Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on January 11, 2023

The legalization of marijuana in the United States has impacted the weed industry in a great way. The cannabis market is a place where you can find all sorts of products and all sorts of weed, from top quality, highly sought-after strains, to the more basic, lower quality weed. You could say it’s a friendly market and there’s room for everything and everyone, regular cannabis users and newbies alike.

Whether you’re intimately familiar with weed slang and different marijuana strains or not as much, you must’ve heard the phrase “schwag weed” once or twice in a dispensary or from someone you know. Below we’ll discuss all there is to tell about schwag weed, so prepare to learn something you may not have known and take some knowledge home with you.

What Does Schwag Mean?

The term “schwag” itself refers to the cheap, free promotional stuff that companies hand out at fairs and such. In the cannabis world, then, schwag weed is cheap, low-grade marijuana, often produced in large quantities and under unfavorable conditions. It has many nicknames, like dirty weed, brown weed, ditch weed, and brick weed.

Why does it even exist, you ask? Well, as the market expands, most cultivators strive to take the time to produce high-quality buds with a lot of terpenes and higher THC levels. However, there are also cultivators that are looking to make more profit and rush the production process. They cultivate the weed in unfavorable conditions, resulting in low-quality marijuana.

The difference between good weed and bad weed is in the trichomes where most of the THC content is found. Because of the improper handling, trichomes are rarely found in schwag, which is why schwag weed is not as potent as the good stuff. Users will barely get high, though some people who are intolerant to THC may find it okay.

A bag of schwag is very seedy, and contains a lot of stems and other plant material. It’s pretty dry to the touch and it may crumble when you handle it. It also has a harsh flavor and produces a thick smoke.

How to Recognize Schwag Weed?

If you’re a weed connoisseur, then you’re probably familiar with schwag, but if you don’t have that much experience with different cannabis strains, you might want to learn how to tell if the weed you just bought is schwag.

Look Out for Stems and Seeds

First things first – how the weed looks in the bag will tell you a lot right away. Besides the obvious, which is the color, in a bag of schwag weed, you’ll also find a lot of stems and seeds. The stems have a very low THC content but are usually cut off from a higher quality product, so you’re not completely wasting your money. Still, smoking the weed with stems will make it taste unpleasant and woody.

The presence of seeds in the bag indicates that the female cannabis plant has been pollinated. Once this happens, the female plant uses up all its energy to produce seeds rather than cannabinoids like THC and CBD. Therefore, the resulting weed will be of weak potency.

How Does it Smell?

High-grade weed has a rich, pungent aroma that’s hard to miss, especially if it’s a particularly fragrant strain. Schwag weed pales in comparison when it comes to aroma because it has been exposed to oxidation. It will usually smell a lot weaker and may even give off a moldy odor. If you’re not experienced with weed but find it smells a bit weird, it’s probably schwag.

The Color of the Bud

Many cannabis strains are quite the characters – their colors range from bright green to rich purple. Schwag, on the other hand, will have a dull hue, mostly reminiscent of brown, hence the slang brown or dirt weed, but it could also have yellow or even ash tints.

What’s the Texture Like?

Quality weed should spring back when touched. Properly cured marijuana has just enough moisture left around the buds, but low-grade weed tends to be really dry and crumbly when touched. So, if the buds easily break apart when you touch them – you know it, it’s schwag.

How the Trichomes Look

The trichomes of top-tier weed are sticky and glossy fine hairs covering the bud. The trichomes give weed its potency – they contain crystals that hold the most THC content. The more trichomes, the more powerful the weed strain. However, seeing as schwag isn’t grown in the ideal conditions to develop those sticky resins, it results in very little trichomes, which is why it’s not as potent.

Signs of Mold and Pests

If you see any signs of powdery mildew or mold, don’t smoke the weed. Moldy weed can have adverse effects on your health, so it’s best to skip it. You can usually find it on the surface of the leaves or sandwiched between the plant material. In any case, don’t smoke it.

What Can You Use Schwag Weed For?

As terrible as it may sound, schwag weed isn’t completely unusable, and, in fact, many people do use it for various things. Here are some ideas to help you decide what to do with your stash.

  • For shareables – this low-quality weed is great for throwing a high-quality party. When you have a lot of people coming over, it’s much more inexpensive to roll joints and blunts, and even load a bong for your guests and just kickback. Higher quality strains are much more expensive, so schwag weed may prove to be a good buddy in these situations;
  • Make edibles – similarly, a lot of recipes for edibles, like weed butter or brownies, call for using larger quantities of weed. For when you need to save some money, but still need some munchies, schwag is a good option;
  • Make tinctures – if you decarboxylate your weed and then infuse it with high-percentage alcohol or oil, you’ll get a homemade cannabis tincture, which is not bad at all.
  • Grow new plants – finally, you can use the seeds you find in a bag of schwag weed to grow your own plant. If you take good care of your plant, the result will be a much better and more potent strain than its parent.

Should You Buy Schwag Weed?

Even though it’s not the best choice out there, if it’s not moldy and there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s still smokeable. So, it depends on your own preference. Some people use this type of weed because they have a low tolerance to THC and it’s a great choice for them.

Also, if you sometimes need to buy weed in larger quantities but are on a budget, smoking schwag could be a good option for you.

Final Thoughts

Schwag weed is the result of improperly cultivating and storing marijuana, resulting in a low-quality weed with low THC content and a harsh smell and taste. It’s usually not hard to identify as it doesn’t have a rich smell, it’s mostly brown in color, and it’s pretty brittle.

However, even though schwag weed may make you go “ew”, many people still use it for various reasons, one of them being having low tolerance to THC. You can also use it to make edibles and tinctures, as well as for when you have a party coming over and need more than a few joints.

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.