The Grading of Cannabis 


The cannabis industry has a problem. Or perhaps it is the consumer who has the issue. That problem is the unregulated nature and lack of consensus in the grading language of marijuana for retail markets. This makes it almost impossible for a person to determine the quality of a product based on the common conventions used in the industry within the medium of the written word. 

So many of us have heard such descriptivism as Hydro, Tops, Quads, Dubs, outdoor, Greenhouse, Kush Etc. All overlapping in their meaning, but used interchangeably based on the person and the marijuana in question. These terms have become so watered down, as to become almost useless in describing quality. 

Some legitimate dispensary’s have forgone these descriptions, and instead use THC percentage as a yard stick for quality. This also has many pitfalls, one being that after a certain point THC percentage isn’t a great hallmark of quality, smoothness or flavor. Also, in today’s eco system of pay to win lab results. The percentages themselves are not to be trusted, as the lab oversite itself is highly questionable.  

One commonality for the growers is the grading of marijuana based on size. This sizing is done to all crops, and uses the alphabetical grading system in the marijuana growing industry. The top crowns of the crop being the highest grade, then the lower buds, then the tiny popcorn buds, all the way down to the trim from the manicuring of the crop itself. In a large high-end crop, the very largest crowns are graded AAAA in size, the term “quad” coming from the 4 A’s in the designation.  while the very lowest branches that get less light are graded B. Then there is everything in between. 

The issue comes from the fact that some strains, although highly desirable and potent, produce smaller flowers. So, if grading strictly on size, some of the best quality marijuana in the world may be only graded as a AA.  The famous strain Peanut Butter Breath, by Thug Pug Genetics is a notoriously small producer size wise. While remaining one of the premier strains in the market. So this has caused the Alphabetical grading system to attempt to morph into a catch all term to rate the overall quality, along with size. Which just muddies the waters further.  

The Strain is also an area where there is a vast amount of mis-information. For although strains do have inherent quality’s, there is no oversite in genetic protections for marijuana strains that are stringently enforced worldwide. This causes a situation where there are infinite versions of a specific strain, all diluted and cross bread being sold under that name, unless it has the seal of authenticity from a reliable seed supplier from the grower. Even then, anything from seed can exhibit a myriad of characteristics that may not be endemic of the strain. Only a clone can truly contain the exact genetics of a desired strain, and only a clone from the single origin mother.  

 The desire for a specific strain is far less important than the grower of the crop. If brand recognition is desirable, I feel that the growers and their branding is a very good reference to the consistency and quality of a product. While strand name without reference to the grower is almost useless in it defining the quality of the final product. 

 In Summary, there is no replacement for a good relationship between a retailor, and the customer. The knowledge of the retailor as a go between, between the customers and the growers helps to enact a sort of quality control and consistency that the customer can then use to make informed purchases.