Beginners Guide: How to Pick the Best Cannabis

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With the many varieties of cannabis and cannabis products on the market, perusing a dispensary’s menu can be overwhelming. Whether you are shopping in person or online, we are here to answer the age-old question — what is the most potent weed? How do you choose the most potent marijuana? Which is better: shake vs nugs? Hand trimmed vs machine trimmed? Let’s go.

What is potent marijuana?

First and foremost, marijuana is a plant like many others — produce, fresh flowers and topiaries in the yard. Growers use different methods in an array of different environments to produce the end product, and therefore no two cannabis flowers will be exactly the same. Similarly to picking out the best produce, there are certain characteristics to help you set apart the top-notch flower from the rest. 

Marijuana’s potency comes from the trichomes on the flower, which hold the highest concentrated amounts of active cannabinoids. Trichomes are the small appendages or “arms” scattered throughout the flower, chock-full of tasty terpenes and potent THC content — the factors that make weed, well, weed. Be on the lookout for frosty, sparkly and subsequently evident trichomes all around the nug, as these will be the most potent. 

Keep in mind as well the overall color of the flower! While all flower comes in different shapes and sizes, and certain genetics from breeding strains can produce some stunning purples, oranges and reds, it’s imperative to make sure your flower is *never* brown or overly yellowed. This dusty coloring is a sign of the flower being dried out from overexposure to light or air, which destroys cannabinoids over time, leading to a far less potent marijuana product. 

Appealing to our sense of smell, we recommend taking note of the aroma and density of your flower to determine its potency. The stronger and danker the smell, the higher the terpene count within the flower. While most producers pre-package their flower in sealed baggies or tube containers, if you’re able to get a whiff on the outside, you’ve got yourself a winner!

Hand Trimmed vs Machine Trimmed

When identifying the most potent weed, take a look at how the flower was trimmed: can you tell the difference between hand trimmed vs machine trimmed? This can either be seen on the flower itself or is sometimes mentioned on the packaging. Hand-trimmed flower is curated by professional trimmers that (hopefully) take their time with each individual flower to deliver much more care and expertise to the end product. They know what to watch for, what parts of the plant to keep intact, and how to best groom each flower to its ideal form through assessing its density, trichomes and overall structure. Subsequently, hand-trimmed flower will likely be the more potent marijuana product.

On the other hand, machine-trimmed is not explicitly a worse trimming method, it just ‘leaves’ more room for error. While machine-trimmed weed is great for mass-producing identical nugs, the machines treat each flower as if they were all the same, which can result in some of the more potent parts of the plant being shaved off in the name of uniformity.

Shake vs Nugs

“Shake” is typically the leftover plant matter after a batch of flower has been trimmed into nugs. Another way of thinking of it is pre-ground flower— it’s just as smokable as fully-intact nugs but the potency is a toss-up, as its quality depends on what the strain and how it was trimmed. 

Good-quality nugs, regardless of the trimming method, will have a guaranteed higher potency than any shake you will smoke. You are assured the flower will be devoid of seeds and have as few stems as possible, subsequently meaning the good stuff was prioritized and the useless was discarded as much as possible. When debating between shake vs nugs, if potency is at the top of your mind, always choose the nugs!

What is the most potent weed?

To get the full dispensary experience, ask the budtenders if they have any tips for choosing the best potent marijuana for you. If you want to trust your own senses, squeeze the nugs. Try to smell through the package. Look closely. Does it feel thick yet pliable? Is its smell strong and complex? Does it have fuzzy trichomes and multiple colors around it?

For shopping online, check your labels! How was it trimmed? Is the flower in the form of shake or nugs? How much is the THC content?

To summarize, the most potent weed is going to be a high THC, hand-trimmed, dense and colorful nug with dozens of sparkly trichomes and a delicious, earthy aroma. Happy hunting!

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