the more high-quality the cannabis is.
Smoothness: The smoothness of cannabis, when inhaled, is also another indicator of high-quality cannabis. If it makes you cough right after inhalation, what you are smoking is probably not high-quality cannabis.
The Colour of the Ash: The colour of the burned ash from any cannabis will also indicate the quality of the product. There are 3 different types of ash burning patterns:
White/Clean Burn: The highest quality cannabis will burn cleaner than others with the ash from a joint being mostly white/grey. This burning pattern is the most desired when looking for cannabis.
Salt and Pepper: As the name suggests, this burn pattern contains black and white ash, a middle-ground in terms of quality.
Black Burn: Black burn is the least desirable of all the ash pattern colours. A black ash burn may indicate over-fertilization or pesticides and or even problems during the flushing or curing process.
How to Identify Issues With Cannabis Quality – How to Spot Bad Weed
These issues are UNACCEPTABLE if you are looking for high-quality cannabis.
Mould: Moldy bud is incredibly unhealthy to smoke as it contains fungi. Will change the taste and flavour of cannabis and eventually it will degrade entirely.
Excess Pesticides/Contaminants: As with mould, pesticides and other contaminants, such as plastic, may find their way into a cannabis bud. This shows a lack of care during the growth stage, as well as a lack of care when packaging the cannabis.
Seedy: Cannabis that contains a large number of seeds is not considered high-quality. These seeds may indicate stress at the end of the grow which forced the plant to produce them as a protective measure.
Low Amount of Aroma: Cannabis with little or no smell is often considered to have lower amounts of terpenes and cannabinoids.
Maturity Issues: In countries where cannabis remains illegal, many growers pull their crop early in order to capitalize off the unpredictable black market. Maturity issues such will hinder the cannabinoid and terpene content.
Bugs: If there are bugs in your cannabis, this is incredibly unhealthy to smoke.
How to Identify a Haze, Kush or Afghan Strain
As we have mentioned in several articles, there are hardly any pure landrace cannabis strains available in the Western Hemisphere. Most strains are some sort of “Hybrid”, but, all cannabis came from the same original strains.
In order to tell the lineage of your cannabis, we have provided several tips below.
Smell: The haze lineage is perhaps the easiest to identify from smell alone. The fresh citrus smell of many hazes combines with freshly cut grass to give an easily recognizable aroma.
Visual Cues: Long buds, separation between buds, visible stem, lighter in colour than kush or afghan strains, wispier/lighter buds.
Smell: Strains from the Afghan lineage exhibit earthy notes, with hints of mulch and leaves. Cannabis from the Afghan lineage is highly sought after due to its high THC content.
Visual Cues: Larger fat buds, not as dense as kush strains, buds are not as ‘tight’ as kush.
Smell: The smell of kush is piney, skunky, or gassy.
Visual Cues: Fat buds that are dense, high trichome content, smaller, but fatter, buds than a ‘sativa’ strain.
With these tips, you will be able to identify high-quality cannabis without knowing the strain, grower, or cannabinoid content and even the lineage of your cannabis. These tips are especially important for those in countries where cannabis remains illegal.
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