The legal cannabis market that has exploded in Oklahoma has adopted the universal classification standard of “bottom-,” “middle-,” and “top-shelf.” And you’ll just have to take their word for it, until you know what the hell you’re looking at in those shiny glass cylinders of bud.
Let’s break down the basic cannabis qualities you need to know the next time an over-zealous budtender tries to pass off some poorly-grown schwag as the top-shelf cure to whatever ails you.
- Strength: True top-shelf cannabis is going to pack a punch. With THC percentages between 20% and 30%, if you aren’t careful, it will hit you harder than I was hit with the sad realization that I will never be able to use my own eyes to see the back of my head. This was after smoking top-shelf cannabis, of course.
- Smell: Opening a container of top-shelf cannabis should smell like you are being sprayed by a celestial skunk whose atoms are comprised entirely of physically incarnated joy, happiness and maybe a few berries, lemons and — weirdly enough — diesel fuel. True top-grade cannabis can be smelled from across a room.
- Bud Structure & Appearance: Typically, high-quality cannabis buds are thick and dense. The best kind of thiccc, with three “c’s” and a funky background track. It will range from bright green to dark purple and may contain hints of orange. All of this vibrancy will be coated in a frosty crystalline layer of cannabinoid-packed trichomes.
- Price Point: Our market is still kind of crazy at the moment — unstable, like the aunt my family no longer invites to Thanksgiving. I’ve seen true top-shelf go from anywhere between $15 and $25 a gram.
- Strength: With THC percentages ranging from 12% to 19%, middle-shelf cannabis is the epitome of getting the job done. It’s like a Honda Civic: Nothing spectacular but will get you from A to B and — if treated well — may even smell and look nice!
- Smell: Mid-shelf cannabis will still have a distinct, skunky aroma. And it is still a celestial skunk, but instead of being sprayed by the skunk, you are smelling its tantalizing galactic aromas from a mile away…after the skunk had a frisky encounter with an ornery celestial pupper. The smell will still be distinct, with its notes of citrus, berries and fossil fuels, but it will not be as pungent or noticeable from a distance.
- Bud Structure & Appearance: Mid-grade cannabis is still good cannabis. While it may be less dense than its top-shelf counterpart, the buds will still be fully formed and most of the small leaves will have been trimmed away. The buds will not be as bright and varied in color but will still be distinctly green and may still have some slight hints of purple and orange.
- Price Point: Middle-shelf is by far the most common type of flower in our market today. Some places will pass it off as top-shelf — like I said, this market is crazy. But as crazy as it is, mid-grade cannabis is still reasonable; you can expect to pay between $8 and $15 a gram for yer middies.
- Strength: You get what you pay for, and budget bud will remind you of this immutable law. You can expect this stuff to have a THC percentage between 5% and 10%. Yeah, it’s smokeable, but you may have to smoke enough to compete with the crisis in the Amazon to get where you want to be.
- Smell: If you are lucky, meds at this price point might smell like cannabis. Most of it I’ve encountered had a faintly earthy aroma that reminded me vaguely of wet hay or lawn clippings.
- Bud Structure & Appearance: Lower quality cannabis will have a very loose bud structure. It may be reminiscent of a smaller version of the Christmas trees you start to see in dumpsters around early January, dried out and sparse. Generally, the buds on bottom-shelf cannabis will have a yellow or brown tint to them; they may also still have a lot of small leaves attached to the stems. Be wary of seeds!
- Price Point: This is the literal selling point. Budget bud can be found for as low as $5 a gram.
These are general guidelines. Keep in mind that finding overpriced bad cannabis is just as possible as finding quality cannabis on the cheap, if you know what you’re looking for. The goal is to be more informed, so you can make the make the best decisions with your cannabis and cash! (For stingy stoner tips…)