What Does Good or Bad Weed Smell Like?

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what does good or bad weed smell like

What Does Good or Bad Weed Smell Like?

Every strain of weed has a distinct aroma or smell. 

In fact, it’s one of the very basis upon which different breeds of cannabis are identified or categorized in the first place.

For instance, the famous ‘Diesel’ strain was named after its smell. 

Besides the original smell, there’s another type of odor that can develop over your precious weed over time. Smell that may not be as inviting as the strong and herbal tint of fresh and pure marijuana.

To be able to figure out if your stored weed has gone bad or is still safe to consume, you first need to get familiar with the original scent of cannabis.

What Does Weed Smell Like?

Weed or marijuana, in general, has a very specific profile when it comes to its aroma.

 As a natural flowering plant, it is defined by a skunky or musky aroma that’s hard to miss if someone’s smoking a joint nearby.

As easy as it is to recognize the smell of weed, it can also have a wide range of flavorsome aromas. From earthy and woody tones to sometimes sweet and fruity undertones, it largely depends on the sub-species or strain in the end.

For example, the two most common strains of cannabis, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Sativa, smell somewhat sour and unpleasant, and spicy and sweet, respectively. 

The catch is- that you have to have a keen sense of smell to be able to find out these subtle differences in their rather similar profiles.

That is, all the cannabis strains have the same underlying skunky or sulphuric smell due to the same type of chemical compounds and cannabinoids that are found across the entire plant family.

It is the difference in their chemical composition that eventually gives cannabis its color, strength, smell, and flavor.

Reason Behind Different Smells of Weed

The variety of smells and odors associated with weed can be traced to several factors such as the lineage, chemical makeup, hybridization process, and so on.

However, at the root of it all, it is the combination of a few natural compounds that are found across the whole vegetation.

E.g., terpenes, flavonoids, and volatile sulphur compounds aka VSCs mainly.

Let’s take a closer look:


Terpenes or terpenoids are a family of naturally occurring compounds that give plants unique fragrance, color, and flavor.

Being the key source of natural scents, there are many types of terpenes that may vary from plant to plant.

Some of the most common terpenes found in the cannabis genus are:

  • Myrcene gives weed a rich skunky or musky smell and can even throw a sweet punch to the aroma profile. As the most common and abundant terpene, it can also have profound sedating or psychoactive effects in certain hybrids. Aside from cannabis, myrcene is also found in hops, thyme, mango, and lemongrass.
  • Limonene is yet another key terpene found in cannabis that gives a distinguishably lemon or citrusy smell. Praised for its mood-lifting and stress-relieving properties, Limonene is commonly found in oranges and lemons.
  • Pinene which took its name from the pine tree has a strong and pungent piney or woody aroma with a spicy whiff. Found also in pine trees, Pinene is known for its anti-inflammatory and bronchodilator effects.
  • Linalool is not just a terpene but also a metabolite with anti-microbial properties. As a naturally originating herbal compound, it has a pleasant and floral aroma like lavender. Aside from cannabis, it is also found in lavender and chamomile.
  • Caryophyllene or beta-caryophyllene is a spicy and peppery smelly terpene that also maintains a woodsy character. Found in cloves, hops, and other spices, it can connect and interact with our endocannabinoid system (ECS) and helps with sleep disorders and appetite-related conditions.
  • Humulene is also a common terpene found in cannabis that adds a spicy and savory tanginess to the underlying woody and earthy tones. Known for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, humulene is found across many common plants including ginseng and hops.

2. Flavonoids

Similar to terpenes, are flavonoids that are claimed to be found in abundant amounts across numerous plant families in nature.

Better known as canna-flavins, as in the case of cannabis, these flavonoids can affect the entire scent profile of a plant along with its texture, color, and flavor.

Albeit, not the primary element in establishing the smell, these compounds work best in synergy with terpenes that are the real powerhouse behind the mesmerizing fragrances of all things flora including our very favorite cannabis.

3. VSCs

VSCs or Volatile Sulphur Compounds are another origin source of many natural scents including that of the cannabis plant family.

Like terpenes, they are naturally odorous and are believed to be the key reason for the peculiarly skunky/ musky or sulphuric-like smell of marijuana.

Being highly volatile also causes these compounds to evaporate or dissipate quite rapidly into the air as time goes by, eventually turning your stored weed into good for nothing. 

What does Bad Weed Smell like?

As an organic substance, weed can certainly go wrong and even rot fast. Especially, when not stored in airtight conditions. 

Over time, it can catch mold or fungus when exposed to too much moisture.

Mouldy cannabis can be easily identified by a greyish-white coating with a powdery texture which usually reeks of mold.

The smell profile of a moldy or bad weed can range from mildewy and musty to stale and hay-like.

Apart from the contamination, the method of drying, breeding, and curing might also affect the smell of weed.

Whatever the case, when using your stored weed after some days, it’s better to check its state well before consumption.

What does Good Weed Smell like?

Contrary to bad or moldy weed, good weed maintains a fresh and floral appeal.

Along with its base note which is mostly damp, pungent, and musky, cannabis flowers can have a variety of aromas including earthy, piney, citrusy, fruity, spicy, and even diesel-like depending on the cultivar or strain.

Yet, not all the strains of cannabis have a strong and sharp stench. Some hybrids may also have a soft and creamy aroma depending on the breeding process.

It’s also important to understand that not liking a particular scent does not necessarily mean that the weed has gone bad.

As an individual experience, each strain of cannabis can have its profile of flavor and smell which may or may not be pleasant for your nose since everybody has a separate olfactory system.

So, when choosing weed for your needs, pay close attention to the smell.

How to Choose the High-Quality Weed by Smell?

As I said earlier, smelling is one the best and most basic ways of determining the quality of your weed.

Being a crucial factor, it can help you figure out the strength or potency of the flower to some extent and even the end-effects should you have sufficient experience.

Rather than going for top-shelf products straight away, it is always recommended to take a whiff of your favorite weed product before making the purchase. Chances are, if you liked the smell, you will probably like its effects and taste!

In case, you liked the scent but are not able to figure out the right note or profile, you can always get in touch with a professional or experienced budtender.

How long does the smell of weed last?

The natural scent of weed can start dissipating into the air with time slowly making it less efficient and potent. Especially if it is not stored under proper conditions. 

Factors such as light, temperature, and moisture can play a major role in maintaining the smell of your weed for a long time.

So make sure to store your weed in a dark place away from direct sunlight and in an airtight container to keep it from coming into contact with air, moisture, or water.

To keep the strong and sometimes harsh smell of weed to yourself when smoking, do it outside and if inside, practice proper ventilation.

Also Read: Different Ways to Hide the Smell of Weed

Frequently Asked Questions

CBD (Cannabidiol) and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) are both two of the most common ingredients found naturally across all the cannabis plants.

CBD for medicinal use and THC for psychoactive effects.

CBD has a mild and herbal smell; THC is responsible for the strong and musky stench of marijuana which some people may find repulsive.

CBD flowers are manually bred to give them pleasant notes of floral, fruity, and spicy flavors. THC maintains the trademark skunky smell that is associated with traditional cannabis.

The process of combustion and smoking naturally enhances the smell profile of marijuana.

Other than that, the type of material such as the rolling paper and additional concentrates can also affect the smell of weed while smoking making it super skunky with distinct notes of pine, wood, fire, flowers, fruits, and so on.

Depending on the fabric and exposure time, the stench of marijuana can stick and stay on your clothes for several hours to multiple days.

Since weed, especially THC, can cling to a person’s hair, skin, and clothes while changing their natural odor, it can linger for several hours depending on their hygiene and the environment.

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