What Is Cannabis Quality?

Quality is determined by the factors most important to an individual consumer. For some, this may be the potency. For more experienced consumers, quality is related to factors like package date and growing techniques. Essentially, it comes down to what is important to you and how deeply you want to research products and licensed producers. Experts and cannabis connoisseurs agree that quality can be refined into three main elements colour, structure, and texture (aka CST profiles). CST profiles are the visual and physical components of cannabis that encompass everything that has created the bud you see before you, like growing techniques and dry-curing methods. They’re also a great reflection of if the flower has been harvested at the optimal time.

Written By: Aly K. Benson 

AKB is a biracial indigenous media personality, digital strategist, and the first Residential Sommelier to work for recreational and medical Licensed Producers in Canada.

The High Giant

Amante's Tropicanna Banana usually has multiple buds in each jar. However, this does not affect this flower's potency or quality.

An example of “packed” flower structure. Sour Z3 by Eastcann.


Let's be honest. No one likes to open a package of dried flower and see dull coloured buds - we earn for bright varieties of colours, hues, and tones for each anatomical structure. Quality flower has a diverse colour spectrum in the sugar leaves, pistils, trichomes, and calyx core. Faded colours in cannabis are due to oxidization and lack of flavonoids, terpenes, and possibly a lack of nutrients in the growing process. Dull colours can also parallel the smell of your cannabis, meaning it may have a hay-like aroma. 

Top-quality cannabis flowers should have golden-amber pistils and vibrant green sugar leaves. In addition, you may notice tones of red, purple, or blue in sugar leaves, indicating the genetic characteristics of the cultivar (strain). One of the most important elements of cannabis quality is the liveliness of the trichomes; the most desired cannabis flower has a sparkle to it because of the well-preserved trichomes. 

Colour is vital to recognize the genetics optimized during the growing process.


Amante's Tropicanna Banana usually has multiple buds in each jar. However, this does not affect this flower's potency or quality.

An example of organically grown cannabis. Sugarbush by TGOD.

Cannabis structure can be a tricky thing. Realistically, it comes down to your bud's genetics paired with the licensed producer's growing methods. If you're a consumer who regularly purchases from the same LP, you may notice different cultivars can still look very similar. This is due to master growers using similar techniques for all their cultivars. In contrast, master growers who utilize the characteristics of genetics can have a catalog of dried flower where none look similar to the other. It all depends on the growing process. It's also important to remember that cannabis changes its structure slightly during the dry-curing process. Pistils recoil into the flower, and it becomes more tightly packed. Most cannabis flowers take the form of a teardrop, also known as a calyx shape.

Structural characteristics can vary with the influence of growing techniques like organic practices. Organically grown flower tends to bloom more - meaning, most of the time, it is not as tightly packed. It's also important to note that trimming significantly impacts the structure of your cannabis. An undesirable aspect of flower is seeing too large of sugar leaves, or worse, reminiscent of fan leaves.


Amante's Tropicanna Banana usually has multiple buds in each jar. However, this does not affect this flower's potency or quality.

An example of a high-quality trichome expression. Black Pearl by Cake and Caviar.

The best way to think about cannabis texture is to compare it to the terrain of different geographical areas. Different environments and elements play into the landscape we see and feel. Dried cannabis texture usually comes down to one main component, the moisture factor. Cannabis should never crumble when you handle it; it should be squishy, bouncy, and sticky. Our team suggests a squeeze test to indicate if your dried cannabis has a good texture.

The texture is the biggest reflection of trichome expression, harvest time, and the dry-curing process. It's also extremely relevant to the packaging quality. One of the best methods to test your packaging quality is to consider the form of the packaging itself. Mylar bags may disrupt the texture because of a lack of protection. Cannabis sold in jars or containers are required to have a seal. It's recommended to lightly press into the center of the seal with light pressure to see if it breaks open. You will likely see a better texture profile if the packaging stays intact.

Our blog writer Aly is the Co-Founder of The Different Collective. TDC is a group of diverse, like-minded cannabis educators, connoisseurs, freelancers & industry workers who want to bring a larger sense of community back into the cannabis industry.

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