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How to Identify Bad or Old Weed

Are you smoking the right stuff? Find out by learning how to identify bad or old weed.

By Ami RoachPublished 8 years ago 6 min read

How do you identify bad or old weed?—a riddle as old as the hobby itself. Nobody wants to light up with adulterated cannabis, and, with these helpful hints, you won’t ever have to. It is important to consider the quality of your weed before smoking or otherwise consuming it. If your bud is in some way tainted, it is important to reconsider using that weed. Mold and other irregular or unnatural features should not be inhaled due to their adverse effects on respiratory health. Luckily, there are at least five sure-fire ways to determine the quality of your weed that require little experience with the plant itself. It only takes a few minutes to run a quick quality check, and it could improve your marijuana usage! Here are our top five tips of how to identify bad or old weed.

Is It Love at First Sight?

Moldy marijuana via Herb

Since mold, chemicals, and other undesirable substances in your weed can harm your health, it is important to do a thorough inspection before consumption. Quality weed should pass a quick visual test, at the very least. Okay, so it might not be love at first sight, per se,—though you may have yourself a real winner—but if what you’ve got is good, you’ll just know. Good weed is usually green, though sometimes purpleish, with tiny white crystals blanketing the entire outer bud. These crystals are called trichomes, and contain THC among other things.

The primary thing to look for when giving your weed a quick visual look-over is mold. Mold can form if weed is not stored in an appropriate cool, dry environment. Mold against weed is pretty obvious to the human eye: it is usually a gray, fuzzy layer on top of leaves and wound like a spider’s web between the stems. However, mold can sometimes be tricky to detect because it may develop in the deeper layers of the bud. Any visible abnormalities should be a clear red flag. The visual test is a great way to start on figuring out how to identify bad or old weed.

Sniff Your Stuff to Determine If It’s Up to Snuff

To the avid smoker, the sweet, herbal odor of marijuana is immediately recognizable—even among a conglomeration of smells. No, stoners don’t have a sixth sense for locating their favorite preoccupation; the distinguishable scent of weed stems from a substance known as terpenes. Secreted by the same glands involved in THC production, this oil adds flavor to the marijuana buds (generally pine, citrus, mint or berry). So in what way does smell tell you how to identify bad or old weed?

If your weed is compromised, you’ll notice a marked difference in its trademark smell. Because different strains of plants have different combinations of flavor-producing oils, the terpenes, different strains may produce slightly different aromas. Therefore, don’t be alarmed if you encounter a new smell, as it may simply be a plant strain you have not yet smoked. Avoid the three M’s: musty, moldy, and man-made. Abnormal, balmy smells may indicate improper storage and the presence of mold while man-made chemical stenches may mean incorrect usage of pesticides. Not only does this interfere with your smoking experience, but moldy or chemical-rich weed can threaten your lung health. But don’t worry if you feel your sniffer isn’t sensitive enough to pick up these slight distinctions, there are plenty of alternative methods explaining how to identify bad or old weed.

What Do Your Feelings Tell You? 

Now, I don’t mean you need to get all emotional and feel the weed—though that may work for the hippies—but you do need to touch it, grab it, handle it, feel it. You’re looking for any traces of moisture, over-dryness, or over-compression. Good weed is good through and through so for a more thorough examination, pick the bud apart and check out the inside layers.

Before weed is ready for medicinal or recreational use, it must undergo a drying process during which the moisture of the recently pruned plant is heavily reduced. The weed may shrivel to a small extent, but anything that looks as if it has been squished down under the foot of an elephant is probably a no-go. This weed has probably been stored in too tight quarters without a lot of room to “breathe.” That means a higher risk of mold being in your marijuana. You should apply the other hints, especially the visual test and sniff test to be sure whether or not your weed is contaminated with mold.

Keeping this in mind, dryness can also be a red flag for cannabis users. Older weed tends to dry out and may become fragile and crumbly. If you try holding it or picking it apart and the bud becomes dusty, there is a good chance that you’ve found something that has been dried out too much. If your weed is damp or if it’s disintegrating between your fingers, you’ve got yourself an ugh-nug. If your weed seems dry without being too crispy or fragile, it might be safe to smoke, but there are other, additional tests to check the quality of your weed.

All Ears

This tip on how to identify bad or old weed is targeted at the more experienced smokers. It requires an intimate knowledge of what normal weed sounds like. So, turn down the music and listen carefully to the crumbling of your weed as you separate the bud. This sound speaks wonders about the quality of your marijuana. If all you hear is the sound of silence, you either need an updated hearing test or new cannabis. No sound at all points to the weed being too moist, which you can also determine through feeling the weed with your hands, as mentioned above. The dampness of the leaves causes the weed to resist lighting, and smoking becomes more difficult, if not impossible. This weed won’t light well and isn’t ready for smoking.

Weed should make a crisp snapping sound like the clacking of typing on a computer keyboard. However, weed that has become too dried out may make a similar cracking sound, so listen very carefully! Smoking overly dried weed dampens the calming effects of the THC and can create an uncomfortable scratching sensation or agitation in your throat.

Go For It

If your stuff appears to pass the other tests, or you are still unable to determine if your weed is bad or old and you’re pretty brave, pull out the bong and take a hit. Marijuana has a distinctive and pleasant aftertaste that is nearly as recognizable as its signature smell. There are varieties of flavors based on different strains and how they are raised. These are generally produced by the terpenes in the plant. The most common terpenes are Limonene, Myrcene, Alpha- and Beta-Pinene, Caryophyllene, and Linalool, each of which produce a distinct flavor. Because there are so many possible varieties of tastes, you may come across an unexpected or unfamiliar taste, but that does not necessarily mean that it is bad or old weed.

Aside from noticing its taste, if you do gamble and go through the troubles of packing yourself a bowl, take notice of how the weed lights and smokes. It should light easily, though marijuana does not normally burn too fast. Furthermore, cannabis can sometimes burn out. This is okay, simply relight it and try again. However if your weed is burning for a strangely long time or burning far too quickly, it may be overly dried.

If the weed somehow tastes sour or, there is probably something terribly wrong and you should probably pass on that second hit you were considering. Before applying this test, consider searching for mold in order to avoid inhaling dangerous substances that can harm your lungs.

So, how do you identify if weed is bad or old? Why does it matter? Quality matters. The better the quality of weed—a dried, green or purple bud with a sweet aroma and a snapping sound when you break it up—the more pronounced its effects will be. Seek out quality weed to avoid accidental inhalation of dangerous chemicals or even molds.

So, there you have it folks, look at it, sniff it, touch it, listen to it, and if you’re brave, give it a taste—there are plenty of ways how to identify bad or old weed.

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About the Creator

Ami Roach

Jewish Barnard graduate, surprise surprise.

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Ami RoachWritten by Ami Roach

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