The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Quality Marijuana

You enter your local marijuana dispensary and approach the counter. The budtender greets you and proceeds to ask you what you are looking for. You tell her your preferences and she presents you with a few options, claiming that they are all top-quality choices. You carefully inspect the jars but they all are indistinguishable in appearance and aroma. Frantically, you play a quick game of “eenie, meenie, miny, mo” in your head and pick whichever jar that it lands on. You come home to spark it up with a friend, only to discover that the sensation you feel is anything but “good quality”. 

If you are a cannabis user, chances are you have already experienced this scenario. You understand that disappointed feeling you get when you spend a lot of money at the dispensary only to find out that the weed did not meet your expectations. Many people think that they can tell the difference between good and bad-quality buds just by giving it a quick glance, but there are certain nuances that people don’t always consider. 

Choosing the right cannabis is very similar to choosing fresh produce or flowers. There are various factors that you must evaluate such as smell and color. Detecting good-quality weed is especially important if you are using it for medical purposes. Bad-quality weed can do you more harm than good, as it might contain pesticides. Therefore, being able to determine the quality of your marijuana before making a purchase can help you save your health and your money in the future. 

It is important to mention that there is no exact description of high-quality cannabis because everything comes down to personal preference. However, by recognizing the characteristics to look for when judging marijuana quality, you can be sure that your body gets the best. In this article, we will show you exactly how to tell if weed is good or bad.

The Good vs The Bad

In California, adults who are 21 and over can legally consume weed for medical or recreational purposes. In the Los Angeles area alone, there are about 1,000 dispensaries to choose from. To ensure you only buy the best bud, we advise that you choose a high-end dispensary in Los Angeles by researching on WeedMaps.


The first thing you want to do is examine the physical appearance of the buds. Starting with the color, quality weed will generally feature various shades of green. Shades of blue, red, orange, and purple may show up in good weed too, but it should be green overall. Be sure to inspect that these colors are due to the strain and are not patches of mold. Good-quality weed may also be scattered with orange hairs called pistils. These indicate a well-pollinated and mature plant and will yield better outcomes. Reject any weed that is brown, red, or yellow in color, as these are signs of unhealthy plants and oxidation. 

Next, examine the trichomes. Trichomes contain most of the terpenes and cannabinoids responsible for tasty and potent weed. The main purpose of growing quality buds is to produce them with ripe, sparkling trichome crystals. You can easily spot trichome density with the naked eye, but most dispensaries will provide a magnifying glass so that you can get a better look. Ideally, high-quality weed will be frosted with a fine layer of milky white crystals that shimmer in the light. Hints of amber tones are normal but purely amber-colored trichomes indicate overripe buds. The presence of ample trichomes will determine the potency of the weed, so the more the merrier.

The visible structure of the bud is also important. Indica buds should be tight and dense, while Sativa buds are typically fluffy and contain more pistils. Hybrid strains will share the structural traits of both Indicas and Sativas. Additionally, good weed should have very few stems holding the bud together. An excessive amount of stems are a result of improper trimming and bud selection. Any visible seeds are also a clear indication of low-quality weed. 


High-quality weed will hit you with an overwhelming pungent smell. A strong, distinct smell is a sign of high terpene content meaning that the flower is high-grade and highly potent. Indica strains possess rich, earthy scents that resemble coffee and chocolate, while Sativa strains emit a sweeter smell with citrus notes. 

On the other hand, mediocre weed will either smell like hay or lack any smell at all. As a general rule of thumb, if you don’t smell the weed, don’t smoke it. 


How buds feel in the hand can say a lot about their quality. You don’t want your weed to be too dry as it will burn too quickly and irritate your throat and lungs. Conversely, flower that is too moist will likely contain mildew or mold.  Fresh cannabis will have the perfect wet-to-dry ratio and is the most pleasant to smoke. It will also be able to break apart easily, and not crumble at a light touch. 

As you break apart the bud, the trichome resin covering it should feel sticky to the touch. Sticky buds indicate an exceptional amount of THC crystals, which definitely means that the weed will be potent. Proper storage is an important preventative measure for preserving the freshness and quality of marijuana.

The Experience

At this point, you have successfully used your senses to choose the highest quality weed for your liking. No matter how carefully you examine the physical attributes of the buds, you simply can’t always tell the quality until you’ve smoked it. When taking those first few hits, let the inhalation settle on your tongue for a moment and take note of the flavor and smoothness of the smoke. High-quality cannabis will have robust natural flavors and a cloud of smooth smoke, causing little to no cough. Low-quality weed will be relatively flavorless. Sometimes, they even have a metallic taste, which probably means that the flower was grown with pesticides, fungicides, or other harmful contaminants. A foul or sour taste is a sign of bacteria growth, mold, or pests.

After a few minutes, observe the sensations that you experience. A good, non-hazy high with no headaches or nausea is the best sign that you have chosen high-quality weed. Indica dominant strains will produce a heavy body-high due to their higher levels of a terpene called myrcene. In contrast, Sativa strains are known for producing a more invigorating “head high” that is often accompanied by an uplifting, stimulating effect. 


Now that you know what to look, smell, and feel for, you will be able to identify high-grade marijuana from a mile away. Being able to determine the quality of your cannabis is a valuable skill that will make your experiences more enriching. At the end of the day, it is all about personal preference. Choose best-quality marijuana in Los Angeles from a reliable Los Angeles dispensary and make sure you consider all of the aforementioned guidelines when you go.