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How Cannabis Connoisseurs Pick Out Their Weed

2 minute Read

Unless you’re a cannabis connoisseur, it can be hard to tell what’s good weed from what’s average, or even just bad. And if you’re picking out bud at your local dispensary or from your delivery service, it can be even trickier before you’ve had a chance to smoke the stuff and see if you like it. However, with enough experience you might be able to tell just from smell, feel, and appearance which bud is right for you.

“When a guy comes to my shop, say a new {cannabis} provider, we’ll usually ask a bunch of questions about how it’s grown, but at a certain level the product itself speaks to you off the bat,” says Oliver Summers, a California-based dispensary operator. “You’ll know this was too hot, or this twas too cold, this had too much nutrients, or this didn’t have enough, this one used PGRs {“plant growth regulators,” or plant spray}, or this one used phosphoload {fertilizer}. All these little factors come with experience and time.”

Summers speaks from more than a dozen years in the cannabis industry — but it won’t take that long to figure out the basics. “Each strain has a distinct personality,” he says. “A distinct nose and distinct look.” A real OG Kush, for example, one of the most popular strains in southern California, should have a lime green hue, and the bud should be shiny with crystals as if it was dropped in powdered sugar, says Sommers. It should smell lemony and piney, he adds, while other varieties based on the OG might smell more earthy.

Indicas and sativas also look different from one another. Indicas tend to grow more short, squat, and round, and smell earthier, while sativas grow longer and skinnier, and smell more flowery, he says.

To help new bud tenders practice differentiating various strains, Sommers used to give them four unlabeled jars of bud and have them guess what was in them. While he says he’s retired that method, it’s not a bad idea for novice ganj enthusiasts looking to train their senses.

The smell of a strain can have a lot of influence in determining whether a consumer will take to it. If you think a particular strain stinks, chances are you may not enjoy its effects. “The smell test is the most important aspect of when a patient is picking out their bud,” says Sommers. Then people go for looks.

He says his customers are split evenly between wanting light and fluffy bud versus dark and dense bud. And no matter what it looks like, if it’s making you sneeze, it may have powdered mildews clinging to it.

There are other signs of health to look out for, as well, when picking out your weed. According to Jessica Catalano, author of The Ganja Kitchen Revolution, healthy bud should be covered in crystals (the extent to which of course depending on the strain), while unhealthy bud might have brown or orange spots indicating that the plant’s growing environment was too hot. During the curing process, once the plant is harvested, moisture is removed in order to preserve the plant’s flavor and quality. If you lightly squeeze a bud between your fingers and it doesn’t bounce back to its original form, that means it wasn’t properly cured, Catalano told Business Insider. However, it also shouldn’t be totally dried out.

These tips won’t turn you into a “pot sommelier” like Catalano, but they will help you get to know what qualities to look out for in weed. So whether you’re peering over the counter at a dispensary or your friend brings out a nugget to pack a bowl, you’ll have a better idea of the bud’s health, and maybe even a hint at which variety it might be.

How Cannabis Connoisseurs Pick Out Their Weed