A Closer Look: What We Really See When Looking At Weed

From terpenes to trichomes, and even THC crystals––it's fascinating stuff.

Gone are the days of the “mystery weed” your dealer used to sling. Instead, that old trope has been replaced with a growing body of legislation to support marijuana legalization, designer strains, and an innovation boom in canna-tech.

Today's average weed consumers are also bona fide herb experts. They know their stuff when it comes to different strains and each of their unique properties. They know their weed limits no matter its form and know that paying $60 for an eighth is truly a crime. And like your most discerning foodies, the modern ganja enthusiast has embraced taking deep dives into all the variables that constitute excellent herb.

To further engage this exploding base of in-the-know marijuana consumers, Stashbox, a monthly curated subscription service, themed its July box around the very idea of “discovery.” The box includes the truly ingenious T-H-SEE, a specialized magnifying glass designed for viewing key strain elements. The smartly crafted product fits perfectly into a growing category of devices and accessories that empower the health-conscious, quality-cognizant marijuana consumer.

Photo: Ben Karris/KINDLAND

To get a more meaningful look at our weed (and because your budtender might be giving you bogus information), we got our hands on one of these devices to show you what you can really see when you look at your weed in a new, meaningful way.



Using the magnifier’s built-in bright white or bluish LED lights, you can illuminate and study your nugs up close to spot contimanants, “such as mold, mildew, hair and bugs (T-H-See.com).” Spotting mold is easy; it is grey or white fuzz that grows between the trichomes (those little red hairs and crystals) on a cannabis bud. Mildew has a greenish or brown tinge that looks different from the hairs you’ll typically see. Pro tip: To prevent mold from growing while you store your weed, keep a humidity control pack in the jar with your buds.

Lab-tested cannabis is ideal but not always possible. Check your crystals for dark spots that might be from residual pesticides, fertilizers, fungicides, and pathogens, and you don’t want to consume them––in addition to checking your crystals for dark spots, try to always buy cannabis that was lab-tested. View your weed how you might view your potential love-making partners, make sure your herb is tested by a professional.

Image via VSCO

The most frequently occurring weed-infesting insects are spider mites, especially if the plant was grown outdoors. These organisms are generally harmless, but you don’t want to ignite and inhale them. If you do find any bugs in your buds, pull the little critters out with tweezers, and buy your weed elsewhere.

Light Burn
If you’re seeing colors such as a deep red, or brown, or yellow, it may indicate a sick plant or one suffering from light burn. You’ve seen grow houses, right? All those bright lights hanging near the plants can sometimes sit a bit too close, and can actually burn the plant before it matures to its full THC potential.

If you’re seeing cannabis leaves throughout the buds, that means the trimmers aren’t effectively getting to the stem when they trim the buds. These leaves create unnecessary combustion when you grind up the herb to-be-smoked. 



Indica vs Sativa
Determining whether they’re indica or sativa is easy. “Sativa buds are longer, thinner, with bud particles that almost look like wispy hairs (Herb.co).” The oranges and browns peppering a sativa bud are hard to miss, and coincide with the citrus smell of terpene limonene and the feeling of focus and alertness.

A plant harvested too soon will lack that rich, green color, and its trichomes (which you can see clearly with the T-H-SEE) will be clear and not have that bulbous shape that looks almost like a mushroom head. A ripe plant’s leaves will have yellowed off and died, the trichomes will be milky and have at least a tinge of amber, and the green of the bud will be saturated, peppered with hairs in the previously mentioned “healthy” colors.

Male vs Female
Female plants are the only ones to produce buds, but peering up close and personal onto a plant’s good parts (its stems) during the growing process will let you know if the plant is male or female.

Image via VSCO

Trichomes display a full spectrum of colors, all of which indicate the plant’s ripeness, cannabinoid-content, and potency. In addition to wanting a dense little forest of sparkling trichomes on each nug, which are where the cannabinoids and terpenes are stored, you’ll want to check their frostiness. Clear trichomes are indicative of an early harvest, and not enough potency. Cloudy trichomes will give you the energetic high of a sativa, whereas amber trichomes will give you couchlock (though not too dark, which would mean the THC is degrading). Indeed, trichomes that are seemingly “half-and-half” (half cloudy, half amber) will deliver a strong head and body high.

Solar Hits
If you were a scout as a child, you might’ve learned how to start a fire with a magnifying glass (and to always Be Prepared). To spark a bowl in such a manner, just take the T-H-SEE with you outside on a clear day, and get lit from the power of the sun.

Ultimately, if like to study your botany and smoke it too, treat yourself to a T-H-SEE magnifier. Why take anyone else's word for it when you can control the medicine that goes into your body for yourself? And while you're at it, you might as well check out Stashbox’s July box to see the other accessories designed to help cannabis consumers further explore and enjoy their weed. Really, there are no limits to what you can learn    and smoke.

More About Stashbox
Stashbox is a personalized monthly subscription box for the cannabis enthusiast, tailored based on consumption preferences and lifestyle. The team at Stashbox finds and vets the latest and greatest lifestyle brands to help people find products they’ll love without the hassle of shopping. Each month a box arrives at your doorstep with 5-8 hand-picked items, ranging from pipes and papers to munchies, tools and fun accessories. A monthly subscription costs about $30, with boxes valued no less than $50.