Cannabis Quality Test – Smell

Many of the current cannabis strains in the market have catchy names that have popular appeal.  Names that use “Alien”, “Vader”, “Gelato” or “Kush” have an exotic sound and are high in popularity.  While a name is important, we believe that ultimately it is the quality of the product that creates fans.

Sticking to the old school basics of smell, color, bud structure and trim when evaluating a cannabis flower remains the best method.

The smell of cannabis flowers originates from its terpenes or “terps”. Good quality cannabis flower has a pungent or heavy smell, when a bud has little or no smell it indicates that it was poorly grown or improperly cured.

While terpenes and terpenoids are referred to frequently in the cannabis industry, these compounds exist in many aromatic plants and herbs.  Examples of plants that have strong terpenes are rosemary, mint, thyme, basil, jalapeno, and peanut.  Aromatherapy oils rely heavily on terpene friendly plants. A common plant used in beer, hops, also has terpenes. An immensely wide variety of terpenes are found in wines.

To see the varying ranges of smells created by terpenes, their plant sources and some of the cannabis strains created from them, refer to the Terpene Wheel at the bottom of this page that was created by Green House Seeds Company (

Terpenes do not only produce smell, they are Mother Nature’s way of protecting plants from parasites and inhibiting the growth of fungus and molds.

Terpenoids are a subclass of terpenes that are created when terpenes are exposed to forces that create deoxidation, such as drying and curing.

Technically, terpenes and terpenoids are not believed to affect the potency of the cannabis.  However, some scientific studies have challenged that belief and many growers are convinced that these components do enhance the affect of THC.

When in doubt, if you smell a bud that you don’t like keep smelling until you find one that appeals to you and smells healthy!

Most importantly do not confuse smell with THC level.  While many people will swear that certain smells make them more high, smell and THC levels have not been proven to be related.



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