Determining the Quality

Cannabis is an incredible plant with the power to help make anyone’s day a little brighter. For some of our friends, cannabis is an important medicine; for others, it’s a pleasant daily ritual that elevates their mood, sparks creativity, and helps wash away stress. Whatever your reason for using cannabis, we’re committed to helping you find the right product every time.

The quality of smoke varies wildly. Besides THC and CBD levels, there are other methods to determine the quality of the plant before you purchase.

Flower Structure: The flower or “bud” is the smokable, trichome covered section of the cannabis plant. In a typical dispensary, the highest quality flowers are often referred to as “private reserve”, “Best” or “top shelf”, with other grades being the mid-shelf and/or bottom-shelf flowers. Basically, you usually find a “Good – Better – Best” grading system. Here are some easily identifiable character traits of each flower grade:

  • The “best” quality or top-shelf flowers are characterized by their geometrical dense, buds and their sticky or spongy feel. These flowers tend to have a pungent and pleasing odor, and plentiful visible trichomes.
  • The mid-shelf flowers are likely the most common and have varying characteristics based on their curing duration and might be dry or wet and possibly contains a few stems. With growing techniques now improving, this grade has become the standard. These flowers usually have less bud density, but is still an excellent quality.
  • The bottom-shelf flowers or the “good” are for the budget-restricted group of consumers. The lowest grade quality having a brownish or off-color appearance, and tend to be less dense and/or dry. These also have more of an earthy odor, which is caused the oxidation of THC to CBN. However, these flowers do appeal to buyers wanting to make their own edibles or concentrates.

Trichome Density: Trichomesare the resinous hair-like structures on the buds of the cannabis plant. They are the reservoirs of THC, cannabinoids, and terpenes. Asides from being the source of the “high,” they protect the plant from pests, insects and the sun.

  • Tons of trichomes often identify high-quality cannabis, while
  • Mid-shelf flowers, by their moderately defined frosty trichomes; and,
  • Bottom-shelf flowers by their low or almost absent trichomes.

Trim: Trimming in cannabis cultivation is the act of shearing off long leaves from the plant, post-harvest. As unimportant as this might seem, a properly hand trimmed flower is an essential aspect of the aesthetic value and grade quality of the plant. High-quality cannabis often comes with a good trim, while low or mid-quality usually have less time spent on the trimming or they are machine trimmed.

Terpene profile: Theseare the compounds in all plants responsible for their distinctive aroma. In cannabis, they work synergistically with compounds to produce the effect and therapeutic benefits of the plant. Due to their strong odor, they also help ward off the plant’s predators.

Sprays and Pesticides: Although the use of chemical pesticides in the cultivation of cannabis plants is illegal, some cannabis growers go against the law. Asides the potential health risks of ingesting chemical residues, the presence of such residues or diseases could give an inkling to the quality of the cannabis. All cannabis products purchased in retail establishments in Michigan are tested and not allowed to contain any pesticides.

Burn: In the determination of cannabis’ quality through examining the burn of the flower and the ash consistency, the method of curing is a considerable factor. High-quality cannabis is mostly cured for the proper period to expel excess moisture, causing it to burn well without quenching. While for the low-quality grades, the curing process is often times hurried, and hence, the moisture content remains relatively high.

Ash Color: In terms of ash color, high-quality cannabis burns pure white, mid-quality burns light grey, and low-quality burns dark grey or black ash. Similar to the grind test, the consistency of the ash can also be used to determine its quality – does it stay clumped, or does it scatter?

Flavor and Effect: Each grade quality has its distinct burn flavor and effect owed to its phytochemical levels; however, the effects vary from person to person and place to place. Therefore, the effect a certain strain has on you personally is a crucial factor to consider when evaluating quality.

Regardless of your reason for buying cannabis, the quality purchased should be of utmost importance. Most of the time you really do get what you pay for.

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