Have you ever wondered if there is a grading system for buying weed and how you can judge the quality of your weed? With such a demand today, it is vital to learn how to judge your weed quality whether you are new to the industry or are a long-time user.
Multiple grading methodologies and grading systems are getting used across the cannabis industry, and some of them can be pretty confusing. Therefore, it’s better to rely on one system as your guide. Other standard grading systems include the High-Grade, Mid Grade, Low-Grade and Top Shelf Indicators.
Even though more than one system is used to determine the quality of weed, the most accurate and easily understood system is the A-AAAA, which accurately represents an evaluation and lab results. Therefore, we will lean towards this.
What are the Main Differences in the Weed Grading System?
The weed chart will point out all the differences in the weed grading system, but below are some main ones.
- AA Grade, also known as Dubs or mids. It is the lowest grade (not including A). It is great for beginners, shoppers looking to save or smokers with low tolerance. The buds will be decently sized but it will lack the strength in these categories: Aroma/smell, burn, density/appearance and potency.
- AAA quality grade, also known as Trips, is a good weed quality with a poorer bud density and aesthetics than the AAAA weed grade. AAA Grade will have be potent, with a strong smell. Where it misses the mark may be the appearance compared to AAAA or the burn. The ash may be peppery/dark vs clean and white.
- AAAA cannabis grades are also known as Quads or Premium weed. They are a very budget choice and the best quality weed in all categories, dank and pungent.
- AAAAA weed grade, also known as high quads, contains the same qualities and best attributes beyond AAAA high-grade weed.
What is the Weed Grading System?
The first official cannabis grading system was introduced in Canada in the early 1990s, and it was to resolve the situation then. Currently, the legalized cannabis stores supplied by Canada’s licensed growers prefer grading their cannabis by its THC and CBD potency, which is usually determined by official lab tests. The tests allow a supplier to price their weed based on its potency accurately, which will benefit both the supplier and the consumer.
When buying weed online, the quality is a crucial factor, and the legally approved system for quality is the “A-AAAA+” weed grading system. In addition, some terminologies are used to identify different grading systems and various quality levels, including A weed, dubs, Trips, Quads, True Quads, Schwag or Dirt Weed. However, they may not represent accurate or consistent units of measure.
Importantly, each cannabis strain has different levels depending on the different batches grown. Therefore, the weed grading system does not represent the strain itself but only the grower and quality of the batch. The system includes:
1. A-Grade Cannabis (Singles)
A-Grade level is the lowest grade level, some may call it the bottom of the barrel for weed, and it is unlikely to find an A grade in a licensed dispensary. Therefore, even though this weed may still resemble a bud as it will retain some structure, it is the weed tossed aside during the grading process.
This low-grade weed gives an unnoticeable experience and may be mixed in with some unwanted stems and discolored loose fragments, and that’s why it’s usually referred to as dirt weed. It is also known as ditch weed or schwag, depending on where you live.
Often, suppliers use the flowers for extracts, and they sell the leftovers to clients for additional profit, and it may still look good enough for you to make your edibles and extracts out of it. Although it’s a low-quality weed, it’s cheaper to buy and quite effective when vaped or smoked in high quantities and can also be used to make edibles and concentrates.
Even though it’s very low quality, it will still give you a buzz, but some will have side effects that tell you that it was not up to par. Its quality is enough for some decent relaxation, but it may have side effects such as headaches and dizziness.
2. AA Grade Cannabis (Dubs)
AA grade strains, also known as dubs or mids, are most of the time the lowest grade and rating of weed you will find from most dispensaries in Canada. When it comes to effectiveness or appearance, these buds don’t stand a chance against AAA or AAAA buds, but they still have a place and will get a user stoned.
AA-grade may have a less desirable smell than AAA-grade or other top-quality weed but will still give you a smooth and pleasant smell. However, these buds are not well-formed and consistent in their texture and color, so placing them next to high-grade cannabis will not help dispensaries earn well, and that’s why it may be hard to find them in most shops, and you may have to ask for them.
AA grade strains will generally have some brown or off-color tinge in their green outlook or appearance, and also, the lower the grade level, the darker the ash you get when smoking. It is often referred to as “Reggie weed” or “dubs, and it contains more THC than the A grade. This particular strain offers variance in quality, and it’s not unusual to see AA- and AA+.
AA grade stains appeal to budget-minded shoppers and those looking to make their concentrates and edibles. This is a mid-grade weed that will give you value for your money where sometimes you may get lucky and get a decent AA flower.
3. AAA Grade Cannabis (Trips)
AAA weed is the most available, and it’s the top quality available, and it’s the current premium weed class. However, thanks to growing techniques improving, weed grades have significantly elevated, and even though it’s an excellent quality, it’s now considered a standard.
AAA Grade Cannabis, also known as Trips, has most characteristics of the AAAA grade but with a less bud density and some more discoloration. The higher-grade cannabis is available in different types, and it’s the most common cannabis form sold in most Canadian dispensaries and stores.
AAA Grade weed has an extremely high CBD and THC potency, and you can expect the strain to deliver almost maximum potency and feel the full effects of THC contained within. Trips are the grade most people consume as it’s considered a middle-of-the-road weed and has a wide range of hybrids and strains.
4. AAAA Grade Cannabis (Quads) & Beyond
AAAA Cannabis Grade level, also known as Quads, is the second-highest graded level in the weed grading system, and it sits pretty well on the top shelf. It is a good quality weed, and it ranks highly in every criterion, including bud size, THC/CBD content, trichome, aesthetics and terpenoid content.
In the AAAA grade cannabis quality level, you will find several strains. The level of quality will reflect its attributes with no questionable aromas and visible plentiful trichomes (hair-like features in flower). In addition, the buds are thick and well-groomed, and everything is well packed and looks clean, and it is crucial since the structure of buds and the existence of abundant trichomes is crucial when you consider the emerging of a top-quality strain.
AAAA Grade weed has a dank and pungent aroma, and they are decidedly pleasing with a well-developed taste and a consistent and smooth burn. AAAA weed has an overall coloration with a hint of purple or orange. It doesn’t have a harsh aftertaste, which is a good sign of a high-quality cannabis level. In addition, the presence of a less than healthy coloration ultimately means the quality is not that high.
Even if it has not reached perfection and it’s not the highest quality like the AAAAA grade weed, it comes close with the same qualities. The difference is almost unnoticeable apart from the dedicated weed users. AAAA weed is a premium weed grade quality, and this means that it comes with a premium price and is the best available quality in the weed grading system.
Why is the Weed Grade Chart Important?
In the cannabis industry, the cannabis grading system is vital because it helps providers in judging quality of their weed. Even though several systems determine quality, the most accurate representation is the AAAA grading.
When both the supply side and consumer can identify the different grades and their differences, they will understand better what to expect from their cannabis experience. Once you understand the rating system, you gain a new appreciation for cannabis plants. The grading system does not depend on the strain itself but the quality of a specific batch.
Who Uses Grades of Weed?
All the legalized cannabis stores supplied by Canada’s licensed growers don’t use the weed grade chart. Instead, they grade their cannabis by the THC and CBD potency determined by official lab tests, which allow the provider to price their cannabis depending on potency accurately. However, the tests meet legal requirements and may often fail to give consumers the complete picture of each product’s quality.
Nevertheless, most online dispensaries use this AAAA grading system to give users the best insight into the quality of weed they may be purchasing. Interestingly, consumers are not always looking for THC and CBD potency, and this is why having another indicator such as the AAAA grading system is necessary.
How to Determine your Cannabis Grade Quality?
Apart from detecting cannabis quality based on the THC or CBD level, there are other methods you can use to determine the quality of your plant before you make a purchase. Even low potency cannabis can be a high-quality product, and the most accurate ratings will look at the following:
a). Flower Structure
The flower or bud is the smokable yet trichome-covered part of the cannabis plant. It is soft, spongy, and somehow sticky, and it has evenly-shaped buds with a good amount of symmetry. Ensure they are not ragged and random in their appearance.
In any dispensary, the best quality level flowers usually are referred to as top shelf or private reserves, with other grades being the mid-shelf and bottom shelf flowers. Some of the typical flower grade characteristics include:
- Top shelf flowers are known for their geometrical buds and their sticky and spongy feel
- Mid-shelf flowers vary in characteristics, and they are based on their curing duration. They may be wet or dry and may contain a few stems.
- Bottom shelf flowers are the lowest quality grade and have brownish or off-color appearances, and they are pretty dry to their touch. In addition, they have an earthy smell due to poor environmental conditions, which will then cause the oxidation of THC to CBN (cannabinol).
b). Trichome Density
Trichomes are hair-like structures on the buds of the cannabis plant, and they are also reservoirs of THC. Also, they are the source of the high, and they will protect your plant from insects, pests and the sun.
- OOdles of trichomes are identified as high-quality cannabis
- Mid-shelf flowers are identified by their moderate yet defined frosty trichomes
- Bottom-shelf flowers are known by their low or almost non-existent trichomes
c). Terpene profile
Terpenes are compounds found in all plants, and they are responsible for their distinct aroma in the way cannabis smells. In cannabis, they work with compounds to produce the effects and therapeutic benefits of the cannabis plant. Notably, because of their strong odor, they may help to wade off the plant’s predators.
d). Sprays and Pesticides
Even though using chemical pesticides in cannabis cultivation is illegal, some cannabis growers may not observe the law. Apart from the potential health risks of ingesting these chemical residues, such residues or diseases could contribute to the quality of cannabis.
One of the ways of determining quality is to examine how it burns and the consistency of the ashes. This is mainly impacted by the curing methods, where more curing time indicates better quality.
In this process, moisture is reduced without overdrying cannabis because only the excess moisture needs to be eliminated. When you get this right, you achieve a steady burn that will not extinguish in the middle of the burn.
f). Ash Color
The ash color is another important clue that defines the quality of cannabis, where the best quality will leave white ashes. On the other hand, the poorest and low-quality batches will result in black to dark brown ash. Grey ash may indicate the decent quality of cannabis in the middle.
g). Flavor and Effect
Each cannabis grade and even a strain comes with a unique flavor profile and unique effects. These flavors usually cover a range of fruity, woodsy or earthy tones or at least they should, especially if the cannabis is of a decent quality.
Those poor in quality will be musty and have flavors that range from hardly distinguishable to harsh. However, fresh and distinct flavors will always be there in quality tier cannabis.
You may have never thought to understand the cannabis grading system in very convenient and straightforward terms, and this is not the only system, as there are others out there. All the systems are subjective, and this is a great starting point to understanding better. In addition, this read is a benchmark you can use to make your future purchases, and it allows you to have some faith in the products you will purchase and their quality.