Tips For First Timers To Recognize Good Quality Cannabis

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If you are new to the world of cannabis, knowing how to tell the difference between good-quality hemp and poor-quality hemp can be quite challenging. After all, you wouldn’t want to waste your money on low-quality buds that won’t give you the desired effects.

But how can you spot the difference between top-shelf and bottom-shelf cannabis? What are the signs of high-quality and low-quality marijuana?


What You Need To Know About Cannabis

This short guide will provide tips for first-timers to recognize good quality cannabis based on four main criteria: trichomes, smell, look, and feel. Furthermore, we will share additional insights and step-by-step instructions on choosing the best strain for your needs and preferences.  

Ideally, you’ll want to do the research before deciding on Cannabis, and rightfully so. Below, you’ll find some essential information on recognizing what to look for, especially for first-timers.


1. Trichomes

The first thing you should do is examine the trichomes on the surface of the marijuana. Trichomes are tiny crystal-like structures that produce and store cannabinoids (such as THC and CBD) and terpenes (such as limonene and myrcene) that give Cannabis its effects and flavors.

Moreover, the more trichomes you can see with your naked eye or a magnifying glass, the more potent and flavorful the strain is.

Good Cannabis has a frosty appearance due to its abundance of trichomes. It sparkles under the light like sugar or diamonds. The trichomes can also have different colors depending on their maturity stage: clear (immature), milky (peak), or amber (overripe).

If Cannabis is bad, it has a dull appearance due to its lack of trichomes, which, as a result, looks flat and lifeless under the light. The trichomes can also be damaged or missing due to poor handling or storage.

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2. Smell

The next thing you should do when checking out a batch of Cannabis is to smell it. Good marijuana always has a strong and pleasant aroma, indicating its freshness and potency. Depending on the strain, high-quality hemp can smell like herbs, apples, pines, citrus, plum, or other distinctive earthy scents. The more pungent and complex the smell, the more likely the Cannabis is high-quality.

Poor-quality cannabis, on the other hand, has a weak or unpleasant smell that can indicate poor growing conditions, improper curing, mold, or contamination. Bad marijuana can smell like hay, grass, dirt, or chemicals. If it smells musty, sour, or rotten, it might have mold or mildew. Of course, you should avoid it at all costs.

3. Look

The third thing you should do is to look at the buds closely. Good marijuana has a vibrant and appealing appearance that reflects its health and vitality. Typically, this is usually green in color, with shades ranging from light to dark. Depending on their genetics and growing environment, some strains can also have hints of purple, blue, red, or orange. They may also have plenty of orange hairs (also called pistils) that indicate their maturity and readiness for harvest.

Bad Cannabis usually has a dull and unappealing appearance, reflecting its poor quality and degradation. It is typically brown or yellow, with little to no orange hairs. Furthermore, bad Cannabis can also have seeds or stems mixed in with the buds, which reduces its potency and flavor.

4. The Feel Of Cannabis

The fourth thing you should do is touch and squeeze the buds gently between your fingers. Good Cannabis has a sticky and slightly spongy texture that indicates its moisture level and trichome density.

Additionally, it should feel slightly moist but not wet or damp. Also, it should have some resistance when you squeeze it but not crumble or fall apart.

On the other hand, bad Cannabis has a dry and brittle texture, indicating its age and exposure to air and light. It feels too dry or too wet to the touch. It either crumbles into dust or sticks together into clumps when you squeeze it.


Additional Tips to Recognize Good Quality Cannabis

Some other factors can help you choose good quality cannabis besides the mentioned ones. They are as follows:

Test data

If available, look for test data from a reputable lab that shows the cannabinoid and terpene profiles of the strain you are interested in. Furthermore, this can help you find the strain that best suits your desired effects and preferences. For example, if you are looking for a relaxing and sedating strain, you might want to choose one with high levels of THC and myrcene. Looking for a stimulating and uplifting strain? You might want to choose one with high levels of CBD and limonene.


Check out user reviews written by people who have used the strain you’re interested in. Additionally, this will give you a sense of the effects, flavor, and quality you can anticipate. Further, you can ask your friends, budtenders, or online communities for recommendations.


In general, when it comes to Cannabis, you get what you paid for. Cannabis of higher quality is typically more expensive than Cannabis of lesser quality. However, this is only sometimes the case. Sometimes, you can get excellent prices on strains on the upper shelves or discover hidden gems on the bottom shelves. The best approach to learning is to experiment with several strains to compare them for yourself.

Examples of Good Quality Cannabis

Here are some examples of good-quality Cannabis:

  • Blue Dream: A balanced, energizing, calming high characterizes this sativa-dominant hybrid strain, which also features a pleasant berry fragrance.
  • OG Kush: A powerful euphoric and sedative high from an Indica-dominant hybrid strain with a piney and earthy fragrance.
  • Sour Diesel: An indica-dominant hybrid strain with an earthy, piney fragrance and a strong euphoric high.
  • Girl Scout Cookies: An indica-dominant hybrid strain with a strong, pleasant, and calming high and a sweet and spicy fragrance.
  • Pineapple Express: An exhilarating and soothing long-lasting high characterizes this sativa-dominant hybrid strain, which also has a tropical and fruity fragrance.

Final Thoughts

If you are a newcomer, we hope these tips for first-timers to recognize good quality cannabis have helped you learn how to recognize them based on their appearance, smell, feel, and structure. It’s essential to remember that high-quality Cannabis will always have a potent and pleasing aroma, a brilliant and diverse color, a sticky and spongy texture, and a dense and well-formed structure. It will also have a high concentration of trichomes, minimal seeds and stems, orange hairs, and no mold, mildew, pesticides, or other contaminants. 

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