How To Judge Flower Like A True Cannabis Connoisseur

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If you are a budding cannabis connoisseur or patient living in a state that allows legal adult or medical marijuana sales, then you know that we are living in truly amazing times. For individuals who are lucky enough to live in a legal state, the days of being forced to purchase unregulated cannabis from a dealer in a supermarket parking lot are long gone.

These days, consumers and patients can make purchases from world-class budtenders in well-lit dispensaries with set hours of operation. In some areas, people can even have cannabis products delivered right to their front door like they can do with pizza. The selection to choose from is amazing, and all of the products have met lab testing standards.

The rise of the emerging legal cannabis industry is paralleled by a rise in the diversity of cannabis flower hitting the market. More selection can be a blessing and a curse. On one hand, people have a lot from which to choose, increasing the chances of the purchaser finding something they like. On the other hand, it can be difficult to know how to separate the ordinary cannabis flower from the extraordinary.

Green Flower has compiled a list of criteria that cannabis consumers and patients should consider when trying to determine if a particular cannabis flower is good or bad. If someone wants to judge flower like a cannabis connoisseur, they should take into account the factors discussed below.

woman smelling cannabis nug

Let Your Nose Lead The Way

One of the best ways to determine if cannabis is good is to smell it. If there’s one thing that you should give top priority when analyzing cannabis, the smell is one of the factors near or at the top of the list. A lot can be learned about cannabis flower by the way it smells. 

If you are in a dispensary and smelling numerous jars of cannabis one after the other, many of the smells will blend together. You can clear or reset your nose by smelling your skin in between each cannabis jar — improving your ability to evaluate each jar on its own. It may seem like a weird thing to do, however, smelling your own skin will help ensure that when you smell the next jar, your nose will not have the smell from a previous jar lingering around.

In a perfect world, a cannabis connoisseur would be able to smell the flower when it is in the dispensary jar/container, when it is pinched, and when it is broken up. Keep in mind that most dispensaries will not let you touch or grind up cannabis on-site, so you will have to perform those particular evaluations post-purchase to inform future decisions. 

A strong, desirable odor is typically a good indication that the cannabis flower is rich in terpenes. All high-quality cannabis has one thing in common — they all have an abundance of particular terpenes, often referred to as the “terpene profile.” If you smell a particular cannabis flower and it makes you excited, it’s a great sign that the cannabis is quality for your body.

Conversely, smelling cannabis can help determine if it is bad and possibly contaminated. One very big red flag is if the cannabis smells like mold or mildew. If that is the case, the cannabis is clearly not fit for human consumption. If the cannabis smells like hay or wet grass, it’s typically an indication that it is old. If the cannabis has no smell at all, it doesn’t automatically mean that it is of poor quality. However, it could be an indication that the cannabis is not very potent and/or fresh.

cannabis nug held in fingers

Judge The Appearance

Judging cannabis based on appearance can sometimes be an effective way to evaluate a cannabis flower, however, it can also be misleading. A cannabis connoisseur knows that just because a particular cannabis flower has a light green or purple hue does not mean that it will provide the desired effect. It also doesn’t mean that the cannabis flower is free from contamination.

With that being said, a desirable appearance is one of many factors that can help consumers determine if a particular cannabis flower is good or bad. Most consumers have to look through glass cases and jars at dispensaries, and because of that, visual appeal is typically where most consumers start the process of evaluating cannabis flower.

Ultimately, the best way to assess cannabis by appearance is to look at the trichomes under a microscope. If the particular cannabis flower is covered in trichomes as seen by the naked eye, consumers should look at the trichomes under a hand-held microscope to see if the trichomes are mushroom-shaped, or if the trichomes do not have a “head.”

If the trichomes are not mushroom-shaped, chances are the cannabis is not as potent as some consumers would prefer. It’s either that the trichomes never developed and the flower was harvested too early or too late, or the head of the trichome fell off during the trimming process, which is common with machine-trimmed cannabis.

Visually assessing cannabis can be useful, in that it can help consumers spot trends. If a consumer notices that a vast majority of the types of cannabis flower they prefer all share a common visual trait, that information could help them when shopping in a dispensary and evaluating which cannabis flower to request more information on. While it doesn’t guarantee a successful purchase, it certainly increases the odds.

cannabis curing after harvest

Curing Is Very Important

One of the most underrated phases of the cannabis seed to sale process is the curing phase. It is often overlooked and it takes a distinct skill set to perform properly. As cannabis connoisseur Casey O’Neil of Happy Days Farms puts it, “curing is an art form.”

The curing phase occurs after the cannabis is harvested. This phase is often referred to as the “drying process,” however, that phrase can be misleading. Much more is going on during this phase than the cannabis flower changing from being wet to dry. Some growers, in a rush to get their crop to market, will dry their cannabis as fast as possible, which is unfortunate.

As the cannabis bud is drying it continues to pull from the branch it is on, further ripening itself. If the cannabis flower is dried too fast, it will not be as potent as it otherwise would have been had it dried slower. Of course, if it dries too slow then mold and mildew can set in, and that is not desirable either.

A quality cannabis flower that has been cured properly is not too dry and doesn’t crumble when touched. It is also not too wet. It’s easy to spot wet cannabis, however, it is not as easy to spot cannabis that is overly dry. If it crumbles when touched then it’s obviously too dry. 

If the flower is pinched and doesn’t spring back to its original form prior to being pinched, then it’s likely too wet and will not burn well. It may also taste harsh. A properly cured bud will spring back after being pinched rather than keeping its smashed form or crumbling. The only time that it’s desirable for a bud to crumble is if it was originally cured well, then purposefully left out by the consumer to dry further for the sole purpose of making it easier to crumble.

man smoking joint in black shirt

Consider The Flavor

In most legal jurisdictions, on-site cannabis dispensary consumption is prohibited. Unfortunately, if that is the case where you live, you will not be able to assess cannabis based on flavor until you have already made the purchase and returned home to consume it. Sampling is allowed in a slowly-increasing list of jurisdictions, however, that’s more of the exception than the rule.

When you do finally get to consume cannabis that you’ve acquired, the flavor is going to be a big determining factor in whether you categorize it as being good or bad. What does the cannabis flower taste like on the inhale? What does it taste like on the exhale? Does the taste linger on your pallet long after the exhale, or does it go away quickly? These are all questions a cannabis connoisseur keeps in mind while consuming marijuana and evaluating its quality based on taste.

One thing that consumers and patients want to pay particular attention to is whether or not the cannabis flower was harsh on their throat when inhaling. A harsh inhale could be a sign that the cannabis was not properly cured, or even that it could be contaminated. 

It’s worth noting that just because the inhale is harsh does not automatically mean that the cannabis involved is contaminated. Consumers will want to rely on testing regulations to prevent legal purchases of contaminated cannabis. Regardless, if the cannabis is harsh on the throat, then it’s obviously not desirable no matter what’s contributing to the harshness.

“Good” Is A Subjective Term, Even For Cannabis Connoisseurs

At the most basic level, what is considered to be the best cannabis is subjective and can vary from consumer to consumer. What might taste good to one person might taste bad to another person. What smells fantastic to one person might be undesirable to the next person. Some people only like cannabis that was cultivated using organic methods, while others do not care. Beauty is in the eye (or smell or taste) of the cannabis connoisseur.

Everyone has their personal preferences. If you find cannabis that provides the desired effect and experience that you are looking for, and it is safe to consume, then you have succeeded with your purchase. If something is amiss, and one of the previously mentioned factors is lacking, then the cannabis involved may be properly categorized in the “bad” category, at least for that particular consumer, patient, or cannabis connoisseur.

Trusted by top universities, utilized by companies around the world, and endorsed by the leaders shaping the modern cannabis industry, Green Flower programs are the gold standard in cannabis education and training.

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