What Cannabis Shouldn’t Smell Like


Cannabis is famous for its pungent smell. We’ve all been at a concert or walking through the park only to be hit with that dank aroma. It’s unmistakable, especially once you start to become more familiar with marijuana.

Now that cannabis is legal in California, cannabis connoisseurs can start to unpack the different aromas that are specific to every strain. Terpene content plays a big role in determining whether a strain is going to smell like citrus or whether you’ll be hit with a diesel-like aroma. Soon enough, trying different strains will be similar to trying different wines: you’ll pick out certain notes with your nose before you inhale.

If you’re buying weed, it’s also important to know what your product shouldn’t smell like. Cannabis is a plant just like any fruit or vegetable. It can lose its freshness and quality if exposed to the wrong elements. Mold can also grow on your weed and make your buds toxic. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to see mold and harmful bacteria on your weed. That’s where smell comes into play.

Familiarize yourself with the dos and don’ts of cannabis odors. The more you know about aromas, the easier it will be to identify low-quality weed.

What Weed Shouldn’t Smell Like

Mold or Mildew

Problems with humidity or temperature may cause mold to grow inside or outside of a marijuana plant. It’s not always easy to distinguish certain types of mold from the little trichomes that grow off of the plant. Rely on your nose to make the decision for you. If you smell mold on a plant, it probably has mold and should be tossed. If it just smells funky (but in a good way,) you should be in the clear.

Hay or Fresh-Cut Grass

People called marijuana “grass” back in the day, but your bud shouldn’t smell like your front lawn. There’s actually a scientific explanation for why marijuana sometimes smells like fresh-cut grass. Marijuana must undergo a “curing” process after it’s cut and dried. During this time, the chlorophyll starts to decompose and become ammonia. Ammonia is a colorless gas and a toxic mix of hydrogen and nitrogen.

Smoking weed with ammonia is not a pleasant experience. Exposure to ammonia, even in small amounts, can cause a burning sensation in the nose and throat area. No one wants to inhale harsh and toxic smoke.

If you’re growing your own weed, be cautious of this scent. Growers can rid their stash of ammonia by regularly replenishing the curing containers with oxygen and being patient. If there is still ammonia present in the marijuana, the curing process may not be over (or the marijuana was left in curing containers for too long without a breath of fresh air.) Once the curing process is complete and the dried bud has been cured correctly, the terpene profile should come through and the nugs should go back to smelling like citrus, diesel, flowers, etc.

Again, it’s best to hold off on smoking weed that smells like your lawn.

Something You’ve Never Smelled Before

If it smells off, it probably is. Trust your gut. We’ve included a list below of aromas that are common among marijuana strains, like diesel or citrus. If it doesn’t smell appetizing, and it doesn’t smell like the dank weed that you’re used to, it’s probably best to throw it out or send it back and get a refund.

Nothing At All

There is nothing better than opening up a package from the local dispensary and getting hit with some dank smells. Weed should be pungent. If it doesn’t smell like anything, and you’re not stuffed up with a cold, you don’t have a good batch.

Why? It’s important to know where the unique smells of cannabis come from. Terpenes are organic compounds that are found in cannabis and other plants. Linalool, found in marijuana, sage, and lemon, is a terpene known for its pleasant scent. Caryophyllene, found in marijuana, black pepper, and thyme, is known for a more spicy scent. The different combinations of terpenes create the aromas, tastes, and even effects that make each strain unique.

Terpenes are so valuable that they are sometimes added to concentrates, including CBD oil. Without them, you may have a pretty dull bud. If your weed isn’t dank, you might not be consuming a high terpene content.

What Weed Should Smell Like

But what exactly does “dank” mean?

Dank weed is just pungent weed. It’s got a lot of trichomes and will make your weed-smoking experience a great one. Depending on the different combinations of terpenes or how the marijuana was grown, your dank stuff could be one of many different smells. If your weed smells like any of these flavors, you’re ready to go. (We’ve also added some strain suggestions if any of these strains sound delicious.)

-Floral (Blue Dream, Tropicanna) -Citrus (Ghost Train Haze, Jilly Bean) -Berries (Blackberry Kush, Grape Ape) -Diesel (Sour Diesel, Chemdog) -Hops (Cherry Pie, Snoop Master) -Sweet smells (Jack Herer, Skywalker) -Spices (Early Girl, Acapulco Gold) -Woodsy (Northern Lights, Harlequin)

Knowing the differences in smells can help you enhance your marijuana experience. Whether you like to pair your strains with food, make marijuana tea, or enjoy your cannabis in other ways, the aroma could be the cherry on the top of your smoke sesh sundae. Use a cannabis wheel or ask your local budtender what scents you will get out of each strain that you want to buy. Like wine, these notes aren’t always apparent upon first sniff. It takes a refined nose and knowledge of cannabis to be able to distinguish what terpenes are present in each strain.

Remember, if your weed doesn’t smell like any of these things, and you’ve got a feeling that it’s a little off, it probably is. Don’t risk smoking bad weed. If the smell is bad, the taste is likely pretty bad, too. If the taste is bad, you’re probably not inhaling something that is good for your body. Do yourself a favor and only smoke high-quality, potent, enjoyable weed.

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