Telltale Signs of Top Shelf Bud: Never Be Fooled Again

Want to blaze like a marijuana connoisseur? Here's how to make sure of that.

In the past decade alone, the quality of cannabis has gone from green and smokable to downright great. Progressive marijuana legislation and modern cultivation technology have increased access to pot that is not just grown better, or more potent than it previously was––marijuana is now engineered to deliver specific highs and strong as heck.

But you can’t always trust the dispensary, or believe everything your budtender tells you. Here’s how to ensure your cannabis nugs and other weedy goods are alive with the glory of terpenes and trichomes, or bursting high in THC content, all dialed in directly to your preference.


Image via Flow Kana

Taste: Flavor is crucial in determining the quality of cannabis. Good weed will have a recognizably clean taste that is determined by the strain’s terpene profile. For instance, a strain high in myrcene might have a more citrusy taste. Go for one of the variations of the Tangie strain for a flavorful high that won’t weigh you down.

Aroma: The way your weed smells is closely tied to its overall quality. According to Steep Hill Labs, “Terpenes are the fragrance molecules found emanating from all plants, including cannabis, which offer a unique scent from one strain to the next.” A high-end indica strain will smell earthy, reminiscent of pine. Good sativas carry a fruitier fragrance.

Hold out for cannabis that has been tested for purity, potency, pesticides, and contaminants.

Aesthetics: Several factors influence the look and feel of high-quality cannabis. How the weed is transported, what type of container the flower is stored in, and the temperature at which it is stored will affect the aesthetics of the nug. Premium marijuana should be sticky, fluffy, dense, leafy, covered in crystals or fine red hairs. Good weed doesn’t have to carry every one of those characteristics, but it must have a bunch of them. Weed can be different colors, too––a trait influenced by the plant’s anthocyanins. According to the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology, anthocyanins are “universal plant colorants responsible for the red, purple, and blue hues evident in many fruits, vegetables, cereal grains, and flowers.” 

Test Results: Smell, sight, and taste aside, how your weed checks out during a lab test is perhaps the most crucial aspect in determining its quality. Determining which retail shop or dispensary you pick up from should be influenced by which, if any, third-party lab tests the products. Hold out for cannabis that has been tested for purity, potency, pesticides, and contaminants.



Image via Drip Ice Cream

Taste: The taste of edibles will differ depending on what kind of weed food you plan on eating. A batch of marijuana-infused brownies should taste like, well, brownies, but with subtle hints of weed. The key to achieving the best tasting edibles is reliant on the infused butter or oil used to add the "magical" element to the food. First, always opt for edibles made with top-shelf cannabis. If you wouldn't smoke it, don't eat it either. And if you're making your own cannabutter: Low (temperature) and slow (don't rush when cooking) makes for a more potent and flavorful final product. You might even want to try blanching the bud before getting started.

There should be zero actual weed in weed brownies.

Texture: Again, the final product will vary based on what you're eating. High quality infused-butter will be golden or a light green color when it's ready to be added to your food. Most importantly: Don't forget to strain out the plant matter. There should be zero actual weed in weed brownies.

Aroma: See taste, above. 

Aesthetics: Think of infused foods as you would any other culinary creations. Presentation can, at times, be almost as important as taste. Notable cannabis-food-maker Jeff The 420 Chef told KINDLAND, "When I cook family style meals, I always serve edibles with a cannabis leaf garnish on a separate serving platter colored different from the white platters I serve non-infused food on."

Test Results: Testing edibles is important. Potency can vary based on where you're procuring the infused foods. Different states have laws that cap potency levels. Trending currently are "low-dose" edibles products that might not get a consumer stoned, so much as just feeling a little something extra



Image via Nativ Born

Taste: Good concentrates taste like the strains they’re extracted from. Other influencing factors include distillation methods and solvents used in the production process, temperature at which the extracts are vaporized, and devices utilized in consuming them. A low-temp, mid-sized dab from a clean, quartz banger will be much more flavorful than a hot glob dabbed from a dirty titanium e-nail. If the choice is available, always opt for solventless products––the term butane soup exists for a reason.

 If your shop’s wax isn’t being tested for contaminants, it’s time to find a new dispensary.

Texture: Again, depending on how a product is made, who is producing it, and how it is stored and consumed, the texture of concentrates can vary greatly. Hash oil intended for on-the-go toking via vape pen will be more syrup-like, whereas high-content CBD dabs might be more crystalline, almost resembling meth, despite being its complete opposite. 

Aroma: Aromatics are less relevant in regard to extracts. Sure, don't dab anything that smells like death or gasoline, but.... 

Aesthetics: As KINDLAND has previously covered: “There’s glass-like shatter, crumble that looks like honeycomb; buttery resins that resemble cake and cookie batter.” Depending on preference, opt for the cleanest-looking option. And remember: Clarity counts. If you’re buying shatter, the clearer the product, the better it will be.

Test Results: Any concentrates worth consuming will have little to no residual solvents. Butane hash oil, or BHO, will always contain some, and elicit a heavier inhale than other extracts. If your shop’s wax isn’t being tested for contaminants, it’s time to find a new dispensary.