One of the major benefits of having legalized weed is that the quality of the product can be regulated. You may be familiar with the different types of weed, from Sativas, Indicas and Hybrids, as well as how its cannabinoids, mainly THC and CBD, work, but the less talked about aspect of marijuana is weed grades. The grade of weed you purchase refers to its quality level and can range from low to high depending on how it has been grown, cultivated and maintained.
Cannabis quality falls within a grading scale from A all the way to AAAAA, with AAAAA-grade weed holding the highest quality. Quality, in this sense, is based on a few different factors including how the weed has been grown and curated for consumption along with the potency and concentration of its cannabinoid and terpene profiles. These different factors contribute to the physical characteristics of the weed, such as its aesthetics, flavors and aromas, as well as the experience and benefits it provides.
Here is your guide to deciphering the differences between various weed grades and understanding what each tier of cannabis can bring to the table.
Different Names for Different Grades
As you shop for cannabis and begin to review the weed grades available from marijuana dispensaries, it’s good to first understand that there are different names for the varying levels and tiers of weed. Starting from bottom to low grade, you’ll see weed referred to as “schwag,” “ditch weed,” “dirt weed,” or “regs.” This tier of weed usually presents pour quality because it has been mass-produced in usually unfavorable growing and production conditions. The next level up is low-grade weed. This level weed grade is a step above schwag because it has more trichomes intact. It is generally produced in small land plots outdoors. Both schwag and low-grade weed will often be sold with many seeds and stems mixed within. Because of the way it has been cultivated, there is a higher potential for contamination with pest and pesticides in the final product.
Moving up from lower-grade weed, is mid-grade weed. This typically receives an AAA – AAAA grading on the quality scale. Most dispensaries will offer mid-grade weed as their starting standard. This middle shelf marijuana is typically dryer which allows it to burn faster. Because it is more subtle and less potent than higher grade weed, it is typically best fit for cooking and infusing into edibles, or for those that are new to smoking.
High-grade and premium weed is the top-shelf level of cannabis. When you purchase this tier of weed, expect to receive mainly strains due to the higher level of care that has been taken to cultivate them. High-grade strains receive an AAAAA grade level and are often referred to as “artisanal,” “craft cannabis,” “piff,” “fire,” and “headies.” They have a high trichome content and are very vibrant in appeal. These will be the most pungent and potent weed strains you can find in the market, and any cannabis connoisseur’s go-to pick.
AAAA vs. AAAAA
With a basic understanding of marijuana grades from low to high, the next step to understanding weed grades is knowing what separates average or standard weed strains from the best weed strains.
AAAAA-graded weed can be cultivated using minimal chemicals and processing techniques that work to keep the cannabis as intact as possible. By using organic nutrients and as little chemical treatment as possible to produce the final product, consumers can get the most potency out of this higher-grade cannabis. Strains within this weed grade bracket have been hand trimmed off plants and handled with extra care to keep the original structure of the nug intact. Storing the nuggets that have been cultivated with the higher caliber procedures is also very important in maintaining the weed. Compared to low-quality weed, upholding proper care and maintenance is a crucial aspect of keeping this weed up to top standards.
Many medicinal marijuana strains will have a higher weed grade because they serve the purpose of producing the strongest effects to treat specific medical conditions.
If you’re looking for high quality, but perhaps a less potent strain of weed, a mid-grade, AAAA weed in Canada should do the trick. This type of weed mainly boasts a mix of orange and yellow hues and an average level of terpenes in its profile. One example of this strain is the Death Star strain, which is an indica dominant strain. This grade of weed strain may undergo automated machine trimming.
How to Detect the Differences Between Weed Grades
If you buy your weed from a marijuana dispensary, it likely has gone through a quality assurance procedure already. However, it is often handy to do your own due diligence of the weed you decide to purchase to make sure you are receiving your money’s worth. Using your senses of smell, sight and touch, you can easily differentiate between different weed grades.
A low-grade weed will often lack robustness and look as if you’ve gotten the bottom of the barrel from a pile of dirt. It is typically brown in color, light and leafy with a mix of stems and seeds. It can often possess earthy, mildew and pungent aromas, and can be harsh to the taste.
A higher-quality weed will boast deep hues and come in a wide spectrum of colors including purple, green, red, blue, pink and orange. It will have powerful flavors and complex aromas as well as translucent trichomes. A mid-level weed grade will be slightly less vibrant in color and sometimes have frosty trichomes.
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