When purchasing any product, whether online or in-person, you want to make sure the product is of the highest quality. It can be very disappointing to order something, wait for it to be delivered, and then open it up only to find that it doesn’t fit, is already falling apart, or is just not good quality.
Product quality is especially important when buying weed online. You want to make sure the cannabis you purchase is of good quality and will give you your desired effects. Cannabis is a bit of an investment, so getting a product that is worth what you pay is essential.
When you shop for cannabis online, you will likely see weed listed alongside “A” ratings which may include an AAAA, AAA, AA, or A. Do you know what this means or how the rating is determined? Is it the same for retailers and dispensaries?
We’ll answer these questions and more below. Plus, find tips on how to shop for cannabis online and make sure you’re getting a quality product.
The Different Tiers
When browsing a dispensary’s cannabis selection, you’ll likely notice the different “A” ratings. Let’s take a look at what this grading system means.
A rating is something you likely won’t see on a website as it is considered the lowest quality cannabis grade. No store (or very few stores) will want people to think they are selling sub-par or low-quality weed. Weed in this category is also referred to as “dirt weed” and is generally made of an extract flower’s remnants (a bud used to make a concentrate). Though cannabis with this rating will be cheaper than those with higher ratings, unless you have a specific reason for wanting this weed, you’ll be better off spending more to get a higher-grade cannabis product.
AA-rated cannabis is also referred to as “reggie weed.” This particular rating is often considered to be the best choice for those on a budget. However, strains classified as AA are likely going to be of inferior quality, though they are higher quality than A products. Their color may be slightly off, and the smell may not be as strong as that of a higher-grade weed. Users who purchase AA cannabis may not get effects that are as strong as higher-rated products. If you are on a budget, this is a better choice than the A strains.
AAA used to be considered the highest-quality cannabis out there, but as the cannabis market grew and evolved, it has become the second-highest rating. This grade is often the most common users will see for sale through dispensaries. It is still of good quality, but buds may be slightly less dense than expected. AAA is a good buy, but if you are looking for the absolute highest-quality bud, the next step would be your best option.
AAAA or “quads” are considered premium quality cannabis; they are the highest level that can be assigned to a cannabis plant. To be considered an AAAA product, the smell, look, and taste of the particular cannabis bud should be at perfect (or near-perfect) levels. AAAA is the priciest weed option, but the price is worth it for those wanting a high-class, excellent weed experience.
AAAAA is a relatively new rating level online dispensaries are using. Products with this rating are rare and are at the highest price point. But, if you can afford it and find a strain you like at this level, it will be well worth it.
What Goes into Deciding a Cannabis Rating Tier?
Prior to the 1990s, the weed-grading system was quite subjective, referring simply to the quality of the plant as judged by users and growers. Today, the criteria used to determine a cannabis plant’s rating tier focuses more on the way the plant is cultivated.
Canada adopted the current A through AAAA grading system in the 1990s. It has expanded some to include minus and plus ratings, but not everyone uses them.
As we mentioned earlier, the current rating system better reflects how a plant is grown and the care given to it. The quality of the plant, as opposed to the specific effects it offers, is the determining factor.
So, what exactly goes into determining the strain’s rating? Let’s take a look:
- The structure of the flower itself: This takes into consideration the flower’s appearance. If it is dry to the touch, it will receive a lower grade. Mid and high-grade buds will be sticky with buds that are very to slightly geometrical. The color also plays a role, with ratings considering whether it is intense or brown. All this will help determine the flower’s rating.
- The terpene profile: Terpenes are what give each plant its unique smell and taste. There are many different terpenes, but the dominant terpene profile will have a significant impact on the taste and smell a flower offers: the stronger the profile, the stronger the scent. High-quality cannabis should have a strong smell that reflects the terpene profile. Low-grade cannabis will often have no smell or a dirt-like, earthy smell.
- The trim of the plant: Like people and animals, cannabis plants also need to be trimmed. Cannabis growers will remove long leaves from the plant after harvesting it, helping to improve the plant’s appearance. Plants that have been trimmed will receive a higher grade as they better demonstrate the amount of care put into growing them.
- The trichome density: You know those hair-like structures on your plant? They do more than give it a nice look; they are actually reservoirs of THC and play a role in protecting the plant from pests and the sun. Moderate to high amounts of trichomes will indicate mid to high-level cannabis. Bottom-shelf weed will have very few, if any, visible trichomes.
- The use of pesticides: We’ve talked about how the care put into growing cannabis plays a considerable role in determining its rating, so it makes sense that the use of pesticides and other chemicals will result in a lower grade. Though the use of pesticides in growing cannabis is illegal, some growers will cut corners and use them to protect plants from pests. However, this poses health risks to consumers, resulting in a very low grade for cannabis.
- Ash color: One test used to determine a cannabis strain’s quality is the color and consistency of ash after it is burned. High-quality cannabis will burn white, while low quality will be black. So, the lighter the ash when it burns, the better when it comes to cannabis quality. You also want a bud whose ash stays clumped, as this indicates a higher quality bud as well.
There are other factors that are used to determine the quality of the bud, but these are a few of the most well-known.
It is important for users to remember that the grading system is not a reflection of the strain but rather the quality of the bud. For example, a strain with high potency (meaning high THC content) will not automatically get an AAA or AAAA rating. A highly potent strain can still be of poor quality.
You’ll have to determine if you like a particular strain based on the effects, taste, and overall experience. You can try a strain that is high quality and not necessarily like the experience it offers. So, when choosing what to buy, you’ll want to find a strain you like that has a rating between AAA and AAAAA.
What to Look for When Buying Weed Online
With the legalization of cannabis in Canada, many online dispensaries have popped up. Just like any website, not all online retailers are created equal; some will offer better products and a better experience than others.
Before you fill your online cart and push “purchase,” it’s essential to do some research and make sure you are buying from a reputable seller and that you will get what you order. When buying weed online, you should:
- Read online reviews of the company and the product. What better way to feel confident in your purchase than hearing from your fellow cannabis users? Before you order, spend time reading a given company’s reviews to get an idea of the level of service they provide customers. Then, read reviews of any product you intend to buy. The reviews can give you an idea of its quality and the effects you may experience after using it.
- Look at the prices. The adage “you get what you pay for” is particularly applicable when it comes to buying cannabis products. You’ll want to look at the price and ensure it jives with the quality of weed being promoted. For example, something listed as AAA weed at a very low price should be a red flag that it likely isn’t going to be the quality promoted. Keep in mind; some dispensaries offer the lowest prices in the area, but that price should still be relative to the listed grade.
- Check their shipping information. One reason people decide to order their cannabis online is to help maintain anonymity. They don’t want people to see them buy it from a local dispensary, so, they also likely won’t want a big box labeled with its contents on their doorstep. Look to see how your order is packaged before you buy. Many places will ship in discrete packaging.
- See if they offer a guarantee. It can be frustrating to place an order only to have it get lost or never arrive. To avoid this, confirm whether the company you buy from guarantees your delivery. What happens if it doesn’t make it? On top of that, does the merchant guarantee the product’s quality? Can you return it if it arrives in poor condition? Knowing all this can help you feel more confident in your purchase.
- Can you get ahold of them? Finally, look to see if they make the dispensary is easy to contact. You may have a question about which strain to try (most dispensaries are happy to offer suggestions), or you may need to reach them should your package not make it. Do they have a straightforward way to get in touch, or do you not see contact information anywhere? If you can’t see how to get ahold of the company, that may be a sign you should make your purchase elsewhere.
Researching before making a purchase online is important, but it is especially critical when buying weed online. By taking time to explore the retailer’s website and offerings, you can get peace of mind when you make your purchase. If you have a good experience with an online dispensary, be sure to leave a review and help out fellow shoppers like yourself.
When it comes to buying cannabis, you want to ensure you are getting a quality product. To help consumers know the quality of the flower they are purchasing, Canada adopted a rating system, ranging from A to AAAAA.
- A is the lowest quality of cannabis
- AA is considered the best choice for those on a budget
- AAA offers mid-quality and is the most common rating found in stores
- AAAA is considered premium-quality products
- AAAA which is mostly used online is rare, but of the highest quality
The ratings don’t refer to a given strain’s effects; instead, they reflect the care that is given to growing a plant and the quality of the plant itself. A highly rated plant should be aromatic, flavourful, and colorful. Poor quality will often have little to no smell and be brown and dry. It’s worth noting that you could still have a potent strain that is lower quality if the plant is grown using pesticides or not cared for properly.
Finally, before buying cannabis online, do some research. You want to make sure the quality of the cannabis listed online is what you will get. Read reviews of the products and the company before placing your order to get a feel for what you can expect.