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The Four Signs of Quality Cannabis Flower

What makes cannabis good? Determining the quality of your flower engages your senses, using sight, smell, touch, and taste to gauge whether your cannabis flower is a quality product. These five tips can help you tell whether your cannabis flower is fire or failure.

1. Examine its appearance

Vibrant colors and dense buds coated with white trichomes are evidence of great care that went into cultivation and preparing your cannabis for consumption. 

High quality cannabis showcases bright colors, ranging from reds and oranges to purples and blues. Vibrant greens are often the most prominent, but high-quality cannabis comes in many hues. Expect fiery hair-like “strings” in many strains; these are the remnants of the pistils of a fertile, mature cannabis plant, and indicate that your cannabis was harvested at its peak. The final product has been prepared correctly, too, with excess, seeds, and stems removed.

The best cannabis flower will also be covered in the near-microscopic, shimmery trichomes, which are the resin glands of the flower. Frosty in appearance, the fragile and sensitive trichomes are home to most of the flower’s cannabinoids and terpenes, indicating that your flower will be potent. 

Low quality cannabis flower tends to be pale shades of green, yellow, and brown, lacking the vibrant colors of high-quality cannabis. The lack of color belies a dryness not typically associated with lush, high quality flower. Low quality flower may also have excess leaves, seeds, and stems, indicators that the flower was not properly trimmed.

Poor quality flower also won’t have that frosty appearance: that’s because trichomes turn to amber as time goes by, indicating that the flower’s Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content has degraded and transformed into the cannabinoid Cannabinol (CBN). Additionally, low quality flower might be poorly trimmed and covered with shriveled, brittle leaves. In some cases, peeling these away might reveal a small, underdeveloped bud.

2. Smell your cannabis

Terpenes are responsible for the aroma of your cannabis. These sensitive compounds produce both the scents and flavors associated with cannabis and, like cannabinoids, they are most densely concentrated in the flower’s trichomes. While more than 200 terpenes have been found in cannabis, there are several dominant, common ones, including the citrus-y limonene, fruity myrcene, and earthy pinene. Terpenes are also believed to contribute to your overall cannabis experience. These compounds evaporate over time, so cannabis that doesn’t have a strong smell may be past its prime.

Just like absence of terpenes could indicate poor quality cannabis flower, bad or strange smells can offer similar clues. A mildewy, musty aroma is another indicator that the cannabis flower you’re evaluating won’t support the experience you want.

3. Touch the flower

Don’t be afraid to pick your cannabis up and touch it. Doing so can yield valuable insights about the quality of your cannabis flower. High quality buds will be dense and thick, having grown to a heavy weight during the flowering period of the plant’s life cycle. These dense buds signal that the plant received adequate nutrients and light throughout its lifecycle, resulting in a flower rich in cannabinoids and terpenes. You may also notice a stickiness to the bud; that’s due to the cannabinoid-rich resin present. If your cannabis flower is dry and brittle, it’s likely not as high quality.

4. Check the laboratory test results (if available)

There is no better way to determine cannabis flower quality than by reading the laboratory test results. Lab test results spell out the cannabinoid and terpene profile, as well as a screen for contaminants. While the other tips in this guide can give you a good idea whether cannabis was treated well from seed to the dispensary shelf, only lab testing results can give you demonstrable insights into what is actually inside your flower. If you are uncertain about the cannabis flower you’re considering, always ask to see the lab test results – these can be illuminating in making a final decision.

To determine cannabis quality, spend some time with your bud

It becomes easier to identify high quality cannabis flower when you spend a lot of time observing, smelling, and handling many different types of cannabis flower. High quality buds often share similar characteristics, so you can start to become a cannabis connoisseur simply by spending some time examining your buds before your next session. 

If you have any questions about the right cannabis product for your goals, Ethos associates are standing by to guide you. Our friendly and knowledgeable team is committed to taking your cannabis journey alongside you, emphasizing education and a partnership in wellness. If you need assistance determining cannabis flower quality, finding the right strain, or just trying something new, Ethos is here to help.


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