Welcome to Part III of our series exploring all the important considerations when shopping for the best marijuana strain for you. We have so far addressed the idea that THC isn’t the only way to determine if a marijuana strain will deliver the high you want, and we have talked about making sure to research and understand terpenes in order to determine your desired flavor and high experience. Be sure to check out Part I: Is THC All That Matters? And Part II: Taste, Smell and Terpenes if you haven’t already.
In this installment, we really want to address the non-genetic aspects of marijuana quality because the satisfaction you’ll get from a strain of weed is not grown from the seed alone. While genetics play a major role, the gardening tactics–like trim jobs, curing and visual appearances– can also affect your buying decisions.
Marijuana Trim Jobs
Proper trimming is paramount to quality marijuana. It allows each cola and nug to be perfectly curated. Knowing how your marijuana was cultivated can have an effect on the quality of the bud and the experience of the smoke. Marijuana needs to be properly manicured and processed before it’s used, and the way in which it was trimmed–by hand or by machine–can really affect the potency and effectiveness.
It’s been tempting for growers to machine-trim due to increased demand, machines tend to shave too much off of each nug, treating them all as one standard size and shape. Unfortunately, this method also removed necessary trichomes which contain many of the differentiating properties. This also has a negative effect on yield for each plant. In addition, hand trimmers know the plant well and know how to handle it with care in the trimming process.
Marijuana Curing and Storage
The curing and drying of marijuana is all about process. If done well, you can really look to optimize the potency of the marijuana. Done incorrectly, you can end up with a lackluster experience. A long, slow drying of cannabis flowers ripens the flavor and, according to some, also ripens the potency.  This is because research has found that THC actually decomposes to CBN under these conditions and is responsible. CBN doesn’t actually develop naturally, but only with light and heat, so the curing process is what really optimizes the CBN and its interactions with the THC, resulting in a stronger or more potent high.
Visual Appearances of Marijuana
While you can’t judge a book by its cover or a wine by its label, you absolutely can use physical appearances to judge a strain of marijuana when shopping. There’s no exact science to picking a “good” or a “bad” cannabis based on photos or by viewing the buds in a shop, but there is a way to select a strain that will match your preferences.
High quality buds are said to “stand out in a sea of green”, meaning that they will display all the colors that are truly possible in terms of cannabis. From greens and browns to lavenders and even bright yellows and oranges, and should have visible resins from the trichomes. When smoked it should leave behind white (not black) ash. Black ash is a sign of excess moisture.
If you see marijuana packaged in bricks or a marijuana that is light, leafy or wispy, it may be signs of a low-quality bud. This physical presentation may mean that the concentration of cannabinoids is low, causing parts of the plant to under-develop. And while you still will get high from the bud, you are more likely to also experience some of the negative outcomes associated with marijuana use, such as headaches.
We hope you’ll use this information to educate and inform your next weed shopping trip.
In our next installment, we will unpack all there is to consider in terms of the entourage effect in marijuana strain profiles. The entourage effect refers to the way that all the various cannabinoids and terpenes, when developed in combinations, can interact differently and, therefore, deliver different experiences. We are excited to end this series strong, with a look into the complexities of the cannabis entourage effect.
We are an Oklahoma marijuana grower and wholesaler serving dispensaries throughout the state.
 Leafly’s Visual Quality Guide to Selecting Cannabis – Leafly – accessed at https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/leaflys-visual-quality-guide-to-selecting-cannabis
 Why Are Hand-Trimmed Cannabis Buds Better Than Buds Trimmed by a Machine? – Leafly – accessed at https://www.leafly.com/news/industry/why-are-hand-trimmed-cannabis-buds-better-than-buds-trimmed-by-a
 Grow Hack: Curing and Storage Changes Potency – High Times – accessed at https://hightimes.com/grow/grow-hack-curing-and-storage-changes-potency/
 See reference no. 1