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The CULTA Blog

How to Identify Premium Cannabis (& Why You Should Buy It)

cannabis close up shot of a nug showing orange hairs

As of August 2022, there are 91 brick-and-mortar cannabis dispensaries and 18 licensed cultivators in the state of Maryland alone. As such, there’s stiff competition among cannabis brands and an overwhelming amount of medical cannabis products on the market. All the options and market saturation can make the selection process difficult, especially when it comes to patients getting their hands on top-shelf cannabis. 

Genetics and cultivation techniques are just a couple components (among many) that contribute to cannabis quality, and in this article we’ll break down how you can identify premium cannabis, plus some benefits of choosing top-shelf cannabis over lesser quality flower with a lower price tag. 

Top-shelf cannabis is pungent 

There’s a reason sommeliers encourage you to sniff your glass of wine before drinking it -- you can tell a lot about how wine will taste by its aroma. The same can be said for cannabis. Top-shelf cannabis has a noticeably stronger smell than poor quality cannabis, and its pungent smell points to a higher potency and more trichome density. Poor quality flower, on the other hand, has a weak smell since it’s often old and dried out. So the next time you bring home your medication from a dispensary, take some time to smell your cannabis before consuming it. 

There may be visible trichomes 

Another thing you’ll notice in quality cannabis is the amount of visible trichomes. Trichomes are the tiny glimmering crystals that can be found on the surface of cannabis flower; cannabis companies love to show them off on social media because they’re beautiful and indicative of a higher-quality product. In nature, trichomes actually function as the plant’s defense mechanism, and produce cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids that contribute to a strain’s potency, effectiveness, taste, and smell.  

Premium cannabis is colorful 

Just like you can tell a tomato, apple, or bunch of kale is healthy and fresh just by looking at it, you can tell a lot about the quality of cannabis by its looks. Bottom line: fresh, healthy, premium cannabis should look appealing! Top-shelf cannabis is colorful, and often is a deep green in color with red or orange hairs. Some premium cannabis can even have hints of bright blues and deep purples. If cannabis flower looks good, it probably tastes good, too. Poor quality cannabis, on the other hand, will look dull, pale, bland, or discolored. It should go without saying that if there’s an abundance of seeds and stems, stay away! 

It feels different, too 

Although you won’t be able to touch the buds at a dispensary for sanitary reasons, we still feel it’s important to discuss the differences in how premium and low-quality cannabis feel. (You can do your own research at home after you’ve purchased your medical cannabis.) Top-shelf cannabis is sticky and slightly spongy. The buds should be easy to break apart, and the stems should bend but not snap. Although it should be soft it shouldn’t be too soft or wet, as wet cannabis is prone to mildew and mold. Low-quality cannabis, on the other hand, will feel brittle, dry, and will easily break apart when handled. It may also have a musty smell. 

The entourage effect  

As you’ve researched medical cannabis, you’ve probably come across the term “entourage effect.” Simply put, it’s the theory that the full spectrum of the cannabis plant works best together and that the interaction of all the different cannabinoids result in a very specific effect, such as pain relief, nausea reduction, or relief from any of the other MMCC-approved uses for medical cannabis. Top-shelf cannabis has the perfect combination of THC, terpenes, and other cannabinoids, so you can be more confident that the effects will fall in line with the medical condition you’re seeking treatment for. 

Benefits of choosing premium 

Now that you know how to identify premium cannabis, you might still be asking yourself if top-shelf cannabis is worth the higher price tag. And the answer is a resounding YES! And we’re not just saying that because we’re a cannabis company; we’re saying that because we want only the best for our patients. Here are just a few of the benefits of choosing premium cannabis over lesser quality flower: 

  • The safety of the medical market - Not only is cannabis available through the medical market safer than black or gray market cannabis, but it’s also legal to purchase and use. That is, if you have an MMCC card -- more on that here.
  • It’s processed with love - By purchasing premium cannabis through the legal medical market, you can rest assured knowing that it’s been grown and processed with love. From the cleanest facilities to the most knowledgeable staff, your cannabis has been cared for from seed-to-jar.
  • Better smell and taste - We already mentioned this but it’s worth mentioning again. Top-shelf cannabis simply smells and tastes better than lower-grade cannabis. Its effects can also be stronger and last longer than old or dry cannabis, which means less waste in the long-term. 

If you purchased top-shelf cannabis, the best way to keep it fresh is by storing it correctly. For tips on how to properly store your cannabis, check out Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Medical Cannabis Fresh.  

Buy top-shelf cannabis at CULTA

If you’re seeking top-shelf cannabis in Maryland, we’d like to introduce ourselves ;)  Hi, we’re CULTA! 

Founded in 2017, we were actually one of the first medical cannabis companies to be given an operating license in the state of Maryland! This means we’ve had lots of time to perfect our craft, and we’re proud of the top-shelf CULTA cannabis our patients have grown to know and love. 

For more on our cannabis, check out our menu or head to our Baltimore dispensary to speak with one of our patient coordinators about our top-shelf offerings.