How to tell Good Cannabis from Bad Weed

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Navigating the labyrinth of cannabis choices can be overwhelming, especially for newcomers. You might hear cannabis enthusiasts get all poetic about indica vs. sativa, THC levels, or the spectrum of cannabinoids and think, "Wait, I can't even tell if this weed is good or bad!"

Understanding the distinction between premium and subpar cannabis is vital, especially if you intend to make this herb a regular part of your life. Ingesting low-quality weed isn't just an underwhelming experience; it can be downright unpleasant.

We're talking harsh flavors, irritating coughs, and minimal to zero effects. In extreme cases, you might even find yourself battling headaches, nausea, and other unsavory symptoms.

So, how do you differentiate the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to cannabis? Pay attention to the finer details: the color, the texture, the aroma, and even the structure of the buds. How it smokes is, of course, the ultimate litmus test, but often, you only discover it's bad once you're already committed to the experience.

We understand this may involve trial and error, but we're here to simplify the process. Our goal today is to arm you with a foolproof guide to distinguishing top-shelf cannabis from its lackluster counterparts. Stay tuned as we unveil the secrets of discerning quality in your cannabis choices.

Key Takeaways

  • You can distinguish between good versus bad cannabis flower by examining their smell, appearance, color, texture, and more.
  • Having good weed is vital because bad weed can lead to various health and safety concerns. 
  • High-quality cannabis has a vibrant color, a complex flavor profile, and medium-dense buds.

Keep reading to find out how to distinguish between good-quality cannabis and bad-quality weed.

Characteristics of Good Cannabis

There are a few key characteristics to look for in good cannabis that will help you differentiate between good and bad weed, including color, smell, texture, and structure. Let's take a quick look at each of these so you know what to look out for in high-quality cannabis.


Your buds' overall color and appearance are a great way to distinguish between the good and bad stuff. Yes, most weed looks appealing to the eye, but you should be able to differentiate between top-shelf and low-quality buds by examining the color.

High-quality cannabis usually has an intense green color with bright red or orange hairs and may also have other colors, such as blue, purple, and more. If you have a deep green bud with vibrant accents, it's pretty high-quality.

You then also need to look at the trichomes or crystals, which are those miniature white mushroom-like growths barely visible on the exterior of the buds. These look like tiny pieces of white refined sugar.

The more of these on a cannabis bud, the higher quality because this indicates a high terpene and cannabinoid content. The higher the cannabinoid and terpene content, the more potent a bud is, ergo the effects. Some people even use a magnifying glass to look closer.


Next, you also want to pay attention to the smell because high-quality cannabis typically has a strong, pungent, and noticeable aroma.

Some people call this a ‘loud odor,’ and generally speaking, the stronger a strain of cannabis smells, the higher its quality. Remember that the smell of cannabis comes from terpenes, and high-quality cannabis has plenty of them.

Different strains of cannabis have different aromas or flavor profiles. Some smell more like pine, some like diesel, some smell like skunk, and others are peppery, citrusy, or fruity.

The point here is that you should be able to distinguish a flavor or aroma profile, and the smell should stick in your nose.


The best weed should also have the right texture, meaning it should be slightly spongy and sticky. When you touch the buds and try to break them, the stems should snap cleanly in half, but the bud itself should not be 100% dried out.

Some moisture and stickiness are good signs, although you don't want your buds wet. Wet is not good. If you take a bud of cannabis and squeeze it in between two fingers, and it slightly sticks to one of your fingers before falling off, then you're on the right track.


The fourth most important distinction to look out for in good cannabis is the structure. Cannabis buds should be of a moderate size and be somewhat fluffy and light but not overly so. You should be able to squeeze a cannabis bud together until it is about half of its original size.

If you can't squeeze it together, i.e., it's rock-hard, it indicates that too many nutrients and growth regulators may have been used.

However, if it's so light and fluffy that you can see through, it likely didn't get enough light. You want the buds to be dense but not too much. You also don't want too many stems and leaves present, which indicates that the buds were not dried, trimmed, or cured correctly.


There’s no better way to tell how good/bad weed is than just rolling it up and taking a hit. First and foremost, although smoke does, of course, burn the throat a little bit, if you find yourself coughing uncontrollably off of a single hit, chances are that it's not the best weed out there.

Furthermore, if you develop a headache, dizziness, nausea, or any other type of gastrointestinal upset, it's probably not the best, but out there.

Signs of Bad Weed

Like the signs of good weed, there are also key indicators to look out for in bad weed. What are these?


If good weed has a powerful, potent, and complex odor, bad weed is the opposite. If your cannabis is bad, it's not going to have that aromatic smell. Simply put, it's not going to smell nice!

More often than not, bad cannabis may smell like grass trimmings, plain plant matter, dirt, or even compost. The main reason is that bad weed generally has few terpenes; once again, terpenes are responsible for that enjoyable flavor.


You can also tell high-quality cannabis from low-quality cannabis by looking at the color. If high-quality cannabis is bright and vibrant, low-quality cannabis is dark and dull.

Low-quality weed usually has a dark green or brownish color and doesn't have many bright accents, such as the reds, oranges, blues, and purples of high-quality mugs.


More often than not, bad weed will be extremely dry. If you touch weed and it crumbles in your hands and turns to dust, then it has not been dried and cured correctly. Also, it may have been stored in subpar conditions.

On the other hand, if your cannabis is so wet and sticky that it's almost dripping, then it's not the finest weed in the world. If cannabis is damp and highly sticky, chances are it wasn't dried properly, making it susceptible to mold and mildew.


The other factor to pay attention to here is appearance. If you notice that the buds don't have many trichomes or crystals on the outside, chances are that those buds also don't contain much THC, CBD, or terpenes.

In other words, they may not have much of an effect on you due to a lack of psychoactive components. You may also notice that low-quality buds are incredibly dense, like little pebbles, or very loose and fluffy.

Why Quality Matters in Cannabis

Quality is always important no matter the industry, but maybe no more so than for cannabis, mainly because this is something that you either inhale or ingest. Anything you put into your body must be as high-quality as possible, which is valid for several reasons. Let's take a quick look at why quality matters in cannabis.


First and foremost, quality matters in cannabis because your experience depends on it. For instance, if you have exceedingly dry and low-quality cannabis, it won't smoke properly.

Weed that is far too dry smokes quickly, and this tends to make it very harsh because you end up inhaling too much smoke at once. Dry cannabis tends to hurt the throat a lot.

On the other hand, low-quality weed that is wet and sticky won't burn at all. You might have trouble lighting up in the first place. And if you do, it either won't burn evenly or will keep going out.

As for odor and flavor, poor-quality weed doesn't taste good and might be somewhat disgusting, especially if it tastes like compost or plant matter. Having good weed means you can taste the intricacies in the flavor profile and distinguish individual flavors, such as berries, cake, citrus, and more. Low-quality weed might just have you gagging with every puff.

On a related note, you also need to consider the experience, i.e., the harshness on your throat. Low-quality cannabis tends to be harsher on the throat, which means that it burns and makes you cough.

For many people, this can be downright painful and cause them to shy away from ever smoking cannabis again. High-quality weed, although it might still make you cough a bit, shouldn't burn excessively.

There is also the experience of the high and other effects. High-quality weed should produce a strong cerebral and body high. Depending on the strain, whether indica or sativa, it should have various effects, such as euphoria, happiness, relaxation, creativity, and more.

This is thanks to all the different cannabinoids contained in cannabis. However, low-quality cannabis doesn't have a lot of THC, which means that you might not end up getting high.

If it's a CBD strain that you're going for and it's low-quality weed, then you won't reap the potential therapeutic benefits of CBD. Here are some important factors to consider when choosing a weed delivery service:


We also need to consider safety, which might be the most critical factor. It's not necessarily that low-quality weed isn't enjoyable to smoke, although that is undoubtedly a factor, but more so that it could be unsafe.

If your weed shows signs that it was grown using too many nutrients, fertilizers, and other chemicals, generally characterized by a harsh and unenjoyable flavor, it could mean that you're inhaling those toxic substances into your body.

If you notice that the weed in question shows signs of nutrient burn, which means that nutrients were used in excess, you could be burning and inhaling those with every hit. High-quality weed isn't just lovely to smoke but also relatively safe.

This goes past toxic nutrients and chemicals used when growing weed but may also include simpler problems like mold and mildew. If it is wet or hasn't been dried properly, it becomes susceptible to developing mold and mildew, both of which you don't want to inhale or ingest.

Value for Money

The worst problem with low-quality weed is that it doesn't give you much bang for your buck. The simple reality is that cannabis isn't cheap, and every dollar you spend counts!

Your money should get you the most value possible. That means potent buds with high THC and CBD levels, great flavors, and the right consistency and texture. The bottom line is don’t waste your money.

Botany's Commitment to Quality

For anybody who might be worried about the quality of Botany Farms hemp and cannabis products, you don't need to be. First and foremost, all our products are strictly vetted to ensure their quality, safety, consistency, and legality.

We do due diligence and thorough research into any product and brand name that we feature on our site to ensure they follow the proper safety and legal procedures so that you can get the best possible product.

Furthermore, we perform quality assurance checks on our products as a last line of defense. We only sell a product on our website if we vet and test it ourselves.

We undertake strict quality assurance and aim to educate you, the customer, on everything there is to know about cannabis, including safety, legality, quality, and more.

Furthermore, we do our best to be as transparent as possible so you know who we are, our physical location, and what we're all about. The bottom line is that we only offer premium-quality cannabis products to our customers. Our selection of flower, pre-rolls, and vapes is unbeatable!

Final Thoughts

Becoming an informed consumer in the cannabis market is extremely important. You need to know what you are looking for and why you're looking for it.

Remember, the buds' color, taste, smell, and overall structure are the leading indicators of whether or not the cannabis you're buying is good or bad.

More than the experience itself, it's your safety that's of paramount importance. So make sure that you're well-informed before choosing any product. If smoking isn’t suitable for you, check out our edibles!

Disclaimer: The blog post is for general information and entertainment purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered to be, medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is and the links within the post are based on research from credible resources and medical experts as of the day of writing. It is meant to add to and not replace the advice of your healthcare professional.

While we aim to keep our content as current as possible, cannabis research is constantly advancing and new insights can emerge about how best to represent our understanding of these issues. The reader should always research the most recent studies relevant to their condition.

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