As New York prepares to open their first recreational cannabis dispensaries, you will likely be blown away by the sheer amount of bud variety. If you’re a beginner, it can be hard to tell which ones are the real creme-de-la-creme.
Of course, the top-shelf bud is usually easy to distinguish from the discount flower. Dense buds glistening with trichomes compared to a lackluster washed-out looking nug.
Many people believe that indoor-grown weed is always top-shelf while outdoor bud is considered lower-grade. However, the final bud’s quality depends not only on the environment but especially on the grower.
So what makes quality weed, and is there a difference between buds grown indoors versus outdoors?
Find out as we take a deep dive into how indoor and outdoor grow environments contribute to the quality of the cannabis you smoke and how to tell the difference between them.
Differences of Bud Grown Outdoors Versus Indoors
When growing cannabis, there are so many variables to consider—temperature, light, nutrients, airflow, genetics, and much more.
When growing cannabis indoors, growers can control the environment. Usually, that means that growers can make quality buds much easier.
Controlling humidity, temperature, light, and so on will keep the plant growing at its very best. The result of a happy and healthy cannabis plant is a much more potent bud.
Outdoors, cannabis plants are at the mercy of the nature around them. Sudden heat, flash floods, and pests can negatively affect the plants as they grow—creating weaker buds.
Imagine starting cannabis plants outside in New York when an unexpected freeze sets in. Likely the plants will die, or they will suffer and not grow to their maximum potential.
However, cannabis can be top-shelf no matter where it was grown. Experienced growers outside can create much better marijuana than novice growers with the very best indoor equipment.
How to Determine Weed Quality
So if good weed can be grown anywhere, how do I determine bud quality? The best way to tell a bud’s quality is through different senses like look, taste, smell, and feel.
Many people claim that bud color is a dead giveaway of where a marijuana plant was grown. However, plenty of indoor growers will produce darker weed, while outdoor-grown weed may be lighter and vice versa.
That’s because it has nothing to do with where it was grown but how it was produced. Some people think the darker color might come from cannabis plants that weren’t harvested correctly.
Others believe that a lighter color might come from weed that was harvested too early. Or it could just be the genetics of a particular strain.
Does Bigger Nugs Always Mean Better?
If you find yourself in a New York City marijuana dispensary comparing only the buds’ size—it probably won’t tell you anything.
A colossal weed plant outside may not have as large buds as a smaller cannabis plant grown indoors. Once again, it’s up to genetics, grower experience, and growing techniques.
The density of a nug is one of the visual qualities that may be useful. Dense nugs usually mean that a bud was grown indoors.
That’s because airy or fluffier buds happen because of too much heat. If a marijuana plant is outside, it’s at the mercy of nature, and a hot week during flowering could reduce the buds’ density.
However, a novice grower indoors could make the same mistake. Placing lights too close or not removing heat from a grow room can make buds grow less dense and foxtail.
Genetics also plays a factor in bud density. Some strains, particularly sativas, grow a little looser than indicas.
The Nose Knows
One of the best ways to determine good quality bud is by using your nose. Great cannabis will have an intense and pleasant fragrance.
It doesn’t matter if the bud was grown outdoors or indoors. Great smelling bud comes from the curing process.
Curing not only makes buds smell great but adds to their potency too. If you notice a strain having a musty or weak aroma, likely it wasn’t cured properly and is probably sub-par quality.
The next time you’re in a New York or New Jersey medical marijuana dispensary, check for trichome density. Trichomes are the tiny white crystals that can be found covering the bud.
Top-shelf weed should be drenched in trichomes, and some can even look like a snow-capped peak. It’s difficult to see individual trichomes, but the denser the trichomes, the higher-quality the bud.
The way a bud feels can also tell you a bit of it because it has to do with moisture. When buds are harvested, they need to be appropriately dried, cured, and then stored carefully.
If you squeeze a bud and it crumbles and breaks apart too quickly, it’s too dry. If the bud is easy to break apart but a little spongy, then it’s just right.
Buds should have a little bit of moisture in them to stay at peak quality. If a bud is too wet, that can cause the bud to grow mildew.
If it’s too dry, that probably means it wasn’t harvested or cured correctly. Improperly harvested weed can degrade THC, leading to inferior quality pot.
One other sign of quality is looking at how the bud was trimmed. Although it has nothing to do with how the plant was grown, that detail can mean a lot.
Trimming can take a lot of time and effort. A grower who cares about their crop will carefully trim their weed.
Usually, people who grow indoors will trim their buds much better than outdoors. That’s because the overall yield from an outdoor crop can be massive.
With such a large yield, it may be difficult to manicure every bud to perfection.
However, this may not always be the case, but it’s something to consider when you’re browsing a medical marijuana dispensary in NYC or NJ.
Naturally, the best way to tell the quality of cannabis is to smoke it. Top-quality buds will be smooth, flavorful, and never give you a headache.
Bad-quality cannabis will have a harsh smoke, bad taste, and may even crackle. This can happen if the cannabis wasn’t correctly dried or cured.
Some people believe that the color of the ash after smoking can tell you something about the weed’s quality. That’s a myth that’s been debunked, and white ash does not mean better quality.
Any weed burned for long enough will turn into grey or white ash. The only thing ash might tell you is if the weed may be a bit too moist if it stays black for a long time.
Don’t worry about the ash color as long as the weed smokes good, tastes good, and goes down smooth.
One last thing to be aware of is dangerous chemicals like pesticides and heavy metals creeping their way into your weed. Unfortunately, there’s no way for a consumer to test the cannabis themselves.
Finding pesticides and other chemicals in cannabis requires expensive and complex laboratory equipment. The good news is, all cannabis products in New York or New Jersey medical dispensaries must be tested for dangerous chemicals, bacteria, mold, and more.
You can purchase cannabis that has its testing results linked or printed on the packaging for added peace of mind.
If weed grown outdoors and indoors can be of similar quality, why are the prices so different? The reason is simply because of energy and logistics.
If you think about weed that’s grown indoors, electricity is required to run the lights, fans, hydro systems—basically everything. We’re sure you know that electricity isn’t cheap.
For example, electricity in New York City costs on average 21.9 cents an hour. Running two 1,000 watt lights, not including everything else, will cost upwards of $300 per month.
Now think of a warehouse that has dozens of 1,000-watt lights running full blast every day. That’s the most significant advantage outdoor growing has over indoor growing because the sun is free.
Since indoor growers have a higher cost, their buds are usually more expensive. That’s why indoor growers tend to make their buds as premium as possible—to get a good return on investment.
Outdoor growers can push pounds of bud quickly without spending a fortune on electricity. That’s why they can sell their cannabis for much lower prices.
Another thing to consider is that bud in New York City dispensaries must be grown in their respective state. Since cannabis can’t be imported from another state, that leads to less competition and higher prices.
If cannabis gets legalized on a national level, we might start seeing cheaper buds coming from states with a more developed cannabis industry. In any case, as long as the cannabis industry continues to grow in New York and New Jersey, prices will likely begin to decrease.
Now that you know how to find quality buds, what’s the best way to smoke it? That depends on your taste.
If you’re living in New York City, we know that life moves fast. If you need to smoke on the go, discreetly, we recommend vaping.
Vaporizers can be a bit pricey up front, but they’re efficient in the long run. Not only that but vaporizing cannabis is healthier than smoking it. Trichomes burn at a lower temperature than the bud leaf, therefore the vaporizer allows you to avoid inhaling unnecessary carcinogens from the burnt leaf.
If you’re with friends or others, a blunt wrap, rolling papers, or a pipe will do. Bongs and water pipes are great for filtering the smoke through water.
Now that you know how to find quality buds, you’ll be able to shop confidently at any New York City or New Jersey marijuana dispensary. Just remember to inspect each bud thoroughly, and you’ll never go wrong.