Good weed vs bad weed – How to differentiate?

Whether you’re a regular consumer or a new user of cannabis, knowing how to differentiate between good and bad weed is crucial to having the best possible experience with your high. So here is an analysis of good weed vs bad weed

Examine the buds

The first thing you should do when evaluating the quality of your weed is to observe its appearance. Looking at the buds is a fast and easy way to determine how good (or bad) the weed is. Here are some of the aspects you should be paying attention to when analyzing your weed


The most simple place to start your analysis of good weed vs bad weed is with the color. Although different strains come in different shades of green, generally speaking, good weed should be rich in color– mostly green with some purple, orange, red, or even blue accents. Also, if there are little colored hairs on it, that is some good weed. You can read more about the different colors of weed and what they mean here

Bad weed can contain contaminants such as mold, insects, or spiderwebs. Things that you should watch out for and avoid include tan, brown or black spots, white web-like strands, and bugs. You definitely do not want to be smoking moldy weed with bugs in it.

good weed vs bad weed
Good Weed vs Bad Weed Image retrieved from Marijuanally


The quality of the weed is highly dependent on how well it was grown. Although the trim doesn’t necessarily determine how good the weed is, a well-trimmed, good-looking nug is usually a good sign that the grower is experienced and takes proper care of the product.

You should avoid nugs with seeds, leaves, and stems still attached as it dilutes the smokeable portion of your weed. Those things don’t contribute to the high and only make the weed harsher to smoke. Seeds also tend to explode when you light them on fire– you probably do not want that to happen in your nicely rolled joint. Moreover, you’d also be paying more for the useless, extra weight. Don’t get ripped off buying badly trimmed weed!

color of the weed


Trichomes are crystal-like specks or fuzz on the buds that contain the majority of the cannabinoids of the cannabis plant, including THC. The potency depends on how much trichomes are on the flower; so, the more trichomes, the higher the potency. Good weed should look sparkly under the light as that means it is covered in trichomes. You can also improve the amount of trichomes produced through the growing process.

quality of weed
Image retrieved from GrowWeedEasy

Not only do trichomes contain cannabinoids, they are also home to the terpenes of cannabis. This leads us to the next step in our evaluation…

Smell your weed

Good weed is loaded with terpenes. Terpenes are natural aromatic chemical compounds that give weed its smell and taste. Thus, top-notch weed should have a strong scent that you can smell before you even open the bag. The smell should be fresh– and not necessarily the conventional refreshing type of “fresh”. It can have scents similar to citrus, berries, or pine, or it could have a dank, meaty, or gassy scent. Learn more about all the different terpene profiles here.

chemical structure of weed
Image retrieved from Coastal Analytics

You can tell the weed is bad if it has a foul smell or no smell. Steer clear of weed that smells like mold, hay, or grass as it has probably gone bad. If the weed lacks terpenes and has little or no scent, yes, you can still smoke it if you’ve already paid for it but it won’t taste good nor be very effective. 

Feel them nugs

Get a good feel of the buds before you grind them up. Good weed is properly dried and cured after harvest; they should be slightly dry but still sticky. The buds should bounce back a little when you give it a squeeze. The perfect balance is tricky to find because you don’t want it to be too dry nor too moist. 

When weed gets dried out too much, it will become crumbly and turn into dust when you break it apart.  If the weed is soggy, it may contain mold. These are all signs of bad weed. However, sometimes, you might have some really good weed that dried out because you forgot to close the lid of the container. In that case, you can restore the humidity by leaving a humidity control pack such as Boveda in the container for a few days and your weed will be nice and sticky again. 

how to preserve
Image retrieved from Hydrosorbent

Light it up – One of the best way to differentiate good weed from bad weed

After going through all those steps to determine whether or not the weed is good enough for you to buy and smoke, you’ve arrived at the moment of truth. How does this weed taste and feel when you smoke it? 

When you smoke good weed, it should taste good and feel smooth. You should be able to taste the terpenes as you let out the smoke. It also won’t feel very harsh on your throat– sometimes, smoking really good weed feels like you’re just inhaling warm air with no throat hit whatsoever. This is largely due to how clean the weed is. Clean weed is good weed. What I mean by clean is, if the weed was properly flushed and cured in the cultivation process, the ashes of the weed should be close to white. In general, the whiter the ash, the cleaner the weed

Photo by Lin Shen

When you smoke bad weed, the smoke is harsh and can induce coughing. It will have a bitter or metallic taste to it (kind of like tin) and will make your mouth feel a bit tingly and numb. Every now and then, you come across a strain that meets all the standards up until you actually smoke it. Technically, at this point, it wouldn’t be considered bad weed… just not great weed. When weed isn’t flushed and cured properly, it will burn black. Remnants of chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers cause the ash to be very dark in color. So if your weed has black ash, it is most likely bad weed. 

smoke weed

Other sources that you can use to analyze good weed vs bad weed

Alternatively, if you don’t trust your own judgement or are too lazy to analyze it yourself, you can consult others’ evaluations. 

Cannabis grading systems are a convenient way for consumers to judge the quality of their weed. There are many different grading systems out there; the most popular one being the A-AAAA. A is the lowest quality and AAAA, aka “quads”, are the highest quality weed. Grading is not based on the strain of the cannabis, rather, how well the grower produced that particular batch. Keep in mind, the system is not completely objective and different growers have different standards so you will still have to make your own final judgement. To learn more about the grading system, click here.

Lab tests can be performed to determine the exact components of the strain. However, lab tests can be timely and costly so consumers rarely ever get those for their own weed. You can buy lab-tested products from licensed dispensaries; the downside is that they won’t be fresh as the testing process can take months.

Be a Cannaseur

This article should have equipped you with all the knowledge you need to differentiate between good and bad weed. Put your newly gained skill to the test on your next weed run!

Photo by @matchstickmarijuana

Did we miss any other factors that should be considered when evaluating the quality of weed? Add them in the comments below and follow @cannalifenet for more stoner knowledge.