How to Distinguish Good Weed from Bad Weed

How to Distinguish Good Weed from Bad Weed?

Let us paint a picture. You’ve just received your medical marijuana card and finally walked into a dispensary to get your first potent flower. Yet there you stand, absolutely clueless. Before you rush into your first marijuana experience, make sure what you’re getting is truly high quality.

To begin with, let’s discuss what we mean by high-quality weed.

What is Top-Shelf Weed?

Top shelf weed refers to high-quality cannabis that is cultivated in the right environment for a top-notch experience. This type of weed is well cured, perfectly trimmed, characterized by overwhelming scents & flavor, has just the right density, and more.

When you go into a dispensary with a medical marijuana card, you’ll need to find the best quality flower you can get for the buck you have to offer. Knowing what top-shelf weed looks, smells, tastes or feels like can be a good way to distinguish between the good and bad.

What to Look for in Good Weed?

Let’s start by determining the telltales of good-quality weed.


Let’s just say, you can smell good weed a yard away. It’s not a smell that you can miss or ignore. In other words, good weed has an extremely loud and pungent fragrance, very often defined as skunky or earthy. The scent can be so strong that you might need tips to get rid of that smell after use.

This strong smell is indicative of the high terpene profile that your weed has. Terpenes, if you didn’t already know, are compounds found in cannabis alongside cannabinoids and flavonoids. These terpenes bring the skunky, earthy, pine-like or citrusy tones to the cannabis plant, and also indicate that the weed is of high quality. More mixed tones in a cannabis plant mean that multiple terpenes are present.

Not only the scent, but the terpenes also have therapeutic effects that can enhance the overall entourage effect of the cannabis you’re consuming.

Therefore, a complex terpene profile of your cannabis is indicative of its high quality.


Looking at your flower is another preliminary step in the process of finding the right weed bud for you. A healthy, high-end flower gives away some visual hints of its quality.

The first, and most easily distinguishable feature is its color. High-end weed is more commonly found in vibrant tones of deep greens with hints of red, orange, blue or purple.

Another visual trait you will find in top-shelf weed is the presence of trichomes. These trichomes are tiny hair-like structures present on the surface of your bud and hold onto the terpenes we talked about in the previous section.


When you hold onto the bud in your hands, you can examine it more closely. Depending on how the buds feel in your hand, you can learn about its quality.

A high-quality bud is soft, sticky, and spongy. The bud and stem should break with little pressure but shouldn’t crumble the moment you touch it. At the same time, the bud shouldn’t be extremely soft and moist as that could be indicative of moldy growth.

If your weed flower feels rock hard or overly fluffy, chances are that the cultivation process wasn’t up to the mark. Rock hard flowers could point towards the use of growth regulators while a fluffy plant may indicate that the plant was grown in insufficient light intensity.

Other than these factors, there are other indicators of a good quality yield too. These include:

Ethical Cultivation

How your weed is grown is a crucial indicator of its quality. The type of soil and resources used, the facility where the weed is grown, or whether the grower has used synthetic fertilizers or pesticides or not. Knowing how cannabis is grown can help you make the decision about buying the product or choosing an alternative.

Pro Tip: Any company that values the quality of its weed would proudly boast about it on their website. When buying weed, look through these websites and go through the data provided before making your decision.

Find the Right Company

There are hundreds of cannabis companies out there, so how do you decide which one is better?

More often than not, small, minority-run businesses are more focused on attracting the right type of customers through their high-quality production and ethical values. As long as these companies have the right licenses, present you with the COA of every product and are transparent about the cultivation process, you can find high-quality products there.

Look for a COA

Not every brand out there is ethical, some are just in the market to earn some cash before they lose their license to cultivate or sell. However, while such businesses are constantly operating, and new ones are coming out too, it might get difficult to distinguish between the good and the bad.

But here’s an easy way to judge the value of the product. The certificate of analysis. This certificate is proof of the quality of the product you’re interested in buying. You’ll find details about all the cannabinoids and terpenes present in the flower as well as about the presence/absence of contaminants.

A diverse cannabinoid and terpene profile are shown in the COA also indicates the good quality of the weed.


Looking for good weed isn’t hard when you know how to differentiate between the good and the bad. You can start by looking for a trustworthy dispensary to buy your weed from. Do not buy it from an unlicensed vendor or a dealer. Instead, use your medical marijuana card to purchase marijuana legally.

Even at the dispensary, use the following checklist to decide whether the cannabis flower is of good quality.

  1. The weed should have a strong skunky, earthy, pin-like or citrusy scent (or a combination of these)
  2. Strong tones of deep green with hints of other colors (red, orange, blue, purple) is indicative of good quality weed. The flower should also have a glistening frosty layer of trichomes covering it.
  3. The flower should neither be too dry or brittle nor too moist and soft.
  4. The product should be cultivated organically, without the use of synthetic insecticides.
  5. The company you buy from should be transparent with the consumers and should value good cultivation practices.
  6. Any product that you want to buy should have a certificate of analysis with it or somewhere on the internet.

You can follow these tips while buying weed with your medical marijuana card to ensure you aren’t robbed of a great experience.