Beginners Guide To Good Weed
April 08, 2020
In the days before legal cannabis, buying good weed was a lot more difficult. Evaluating a bag of dried flower by sight and smell was a skill developed by cannabis users through trial, error, and usually getting ripped off a time or two (if you’re reading this Big Mike… why, man!).
Things were challenging in those times, and today we’re happily able to buy and consume cannabis while enjoying the safety standards of a legal market.
While getting your hands on some premium Blue Dream is easier than ever, some of the old sensibilities around cannabis quality have been forgotten as weed lovers turn to labels for information on their products. With THC levels available right on the package, beginners and expert bud jockeys alike are asking for their cannabis by percentage.
If It’s Not Just About THC, How Do I Select Good Weed?
Everyone’s favourite psychoactive ingredient gets a lot of air time in our stores. Hey, we love THC too! But cannabis is a complex plant with hundreds of botanical ingredients that can dramatically alter the effects of THC.
Those ingredients, like flavourful terpenes and other cannabinoids (all of which are hard to pronounce), combine with THC as the unique blends that represent over 16,000 types of cannabis catalogued today. Which is why cannabis connoisseurs know that good bud goes way beyond THC levels.
While we wait for the science to work itself out, weed lovers have been judging the quality of these unique botanicals since the beginning by sticking noses in baggies and breaking buds between fingers.
That’s why we created the Cabana Guide to Dank Bud, a one-page guide to help you evaluate high quality flower long before sticking it in your bong.
So keep this guide in your stash bag. Take a closer look at your weed. Impress your friends (maybe) and learn to grade cannabis like the cannabis greats.
Cannabis Visual Quality
Recognizing the visual quality of cannabis has long been referred to as judging Bag Appeal, with vibrant colours and neatly trimmed weed nuggets being the most obvious clues of high-quality cannabis.
Cannabis comes in a rainbow of colours, with greens ranging from dark forest to electric lime. Purple, orange, pink, red, yellow, silver and milky white are all possible outcomes of the unique terpenoid mix and genetic lineage of cannabis flowers. It’s a common misunderstanding that interesting colours make your cannabis more potent, which isn’t true. But beautiful flowers are a good clue that your cannabis was grown well, and is fresh. Make sure you avoid any cannabis that is brown, milky-tan, dingy, or degraded. You don’t want to be consuming old weed!
Smooth smoke requires well-trimmed buds, with minimal leaves and stems for a good burn. Trimming cannabis involves removing the smaller sugar leaves that grow in between the bud, and it’s often a time consuming process. That’s why often only the highest quality cannabis is hand trimmed instead of using trimming machines to remove the leaves, allowing for a more delicate touch.
Lovingly handled buds have stems and leaves neatly removed, without mangling the bud structure or separating the trichomes. If the final product is neat and frosty, then you’re in for a treat. Oh, and don’t get too hung up on size – it isn’t everything!
Fresh, well dried weed makes for good smoke, so get your fingers on the buds! Gently squish a nug between two fingers, and feel the texture and springiness of the flower. Break apart the weed in your fingers, and listen carefully for the snap of the stem. Finally, rub your fingers together to feel the stickiness!
Squish And Snap
Buds that are properly cured should crunch lightly when squished, springing back gently and holding their form. The stem should give an audible snap when broken, and your cannabis should lightly crumble when pulled apart. It shouldn’t crumble into dust!
Sticky, resinous weed is potent indeed. Rub your fingers together after squishing and snapping, feeling the build-up of resin. Then, try and stick a bud to your fingers! We’re not looking for a Gorilla Glue level stick, but the shtickiest of nugs can stick to your finger for a few seconds before dropping.
White, salt-like crystals called trichomes come thickly layered on high-quality cannabis. Up close, ripe trichomes look like milky-white little balls filled with cannabinoids (including THC). The more frosting on your buds, the more potent they will be!
Bring the bud up to your naked eye, about 6 inches away from your face. Milky-white trichomes create the greatest impression of white frost, and while you’re observing coverage of these crystals be sure to ignore the coloration of the flower (which can be very pale, as in the case of White Widow). Lovingly handled cannabis will have a thick coating to the very tips of the nug, and not just closer to the interior of the bud.
If you have a magnifying glass or a jeweler’s loupe, you’ll be able to clearly see the bulbous trichome heads. Otherwise, get your eyes up close and squint. Perfectly ripe trichomes bursting with cannabinoids are milky white, while under ripe trichomes that have been harvested too early are clear and glassy. Mature trichomes from a later harvest are amber, and in older cannabis you can watch them degrade to a dark orange as the bulbous heads deflate like a balloon. A few clear or amber trichomes are just fine, but most should be milky!
Smelly, stinky, terpene-rich weed is the mark of quality, and will regularly produce more potent effects than higher THC cannabis with diminished terpenoid and cannabinoid profiles. The smell of weed is your best guide to quality, and with a little effort you can smell the difference.
Great cannabis is stinky enough that everyone around can smell it. You’re looking for pungency that causes a savoury and satisfying tickle in the back of your throat, making your mouth water slightly. If you need to break apart the cannabis to release the stink, then your weed can be considered mildly aromatic. Try putting your nose inside the bag or jar; if that savoury tickle hits your throat, then you’re dealing with pungent cannabis. If a naked, single bud can be smelled by someone else in the room… you’ve hit upon some top shelf weed.
The effects of your cannabis are often as interesting and complex as the bud’s flavour profile, owing to the many terpenes and cannabinoids present in vibrant and flavourful weed. Take some time to savour the smell and flavour of your bud; on the inhale, in the mouth, and on the exhale. You might smell:
- Sour, like vinegar.
- Fruit, like berries, peaches, or pineapple.
- Sweet, like cotton candy or caramel.
- Pine, like a fresh forest.
- Earth, like cedar, soil, or sandalwood.
- Spice, like pepper.
- Cat urine
- Citrus, like lemon or orange
We find the strains that our customers like best typically have three or more distinct flavour notes.
Smooth, flavourful hits are the pleasure of any weed lover. Care taken to grow, flush, and cure your cannabis comes out in the smoke. Take a short pull off a clean glass pipe, or a joint rolled with quality papers. Roll the smoke in your mouth and taste, inhale fully, then exhale slowly.
After taking a small pull, notice how the smoke feels in your throat. A burning, acrid taste that induces coughing can indicate problems with how your cannabis was finished. A minor tickle in your throat is fine, but the smoother the better. Look for a gently lingering flavour in your mouth after the exhale.
A Word About Ash
This is an idea that quality, well-flushed cannabis must burn into pure, white ash. This is superstition rooted in Cigar culture, and there’s not much truth to it. Cannabis ash can be whitish, grey and even black, while rolling papers can further change the colour. Don’t think too much about it!
Good cannabis is fun to play with. There’s no substitute for experience, but if you take some time with your bud and this beginners guide to good weed, we’re confident that you’ll begin developing your ganja senses well ahead of the class.
We’re also confident that you’ll discover when it comes to good weed, It’s Not Just About THC!