weed leaf

How to Buy Good Weed: Finding Quality in Cannabis Flower

If you’re shopping for weed for the first time, you’ll hardly know how to differentiate a good flower and a bad one. Some flowers contain high THC levels, while others have high CBD content. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is responsible for the flower’s psychoactive effects, while Cannabidiol (CBD) has no psychoactive effects but promotes your general wellbeing.

Your smoking experience relies on the quality of your bud. Top-shelf buds guarantee the best smoking experience. Low-quality flower equals a horrible smoking session, besides potentially endangering your health. That is why you should know how to distinguish good weed from bad-quality weed.

Below are tips to help you buy quality marijuana buds and shun the bad stuff.

The Telltale Signs of Good Cannabis

You will need to engage at least three senses to determine whether your cannabis flower is of the right quality. These include:

  • Sight
  • Smell 
  • Touch


A cannabis flower provides visual cues to help you find out its quality. High-quality cannabis flower typically contains vibrant green hues with striking red or orange hairs. It also can come in an animated variety of colors, ranging from deep purple and blue to orange and red.

Besides that, you should also expect to see flaming hair-like strands in good flower strains. These are the remains of the pistils of a well-pollinated, mature weed plant. They point toward the peak harvest of your cannabis flower. 

Good weed also boasts a coating of tiny, glistening crystal-like trichome heads. Trichomes produce and accommodate the cannabinoids and terpenes responsible for the flowers’ aroma, flavor, and effects. 

Bad weed, on the other hand, has a pale and brown shade. It lacks the vibrant colors typical of high-quality cannabis and may contain surplus seeds, leaves, and stems, pointing to the lack of proper flower trimming. They also don’t have that frosty appearance that you see in good-quality weed. This is because trichomes transform to amber with time, signaling that the flower’s THC levels have degraded and turned into a compound known as Cannabinol (CBN). 

Cannabis Smell


You know the unmistakable skunk-like odor of cannabis, right? The compounds responsible for this skunk smell are called terpenes. These molecules are densely concentrated in the trichomes and produce a variety of scents, from floral to citrusy to diesel or pine-like notes. That explains the distinct aromas of different cannabis strains.

Good weed typically releases a strong dank fragrance that points to the flower’s quality. While the aroma might differ from one flower to another, the common denominator is that the smell is unique, savory, and easily detectable. 

You have good weed if you can smell that fresh, loud, dank smell. Terpenes also add to your overall smoking experience. So, the more pronounced the aroma, the more enjoyable the session is likely to turn out. 

Terpenes degrade as time goes by, so cannabis flowers that don’t have an intense aroma may be past their peak. Bad weed often smells like fresh-cut grass or hay, a sign that the weed did not go through the best cultivation, drying, and curing processes. Strains that release offensive or unusual aromas also point to poor-quality flowers, and most times, they won’t offer the enjoyable smoking experience that you crave.


Another way to gain valuable insights into the quality of your weed is to touch it. Top-shelf buds become dense after reaching the flowering stage. The thick buds reveal that the flower is rich in cannabinoids and terpenes.

Texture-wise, a high-quality flower feels sticky and somewhat spongy to touch. It finds a middle ground between not being too wet or too dry. This is an indicator that your flower was subject to proper curing. Buds that are too soft or wet are likely to develop or contain mold or mildew. And if they feel crumbly, that is a sign that the flower has dried out and will burn pretty fast.

Laboratory Tests

Nothing is more infuriating than buying some fire cannabis flower on a particular visit to the dispensary, but then, on your next purchase, the weed does not match the previous quality.

While the previously mentioned tips can help you determine whether or not the flower has a proper growth cycle from seed to dispensary shelf, only lab reports can give you verifiable insights into what’s inside your buds. Lab reports are also called certificates of analysis. They prove that the flower meets the standards for safe human consumption, as stipulated by the state’s cannabis regulators. 

Lab test reports can capture many things in a batch of cannabis flower strains. In Washington, D.C., for example, the state mandates marijuana lab testing in the following areas: foreign matter, potency, heavy metals, moisture, residual solvents, and microbiological and mycotoxins. However, there’s no obligation to test for pesticides. 

If you’re unsure about the quality of the cannabis flower before purchase, consider asking one of the dispensary’s budtenders for the lab test results. And don’t worry if you’re shopping online. All reputable Washington, D.C., dispensaries have their lab reports accessible on their respective websites, so you can check them out before committing to a flower purchase.

Laboratory Tests

Seek Advice From Experienced Stoners

Perhaps you’re new to cannabis and don’t know how good weed should smell, taste, look, or feel. In this case, you can tag along with one of your friends who is a seasoned cannabis user on your next dispensary visit. Chances are they already know how to buy a high-quality flower. You can trust in their experience to make the right purchasing decision. 

The Bottom Line

Some dispensaries and delivery services in DC sell high-quality flower buds, while others are deceitful and may offer low-quality weed. In a cannabis market where many flower options exist, knowing the signs of good and bad weed can help you make the right decision.

The primary traits that distinguish high-quality flowers from those of inferior quality are appearance, smell, and feel. You can also request lab test reports from your vendor to help you determine if their products are up to standard.