Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on January 9, 2023

With so many cannabis products available on the market today (concentrates, edibles, dabs, vape pens, and many more), a lot of people still prefer to smoke the cannabis flower. And even though there are a myriad of different strains you can purchase, the weed you end up with won’t always have the same quality. While most experienced cannabis users know how to differentiate between good quality weed and schwag, this can be especially hard for those new to the cannabis world. If you’re one of them, this article can help.

A high-quality nug can make a huge difference in your smoking experience. Good weed has been cultivated, dried, and cured, keeping in mind the highest standards of cultivation, so if you use weed regularly, you should aim to buy the good stuff both for a better high and better health.

In this article, we’ll go over all the steps you can take to differentiate between good buds from cannabis buds of lesser quality, so read on.

Cannabis Slang Related to Weed Quality

There’s nothing that describes what high-quality weed is quite as good as slang terms. With over 1.200 slang terms for weed, let’s go over the most used ones.

  • Reggie weed (schwag weed, brick weed, brown weed, or dirt-weed) is cheap, low-quality weed. This type of weed is often sold on the black market and has a brown color. When you buy reggie weed, you can expect to find a lot of cannabis seeds and stems in your package.
  • Mids weed is a weed of higher quality compared to reggie weed. Depending on where you purchase it from, the quality may vary, so you can find good mids weed without breaking the bank.
  • Dank weed (loud weed, top-shelf weed) is often the top-tier, high quality weed you can find at dispensaries. The name top-shelf weed comes from its location inside dispensaries which is often the top shelf. This type of weed has nugs with high THC content, a nice amount of flavorful terpenes, and resinous trichomes, which will satisfy even the pickiest cannabis users.

How to Tell if You Have Good Weed on Your Hands?

In the following paragraphs, we’ll explain how you can figure out if you have purchased good buds, or cannabis buds of lesser quality.

Location, Location, Location

As we’ve previously said, dispensaries often store weed of higher quality on their top shelf. These buds have high-THC content (some even go up to 25%) and are cultivated to perfection. The middle shelf will typically contain the mids weed, while the bottom shelf contains the least potent buds.

While weed bought at a dispensary is guaranteed to have a certain level of quality, if you buy cannabis on the black market or through an illegal dealer, you face a greater risk of ending up with schwag weed. Therefore, it’s best that you buy your weed from licensed dispensaries, especially if you’re using weed to treat or manage a medical condition.


Another way to check the quality of your weed is to take a whiff. Weed that’s been grown, dried, and cured to perfection often has a strong but pleasant aroma. If you’ve purchased high-quality cannabis, you can expect to smell the rich terpene bouquet that can have pine, diesel, citrus, or other aromas. Bad weed doesn’t have a specific cannabis scent, in fact, it often smells like something entirely different. It can smell like mold, mildew, weed that’s badly cured, or past its peak quality.  Finally, the aroma can also allude to the type of strain you’re dealing with. Indicas have a more bitter, chocolate-like aroma, while Sativas have more of a citrusy note.


Good-quality weed looks very different from cheap weed. The color of its buds is rich green with deep blue, bright blue, orange, purple, or red hairs in between. 

Stems and Seeds

Dank weed has little-to-no stems and seeds, but rather has potent and colorful buds, which is another way to differentiate good weed from bad weed. Weed of poor quality will often contain a lot of stems and seeds as a way for the seller to increase the weight of their product. Keep in mind that if you’ve purchased weed of lesser quality, you should remove the seeds as they can pop and crack when you light up your joint and your smoking experience may not be as enjoyable as a result.

Trichome Count

Trichomes are the white hairs that store the terpenes and cannabinoids in the cannabis flower. The more trichomes your weed has, the higher its quality is. Trichome density can’t be determined with the naked eye that well, so you’ll have to use a magnifying glass.

Apart from the number of trichomes, it’s useful to look at the quality of the trichomes, as some growers tend to harvest weed prematurely, or too late. Underdeveloped trichomes, or trichomes with a clear color, will be a sign that the cannabis was harvested prematurely, while trichomes with an amber hue were probably harvested too late. It’s best to harvest when about 70% of the trichomes have a milky color and about 30% have an amber hue.

So, the next time you go to buy your weed, you may want to take a magnifying glass or a jeweler’s loop with you so you can determine whether you’re buying high-quality buds.

Bud Quality and Structure

Generally, quality Indica buds are tightly packed and fat, while Sativa buds are leaner, airer, and have more pistils. High-quality buds should be sticky, spongy, and rather easy to separate, though they shouldn’t crumble when you touch them. 

Another thing to keep in mind in regard to bud quality is trimming and defoliating after harvest. A lot of growers use trimming machines to separate the fan leaves from the marijuana buds after harvesting (which can damage the trichome content when separating the nugs from the leaves), so a closer inspection is needed to see whether they were trimmed by hand or not.

Check Whether the Buds Are Moldy, Covered in Mildew, or Infested With Pests

Moldy weed and weed covered in mildew can be harmful to smoke and can contaminate the whole batch of cannabis. Once smoked, it can be especially detrimental for people who are immunocompromised since it may even cause a lung infection. 

Another thing to look for is spider webs, as spider mites can lay eggs, multiply fast, and leave webs and exoskeletons that decrease the quality of weed. A magnifying glass will surely be of help here as well.         

Does Cheap Weed Always Equal Bad Weed?

In some cases, cheap weed doesn’t equal bad weed. The lower price may refer to a product which is of good quality, but is past its peak shelf life, therefore the dispensary is selling it at a lower price in order to sell all of the stash. It’s always a good idea to go over the above-mentioned steps to determine how good the product actually is (regardless of its price).

Final Thoughts on How You Can Tell if You Have Purchased High Quality Buds

Now that we’ve explained how to tell if the weed you’re buying is good, let’s recap:

  • Look at where the cannabis buds are positioned on the shelves (higher shelves contain weed of higher quality, while lower shelves often contain reggie weed);
  • Smell the buds to determine the terpene content (weed with a well-balanced aromatic profile will generally be weed of higher quality);
  • Check the color of the bud (high quality buds have a luscious  green color and colorful hairs);
  • Check whether there are stems and seeds (weed that contain stems and seeds is often reggie weed);
  • Look at the trichome count and quality (weed with more trichomes is weed of good quality);
  • Check the bud quality and structure (good weed should have spongy and resinous buds that separate easily but don’t crumble in your hands);
  • Check for mold, mildew, and pests (higher quality weed shouldn’t contain any mold or pests).

A passionate advocate for the benefits of cannabis. Fraser Horton, who has a background in botany and a strong love of nature, has spent years researching how cannabis affects the body and mind. He established Leaf Nation in 2020, where he has devoted himself to educating people about the legalisation of marijuana and its safe and responsible use. Fraser is committed to highlighting cannabis’ potential for improving wellness and working to dispel the stigma associated with its use.


The information presented on this page is provided as a public service to aid in education and is derived from sources believed to be reliable. Readers are responsible for making their own assessment of the topics discussed here. In no event shall Leaf Nation be held reliable for any injury, loss or damage that could happen if using or abusing drugs.