Good Weed vs Bad Weed: 9 Ways To Tell

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Have you ever grown your own weed, but weren’t too sure how good it actually was? Maybe you bought your pot from a less than desirable or trustworthy source, and now you’re not sure if it was worth the money.

If you want to be a true marijuana connoisseur, you need to know how to tell the difference between good weed vs bad weed, whether your bought or grew it.

Now, there are various ways of telling the difference, and none of them are mutually exclusive. You want to take a close look at various factors including;

  • The smell.
  • Color.
  • If there’s mold.
  • How the buds are shaped.
  • How dry or sticky it is.
  • The trim job.
  • The trichomes.
  • How it actually smokes.

Put all of these purchasing factors together, and you’ve got yourself a pretty good way to tell just how good your weed really is. Here is a detailed overview of each point to help you out;

Good Weed vs Bad Weed – How To Tell The Difference?

Alright fellow pot smokers, it’s time for us to go over the 9 biggest and most important ways in which you can tell good weed from bad weed, so let’s get right to it.

1. The Color

weed color

One of the first things that you will probably notice with your weed is how it looks, specifically the color of it. After all, even if it’s packaged well enough so the smell cannot get through, you will still see it with your eyes, so it’s a good starting point to go with.

You want your weed to be green, which is by far the most important aspect here. Now, some weed buds will have a lot of orange or purple mixed into them, which is totally fine. There are many strains out there, such as purple kush, which have their names specifically due to that purple coloration.

Orange is a bit of a different story, as a bit of orange, specially those hairs on the outside, is fine, but you don’t want them to be really dark orange, maroon, or brown. This is a sign that the grower waited way too long to harvest the weed, letting the trichomes, those hairs, grow more mature than they should have. Besides those hairs on the outside, the really important part is that the majority of the bud is indeed green, not brown.

Yeah, you’ll often find brown weed if the plant was not properly taken care of, or if the weed itself was harvested really long ago and has started to degrade, and even rot for that matter. On that same note, you also don’t want weed that is super pale in color, as this is a sign of light burn during the growth process.

Sure, some white crystals are fine, and in fact, the more white crystals on the outside of the buds, the better, but the weed itself should not be pale or white. You’re looking for a healthy medium to dark green, with some purple, orange, or other colors in small quantities.

2. The Smell

Another really easy and fairly reliable way to tell just how good your pot is, is by the way it smells. If you have ever grown a good strain, you know that flowering pot plants smell really strong, which is also true if you buy a decent quantity of that sticky icky.

Good weed is going to have a good smell, simply put, a strong, pungent, and discernable smell that cannot be mistaken for anything else.

Keep in mind that different strains of weed will have vastly different smells, especially when it comes to Indica vs Sativa. Usually, a good and well grown Indica strain will have some sort of coffee, chocolate, or super pungent and sweet smells, while Sativa strains tend to be much more citrus-like, earthy, and crisp, sometimes floral too.

Now, if your weed does not really have a discernable smell at all, or if smells kind of like grass or hay, you have inferior pot. A strong, pungent, and very clear pot smell is what you are looking for.

A good example here is skunk weed, and yeah, there’s a good reason why they call it skunk, because it smells to the high heavens! Generally speaking, the stronger the smell of the marijuana, and the more pungent it is, the stronger and heavier it’s going to be.

3. The Stickiness

sticky weed bud

Yet another way to tell  is how sticky it is. This is a bit of an iffy one, because a high level of stickiness does often indicate that the weed has lots of trichomes or crystals, which is where all the good stuff is contained. Yes, sticky is good, and it’s why this stuff is often referred to as the sticky icky.

However, there is a difference between sticky pot and wet pot. If your pot just feels really wet and damp, then it has not been cured and dried properly. Curing and drying helps increase the potency of weed, and it makes it taste much better too. An inferior drying and curing job will result in weed that tastes like literal grass, is harsh to smoke, and is still wet.

On the other hand, you also don’t want weed that is super dry. That weed that you can just turn to dust by rubbing it between your fingers, yeah that’s no good either. It’s a sign that it was harvested too long ago and may have started to degrade.

Moreover, really dry weed often comes with the problem that many of the exterior crystals have been rubbed off over time, which then decreases the overall potency of it. Weed should be sticky, dry enough to break up and roll, but still wet enough so it doesn’t crumble into dust at the lightest touch.

4. The Trim Job

weed trimmed

Now, the way weed has been trimmed has more to do with the aesthetics of it, rather than how good it actually is, or in other words, how nice it ends up looking. A good trim job usually involves trimming away most of the stems and those big leaves that often wrap around buds like some sort of green monster claw.

What needs to be said here is that if a grower has not trimmed his or her weed properly, it’s not going to affect the smell, potency, or overall quality. However, that said, if a grower has not done a good job trimming, you can be pretty sure that they also cut corners during other stages of growth and harvesting.

While a bad trim job is not indicative of bad weed, it does often signal that there might have been a lazy grower involved, one who also did not properly fertilize, flush, dry, or cure their weed, all of which can then have an affect on the quality of your marijuana.

We have covered a detailed trimming guide over at this article, if you are interested in learning.

5. Structure Of The Buds

structure of buds

The next way to tell good weed from bad weed is how the buds themselves are structured. What you need to know here is that Indica strains of pot usually have really dense and tightly packed buds, whereas Sativa strains tend to be much lighter, fluffier, and not so densely packed.

If you are looking for a good Indica strain, it should definitely not be light and fluffy, as this is a sign of inferior weed, which is also true for your Sativa, if it is extremely light, fluffy, and there are parts of the stems that are just flat out missing buds.

Pistils, those orange hairs, should be evenly dispersed from top to bottom, and if they aren’t with some areas of the buds having orange hairs while others don’t, it’s another sign of bad weed. Keep in mind that Sativa does generally have more of these orange hairs than Indica.

You don’t want to get weed where the buds are extremely loose, especially when there are sections of the stems that don’t have any buds at all, at least where there should be. Even spacing of everything is a good indication that you have some pretty decent pot.

6. The Trichomes

Trichomes bud

One of the most important ways to tell the difference between good and bad weed has to do with the trichomes, the visible crystals on the exterior of the buds (a microscope is needed for viewing them properly). This is where most of the cannabinoids and terpenes are contained, all of the good stuff that makes your weed stinky and strong.

Really good weed should look frosty, almost like it’s covered in a thin layer of sugar or snow. Good buds will really sparkle in the light due to a dense crystal content, whereas bad weed will look relatively dull due to not having many of these trichomes.

So, the amount of trichomes on your buds is a big deal, but the color of them is also important to look at. High quality trichomes will be mostly milky white with a hint of amber or red to them. However, trichomes that are not good will be either clear or brown.

Clear trichomes indicate that the plant was harvested too early, thus not allowing the trichomes to fully mature. On the other hand, really red or brown trichomes indicate that the plant was left in the flowering stage for too long, with peak ripeness having passed long before the harvest.

You want milky white and slightly amber trichomes, and the more of them the better.

7. Pests & Mold

spider mite on plant

When it comes to bad weed vs good weed, you also want to look for signs of pests and mold. You will be able to see mold pretty clearly if there is any. It will look like moldy mildew, almost like dense spider webs.

If you get moldy weed, throw it out, as you definitely don’t want to be smoking mold. Moreover, if you notice traces of insects, especially pests that are known for infesting weed plants, such as mites, gnats, aphids, and other such pests, you don’t want to smoke it either.

These pests can leave behind eggs, fecal matter, and dead bodies too, none of which you want to smoke, so look closely.

8. Hermaphroditic, Male, & Female Plants – SEEDS!

weed seeds

If you are growing your own weed, beware that only the female plants produce potent and high quality weed. Weed that comes from male plants will not be potent in the least, barely contain any THC or CBD, will have lots of seeds, and usually doesn’t taste very good either.

Therefore, you need to be able to tell the difference between male and female pot plants, as you only want to smoke weed that comes from female plants.

If your weed is full of seeds, or really if it has any seeds in it at all, you know that the pot came from a male or hermaphrodite plant, so it won’t be strong and it definitely won’t come with any benefits for you either.

Keep in mind that some strains of weed can produce hermaphroditic plants, which are plants that are both male and female. Unfortunately, hermaphrodite marijuana plants are just as bad as male plants when it comes to smoking and potency.

Therefore, you need to ensure that your weed is free of seeds and has come from a female pot plant.

9. How It Smokes & Hits You

smoking weed

The final way to tell good weed from bad weed is of course how it smokes. Now, this is another iffy factor, as different weed hits different people in different ways. Some people prefer one type or strain over another, so it is somewhat a matter of personal preference.

However, something that you can be sure of is that if your weed tastes like hay or grass, and then ends up giving you a headache, it’s not the good stuff.

Sure, good weed can be really harsh and make you cough hard, but this can be a sign of either really strong or potent weed, or weed that is full of fertilizer, has not been cured properly, or a host of other issues too.

Sometimes you cannot rely on taste and harshness to determine the quality of weed, in which case it all comes down to how you feel afterwards. How high are you? Do you like the high you got from it?


There you have it folks, 9 ways to tell good weed vs bad weed apart from one another. Keep in mind to pay attention to the smell, the color, the trim job, the bud structure, possible mold and pests, the trichomes, the stickiness, and all of those other important factors too.

Of course, how the weed smokes and how it makes you feel in the end might just be the most important aspect of all.

Sure, there are rare cases where weed looks and smells like garbage, but may not actually be too bad, in which case you’ll really only find out by smoking it. We hope that we have been able to help you tell your bad weed from the good weed!


My passion for the sticky icky started nearly a decade ago, and it all began when I first laid my eyes on the beauty that is the marijuana plant.

I cover all aspects of growing from equipment recommendations to plant health/care tips to help both new and experienced growers.