A Guide to Different Grades of Weed

A Guide to Different Grades of Weed

With dozens of new strains and a market that evolves with every season, there is more choice than ever when it comes to choosing what bud you’d like to inhale. Like with all fledgling industries, the sudden and brisk expansion provides consumers an incredible amount of new choice, which can be a boon for those keeping up with the community and a curse to anyone looking to start smoking or get more involved with the hobby.

To this end, the best way to go shopping around for grass is to first decide what quality of reefer you’re looking for to narrow down your choices and make hunting around your local dispensary a much more efficient process; it can even help you quiz the store clerk to help find exactly what you’re looking for!

Today I will go through the different qualities (or “grades”) of weed that the majority of the industry uses to categorise cannabis, to help those new shoppers asking what is premium flower?” and experienced stoners looking to find a specific buzz.

Categorizing the Grades of Weed

For cannabis scientists and breeders alike, a huge part of the growing cycle includes identifying and categorising the different strains of grass they are cultivating. This makes it very easy to crossbreed different strains to create new strains with desirable properties, such as different tastes and scents and specific balances of cannabinoids (such as a plant’s THC – CBD ratio).

This isn’t just a way for dispensaries and online shops to upsell you to different, funkier sounding strains. Like with any other naturally grown product, it helps distinguish different strains from each other by their quality and specific properties, and can help customers find the exact kind of high they are looking for wherever they go.

Identifying the Composition of your Strain

Profiles are created for each professionally bred strain and the information is freely available on the internet if you would like to find out the exact composition of a strain you’re smoking or if you just want to find the most potent strains of indica or sativa.

Unfortunately, since it is a natural product, even batches grown by the most experienced breeder will each be different from the last, so you can’t determine quality exclusively through knowing what seed was used to create this most wonderful of flower.

Different Grades of Marijuana

All cannabis – from designer strains to the old-school favourites like amnesia – is effected  by the entire growth process. How the plants are cared for from the beginning of their existence, through the entire growth and harvesting process to how they are dried and cured will effect the quality of the flower you buy, so don’t put all your buds in one proverbial hemp basket.

Critikal 2.0 and lemon haze alike can come as seedy, low grade shake or the most premium of knockout kush, so it is very important to assess the quality of weed before you buy, or if you know of some professional breeders, ask the store attendant where they source different strains from!

Low grade weed

Low grade weed is more commonly known in the community by dozens of names worldwide, such as shake, reggie, schwag and brick. While each term technically refers to slightly different types or sources of cannabis, they all mean the same thing in the end – low-quality, bargain bin marijuana.

Some people actually prefer this low grade weed as it is often under half the price of average weed and can be an extremely cost-effective way to cook your own edibles and a great way for those who enjoy smoking but don’t want to be catatonically high all day long.

Seedy business

Any hobbyists who have been around since before the legalization of grass will be well acquainted with some of the qualities of low grade weed, but you don’t need a huge amount of experience to spot it as long as you have seen some bud in real life and not just in stoner comedies and crime dramas.

Look and feel

Low quality weed comes in many shapes and sizes, but most will share a lot of qualities. A dull, uniform color throughout the product is usually a very clear sign of bad weed. Very dark greens and browns with very little variation in color over the bud are signs of some low-quality, non-dank grass and often a sign that the buds were harvested far too early in the flowering process.

This weed will be extremely dry or noticeably damp due to poor harvesting and curing, and will often crumble in your fingers. This will lead to inconsistent pricing and also a worse smoking experience, as the grass is harder to grind, roll and will even smoke a lot faster without giving a huge hit.

The Composition

Low grade weed will very rarely get to you with any large flower buds and will much more often come in a bag as a shredded mass, mixed in with plenty of seeds, stems and leaves – all of which are no good for smoking, and can add a lot of monotonous busy work to your rolling process. This vegetation can be saved for making cannabutter and even germinating your own plants, but to most it is dead weight and a chore you just paid for.

The Smell of Low Grade Weed

Along the same line of very easily identifiable problems, low grade weed gives off an extremely distinctive scent. While no two strains of weed will smell exactly the same, it can be very easy for even the most casual of weed fans to identify bad weed by its smell.

Musky, grassy smells of vegetation will usually be the overpowering scent. Far from the citrusy notes most are used to, this can be likened more to some sort of neutral dried herb and is not always unpleasant.

Radioactive, radioactive

More often than not, you will be able to pick up on unpleasant and stagnant smells such as moulding vegetation and even very overpowering chemical odours which point to improper curing, and artificial fertilisers and growth chemicals respectively. Picking up on anything plastic or metallic is also a sure-fire way to identify the smell of some low quality, cheaply cultivated grass.

The High of Low Grade Marijuana

When consumed in your preferred way, low quality weed will distinguish itself from all other weed in an extremely obvious way. It will provide a fleeting and weak high, leading to a lot of people having to smoke a lot more of it to get to their desired state of mind.

The big giveaway for low grade weed is the taste. Most of the time, this weed will have almost none of that distinctive cannabis taste, and instead you will pick up on unpleasant artificial tones of various chemicals and bacteria that can be collected by the bud throughout its life.

This is, of course, less impactful when cooking with shake, but a lot of chemical residue will be retained and long-term consumption of low-grade weed can end up being harmful to the user and counteract marijuana’s famous medical advantages.


A lot of the time, when buying from a dispensary, you can identify the low grade weed from how the store is presenting the product. Low grade weed will often be stored low down and out of sight to try and encourage you to notice the more expensive blends first. They will also often hold a considerably lower price, but don’t be swayed by this exclusively.

Sometimes, nicer bud is sold at a lower price due to supply and demand and poor quality shake will occasionally be priced around the same as mid range weed due to ignorance of employees or someone trying to make a quick buck from selling run-off at an inflated price.

Mid grade Weed

Medium grade weed is exactly what it sounds like – average. This is the stuff that will most often dominate the back-alley weed trade as it will do the job for casual and experienced smokers alike at a decent enough price. This will often be the starting point for new smokers and a comfortable, homely place for hard-core smokers to visit every now and then.

To most of us, mid-grade weed will be what we are used to buying most of the time. It doesn’t take a ridiculous amount of effort to grow with or without a license, so the market has long since balanced itself out to make this the most readily available bud in most of the western world.

Different Strains with Mid Grade Weed

While reggie weed will almost always be anonymous, mid-grade weed is where you start to be able to shop by breed. They will never be the best of their genus, but you will still be able to find thousands of different strains at this quality and price-point.

It can be a lot more difficult to find the exact strain you are looking for and a lot of more specialised strains will be completely unavailable in this market, so an open mind is definitely required when looking to purchase some mid-grade weed, but with this you will never be disappointed.

How Mid Grade Bud Looks

This is the level where you can expect your big bag of bud to look like, well, a big bag of bud. You can expect to see most of the buds in-tact and a very small amount of residue at the bottom, with very few or no seeds amongst it.

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There will also be very few loose stems mixed in and the actual buds will contain much more of the delicious plant matter we are looking for. Shake is often harvested from the run-off of a mid-grade grow, so it is often largely absent of the tell-tale low-grade signs.        

The Colors of Mid Grade Weed

Most mid-grade weed will be that distinctive lime-green color we’ve all seen in the movies. This will occasionally veer off faintly into the realms of yellow or purple, but it will still be largely green. This is where we start to see some color variation amongst individual buds, showing that this bud has been cared for properly and with a decently low level of artificial compounds.

Most importantly to a cannabis consumer, you will also see a decent amount of trichomes on the outside of the bud. These are the hair-like, stringy growths found on cannabis flower which contain a high density of the cannabinoids we are all hunting for, proudly displaying proof that the plant has been harvested at the right time to maximise the quality of the end product.

How it Smells

When opened, a nice bag of mid-grade weed will hold a stronger smell than mid-grade weed and will start to exhibit a variety of alive scents. Being likened more to dried flowers than dried leaves, you will start to be able to pick up on the citrus and fruity smells people have come to expect from a bag of weed, and a lot of strains will start to display their unique scents to the world.

The Taste and Experience

The taste when smoking this through a bong or with tobacco will be the delightful, homely taste. While still often a relatively neutral taste, the presence of trichomes will allow the earthy and fruity tastes of weed to hit your tongue fully and allow the relaxation to roll over you.

While the experience will be somewhat muted, this is how cannabis has been enjoyed for a huge part of humanity’s history, so you can imagine that you will be able to pick up the energetic high of sativa strains and the intense relaxation of the most potent strains of indica. But this is the future, and you shouldn’t have to always settle for tradition!

Mid Grade Marijuana in Summary

The modern mid-grade weed is an absolute delight and available at extremely affordable prices to help you get through the week. For those who are willing to fork out a little more to experience the wide sea of delights available to the premium market, there is an industry awaiting you that has boomed in the last decade and will only become more pervasive in the weed world in the coming years.

High grade Weed

Top grade weed is the dank chronic every stoner dreams of. Due to the high-quality seeds, lack of any synthesised chemicals and the constant attention these plants receive, this is the cannabis equivalent of free-range meats, and the end result benefits hugely from this.

Due to the massive increase in the number of breeders and growers world-wide, marijuana professionals have managed to tighten the weed growing process to produce flowers rarely found before in history.

How Top Grade Weed Looks

Top level kush will be vibrant to the eye, a kaleidoscope compared to the brown-grey of low grade weed. Colors can range from purples to yellows and even the standard greens are bright and beautiful. You won’t have as much chance to stare at this, however, as high-grade weed will be absolutely littered with bright trichomes to the point where the flower starts to look more and more like a fungus or a strange tropical beetle.

The flowers will also be very large and contain an extremely small amount of stem and no dusties whatsoever! This is the best, after all, and great care is taken in every part of the production process.

Premium Flower

Premium flower, in many ways, can be considered the opposite of low grade weed. Beyond the difference in appearance, top shelf kush will grant the user a wide variety of delightful smells and tastes, from the opening of the bag to inhaling the smoke.

This weed will hold a considerable higher price tag, often around $100 for a quarter ounce, but you won’t regret it whatsoever. Beyond the impressive range of tastes and smells available with this weed, the high trichome content delivers powerful highs which can deliver knock-out hits from incredibly small amounts and offer a wide variety of types of high, even many which don’t fall into the traditional sativa-indica-hybrid model of cannabis profiling.

LA kush cake single-2

So you’ve heard about the worst and the best, but what is premium flower? Premium flower is simply the absolute best that high grade weed has to offer. It will share a lot of the same properties as high grade weed, but this dank kush will be from extremely specialised growers who put extreme care into using the best seeds and carefully cultivating the plants during their entire lifecycle to bring out the absolute best cannabis has to offer.

The wide world of premium bud

This bud will come from the newest and most innovative strains to deliver powerful highs and will have many unique traits such as strong, specialised tastes and carefully monitored balances of the 80+ cannabinoids that are known to be found in weed today, delivering some incredible results for those who can afford to splash some cash for recreation. Premium flower is the champagne of the weed world and is an absolute delight to try even rarely. 

With this short guide, you should be able to spot some bargains and avoid some price hikes the next time you visit your local dispensary. It can be overwhelming for anyone when presented with 35 different strains of weed at various qualities, so keep this information in mind next time you are weed shopping and you will easily be able to track down the best bud in bc.

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