What to Look For in a Quality Cannabis Product

12 January, 2023
What to Look For in a Quality Cannabis Product

For those who have been with us for a while, you know that this is a concept we stress a lot in our topics. Many are joining us for the first time as well and may not be as familiar with its importance. But purchasing a quality cannabis product should always be your top priority when you're shopping. While it may be tempting to save a few bucks or spare some time by picking up whatever's available at your local gas station, we cannot stress enough that this is not a good idea. If you're on a budget and need to cut costs, it's better to do so with other items on your shopping list; you don't want to skimp on your cannabis.

Low-quality cannabis isn't just less effective or potent — it may also contain additives and chemicals you don't want in your body. But there are a lot of products out there and a lot of shady places selling them. How do you know if what you see on the shelf is any good? This can be especially challenging for new shoppers, but even experienced consumers may have a hard time finding the good stuff. Well, no need to stress, because we know how to find quality cannabis, and we’re happy to share our knowledge! 


Using Your Senses

In general, you always want to trust your senses with cannabis, particularly with flower. How does the product smell? Does it have a powerful odor? You can tell the effectiveness of a strain by the intensity of its scent. Unfortunately, you don't always have the option to take a whiff, which is where your other senses can help.

Look at the colors of the flower, and if they're bright and vibrant, you can trust it's good stuff. A rich green color is obviously a good sign, but what if you see other unusual colors like purple or pink? Believe it or not, this also means it's good cannabis. And if it has a frosted appearance, that's even better. That means it's covered in ripe trichomes, which help create the taste, smell, and most importantly, the effects of a strain.

The type of cannabis will affect appearance as well. Indica is known to have a denseness, whereas sativa appears fluffier. Both will be covered in small orangish hairs called pistils, but there's usually more in the latter. Healthy flower should have an even covering of pistils as opposed to patches here and there. If an indica strain appears more like a sativa strain or vice versa, something isn't right. And you shouldn't be able to easily see the stem in either type.

Avoid flower that was mechanically trimmed. Often what this does is it compromises the strain's overall structural integrity and its trichomes. Products that are trimmed by human hands will always be better, though if a lot of the plant's leaves have been left behind, chances are it was not carefully cultivated.   

You can also tell how good flower is by how it feels in your hand. Is it a little springy? Is it sticky? Can you easily break it up without it crumbling? If you answer yes to all of these, it's good flower. You also want to be sure it's not too dry, not too wet, not too hard, and not too soft.


How It’s Cultivated

Naturally, a plant's upbringing will be a major determining factor in its quality. You want to purchase from companies that grow in living soil, avoid synthetic fertilizers, and are dedicated to eco-friendly farming practices. Smaller companies are typically going to put more love into their products than larger corporate producers, which is yet another reason to support small cannabis businesses. And of course, always ask your budtender if they could supply you with a Certificate of Analysis. That way, you can see everything that's in the strain, from its terpenes and cannabinoids to any harmful additives that may have made their way into the final product. A really good strain will be loaded with a variety of terpenes and cannabinoids. 

On that note, you want to be cautious with THC percentage. Products with 5-10% THC are usually going to be your best bet, but whatever you do, don't buy anything that has more than 20% of this cannabinoid. In fact, many shoppers tend to associate higher amounts of THC with higher quality, but this simply isn't the case. A diversity of chemical compounds is important because a full range of terpenes and cannabinoids work together to give you a better experience. But because THC and CBD are the stars of the show, you won't see most other compounds on the label.


Telltale Signs of Bad Products

If flower doesn't smell good, you should move along. A product should not smell of must or mildew, as these odors suggest poor cultivation or possibly an expired strain. Also avoid odorless plants, and if it smells like hay, stay away. 

If the color doesn't look right or there are lots of seeds and stems, you should pass. Flower that looks rusty, brown, yellow, or white was likely harvested from a plant that was improperly cultivated. You can also tell a product's age by the color of its trichomes. If it has an amber tint, it's old. If the trichomes are clear, the product never matured. The overall appearance can also suggest what you're buying. You don't want to purchase flower that looks strange or appears overly fluffy. And always keep an eye out for any signs of mold, mildew, or pest interaction.


Products on the Shelf

It may be tempting to save a little and buy flower that's bagged, but this can do a real number on its trichomes. For a nominal upcharge, products contained in jars are far superior. 

When shopping, be sure to review important information on the label, such as harvest date. This way, you know exactly how old the product is. Age plays a crucial role in product quality, as terpenes have a shelf life of roughly six months under normal conditions.

We've mostly discussed flower, but it's important to remember that this is where all cannabis products begin. Whether it's edibles, concentrates, tinctures, vapes, or topicals, if the starting material is of poor quality, the end product will be as well. If a company is producing bad flower, you can safely bet that the rest of their products won't be much better. Ultimately, if you find a brand you trust, you can always stick to their offerings. And always seek a knowledgeable budtender if you need more information on a product or brand.