Qualifying characteristics of a top shelf weed

Published May 27, 2019 09:44 a.m. ET
Credit: Yarygin

Have you ever bought a bag of pot and wondered what sort of quality it was? If so, then you will benefit from learning a few tips from the pros on how to differentiate between top-shelf cannabis, mid-grade (aka Reggie), and low-quality product. Unfortunately, most marijuana enthusiasts know how to enjoy a buzz, but have no clue how to visually inspect a product for its overall quality. Here, we have compiled a list of the six most important things to look, feel, and smell for the next time you’re faced with some difficult choices at your local dispensary.

1. The bud density and amount of unusable product included
Low quality cannabis is often broken up into small chunks or compressed. It can also include unusable portions of the plant in higher than average amounts including leaves, stems, and or seeds. Top shelf weed is typically larger more condensed buds that look just like they were freshly cut from the plant, and high-quality weed will not contain loose leaves, seeds, or stem.

2. The color
The color of old or low-quality cannabis is often black or a dark shade of brownish green that looks like it aged in the sun. This is usually from a lack of moisture and improper storage, which leads to a lower number of cannabinoids remaining. This will affect both the potency and the taste of marijuana, leaving very little to be desired about either aspect. Top shelf weed is generally a brighter color including green, blue, or purple, and it will also have visible pistil hairs which may be white, red, orange or brown.

3. Contaminants
Low quality cannabis is typically full of contaminants like dirt, rocks, fertilizer, or other chemicals, and will often taste or smell bad as well. If you take a toke and get a burnt earthy taste followed by a sweet or sour aftertaste, then it’s probably been fertilized way to late in the season and is still holding onto the chemicals within the buds. Exotics from high quality marijuana strains like Orange Haze or Mango Dream will taste sweet and sour as well, but the difference is that you will taste it right away, and it will not linger on your tongue.

4. Taste
This is a debatable aspect, but still, one to take into account. Cannabis that has not been given enough time to fully mature will not smell nearly as strong as one that has been provided that opportunity. Harvesting too soon will result in a low-quality product that has little to no smell or taste. Though to some people, certain weed strain flavors like citrus, blueberry, or lemon are the best of the best, as long as your marijuana plant has good strong genes, it doesn’t matter what the terpene profile consists of, only that you can tell it is present.

5. Size
Average quality cannabis, which is often called Reggie weed, mids, or regs, is where most marijuana products will end up being labelled. These types of cannabis are often run through stressful trimming or growing techniques to get a product out on the shelf as quickly as possible, and the size, quality, taste, and potency can all be adversely affected in the long run. Buds or colas that are almost the same size as your fingertip will usually fall in this range, but anything larger than that garners the official title of top- shelf weed.

6. Effects
Every single type of marijuana will provide its unique effects, and each one will kick in at a different level of intensity, but if you come across a weed that just isn’t getting you high unless it’s medicinal, it’s like just low-quality cannabis. Top shelf weed will be more potent, kick in faster, last longer, and offer more euphoric effects that are impossible to mistake for anything other than some good high-quality bud.

It is important to remember that not every marijuana strain is going to be the same. There are some types of cannabis that may have one or more of these disqualifying features, while still sitting in the top rung of best quality buds. It is critical to look at all aspect of the product, including the promised contents when a particular product doesn’t work for you so that you can remember which strains to steer clear from next time. It’s always recommended to keep a diary of consumption while learning the ropes of weed buying, but if you follow these tips you will be on the right path towards success.

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