Smokable Cannabis 101: Choosing Quality Flower

While not always a mainstay, cannabis has been a part of my life since I was a teenager. The first time a patient asked me basic questions about cannabis flower and how to use it I was taken back a bit. It can be easy to forget that so many of the things that have become part of my day to day life are completely foreign and albeit intimating to so many new patients. These questions become so common place that I now carry a clean pipe and package of rolling papers in my work bag to use as a demonstration tool. It’s given me new perspective.

Cannabis is an amazing plant with so much potential to heal when used properly, but all that potential can be overwhelming to new patients. Part of my mission has always been to empower patients to take charge of their health, cannabis included. Learning the basics about the medicine and setting a strong foundation of cannabis knowledge is essential to success as a cannabis patient. I’m hoping this Smokable Cannabis 101 series will help to do just that. I also hope it helps to reduce some of the overwhelm and fear that can come along with a new journey into medical cannabis.

Choosing quality medicine is step one to effective symptom management and a positive cannabis experience. Patients are often faced with a wide array of options and little guidance on where to start. This post covers some of the basics of what to watch out for when choosing quality flower. Stay tuned for the next Smokable Cannabis 101 where we’ll cover the basics of ways to smoke cannabis.

Smokable Cannabis 101: Choosing Quality Flower

For Florida focused smokable information check out: Smokable Flower in Florida Things to Know

Choosing Quality Flower: Things to Know

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  • Leafly is great resource to compare strains, read patient reviews, and learn about possible strain effects.

  • In markets like Florida, we don’t always have the option to fully inspect our flower before purchasing. If the dispensary has a sample jar - LOOK AT IT. Review the appearance and smell of the batch before purchasing.

  • Check lab results, terpene profiles, and cannabinoid content. Sometimes this is printed right on the product label, other times you may have to ask dispensary staff or review websites.

  • Remember high THC content isn’t everything. Make note of what other terpenes and cannabinoids work best for your symptoms. Some of the most therapeutic strains have a ratio of CBD to THC.

Appearance

Once harvested, cannabis flowers (also known as buds) are dried and cured in preparation for use. Properly dried and cured cannabis is essential for quality medicine and smooth smoke. Curing dried cannabis flower removes any remaining chlorophyll, plant pigments, and other contaminants. Properly curing flower also helps to preserve cannabinoids and terpenes, resulting in a smooth, rich, and full taste and smell. Cannabis that hasn’t been cured long enough will have a wet appearance and lack the flavor, potency, and effects of properly dried flower. When it is dried and/or cured too quickly the remaining chlorophyll can produce a hay-like, grassy, or green flavor. it can also be difficult to light, burn, and consume.

What to Avoid:

  • Compacted bricks of cannabis, stems, seeds, leaves, and other “shake”

  • More brown than green in color

  • Wet, grassy, and hay-like aroma

  • No aroma

  • Overly minty aroma can be indicative of a poor cure

  • Wet buds that do not break at the stems

  • Overly dry and crumbly buds

  • Thin, light, and airy flower with visible stems and loose open bud structures

  • Signs of mold or pests

  • Clear or completely amber trichome heads (needs magnifying lens)

Signs of Quality Cannabis Flower

  • Closely trimmed buds with minimal sugar leaves (hand trim is optimal)

  • Green with rich colorful undertones - often purple, red, yellow, blue, orange

  • May have some colorful “hairs” or pistils

  • Coated in frosty sugary delicate resin

  • Rich pungent aroma that varies - can be sweet, earthy, diesel like, reflective of terpene content

  • Dense thick buds that are sticky without being wet

  • Buds break apart without turning to dust

  • Milky white, possible hint of amber trichome head

Florida Flower Recommendations

Everyday I’m asked where the best MMTC is to buy flower. My response is evolving, but it always starts with “you have to experiment and find out for yourself.” That said, I was lucky to be one of the first patients to purchase smokable cannabis in Florida and have had plenty of time to experiment, shop around, and try out different MMTC’s. My favorites continue to be Rise and Vidacann with Muv coming in close behind. Vidacann’s Duct Tape is by far one of my favorite strains of all time and is great for pain, mood, and GI upset. For more on my thoughts on Florida’s flower options check out this video.

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