How to check the quality of marijuana

How to check the quality of marijuana
Luke Sumpter

Do you want to know how to check the quality of your cannabis and make sure that you buy the best buds available? 

There might not be an exact science describing how to select the best cannabis, mainly because it comes down to personal preferences. There are a few things to look for though when buying your weed.

It is a lot like choosing which vegetable or fruit are the best and the tastiest at the supermarket, or perhaps more accurate, which flowers are the best at your local florist.

You want to select on which buds appeal to you, which colouring you like and what smells good to you. You also want to look for bad things, that might affect the cannabis negatively like mould, mildew, discoloration or even insects.


The first thing you want to look at, especially if you are paying by weight, is if there are seeds or stems in the weed. The seeds cause a nasty smell and harsh taste when combusted and the sticks might poke holes in your rolling papers. Separating them when crumbling your weed can be a real headache. More importantly, they add weight, that takes away from the more potent buds.

The colouration is also important. You want green buds; brown is definitely not a good sign. There might be other colourations, such as purple, red or orange, but the overall colour should be green. Not only the colouration of the buds is important, it is also important to look at the colouration of the THC crystals on the trichomes.

The crystals are where the THC is mainly concentrated, so the thrichomes might be the best indicator of high-grade cannabis, so the more crystals you see, the more potent the weed probably is. You want these crystals to appear cloudy and not clear; clear crystals are not fully developed yet. Even when there are a lot of clear crystals; the effect will not be as potent as the cloudy crystals will give you.



The THC crystals should feel sticky to the touch, because the cloudy crystals on the trichomes act like a resin. So if the buds feel sticky and not dry when crumbled or broken open, you have a good indication of high-quality cannabis.

Buds that crumble too easily and turn into a pile of dust are probably of low quality or have been dried too much.


If you break the buds or open the bag, the smell should be overwhelming. You should smell it as soon as you enter the room actually. A good smell is the main indication of how good the cannabis is going to be. The strains with the best smells often pack the most powerful punch, not to mention the sensation when smoking them.

If the buds have a smell of citrus, pine, fruits or even diesel, it is a good indication, that it has a good bouquet and powerful effect. The buds could even smell earthy or have a kind of body odour to it, if it stinks in a good way, it is probably good quality cannabis.

A good smell is the main indication of how good the cannabis is going to be.

If the buds smell of nothing, fresh grass clippings, hay or even mould, that is a good indication of cannabis of a poor quality, so that weed might be better to avoid and not buy it. Cannabis, that smells like mold, was probably already infected while being grown, or the buds were dried very poorly and have started to decay already. If the weed smells of nothing or hay it is probably old or improperly cured before packaging.


The buds should break apart from the stem with ease, being able to break them with your fingers. If the buds act like clay and compact even more when pressed with your fingers, they might have not been dried and cured properly and have not reached their full potential.

The weed might also be too compact because of packaging while transport; this also affects the taste, and perhaps more importantly, the ease of smoking it. Crumbling it might be very hard when trying to roll a joint and it might not combust properly, resulting in a joint, that is not easy to roll and that needs to be lit constantly.


The moisture level of the buds is very important too, as poorly dried weed can have several negative effects on the quality of the cannabis. The taste will be negatively impacted as well as the effects when smoked. The buds can even start to rot or mould inside the bag if not dried properly before packaging them.

Another negative impact the moisture level has, is on the price; if you pay by weight, you will pay for the weight, that will actually have to evaporate before it is ready for consumption. This means it takes longer before the weed is ready to be smoked and you will end up with a smaller amount or weight than what you paid for when buying the cannabis.


The taste

One of the last indications of good weed is the taste it delivers when smoked or vaporized. If the buds deliver a nice combination of different flavours without being harsh on the throat or making you cough, it is good quality weed.

Smelling and feeling gets you a good idea of how good the weed actually is, but if you have the chance to taste it beforehand, it will give you a much better idea of what you are buying.


Even with all these indicators, the standards of quality may vary widely based on the geographical location you are trying to purchase cannabis at. The local laws, climate or weather might constrain or help the local growers and your personal experiences with the plant's impact and enrich or your opinion.

Seeing a lot of cloudy THC crystals on the trichomes might indicate, that this particular strain of cannabis has a potent cannabinoid production and therefore a potent effect.

The effect however might not be the desired effect; if you are looking for a weed to calm you down and ends up delivering a stimulating high effect, you might end up unhappy with your purchase.

The taste or flavour profile might also not be to your liking, so only select the cannabis strains, that smell good to you and which have the desired effects attributed to them. The price and quantity available are also important factors to consider when deciding on which strain to choose.

The most accurate and advanced way of deciding is looking at test data coming from a trusted third-party laboratory. These results can help you visualize and understand the different properties of each strain and what different effects and flavour profiles they have.

Luke Sumpter
Luke Sumpter

Luke has worked as a cannabis journalist and health science researcher for the past seven years. Over this time, he’s developed an advanced understanding of endocannabinoid system science, cannabis phytochemistry, and cultivation techniques.