How To Differentiate Good From Bad Quality Marijuana Buds

How to tell the difference between good and bad cannabis buds.

It probably didn’t take long after you started smoking weed to realise the differences between cannabis buds. Despite how everyone claims their weed is top-notch, you’ve probably noticed when the flower just isn’t up to par. In contrast, when you’re holding quality cannabis, you know it right then and there.

To ensure you only buy the best buds, learning the differences between top-shelf fire from rugged brick weed is vital. You don’t need to be a connoisseur either, as the differentiating traits can be seen and smelled with no assistance. Learning the differences will help you browse the shelves, sure, but it’ll especially help you judge the plants in your own garden. That, in turn, will help you make any necessary adjustments.

Types of Cannabis Buds

Cannabis flowers can be categorised into various quality spectrums. You could be talking about stickiness, terpene profile, taste, texture, or an assortment of other factors. To keep things simple, we’ve narrowed things down to three basic categories: low, medium, and premium-quality bud.


Low-quality cannabis has a sorry look to it, mostly because it travels long distances after being stuffed into small packages. Known rightly as “brick weed”, these buds often arrive at their destination as dense cubes.

Rarely grown for quality or with much care at all, the producers associated with this level of cannabis are purely profit-driven. Often a black market product, low-quality cannabis typically stems from south of both the US border and the European continent.

Of course, some home growers with the intention to sell may also accidentally produce cannabis of similar quality. Novice growers will often mess up during the process and leave themselves with dry, unremarkable buds.

The key signs of low-quality cannabis include:


Domestic growers all over the world mostly produce buds that fall into this category. These flowers are set apart from poor-quality cannabis thanks to their improved colouration, heightened scents, and overt flavours.

Most growers manage to dial in their nutrients, watering schedule, and environmental variables enough to produce cannabis of this quality. The most important factor, though, is putting pride and effort into their work.

If you’re looking for medium-quality bud, or simply trying to dodge the bad stuff, look for these traits:


High-grade. Top-shelf. Fire.

Premium-quality bud goes by many names, yet they all describe its immense flavour and mind-shattering effects. These buds are hard to come by outside of big cities and weed-growing areas. Generally, they’re the products of skilled farmers and master breeders in hotspots like Northern California, Spain, and the Netherlands.

You’ll find these nugget-like buds encased in jars on the shelves of reputable dispensaries and highly-rated coffeeshops. If you’re looking for the best buds money can buy, keep an eye out for the following:

How to Differentiate Good Buds From the Bad: A Guide

We hope the above generalisations make it easier to distinguish the quality of a given bud, but it can get a bit more complicated. Below, we’ll get into the nitty-gritty and inspect cannabis flowers a little closer.


As we discussed before, aromatic molecules known as terpenes are responsible for said signature scent. Despite the similar undertone, though, most strains feature unique smells thanks to different concentrations of terpenes.

You’re probably familiar with the small, shiny structures on the surface of cannabis buds and sugar leaves. These mushroom-shaped glands—trichomes—pump out terpenes during the flowering stage.

You’ll know you’re dealing with good-quality weed when the olfactory wave of terpenes hits straight after opening your stash. While a pleasing scent and cannabis quality aren’t unconditionally connected, the former is a likely indication of the latter. Hints of flowers, fuel, earth, spices, sugar, fruit, citrus, and berries are among the most common aromas.

The quality of a strain’s terpene profile depends on several variables:

  • Genetics: Some strains are genetically equipped to pump out more aromatic terpenes than others, mostly due to selective breeding practices.
  • Drying and curing: Genetics only achieve so much. Correctly drying, curing, and storing cannabis will preserve the terpene profile and make for better-tasting buds.
  • The right nutrients: During the flowering stage, cannabis plants have a higher demand for potassium and phosphorus and less of a need for nitrogen. Get this balance right, and you’ll produce some fantastic-smelling flowers.
  • Living soil: A strong microbial population will help plants access all of the nutrients they need to develop an optimal terpene profile.
  • Companion planting: Many growers claim planting basil in close proximity to cannabis helps improve its smell.

Quick Growing Tip: Boosting terpenes will improve the overall smell and flavour of your plants. Select strains such as Lemon Shining Silver Haze and Haze Berry to start with a genetic advantage.

How to Differentiate Good Buds From the Bad: A Guide


Although you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can definitely judge cannabis buds by their appearance. There are many factors that indicate quality to a trained eye, and colour is one of the most important.

Of course, cannabis flowers come in an array of different hues of purple, orange, green, and red. It isn’t so much the colour that gives away quality, but more so the vibrancy. See, healthy and well-grown cannabis flowers have a bright and shiny look to them.

Such vibrancy signals good genetics, solid growing techniques, and adequate curing and storage. In contrast, poor-quality cannabis appears matte, dull, and pallid. These buds are often dark green to brown, pale, and ultimately unappealing.


How To Smoke A Joint: The Complete Toker’s Guide

Learning how to smoke a joint is all about practice. That’s what makes it so much fun! But if you’ve never smoked a joint before, where do you even start?

You’re in luck, my inexperienced friend. The all-things-cannabis experts at Honest Marijuana are here to bestow upon you the wisdom won from a lifetime (yeah, we’re that old) smoking the wacky weed.

In this article, we’ll give you all the best tips we’ve discovered over the years — some basic, some a little out there.

Whether you’re brand-new to the ganja-smoking game or a stoner-of-yore like us, you’ll find some valuable tidbits to help you learn how to smoke a joint for the best experience possible.

What Is A Joint?

Man lighting up a joint

Any exploration of how to smoke a joint starts — or should start — with the most basic question of all: what the heck am I holding in my hand?

Don’t be embarrassed if you’ve asked yourself this question a time or two. We wondered the same thing when we first started.

Smokable cannabis comes in so many shapes and sizes it can be difficult to discern what exactly is making its way around the smoke circle in your general direction.

We’re here to help!

When it comes to sucking on Mary Jane (oooh, that sounds dirty!), you’ve really only got four options:

  • Joint
  • Blunt
  • Spliff
  • Vape pen

Sure, there’s the bong/dab rig option, but you’d have to be extremely high — we’re talking well on your way to the moon — to mistake a bong for a blunt.

You’ve also got options like the Thai stick and the cross joint but, really, these are just variations on a theme.

We’ll talk about blunts and spliffs in the next section, but for now, let’s focus on answering the question, “What is a joint?” which is a more specific version of “What the heck am I holding in my hand?”

If you’re interested in learning more about vaping, check out these awesome articles from Honest Marijuana:

Joint Components

Figuring out what to call the smokable making its way around the circle can be stressful — especially when you’re not high (everything’s stressful when you’re not high, right?).

To help you in this regard, we’ve deconstructed the joint into its essential components. Identify those components and you’ll know exactly what you’re holding in your hand.

The components are:

  • Interior
  • Exterior
  • Color
  • Size
  • Flavor

Let’s investigate them one by one.


A joint is marijuana — and only marijuana — wrapped in a rolling paper. That’s pretty much it. Not super difficult, was it? No need for an advanced degree here.


Rolling papers can be composed of widely different materials, including the classic wood pulp to the more exotic rice to the “duh, why didn’t I think of it before” hemp.

Each type and brand of paper has different properties, including thickness, size, flavor, “rollability,” and burn length. Brand-names include Zig-Zag, Randy’s, Club, Bambu, Elements, Raw, and our personal favorite, NoGlu.


Back in the day, joints were always white or light tan.

It wasn’t that we were somehow prejudiced against other colors (cannabis has always been a very inclusive culture). That’s just how the rolling papers were made.

Flash forward…uh, several decades (yes, we’re that old!), and most rolling papers — and by extension, our joints — are still white or light tan…for the most part.

Now, rolling papers come in all sorts of psychedelic colors, so your joint can be gold, gray, polka-dotted, or even clear (for that voyeur inside us all).


Most rolling papers are about 3 inches long. When rolled, they typically resemble a cigarette.

That said, they can be thinner or thicker depending on the paper used and how much marijuana you pack inside.


As for the final component, the flavor of a joint will come from the strain used to roll it rather than the paper.

This is because most rolling papers are flavorless. That allows you to experience the full taste of your Fruity Pebbles without the paper getting in the way.


Your Green Guide: How to Purchase Cannabis

The increasing legalization of cannabis in the U.S. has had a huge effect on the way we buy and sell weed. The expansion of cannabis availability and knowledge has resulted in enough culture, terminology and isms to fill several encyclopedias, so it can be daunting to walk into a dispensary or scroll through our menu for the first time.

Whether you’re a seasoned smoker or are merely coming around to the idea of cannabis, here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know before purchasing your greens:

Measuring Your Greens: How Much Weed Is This?
The measuring of cannabis has a fascinating history that originated like most illegal (at the time) substances: on the streets. Cannabis gained popularity in the U.S. during the counterculture movement of the ’60s and ’70s, but it was completely prohibited and had to be acquired through creative means.

Our grandparents measured their weed in “lids,” which contrary to popular belief does not equate to an ounce. It references the use of literal lids–most commonly from a large mayonnaise jar–to measure flower. The term became widely-known thanks to Cheech and Chong’s stoner comedy skits.

Today, cannabis is measured with much more precision, so you always know exactly what you’re getting. Here is everything to know when it comes to figuring out how much weed you want to buy–and keep in mind the price can vary quite a bit depending on the state you’re in and how available cannabis is to you (but it’s usually cheaper to buy in bulk if you can):

The Gram ($7-$20)
This is the lowest amount of cannabis you can purchase–and many dispensaries or delivery services don’t even offer this option anymore. It’s based on weight, and a gram of weed weighs next to nothing–it’s about the size of one large nug, the perfect amount for a quality joint. On the streets it’s referred to as a “dime bag,” while two grams is known as a “dub bag.”

The Eighth ($15-$55)
Short for “an eighth of an ounce,” the eighth measures out at roughly 3.5 grams. This is the most commonly purchased amount of weed, especially if purchased for a party or event with friends.

The Quarter ($60-$75)
As in, “a quarter of an ounce.” Starting to make sense? Known as a “Q” for short, it measures as seven grams of weed.

The Half-Ounce ($100-$150)
A half-ounce of cannabis, otherwise known as a “half-O” or simply a “half.” It weighs in at 14 grams and is a great amount of flower for a bulk-buy–depending how often you smoke, of course.

The Ounce ($160-$350)
An “O,” a “zip,” an “onion”–all super slick ways to say you want an ounce of cannabis. An ounce is 28 grams, and is the maximum amount of cannabis you can legally purchase at a time in most legal states.

Concentrates and Extracts
When it comes to being knowledgeable on cannabis purchasing practices and having a general idea of pricing, the above list is a great place to begin. However, there are many other factors to consider when buying cannabis.

Although flower remains the most popular way to consume cannabis and is only growing in popularity, concentrates and extracts (like wax, oil, shake, and shatter) are gaining traction. This form of cannabis tends to be a little pricier (around $40 per gram), but that’s only because of how potent it is compared to regular flower–it takes a full ounce of cannabis flower to make just 3-6 grams of concentrate.

For those who are less interested in the act of smoking but still want to experience the benefits of cannabis, edibles are a great option. It’s an easy way to keep track of exactly how much THC you’re ingesting, without any coughing.

In the past, edibles usually came in the form of pot brownies, but creativity has really expanded within the cannabis food industry. From restaurants that offer cannabis-infused menus to THC-packed breath mints, it’s simple to enjoy your favorite flavors with your favorite flower. You can also opt for CBD-only edibles–all of the benefits without the intense high.

Smoking Equipment and Accessories
Most dispensaries have a decent array of basic smoking accessories, but they tend to lack range and be a little overpriced. Pay a visit to your local smoke shop for a wider variety, or visit an online retailer for a custom look.

The way you consume cannabis will determine how specific you need to get when shopping for accessories, but it’s always better to have options. It’s also nice to have variety within your smoking tool arsenal–that way if you get tired of rolling and just want to throw some flower into a glass pipe, you can.

Overall, we learn best by practicing, so the best way to gain the most knowledge about purchasing cannabis is to purchase cannabis. Find a dispensary or delivery site (ahem) you like, and make sure to pay attention to the sales–most brands offer quite a few deals and steals if you’re looking at the right time. Happy smoking!

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