If you're anything like me, when you get a new batch of cannabis the first thing you do is smell it. It's a good habit to get into so that you can learn to identify the different terpenes that give it its distinctive smell. There's another reason to smell it though: to make sure it's good. With the popularity of cannabis skyrocketing and the stigma rapidly dropping, more people are giving it a try. Education is important though because mould or too much chlorophyll can be toxic and unless you know how to identify them, you probably wouldn't know you're harming yourself.
So what is cannabis not supposed to smell like? There are two things you should watch out for:
Fresh cut grass
Mould or mildew
Fresh Cut Grass
Fresh cut grass is a great smell as long as it's not your weed. The smell comes from an excess of chlorophyll. The chlorophyll breaks down into ammonia and it can be very toxic. How does this happen? Cannabis goes through several stages from the moment it's harvested to your bowl. One of these steps is called curing and it is an essential step that can't be skipped or rushed. Once the plant has been harvested, dried and trimmed, it gets cured. The cannabis is placed in jars and stored at a controlled temperature in a dark room. The process is typically 1 month but can vary depending on who you ask. Some growers will argue that the longer curing the better. When its cured properly, cannabis will smell like it should but if it's too early it will have that fresh-cut grass smell. If your cannabis still smells like that, best to put it back and let it continue curing. Too much ammonia in your cannabis can be very toxic and not something you want to mess with. If you do end up with some uncured cannabis don't worry! You can continue to cure it by placing it in a jar with ½ to ¾ empty space. Place it in a cool dark space and burp it (open the lid to replace the oxygen) until it stops smelling like your lawn.
Mould or Mildew
Most people are familiar with the musty smell of mould and mildew. There are too many old, non-waterproofed basements and old libraries to not know. Your weed should never smell like a dirty old towel. If it does, chances are you've got mould or mildew. This happens when cannabis doesn't have proper airflow during the growing process, isn't dried properly or stored correctly and moisture gets in. It is the bane of many growers and consumers alike. Once it sets in, there's no saving it due to the mould spores that spread. Once you can see mould, the spores have spread and there's going to be mould on everything it came into contact with. The easiest way to spot it is by breaking the bud open. There are some moulds that can look like trichomes (brown and orange) and some that look like the crystals (white and powdery). Learning to spot the difference is important but a good sniff will also tell you a lot. It can be very harmful to smoke mouldy cannabis and should not be done. If you get mouldy cannabis from your LP or dispensary, definitely take it back!
The smell can tell you a lot about a strain of cannabis. It can tell you the dominant terpenes and with a bit of practice, you can learn to identify your favorites. It can also tell you something is wrong with your cannabis. So don’t feel ridiculous for sticking your nose in and giving it a good whiff!