The term top shelf gets tossed around often in this industry, perhaps too often. We’ve all been there, mouth watering with anticipation with what was supposed to be premium quality only to get home and find out that despite looking good from behind the dispensary, the herb you purchased was mids at best. While this is a rare occurrence at reputable facilities, there’s no substitute for being able to spot quality herb on your own. To assist you on this endeavor, Stinky Leaf has a few pointers to help the aspiring connoisseur identify top shelf cannabis.

Can You Spot Top Shelf

One of the first things you’ll want to look for is the presence of trichomes in your flower. Despite being miniscule in size you should have no trouble spotting these important indicators of potency. Trichomes are the tiny, crystally hairs that weave along a quality bud. The presence of trichomes is a key indicator of flower potency because it is the trichomes that produce and release the sweet, sappy, cannabinoid rich resin. It’s safe to bet that flowers with few trichomes are lower quality and generally, the more crystals the better. Terpenes are responsible for the smells, flavors and even some of the effects that give a strain its unique characteristics. These aromatic compounds are also produced by the trichomes as part of the cannabis plants system, reinforcing once more the importance of trichomes in your flowers.

The texture and feel of a bud can speak volumes to its quality. After cannabis has been harvested it has to be cured before it can be consumed, otherwise, it would be far too wet to smoke. That being said, a flower should not feel bone dry if you paid top dollar for it. Overly dry herb is an indicator that oxidation has occurred which breaks down the delicate terpenes and cannabinoids, resulting in a subpar smoke session. When properly cured, top shelf should feel a little sticky to the touch as an indicator of freshness and that the active compounds are intact.

Aside from specially bred strains your cannabis should be predominantly green in color. Brown flowers can indicate any number of issues in the growing, curing or handling of marijuana and should be steered clear of. Though it should go without saying, any cannabis with even a hint discoloration from mold or fungal growth is not fit to be smoked and should be discarded immediately. Unless the strain you’re after is known specifically for being another color, make sure your cannabis vibrant and green.

We all know that good marijuana should have a powerful fragrance, especially, when you first open a fresh purchase. However, the smell shouldn’t just be pungent. A truly top shelf flower will have a terpene profile in line with its genetics. For example, a staple strain such as, Super Lemon Haze, should have a noticeable citrus note to its scent and not just a strong but vague smell that could be any other strain. Again, this would indicate that the terpene profile is off and that either it isn’t the advertised strain or is inferior quality.

The last sign of a high quality flower is the effect. When we talk about effect, we’re not necessarily talking about potency, although that is part of the equation. There is a lot of potent cannabis out there that isn’t top shelf. Anyone who’s purchased an energetic sativa for a daytime lift but ended up in a catatonic haze knows this all too well. Whether it’s a barely psychoactive strain rich in CBD or a THC powerhouse like Durban Poison, a premium flower will hit you exactly as it was bred to. Unfortunately, there’s no way to test the effects until you’ve already purchased, but, if you paid attention to our other tips you should be golden.

Now You Can
Next time you’re purchasing cannabis remember to make sure the color is right, that trichomes are present, the bud is still sticky and that its smell has the right profile. If you do that, you can be sure that you’re taking home top shelf.