How to Differentiate Good From Bad Marijuana Buds

marijuana buds

Do you know your buds? According to recent statistics, around 12 percent of Americans smoke marijuana, and that number is significantly higher among young people.

Yet just because you sometimes smoke up doesn’t mean that you can tell your mids from your schwag from your high-end buds. Knowing your marijuana buds means that you’re far more likely to get a fantastic smoke and feel the full effects of your weed.

What does good marijuana look like? More importantly, what does bad pot look like? In this guide, we’re going to take a look at some of the ways you can find the best buds of marijuana and avoid smoking up something that Cheech Marin found down the back of his sofa in 1970.

Ready to learn more about the key signs of great weed? Then read on and get ready for a better smoke!

Stems and Seeds

If you bought pot when you were a teenager, you’re probably pretty familiar with this unpleasant and not at all potent little addition to your weed. For the best high, you want to look for marijuana that has large buds without stems and seeds. If you’ve got them in your weed, can you smoke them?

You can but they won’t do much for you. Stems and seeds contain so little THC that smoking them won’t produce a noticeable high in the vast majority of smokers. This is particularly the case if you’ve smoked a lot of weed over the years and have built up a tolerance.

Smoking stems and seeds also tend to produce a very acrid smoke that will make you cough a lot and can also cause some other issues like stomach upsets.

If your buds have stems and seeds mixed in with them, throw them out and find a new marijuana supplier right away.

How Does the Weed Look?

Take a look at the weed that you’ve bought. The cheapest weed doesn’t look very colourful. It will be a dull green with some brown mixed in, and usually pretty dark.

By comparison, higher-quality weed is much more colourful. Depending on the strain that you’re smoking, your weed could be purple, orange, green, violet, white, or a combination.

Yet colour isn’t necessarily a predictor of quality. Some fantastic strains of weed are green and brown, so you need to look at more than colour.

Great weed should be covered in silvery-white trichomes: these contain tons of THC, so the more trichomes that your weed has, the better. As well as THC, trichomes also contain other cannabinoids like CBD and Delta-8 THC, which you should learn more about.

Reasonable weed looks like it’s been dusted with icing sugar, while really great stuff will look as though it’s been rolled in the stuff.

How Do Your Marijuana Buds Feel?

You can tell a lot about marijuana bud by its feel. Stickiness is something that you need to look for: bad weed will barely feel sticky at all. In fact, it can often feel a lot wispier, more akin to, well, other plant matter.

Great weed should be like touching a hard candy: it will be very sticky. This comes down to the trichomes again. These are very sticky and if your weed feels dry and wispy, it’s not going to get you very high.

Flakiness is another bad sign. Breaking up weed is usually done with a grinder for a reason. If your weed flakes in your hands, that means that it’s not been dried properly, which means that whoever is producing your pot either doesn’t care or doesn’t know what they’re doing, which isn’t a good sign either way.

Smelling the Weed

Weed being smelly is one of those things that we just know. How many times have novice smokers ended up being rumbled by their parents because their baggie is stinking up their room?

Molecules called terpenes give weed its characteristic smell, these terpenes can produce any number of aromas, from the scent of cherries and lemons to earthy and piney smells. Various strains can have vastly different smells but great weed will always have that kind of skunky scent that would have got you in trouble with your parents back in the day.

Bad weed will often not really smell like anything other than a pretty grim scent of damp, which should be enough to put you off unless you’re desperate for any THC whatsoever.

As trichomes produce these terpenes, a great smell isn’t only pleasant, it’s a sign of good weed. When you open up your baggie, you should be hit with a range of smells that will practically send you reeling. If a sniffer dog couldn’t find it from a mile away, it’s probably not the highest-quality weed.

Tasting Notes

While the taste of weed may be quite a bit harder for new marijuana smokers to discern, it goes hand in hand with the smell of good buds. Great weed should have a fresh taste like it’s been picked that day. ( Bad weed often tastes stale, as though it’s been left to lie around for a while: this comes down to poor harvesting and drying.

Does Your Weed Have Prominent Pistils?

Pistils are a great sign on weed, yet unless you’re a botanist, you might not know what they are. Here’s a quick lesson: pistils are an important part of some plants’ reproductive systems and on marijuana, they appear as little orange-brown filaments on the bud. If you’ve got buds near you now, take a look and see if you can spot some little orange “hairs” on your weed.

Pistils are a great sign on your weed because they’re a great sign that the plant is mature. The pistils start out white and turn orange as they mature. A plant shouldn’t be harvested until most of the pistils are orange, so if they’re still white, it’s a sign that your grower is out to make a quick buck more than creating a great product.

Are They Dense or Airy?

Weed is the anti sponge cake in that airiness is not a good thing in your bud. Great weed should feel dense with trichomes and buds. When you give it a squeeze, the bud should compress slightly and then bounce back to its original shape.

Very dense buds don’t give you more weed for your money (a gram is still a gram after all), but it does look as though it increases in size when you’ve ground it up. When you grind up an airy-looking bud, you’re going to be disappointed by the quantity of weed that it produces.

Dense weed is a sign that its grower took great care of the plant and cultivated fantastic growing conditions. Airier and fluffier buds will still get you high, no question, but it’s not a good sign.

Has the Grower Trimmed the Sugar Leaves?

Trimmed weed looks fantastic. When you see people posting pictures of oh-so manicured weed online, that’s weed that the grower has trimmed. If they haven’t trimmed the weed, you’ll see the presence of little leaves called sugar leaves.

Sugar leaves are small leaves that, in nature, grow around the cannabis flower itself. There’s nothing wrong with sugar leaves in principle and they aren’t dangerous to consume, but they also won’t get you high.

This means that if you’re buying weed that’s still got its sugar leaves, they’re going to be part of what you’re paying for. It’s just dead weight. Why pay for something on your weed that doesn’t get you high?

On great quality weed, the grower will have trimmed the sugar leaves. If they haven’t, we wouldn’t recommend buying their weed unless you’ve got the cash to spare and don’t mind paying for the non-psychoactive weight.

Mould and Pests

Part of harvesting weed comes down to dry it. If the marijuana is dried in damp conditions with lots of humidity, guess what happens? That’s right, the plant starts getting some furry fungal growths on it.

Smoking mouldy weed probably won’t cause you any serious issues but it might still make you sick or nauseous. No good grower will produce mouldy weed and once you’ve actually bought the weed, making it go mouldy takes some doing.

Even the smallest bit of mould on the weed can be a sign of serious issues, as it’s unlikely to be the only bit of fungus on the plant. Mould only shows when it’s in bloom, which means that there could be spores waiting on the rest of the plant that could still make you unwell.

If you notice any mould on your weed, it’s probably for the best if you throw it away. While it could cause you no issues, risking your health for some sub-standard weed makes no sense at all.


You’re very unlikely to spot bugs crawling around on your weed, yet if you do, should you still smoke it? Well, the presence of bugs in and of themselves isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Marijuana is, after all, a plant. Bugs are going to call it home sometimes and it can be a sign that the marijuana was grown organically. This may even be a plus point for you if you’re particularly averse to the idea of your weed being treated with pesticides.

Bugs probably won’t make you sick but they should have been removed by the grower before they ended up with you. If you don’t want to pick bugs off your weed, make a mental note not to buy weed from this supplier again. Note, however, that bugs will not affect the actual quality of your buds.

A Word on Synthetic Weed

It’s worth knowing what synthetic weed (also known as spice and K2) look like so you can tell the difference between it and actual weed. The side effects of synthetic weed are very unpleasant, so knowing the difference could prevent a very unpleasant experience.

First off, synthetic weed often comes pre-ground, which marijuana basically never does. If you’re not holding buds and instead have a baggie of ground plant matter, alarm bells should be going off in your head.

Synthetic weed also looks different from ground marijuana, though this difference may be hard to spot unless you’re an experienced smoker. Does it look like ground weed, or is there something different about it?

The smell is another good way to tell whether you’ve got the genuine article or a synthetic imitator too. While synthetic weed does try to ape the smell of the real stuff, it falls short in a few key areas. The smell tends to be a lot more artificial, more akin to chemicals than the floral smell that comes with weed.

You should also consider your source: if you’re buying it from a store in a state where marijuana isn’t legal, that’s not weed. If you’re buying it from a dealer who you don’t know, it’s also possible that’s not weed. Only buy from people you trust, where it’s possible.

Keep Smoking the Good Stuff

We hope that you now feel a lot more confident and able to tell good marijuana buds from bad ones. The more you analyze your weed, the more you’ll learn about the different varieties and what they look like. With practice comes expertise!

For more great informative articles about weed and other aspects of the modern lifestyle, be sure to check out the rest of our website.

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