Smelling Bud

Trusting the ability of the olfactory lobes in identifying cannabis — and discerning the quality of — strains is a very important factor before making a purchase.

When it comes to purchasing weed that is fit for the special need of the user, be it for recreational purposes, relaxation or medical purposes, there are a number of things to consider. Buying the right weed is much more than just knowing the name of the strain to purchase and getting it from a trusted dealer.

Although these two factors play a huge role in your weed purchase, there are still some basic factors that go a long way in ensuring you get exactly what you bargained for. One such basic factor is the ability to smell your weed before purchasing it.

Terpenes and Their Importance in Weed

First off, before we go into why smelling your weed is important, we must first touch on one class of phytochemical molecules found in cannabis plants known as terpenes. Terpenes, simply put, are aromatic molecules found in cannabis plants that give different strains of cannabis buds their characteristic scent. Examples of terpenes found in cannabis plants include limonene, myrcene, linalool, caryophyllene, terpineol. These are just some of the numerous types of terpenes found in cannabis plants. The concentration of some of these terpenes in cannabis buds helps in identification as well as in the assessment of quality.

Terpenes also do more than just give aroma to cannabis buds. Medical marijuana is based on the medicinal properties of cannabis of which terpenes are one of the major contributing factors. Cannabis contains cannabinoids such as THC, CBD, and CBG which have medicinal and recreational effects.

Terpenes work in synergy with these cannabinoids in what is known as the entourage effect to improve the different medicinal effects of the cannabinoids. Myrcene has antipsychotic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and sedative properties while caryophyllene has analgesic, anticarcinogenic, and antidepressant effects. This gives the understanding that the more the terpenes, the better the medicinal properties of the weed.

This relationship helps to establish the importance of these aromatic compounds in the quality of weed. Now let’s go back to see how this can help in purchasing weed.

Advantages Of Smelling Your Weed Before Purchasing It

Now that we have looked at what terpenes are and the role they play in the medicinal properties and characteristic scents of different cannabis strains, how does this help in purchasing weed?


It is common knowledge that there are different strains of cannabis and while many know that it is possible to differentiate between cannabis strains, they still don’t know how to do it. This is where terpenes and smelling cannabis strains before purchasing it comes to play. It is easy to know the name of the strain one wishes to purchase but if you are dealing with a dealer that is untrustworthy, you are at a loss if you cannot identify the strain you wish to purchase. This is where smelling your weed comes to play.

Terpenes give cannabis strains a specific smell and the aroma of a strain can help in identifying if it is the desired strain or not. This is where smelling your weed before purchasing it becomes an advantage so as to avoid being given the wrong weed. Some cannabis strains can only be differentiated from others based on their taste and smell because of similarities in physical appearance. This is the major reason why some cannabis dispensaries allow buyers to smell reference samples of weed they have in bottles before they go ahead to purchase it. The downside of not smelling your weed and identifying it is a therapeutic failure for those using it for medicinal reasons and unwanted effects for those using it for recreational effects.


For those that are new to cannabis, they might not know that cannabis comes in different grades in terms of quality. Cannabis can be classified into three basic spectrums namely low, medium, and premium-quality bud. The quality of the bud is largely dependent on the producers and how much care and experience is used by the grower to arrive at the final product. Low-quality buds are predominantly grown by novice growers or growers that are majorly profit-driven. They are usually dry with a harsh or bitter taste and tend to have lower levels of THC.

Medium-quality buds have a better appearance and better taste as more is put in by the growers to ensure a good product. Mostly produced by domestic growers, medium-quality buds are very common. Premium-quality cannabis is what you know as top-shelf products with high grades in terms of content and physical characteristics. It is produced by skilled farmers and special breeders.

These obvious differences in the quality of cannabis buds can be exposed by simply smelling your weed before purchasing it. Due to the lack of a high concentration of terpenes, low-quality terpenes usually lack a distinct smell. This lack of smell can also be due to degradation of the terpenes causing such strains to have harsh taste and less than ideal effects.

Medium-quality cannabis strains have pleasant and characteristic scents. Smelling such strains before purchasing them gives a pleasant feeling and it is easily reproducible in different samples of the strain. Premium-quality buds have a skunky and pungent smell due to a complex network of terpenes.

Bottom line

It is very possible for cannabis plants to be labeled incorrectly with the intent of promoting sales. Low-quality cannabis can be marketed as top-shelf products and in such situations, you might have nothing else to count on except smelling your weed. Trusting the ability of the olfactory lobes in identifying cannabis strains and discerning the quality of strains is a very important character that every cannabis purchaser must possess. This is because the cannabis market is one that required proper intuition and knowledge in all respects.

With the right knowledge, you can get what you bargained for and more and with the wrong knowledge, you could be left wishing you never purchased the weed. So before you fire up that bong or get out those rolling papers, let your nose do the talking.


Terry Hacienda is a contributing writer to The Fresh Toast. The Alaska Cannabist has partnered with The Fresh Toast, a lifestyle and entertainment platform featuring coverage of cannabis, culture, comedy, food, drink, edibles and more. 

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