How To Evaluate The Quality Of Your Cannabis

Getting high-grade cannabis can be an uphill struggle if you don’t know what to look out for. For those who live in Canada where weed is legal we know your pain. Dispensaries are in tough competition, so their product, in most cases, has to be of a good-quality for them to compete. We say, ‘in most cases’ because let’s face it, not every dispensary is in the business of selling top-shelf, high-quality cannabis. While stores generally won’t sell you outright awful weed, with a bit of know-how you can save yourself the trouble of buying anything that’s subpar. Here are some of the things you should look out for when evaluating the quality of your strains. 


Far and away the easiest thing to look out for in good bud is colour. Anything brown should officially be out! Brown buds are a clear sign that the plant was unhealthy when the weed was harvested. After all, we’re talking about plants; green is a healthy colour.

Obviously, ‘green’ is a little vague; the shade can vary, but as a rule whether light or dark, good bud should be mostly green. Other shades of colours like purple, blue, gold or orange do show up sometimes in some strains; however, these should be undertones at most. Just be sure to avoid any bud that is primarily a shade of brown.


Aroma is too quite an effortless indicator of quality. Weed should always have a strong, pungent smell. That smell is unmistakable — the baseline is easy to detect, but subtle nuances like a sweet smell or an earthy smell or even a diesel smell crop up which are just signs of different strains.

Essentially, if it doesn’t smell like cannabis, it ain’t… or at least, it isn’t’ very good! No aroma means that the cannabis has oxidized too much and the psychoactive compounds have been diluted rendering it a low-quality smoke. If you smell anything that resembles, grass, hay or even mold (we’ll get to that), it’s a sure sign of a poorly grown plant and whoever has grown it did not grow it in the most optimal environment.


Tinges of various flavours in cannabis have become quite commonplace, but there are certain tastes that are clear-cut awful for you and the plant.

Anything metallic or chemical tasting indicates some form of pesticide or other contaminant — this is bad news and will likely be unhealthy for your lungs. If the taste is foul, then you’re likely inhaling mold — again, this is bad news! If it tastes anything but pleasant, causes chest-pain, or if it makes you have serious bouts of coughing, you should stop smoking it immediately. Growing cannabis is a fine art that’s lost on some growers. Just be wary, and you’ll avoid any damage to yourself.

While the tinges of flavour may differ, from sweet to earthy or have fruity notes, the key takeaway is that it should taste fresh and not of chemicals.


Trichomes are an essential part of determining whether cannabis has been grown properly and how potent it is. Trichomes are what make bud ‘crystally.’ Because the trichomes are where most of the terpenes and cannabinoids are stored, they are what provide most of the bud’s smell, taste and high.

Unfortunately, for the most part, trichomes are only visible through a magnifying glass. If visible, you should see a thick, milky-white layer of crystal-like shapes meaning that the cannabis is high-grade. Under the naked eye though, you should see at least a small layer of these crystals indicating that the cannabis is good to go.


Following on from trichomes, sticky weed is these friendly little fellows way of showing you that they are there in abundance! The stickier, the better, but don’t touch your bud too much as excessive handling rubs off some of the trichomes thus reducing its potency.

Dampness or dryness relates to how cannabis has been cured. If your cannabis feels wet or damp it’s a sign that it hasn’t been cured properly. And the same is true if the weed is too dry. Overly dry weed will be a harsh smoke likely causing coughing, and damp weed won’t burn much; also, crucially, overly damp weed may contain mold, so watch out!

There’s a happy balance between the two — ideally, the bud should break-apart easily in your fingers, but not crumble into dust.


Cannabis that contains too much leaf means that it hasn’t been harvested well. Excessive amounts of leaf reduce the potency of your smoke, and sometimes disreputable stores will leave a lot of leaves on to pad out the weight for unsuspecting customers. If you see a little amount of leaf though, it’s not all bad — trichomes do appear on some of the leaf, and will contribute to the high. The rule of thumb is to look for cannabis that has a well-trimmed haircut!

Cannabis should be trimmed by hand — there’s a subtlety to cutting leaves to keep as much of the trichomes on as possible. If the leaves are too shaggy or wispy then they haven’t been harvested carefully.


Moldy weed is bad weed! Smoking moldy weed can make you feel ill or at the very worst, damage your lungs. If you know what to look for you can avoid going anywhere near moldy weed in the first place, but it is not always that easy to detect. If you see a powdery white or grey patch, or anything that looks and feels fuzzy then you’re looking at mold.

The taste of mold is unpleasant, and it may hurt your chest, so that’s something to look out for if you didn’t catch it just by looking. If you do smoke a little then it won’t be severe, just make sure you stop as soon as you think you’re smoking mold.

Pests are the bane of cannabis growers! Because good weed farmers don’t use toxic pesticides, they risk their crop being infiltrated by pesky pests. These pests are usually in the form of spider mites, which are microscopic bugs that can destroy crops. Spider mites and other possible bugs like gnats and thrips can leave behind eggs and fecal matter, so it goes without saying that you don’t want to smoke bug poop! If you see little white spots or small spider webs then wave that cannabis goodbye! Most farmers will detect these critters early on, so it will be something of a rarity if you see bugs or their traces.


Hopefully, these tips and tricks will help you in getting the best possible high! At the very least quality stuff should have a pungent smell, a good, sticky feel and a healthy green colour.

Also, a good rule to follow is to check out the reviews of the respective store. Weed aficionados are certainly a vocal bunch, so checking out online reviews is a good place to start before you step purchase from any dispensary.

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