When it comes to cannabis, the quality of the bud can greatly influence the overall consumption experience. But, what are the differences between low, mid, and high-quality weed? Whether you’re trying to improve your cultivation skills or you just want to pick out the best stuff at a dispensary or coffee shop, here’s how to determine the quality of your flower.
Low-quality cannabis is often referred to as “bottom shelf”, or “schwag”. While bottom shelf cannabis is typically the least expensive, smoking, vaping, or ingesting low-quality stuff can make for an unpleasant experience. Low-quality bud is typically harsh, and can certainly inspire a coughing fit or two. Your cannabis will be considered low quality if it:
- Contains seeds
- Is dry, easily crumbles, loose shake
- Is brown in coloration
- Poor trimming and manicuring
- Is airy and not dense
- Contains few crystal-like trichomes
- Is harsh to smoke, causes chest pain
- Contains mold, mildews, and residual pesticides
- Has a poor, weak, or musty smell
Low-quality bud is often older or has been improperly cured and dried. Aged cannabis is higher in a compound known as cannabinol (CBN), which is a breakdown product of THC. CBN is less psychoactive than THC, meaning that you won’t get much of a high from schwag flower.
Mid-quality cannabis is herb for the average joe. This bud is typically moderately priced and delivers a substantial amount of bang for the buck. Most cannabis sold in dispensaries, coffee shops, and social clubs rest in the mid-quality category. Mid-grade cannabis typically provides average amounts of THC, often between 12 and 17 percent.
Here are some things that determine whether or not your cannabis is mid-quality:
- Small, tiny buds with adequate trichome coverage
- Grown from seeds or clones with decent genetics
- Choppy trimming or manicuring
- Burns somewhat smooth and may produce a gray ash
- Average moisture level may be either a little dry or a little too hydrated
- Has an aroma that may be nice, but not distinguished
Mid-quality buds are often grown by intermediate cannabis cultivators who are just getting the hang of pampering their plants. Both high-THC and high-CBD strains can be mid-quality, as the final outcome depends on how the plant was cultivated, cared for, and processed after growing.
High-quality cannabis is the grand supreme in the cannabis world. This bud is often referred to as “loud”, “top-shelf”, “craft”, “boutique”, “fire” and “chronic”. Top-shelf bud can be either high in CBD or in THC. For THC, most samples will test with 18 percent or higher.
The terpene profiles in top-shelf cannabis are often astounding, featuring extremely fragrant and pleasant tastes and aromas. In the contemporary cannabis scene, strains with Cookies or OG genetics often make it to top-shelf status, with fragrant and delicious tastes and aromas.
Some hallmarks of high-quality cannabis are:
- Superior genetics, craft, boutique, rare
- Heavy, dense coating of trichomes
- Extremely fragrant, pleasant aroma
- Dense or fluffy buds that are large and substantial
- Perfectly hydrated with between 62 and 65 percent humidity
- Wide array of colors, ranging from greens to purples, pinks, blacks, blues, and reds
- Easy to break apart but sticky to the touch
- Laboratory tested
- Burns smooth and creates a nice white ash
- Pesticide, nutrient, and pathogen-free
- Handled with chopsticks and stored in airproof containers
Unfortunately, with high-quality flower, you’ll be paying top-shelf prices. Extremely high-quality cannabis can sell for a whopping $800 an ounce in some locations. Fortunately, at the time of writing, most top-shelf strains sell for $16 a gram and under.