How to Tell the Difference Between Good and Bad Weed

Hand holding cannabis leaf

Life is full of unanswered questions: What triggered the big bang? If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it does it make any noise? How do you tell the difference between good weed and bad weed? We can’t do much to address the first two questions, but we do know a thing or two about marijuana and we’re here to say that there are some pretty reliable things to look for that will help ensure you only pack good weed into your custom glass pipes.

Our Denver Head Shop’s Tips for Identifying Good Weed

Separating quality weed from skank weed is not rocket science. You just need to know what to look for. And that’s what we’re here to tell you. So let’s get to it.

#1: The Smell

Weed that has been raised in accordance with rigorous standards will almost always have a potent yet pleasant smell. If your nose is anywhere near the baggie, Ziplock bag or other container when you open it the smell should be intense. If you’ve been smoking weed for some time it’s an unmistakable odor. If you’re new to weed, some people have compared the smell to pine, or even a mild form of skunk (that’s skunk, not skank). Other words used to describe the smell of weed include, musky, earthy, herbal, and woody. If someone sells you some weed at a premium price that has little or no smell chances are you’ve been had.

#2: Appearance

High-quality weed is often dark green in color, with some strains having hints of blue-green, purple and even bright blue, along with red or orange “hairs” as well. Also, you want to see buds. Big, bold, beautiful buds. Anything less is either not weed at all, or something the seller scraped together by combining the dregs of all their old bags. That said, another thing you should look for is shimmering trichomes. People are sometimes mystified when the expensive weed they bought looks like it has metal dust in it. When what they’re actually seeing are trichomes. Trichomes are responsible for the weed’s flavor, smell and effects.

#3: The Feel

Great weed should never just fall apart when you touch it. The buds should have a somewhat spongy texture and be slightly sticky to the touch. That doesn’t mean that the weed should stick to your hands when you try and break it apart, but it shouldn’t crumble to dust either. If the weed is too moist there’s a decent chance it may be harboring mold. So look for an in-between state: moist but not wet, easy to break apart but not prone to crumbling into dust.

#4: Structure of the Bud

It’s important to raise pot plants properly. That means just the right amount of light and water and minimal (if any) use of fertilizers. The buds often contain the evidence of whether or not the weed was properly cultivated. If they are rock-hard it’s usually a sign that the grower used excessive amounts of fertilizer, and while that may not necessarily impact the potency of the weed, it may give it a foul taste. On the other hand, if the buds are extremely fluffy to the touch it often indicates the plant did not get enough light during cultivation, and that may very well impact its potency.

Some Characteristics of Low-Quality Weed

Now that we know some of the signs that indicate high-quality weed let’s look for those red flags that indicate low-quality weed.

#1: An Unusual Smell

If the weed has a musty odor or smells a bit like straw it usually indicates trouble. A musty odor is a sign that the weed was/is too wet and that mold is present. If the smell is thin and straw-like it may indicate that the weed has been sitting around on the shelf too long and has lost its kick. (Weed will typically keep for about a year if stored right.) In general, if weed smells off in any way it’s a sign of poor cultivation, improper storage or age.

#2: Appearance

If the weed is yellowish it’s a sure sign of low-quality. There are a bunch of reasons why cannabis may take on a yellow appearance and none of them are good. Another indicator your weed was harvested before anyone ever heard the word “covid” is that the trichomes, which are normally clear and shimmering, have turned an amber color. And don’t be fooled by the presence of buds. Take a close look at those buds. If they’re yellow, brown or lime green and the trichomes are no longer shiny, it’s old stuff.

#3: Texture

Speaking of buds… at a glance, old buds might look like something worth buying, but if they crumble to dust the minute you try to break them up to load into your glass pipes that means you’ve got old weed on your hand. If the bag/container is half-filled with tiny flakes of weed that’s another clear sign it’s been around too long and is falling apart on its own. Good weed should be moist and put up some resistance to being broken up.


If you want to make sure you only load quality weed into your glass pipes, internalize the above information and put it to use next time you’re cannabis shopping. And for the best selection of custom glass pipes, bongs, and more in Denver stop by the 710 Pipes headshop.

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