How to Evaluate Cannabis Flower

When shopping for cannabis, CBD or THC, you want to carefully look at the buds to make sure you are getting a quality product, full of medicinal benefits, for a good value.

Start with visual characteristics. This can be done with the naked eye, but might require a magnifying loop. In a well-lit area, look for obvious issues: deformations, mold, insects & discolorations. If grown improperly, flower can look dull, unattractive, & weathered. The buds should be robust, beautiful in color & lure you in, like produce at the grocery store. The pistils (the little “hairs” coming off your bud), should NOT be pale orange, yellow or white (indicating premature flower), & the majority of the trichomes (that frosty goodness), should look milky, NOT clear (also premature flower).  Premature flower means a lack of potency, less euphoric effect & low medicinal quality.  Also look for mold.  Mold can be grey, red, tan & brown (“bud rot” or “jar rot”) & have an off-putting odor.  Or, it can be white (powdery mildew) & odorless.  To determine if powdery mildew is present, look for clustering of white powder, instead of an even trichrome spread.  Finally, be suspicious of buds with unnatural, wild looking colors (like blue or lime green).  Deep purple buds do occur when very cold air or water are used during cultivation (harmless & easy to distinguish). Yellow, tan, red or brown flower usually indicates poor quality from mold, burns, or aging.

Now, take it a step further.  Pay close attention to trichrome density & ripeness. Trichomes are tiny crystals that cover the buds & contain the viscous oil made up of cannabinoids, terpenes & flavonoids. I call trichomes “frosty goodness” because they look like frost coating the buds & leaves.  The highest quality flower has densely packed trichomes with intact, milky white heads.  Trichomes are important because they contribute to the entourage effect & determine potency & euphoric effects. Also look to see how the buds are trimmed (the removal of the “sugar” leaves between buds). High quality cannabis has no trim left, but minimal bases of thin trim leaves is still considered acceptable.  I prefer flower trimmed by hand.  If the bud looks like a manicured bush & is unnaturally shaped, it’s most likely been over trimmed or machine trimmed, which damages the very important trichomes.  Last, smell!  Terpenes give cannabis its odor.  The more terpenes present, the greater the entourage effect.  A pungent smelling flower indicates higher potency from the terpenes.

Information above from insanely knowledgeable Max Montrose & his book Interpening. I highly recommend it!

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