How To See The Difference Between Good and Bad Cannabis Buds

The good, the bad and the ugly, we're not talking about the film but about weed quality!
15 October 2020
8 min read
How To See The Difference Between Good and Bad Cannabis Buds

  • 1. Low-quality marijuana buds
  • 2. Medium-quality weed buds
  • 3. Premium-quality cannabis flowers
  • 4. Color
  • 5. Scent and flavor
  • 6. Pistils' color
  • 7. Resin and crystals
  • 8. Density and size
  • 9. Trimming
  • 10. In conclusion

Being new in the world of marijuana can be exciting, although it usually comes along with some bitter surprises due to beginner's misinformation. This is because as a new user it's hard to tell exactly what you should be looking for, and then you bump into a close friend telling you that your buds are lousy. 

So, in order to avoid getting ripped off with second-hand buds, let's go through some basic differences between good and bad quality weed buds.

The contrast between premium and poor buds resides mainly on high effects; color; aroma and taste; crystals presence; bud density; trimming and more. Generally speaking, good quality buds will be tightly pumped and dressing shiny, well-manicured, colorful looks. 


Different weed qualities

There are many different aspects to consider about marijuana buds' quality.

Cannabis buds can be categorized into three different types, almost as the good, the bad and the ugly:

  • Low-quality buds;
  • Medium-quality bud;
  • And premium-quality buds.

Basically, every time you can, access and pocket-wise, treat yourself and go for the premium of the premium stuff. But to differentiate them you'll need to be able to identify the main characteristics of each group.

Low-Quality Marijuana Buds

Most of us have been there, we were young and new to the wonderful world of marijuana smoking and were desperately looking for a cheap hookup. That's when we bumped into our first brick weed sighting, a supposed-to-be promising stash of marijuana that would brighten your days, as long as we hadn't heard of or tasted the good life yet. 


This is what low-quality weed looks like.

This is what low-quality weed looks like.

Low-quality cannabis buds are ones that look pitiful, tending to look as if they were extremely squeezed (because they were) and they can even come in a brick, stonish kind of form. Ridiculous amounts of seeds are commonly found in these buds, as well as lousy scents and tastes, even so, that you might not even want to smoke them.

The main aspects of low-quality cannabis are:



Brownish, dark green tones dominance; plenty of seeds; squeezed aspect. 


Flaky; airy; not sticky or improperly dried. 

Scent and taste

Low on terpenes, which results in lesser aroma and flavor. Raspy on the throat and definitely not a 'green' taste. 


Due to the low terpenes count, and likely low THC too, the high will probably not be as strong, but it will still get you high. 


The central problem with these buds is that, usually, they aren't grown with enough, or any care at all. People who grow these marihuana plants aren't focused on quality terms at all, and that's why it's so visible on their final product. 

Most of the time, low-quality buds are grown for commercial purposes, exporting them illegally from one country to another stuffed in small packages, which is why they look so awful. Although they are usually a black market product, they could also be a result of first-time growers who messed up somewhere in the process, obtaining sad-looking buds.


Lastly, the most evident indicator of low-quality buds is their price. Of course their salesperson can't charge you the prices of the premium buds for these brown buddies, or at least we hope not. 

Medium-Quality Weed Buds

Most amateur or intermediate home growers' buds fit into this category, which isn't that bad at all. The mere fact that they are already far from resembling the low-quality buds makes you worthy of a standing ovation. 

Medium-quality cannabis buds are those that already look like proper buds, with beautiful green tones, perfume, and flavor. 


Medium-quality buds already come in beautiful shades of green and nice perfume.

Medium-quality buds already come dressed in beautiful shades of green and nice perfume.

These buds result from growers who at least put some love and care into the growing process, paying attention to the watering schedule, their nutrients, and maybe even the environmental influencing factors. 

At this point, if you find yourself purchasing medium-quality buds, the price will already be quite higher than low-standard buds, but we can assure you it will be worth it. 

You can recognize medium-quality buds by checking for these characteristics: 



New brighter shades of green will be all over, along with a sparkling layer of trichomes and orange pistils details. Small broccoli or miniature trees shapes, with a few extra leaves.


Tighter, stickier buds, optimally no seeds inside. Good drying and curing process.

Taste and scent

Pleasant taste and aroma, but nothing too strong.


The high will be much more improved than the one of low-quality weed, given the higher trichomes and cannabinoids presence.


Although medium-quality buds are already acceptable and decent enough, we all know that one friend who will be like "yeah, it's good but I've tasted better", not that we're like that at all. 

This friend has probably already tasted the premium-quality heaven and its hard to get down from there afterward. This brings us to the next point.

Premium-Quality Cannabis Flowers

Is it us or does the grass look greener? Yes, you've probably just come across premium-quality weed buds, hurray! In case you haven't, then let us to describe to you what these gems look like, and excuse us if we turn into poets as we do so. 

These buds are the results of skilled masters, expert-level growers who have a clear idea of what they're doing. Usually, premium-quality buds can be found in big cities or common weed-growing spots, such as Spain; Northern California, and the Netherlands.


Premium-quality cannabis buds usually come from experienced growers.

Premium-quality cannabis buds usually come from experienced growers.

It's in places like these where such masters put full dedication into what they're growing, being aware of every single detail of the growing process to get the most out of their seeds. Yes, you'll definitely be able to tell on the scent, taste, and the high you'll get on these buds!

If you don't come from these marijuana hotspots, this doesn't mean you can't still find these green diamonds anywhere else, or even grow them yourself. Just make sure you inform yourself and learn all the sensei's procedures to master the cultivation of cannabis

These small trees from heaven will likely cost way more than the previous two categories, however, we can assure that the ride will make up for it. So if you're looking to spoil yourself and get the biggest jewels in the market, what you should be looking for is:



Get ready for the newest saga 50 shades of green. These premium buds will combine perfect tones from light to darker green, with a combination of deep orange pistils, and a fairy-tale shiny coat of trichomes all around. 


Are they stones? No, they're just great buds, so packed and full that they feel hard as a stone. And yes, that stickiness on your fingers is because of them.

Taste and scent

Wine tasting? More like weed we'd say. Good cultivation promotes terpenes production, preserving each strain's flavor notes and characteristics.


Get ready to be swept off your feet. Inexperienced users will tell you the funniest experiences with premium buds. 


Hopefully, this guide will help you differentiate good cannabis buds from bad ones in the future. However, it all goes a little further than that, with certain specifications on essential factors about weed quality which we'll proceed to explain. 


No one likes to admit it, but sometimes us human beings can't help but be slightly superficial when it comes to choices, it sounds ugly but looks take part in many of the decisions we make. This doesn't escape marijuana either.

One of the biggest indicators that certain buds are good or bad resides on their color. While different strains come in a huge variety of colors, from green to purple, orange, and red, it's not so much the hue but more of the vibrancy that tells on the quality. 


Cannabis buds come in all shapes and colors!

Check out these beautiful colorful cannabis buds!

What you should be looking for is shiny and bright, pompous buds. These are all signs of nice genetics, proper growing methods, and good curing and storage. On the contrary, poor buds have a duller aspect, dressing dark green or brownish tones.

Scent And Flavor

The terpenes in cannabis flowers are the ones responsible for their aroma and flavor. These molecules come from the mushroom-shaped glands on the buds called trichomes, which start growing at the flowering stage, and achieve their full potential once they've reached the perfect harvest time. 

How can scent influence the quality of your marijuana? Have you ever taken out your stash box and not even a second after popping it open you could smell the perfume all over the room? That's definitely a good sign. 


It doesn't necessarily mean that a good smell translates into good quality as well, but it is more often than not a rule that applies. The most common aromas and flavors include touches of flowers, citrus, earth, spices, fruit, and sugar. 

Pistils' Color

If you've ever taken a close look at marijuana buds, perhaps with a macro loupe, you might have noticed the hair-like tendrils all around them. These are called pistils and they're the female cannabis flower's sex organs, but that's not why we're interested in talking about them for now.


This is what a close-up view of pistils looks like.

This is what a close-up view of pistils looks like.

Pistils are great ways of identifying the plant's progress. At the beginning of the flowering stage, they'll have a white aspect, while they'll start turning into a dark orange tone once they're getting ready for harvest. 

A bud that has been harvested at the right time will contain about 70% of amber-colored pistils, indicating the terpenes and cannabinoids have reached their fullest potential. 


Resin And Crystals

Good quality buds will come along with big amounts of resin and crystals. Trichomes are the ones responsible for these two elements. 

It's in these microscopic diamonds that most of the psychoactive components of the flowers are produced, such as THC and CBD, along with some famous terpenes like myrcene, limonene, and pinene. 


Macro photo of thricomes on cannabis buds.

Macro photo of trichomes on cannabis plants.

The more trichomes the buds bring, the more resin produced, therefore the higher you'll get. It's easy to tell the trichome and resin content of a bud just by observing it, perhaps even with a flashlight.

Density and Size

Shortly, what every grower hopes for is for his buds to be heavy and tight, and if they're big, better. The main difference is that when you grind a piece of a dense bud the amounts will seem to double, while fluffy buds won't live up to your expectations as much. 


At this point, it all relies on proper growing techniques. A lack of nutrients and light will likely result in fluffy, light buds. 


Once a weed plant is harvested, the next step is trimming, which is also known as manicuring. This process refers to the part where you get rid of excess sugar leaves, the small leaves growing around the flowers.

Having sugar leaves on your flowers doesn't mean that the bud is of poor quality but rather that the grower was lazy. It's all a matter of aspect firstly: a well-manicured bud looks better than a leafy one.


At the same time, if you're buying your weed, when you get trimmed buds you're paying strictly for what you get, instead of excess leaf weight in the opposite case.

In Conclusion

The best way to make sure you aren't getting ripped off when you purchase cannabis buds is being well informed or getting help from someone who is. Never fear asking, it's always better to get rid of the doubts than regretting it later. 

Why not grow your own buds and challenge yourself to get the best, premium-quality buds you can achieve. And when you do achieve that, who said you can't reach a higher level of premium? Who knows, perhaps you had some special inner talents for growing marijuana.


15 October 2020