The “State of the Cannabis” in the United States is “Awful”
The legal recreational and medicinal use of cannabis is increasing around the world and as unrestricted use increases, the truths about cannabis are spreading further and further.
While information and education on clean cannabis is spreading, it is still an up hill battle against nearly 80 years of misinformation and black market commercialism. With legalization spreading across the states, it is important for users to be able to recognize clean cannabis.
What does a clean cannabis flower look like?
The color of buds are an indication the plant was grown cleanly and cured properly. When the grower feeds, fades, fades and cures the right way, the end result is a beautiful khaki colored bud. A long time ago, before my extensive education on cannabis, I thought of high quality bud when I heard the words “Green Bud.” These days I know that green equals un-faded, possibly improperly fed/grown, buds that are not ready for harvest.
For myself, hearing the words “Green Bud” being spoken riggers memories of harsh smoking cannabis.
What should you look for when selecting cannabis?
Look for buds that are tan or khaki colored. Flowers that are still green indicates excessive nutrients in the cannabis at the time of harvest. When flowers are green at harvest time, chlorophyll breaking down during the dry/cure process will produce off flavors and smells.
When the flowers are tan, gold or khaki, it is a good sign the flowers were properly faded before harvest. Though khaki colored cannabis can still be contaminated you know it most likely won’t be from left over nutrients.
What about cannabis smells?
The smell of the cannabis varies depending on the strain. Some strains smell like lemons and berries while others smell like skunk or diesel fuel.The cannabis plant is capable of producing an amazing variety of smells, from sweet sugar to baby diapers and vomit. I would hope that you have access to some of the nicer smelling strains.
The smells you want to watch out for are contaminant smells like, chemicals, mold/mildew, ammonia and hay. These all indicate the flowers were improperly grown or cured. Avoid any flowers with those smells as they may cause breathing issues, or worse, if smoked.
Cannabis that smells like hay has a lot of chlorophyll breaking down in it. It’s going to be harsher than if that same bud was properly faded before harvest. Ammonia is bacterial fermentation and you’ll find the buds are either wet or were recently wet. There are actually some strains that smell of ammonia naturally, generally named “Cat Piss” or similar.
Smell chrysanthemums? The heavy scent of chrysanthemum can be from two distinctly different sources, one is chemical and the other is natural cannabis. Strains that have “Kali Mist” genetics can smell/taste flowery with a chrysanthemum like smell. The “other” source of chrysanthemum smelling cannabis is from pyrethrin based insecticides. Pyrethrins are extracts of the chrysanthemum flower and are not healthy to smoke.
It would not surprise me a bit to find that some breeders purposely bred cannabis to smell more like the insecticides they use. Personally I find the taste of ‘flowers’ in cannabis to be pretty disgusting and tend to look for more desirable tasting strains.
The difference between natural cannabis and chemical pyrethrins? The cannabis has a more complex ‘flower’ smell/flavor than the chemical insecticide does. The insecticide has a flowery smell and flavor that is flat, a singular flavor on the tongue that lacks any subtlety.
Earthy smelling cannabis is a tricky one. The terpenes borneol, myrcene and delta 3 carene are earthy smelling and all are produced by the cannabis plant. In my experience, the majority of the earthy smell in cannabis is from the mold/fungi rich “living web” that most organic cannabis is grown in.
If it’s really earthy smelling and harsh/hot to smoke, it’s most likely mold. Should you smell what you can tell is definitely mold, you would do best to just throw it out. I’m unaware of the differences between harmful and fatal molds without a lab test, safety first.
What About Cannabis Flavors?
Cannabis is delicious unless you happen to have a strain that naturally produces unpleasant or disgusting flavors. It’s completely amazing to me that burning a plant can produce such a complex and distinctly enjoyable experience for the senses. The variety of flavors available in different cannabis strains is staggering to comprehend. These flavors are almost completely hidden by the contaminates in most cannabis today.
Citrus, fruit, spices, chocolate, sandalwood, cream, pine, flowers, sugar… the list is as long as the possible terpene combinations that can be produced by cannabis. Taking a long toke of cannabis flavored like berries and cream is almost as delightful as eating a bowl of berries and cream. Without the lactose concerns of course.
Even if cannabis did not have other effects on the body and mind, the pure smell and flavor enjoyment of smoking it is a fantastic experience. The smoke is soft, cool, wonderful smelling, deliciously tasty and it’s the same way on the exhale. I’ve had the pleasure of smoking a strain called SweetTooth and I’ll tell you that dry-hitting a joint was like sucking on a pixie stick, it was that sweet. You could inhale through the unlit joint for quite some time and the smell and flavor would just go on and on.
Contaminates don’t generally taste very good, definitely not like SweetTooth. I don’t know many people that would enjoy rolling a big joint of hair, dust, pollen and seeds, then spraying it with pesticide and nutrients and letting it dry before smoking it. Yet, sometimes that’s what it seems like when I smoke other people’s cannabis.
Cannabis is mostly not bitter and should not leave a chemical taste in your mouth or throat for hours. The most common contaminates to the flavor of cannabis are contaminates in the air and water, excess nutrients during growth and/or left in the plant at harvest and insecticides/fungicides.
What about differences in strains?
While strains vary, they all act the same when they eat and die. Clean cannabis, no matter what the strain, will lose most it’s green color during chlorophyll loss. All cannabis strains will fade to a predominantly light yellow, tan or khaki color.
Colorful strains (pink/purple) may be darker or lighter, and recognizably a purple strain, but will have very little green when properly grown and harvested. Even with the colored strains, if there is green present, the plant was still processing nutrients at the time of harvest. These nutrients are not healthy when burned or ingested in large quantities.
Know when you are smoking contaminants!
How the bud burns when smoked, are great indicators of how clean the plant was grown. When clean cannabis burns the smoke is mostly vaporized resins and trichome wax, there should be very little taste or smell from the bud structure itself burning. All you should be tasting and smelling is aroma and flavor from the oils and terpenes in the cannabis.
The smoke from clean cannabis should not make you cough from irritation that originates from contaminates and any coughing is for other reasons completely. Smoke from clean cannabis can be an expectorant, dislodging contaminates already in your lungs and causing your body to try and kick them out through coughing. It can definitely cause coughing from taking too large of a hit at once, easy to do when you’re not used to clean/potent cannabis.
The Ash Often “Gives It Away”
The ash should burn to a white or slightly off white-gray color. The ash is light and will float away easily with the slightest puff of air. You know you’re toking premium cannabis when the ash is about 1/3rd the size the original cannabis was in the bowl, even when tightly packed.
Contaminated flowers will almost always leave a harsh feeling in the back of the throat. They may burn hot, snap, crackle or pop and burn to a black, brown or dark gray ash. The darker the ash, the more contaminants are present. The ash is often noticeably heavier and may even clump up and cling to the bowl of the pipe being used. These dark residues left behind are contaminants. The bud not burning clean and dropping out easily is a good indication of contaminates.
Do You NEED a Bud Grinder?
Cannabis is frangible and does not require more than a light pressure to break up into tiny, frosty pieces. Any cannabis that requires a grinder or scissors to break it up is definitely contaminated. The most common culprit of ‘tough cannabis’ today is cannabis that is grown with significant amounts of silicon. (silicon derived from potassium silicate)
Though silicon from potassium silicate is a Good Thing(tm) for cannabis, it is not a Good Thing(tm) for cannabis flowers/bud. Cannabis with additional silicon in it is tougher to break up and burns much harsher and with less flavor than the same strain without the silicon in its food.
Clean Cannabis Is Good for You
Cannabis will not make your stomach or body hurt and does not give you a headache or cause breathing issues. The only back pain I’ve ever had from cannabis was because my back was out of alignment. The cannabis relaxed my muscles so much that my back wanted to slip back into place. I was in some serious pain for about 2 minutes and then POP… my back felt great!
Quick Wrap Up
Green is lower quality than tan/khaki, contaminates come from the environment the cannabis was grown and processed in and excess nutrient and pesticides are the most common contaminates.
Pay attention, shop around and you’ll eventually find the best quality cannabis in your area. Your health and enjoyment are worth it.