Though numerous ways of consuming marijuana have been introduced over the last few years, nothing can beat the fresh experience of smoking marijuana flower.
Recent data from Headset Analytics shows that marijuana flower is still the number one product in the US legal cannabis market. This should not be surprising given that flower is the least processed form of marijuana out there, making it more affordable and accessible especially to newbies or purists. But even seasoned cannabis enthusiasts find many reasons to love flower; with such a wide array of strain choices these days, you can customize your high in just about any way or flavor you want.
Even if you have an interest in other cannabis consumer goods and edibles, the experience of smoking flower will always be special on its own. Having said that, here are the things you should be looking for when shopping for marijuana flower at a dispensary:
Effects: Any cannabis dispensary will carry dozens or even hundreds of different cannabis strains. Each strain will have its own effects which can usually be categorized into a few: uplifting, sedating, or a little bit of both depending on how much you smoke. Let the budtender know about the effects you are looking to achieve. A sedating strain will be best if you need a little help going to bed, while an energizing strain will be ideal for daytime use.
You should also research the medicinal effects of cannabis strains carefully especially if you are prone to anxiety and paranoia, which is common among high THC strains. In addition, cannabis strains are also known for specific physical effects which may include headaches and hunger among others.
Potency: Understanding the potency of THC or CBD in the flower you are buying is an important factor. You can’t tell how potent a flower is just by looking at it, but cannabis sold in legal dispensaries will have a display of its strength on the packaging or the glass jar. Generally, anything above 20-25% THC is considered very strong and has potent psychoactive properties, while those who are new to THC are advised to start with strains below 18% THC.
On the other hand, there are consumers who are interested in buying high CBD flower. CBD strains are ideal for those struggling with anxiety and paranoia, or who simply want a relaxing time without the racing mental effects associated with energizing THC strains.
For a more balanced effect, you can also check out the THC:CBD ratios. Some strains have a higher CBD content to help counter the THC, resulting in a deliciously balanced high.
Size: Bigger buds usually mean better quality, but this isn’t always the case. Various cannabis strains will produce buds of different shapes and sizes. For example, indica plants tend to produce smaller but denser buds, and sativas tend to be fluffier and less dense.
Small flower buds are generally considered lower quality, though the same harvest can result in both small and large nugs. Some growers filter out the smaller nugs which go into pre-rolls, while the large nugs rake in more cash when they are sold as cannabis flower. Some dispensaries and brands may sell smaller nugs at a discounted price, so look out for these deals if you’re up for a bargain.
Color: Using your senses will also go a long way in helping you source quality flower – which oftentimes also has a higher price point. Color is a great place to start: premium flower should be various shades of green, and sometimes with a tinge of purple, orange, or yellow in its hairs. While color doesn’t indicate good weed, you should avoid buds that look like they have been bleached or have irregularly saturated colors because this can indicate that they haven’t been stored properly. It could also be that strains are naturally lightly colored, such as the famed Acapulco Gold, which really does have light buds. Knowing is half the battle!
In addition, stay away from buds that are brownish or yellow because these are considered lower quality and tend to be cheaper. However, if you are looking to buy weed in bulk with the intention of decarboxylating them or turning them into edibles later on, then it’s perfectly acceptable to buy flower of lesser quality. One doesn’t waste top-shelf weed by decarbing them and turning them into edibles.
Smell: Your nose can tell you so much about cannabis flower. They all smell so different and it will be an olfactory journey unlike any other. Some strains smell spicy, musky, or like gasoline (but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing!) while others will smell like a fruit or flower garden, have strong pineapple or citrus smells, or even smell like flowers thanks to its aromatic compounds.
Popularity: It never hurts to ask your budtender which strains have been flying off the shelves lately. They can share useful insider knowledge on the good stuff that’s popular in your area, perhaps because certain growers can make terrific yields of a certain strain. If there’s a strain that’s popular, you can always give it a try to see if you like it. You never know: you might just find your new favorite by having an open mind!
Price: Last but not least, there’s also the price to consider. There’s weed at the low and high end of the spectrum, but for many consumers, the mid-range buds are where quality and price meet perfectly. Good quality weed does not always have to cost so much. Sometimes, lower priced flower can also produce an excellent high. Bottom shelf cannabis still works well for people who are on a tight budget.
There are many factors to consider when shopping for marijuana flower. Use these tips the next time you head to a dispensary to experiment with bud at home.
This article originally appeared on Cannabis.net and has been reposted with permission.