As more and more people begin to use CBD products, smoking Hemp flower, in particular, is becoming a popular way to receive the benefits of cannabinoids. Even just a couple of years ago, the thought of smoking anything other than Delta-9 (THC) Cannabis was almost unheard of.
That all changed when the 2018 Hemp Farm Bill made it possible for large quantities of CBD Hemp flower to supply the market. Like Marijuana, Hemp flower has many different factors that determine whether or not it’s “good stuff”.
It’s more complex than just “I’d like some CBD Flower, please”. Read below to learn the techniques the experts use to identify good Cannabis flower. At Hurcann, these are some of the many methods we use to supple the best quality products to you.
How is it grown?
Hemp (and Marijuana) can be grown in similar styles to other plants that you might be more familiar with – think buying vegetables. They can be grown outdoors in massive industrial operations, often times with pesticides. These buds are likely to be cheaper than other alternatives growing methods. Another option is organic CBD, which is a more preferred option for most people.
CBD can also be grown outdoors on a small farm, or indoors in a more controlled environment. Often times CBD that is grown indoors will be more expensive. The grower has to incur greater costs to produce the buds and care for the plants. In exchange, you can achieve much higher levels of CBD and an overall more appealing product.
Any reputable CBD retailer will be able to provide you with all these answers and more if it’s not listed directly on the product packaging. Always check the testing results to examine the levels of certain compounds in the buds, as well as where it was grown! This is like checking the nutritional value label on something you eat. Of course, you want to check what ingredients you’re putting in your body. See below for more information on what to look for with testing.
How is it tested?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has outlined concrete guidelines for how Hemp is to be tested to ensure its quality and federal compliance. Each farm must supply samples of their crop, which undergoes laboratory quality assurance protocols. The testing also measures the THC concentration level to ensure it is below 0.03% of the dry weight (the legal limit).
A Certificate of Analysis (CoA) is a third-party lab test that is also completed and should be readily accessible for any buds you purchase. Beyond information about the THC level, a CoA will provide a breakdown of the levels of CBD, other cannabinoids, and terpenes present in the flower. It will also disclose where your flower was grown, who grew it, how they grew it, and if any pesticides were used.
How does it look?
A visual assessment is one of the best and easiest ways to evaluate the quality of the product. A quality CBD bud is going to have a nice dense structure. You shouldn’t really see any of the stems, and while the buds can form in a variety of shapes, they should look put together. This is a good sign the grower allowed the buds to mature, maximizing the production of the cannabinoids in the plant.
While not as important, the actual size of the buds is a good indicator as well. A large, plump bud was properly grown. Don’t be alarmed if the buds aren’t large, as certain strains produce different size buds. Keep these tools in your visual toolbox, and as long as the buds are dense, that’s a promising sign of a good product.
How does it smell?
Checking the smell of the plant is also important. The smell of the Hemp plant is aromatic due to the terpenes present. A good CBD hemp bud has a pungent smell, whether sweet or spicy. A weak smell means a weak, poorly gown flower. This factor is essential and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Believe it or not, it’s the terpenes in the plant that differentiate the type of strain it is, not the cannabinoids. The terpenes are the aromatic compounds in Cannabis (or any plant); they work together with the cannabinoids to create the Entourage Effect. The hundreds of unique aromas and flavors of terpenes are what differentiate one strain from another.
Some of the top terpenes are:
What strain is it?
CBD flower is interesting because there are no two strains that look or smell exactly the same. They all offer different effects depending on what you want to use them for. Some strains are better for relaxing and calming anxiety, while others are better for morning-time use when you might need an extra boost for the day.
There are more strains available than is possible to list, but some interesting strains that are high in CBD include:
- Ringo’s Gift
- Sweet and Sour Widow
- Stephen Hawking Kush
- Sour Tsunami
Indica or Sativa?
If you read our post on Cannabinoids, you’ll know that “Sativa” was a scientific name given to Hemp in the 18th century. This term, which is Latin for “cultivated”, does not mean that all Hemp is a Sativa.
While Hemp is considered a part of the Cannabis Sativa lineage, breeding different strains has created both Indica and Sativa versions of the plant.
Similar to Marijuana, different effects can be achieved depending if you choose one or the other. Also, don’t forget about those hybrids!
There are other factors about the company (brand) you are purchasing from that can provide a strong indicator if you should actually purchase from them. Always check their contact information to ensure they are a reputable company. This includes, but is not limited to, hours of operation, a phone number (preferably for customer service), a physical address, or other means of contact that would lead to direct communication.
You can also look for product guarantees. A money-back guarantee isn’t a requirement for a Hemp supplier, but if a company is willing to offer you a monetary assurance of their product, it’s a good sign that they actually believe in the product. No business wants to deal with a bulk of returns, so chances are if they offering you the option to return what you purchase, you probably won’t want to.
How much $?
The price of CBD Hemp flower should be directly correlated to the inputs we covered above. According to DailyCBD’s top Hemp Flower brands of 2021, the cost for a desirable eighth (3.5g) ranges from $15-$35. A quarter (7g) is in the range of $20-$50, and one-half ounce (14g) is between $70-$100 (for brands that offer this size). Amounts above an ounce (28g) are usually subject to wholesale pricing, with price benchmarks at the one-quarter pound, one-half pound, and one-pound.
If the range of prices seems pretty wide, that’s because it is. Make sure to use the indicators we’ve provided to ensure a fair deal. The price should be justified by the growing method, plant compound levels, testing, and strain. If there isn’t concrete information to justify the price, it isn’t a quality flower purchase. Try to remember that the power of branding can make a bad product look good– just because the packaging looks appealing, doesn’t mean the product is good!
What’s the future look like?
There’s no doubt that CBD is a great alternative to things like cigarette smoking, and provides almost immediate relief to users. As the industry evolves, we expect that the production of Hemp derived CBD will become much more specific.
Growers and scientists are actively working on isolating certain cannabinoids that will further designate certain strains for certain ailments and reliefs. There is also a newly evolving craft and artisanal niche of the industry – don’t be surprised in a couple of years if “exotic CBD” strains becoming more easily available.
Indoor growing technology, in particular, is advancing the grower’s ability to produce buds that have high amounts of CBD and other cannabinoids. These levels are much higher than were thought possible and could have benefits to both medical and recreational users.
TLDR: A large supply of Hemp has been introduced to the masses at hyper-speed since 2018, and it’s important to make sure you understand what you’re purchasing before you buy it. There are several factors that can help you make the right purchase, whether you are planning to buy online or in a physical retail store location. One of the biggest factors that distinguish the quality of Hemp flower is how it’s grown. An outdoor flower is often grown at an industrial scale and is more likely to use synthetic chemicals and pesticides in the growing process. Indoor Hemp is usually more expensive because it requires more effort and care to grow, but usually with better quality results. Always check the testing results for the flower you are purchasing to get information on where it was grown, who grew it, how it was grown, and if any pesticides or chemicals were used in the growing process. Testing results will also provide critical information about the different levels of Cannabis compounds present in the buds. If you are purchasing from a physical location, the look and smell of your Hemp can tell you a lot about the quality. A quality flower will smell strong of terpenes and will have a dense bud structure. There are different Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid strains available (similar to Marijuana) depending on your desired effects. Research the brand you are buying from and look for customer service channels and return policies. It’s a good sign if the brand stands behind the product(s) you are interested in purchasing. The cost of quality flower primarily depends on a variety of factors listed, but generally speaking, you should expect an eighth (3.5g) ranges from $15-$35, a quarter (7g) is in the range of $20-$50, and one-half ounce (14g) is between $70-$100. In the future, you should expect even more options for Hemp CBD flower, including “exotic strains”, that will likely come with an increased range of prices.