The Fragrance of Marijuana Before and After Consumption
Marijuana is the dried leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant. Cannabis has psychoactive and medicinal properties because of its chemical makeup.
Marijuana can be rolled up in a handmade cigarette (a joint), in a cigar, or in a pipe (a bong). It can be used for pain relief, to treat anxiety, or for recreation.
In many states, the sale and use of marijuana without a prescription is still illegal.
You can usually tell if someone has been smoking marijuana by detecting the scent of piney, slightly skunky grass that smoked cannabis leaves behind.
But figuring out for sure if what you’re smelling is weed can be a little difficult if you aren’t attuned to the scent. Various strains of marijuana can smell different from each other, making it even more complicated.
This article will cover what marijuana smells like in different stages of its use and consumption, as well as some differences between strains.
The strongest factor in the way marijuana smells is the age of the cannabis plant when it’s harvested. Cannabis that’s harvested earlier in its life cycles has a milder, less skunky scent.
It’s also less powerful when you smoke it. Cannabis that grows older before it’s picked and dried will have a stronger odor.
Organic compounds called terpenes are found in all plants, including cannabis. Myrcene (mango), pinene (pine), and limonene (lemon) are terpenes found in some strains of cannabis.
Terpenes change the scent of marijuana. For example, cannabis strains with pinene will smell more like pine.
Marijuana plants smell similar during the growing process and when they’re harvested and dried. They give off a slightly weedy, piney “skunk” scent that gets stronger as the plant grows older.
When cannabis flowers and blooms, the scent becomes powerful.
Indica vs. sativa
For decades, botanists and marijuana connoisseurs claimed that indica and sativa are different species with distinctly different effects on the body. Indica strain smells more acrid, while sativa smells more spicy or sweet.
But it would appear, at least to some experts, that there’s no way to smell the difference between indica and sativa definitively. Part of the reason is that there’s a lot of crossbreeding between these two particular strains.
However, one small study did find that participants who had purchased weed within the prior several months were able to smell the difference between several different strains of marijuana.
Marijuana consumers describe the scent of the plant as earthy, herbal, and woody. Sometimes the plant scent carries notes of lemon, apple, diesel, or plum.
Dried marijuana smells a lot stronger than some other dried plants.
When you’re smoking marijuana, the natural scent of the cannabis scent is amplified by the smoke it creates. Fire, smoke itself, ash, and the smell of rolling paper add additional layers to the scent.
When a person is smoking cannabis, notes of lemongrass, pine, fire, and wood may stand out. The distinct “skunk” smell of marijuana is often reported.
Learn about what gives marijuana its distinctly "skunky," strong odor, and how marijuana smells in plant form, when it's smoked, and more.
Cannabis has a unique and rather pungent smell. Some people describe it as skunky, others absolutely love it. But no matter what you think about it, it’s too potent a smell to ignore.
With more and more countries like Canada legalizing marijuana, Cannabis smell is becoming more of an issue in densely populated areas.
What Makes Cannabis Smell?
The word “Cannabis” comes from the Hebrew expression Kneh-Bosm, which literally translates into “aromatic reed.”
The smell actually comes from terpenes, tiny volatile molecules created by the cannabis plant. These terpenes are the aromatic component of the plant’s essential oils. Biologically, they function as deterrents for predators like insects or mammals. While cannabis plants produce more than 1,000 different types of terpenes, only a few can be distinguished by the human nose. Two prominent examples are limonene and pinene.
Why is Cannabis Odor Control Important?
Different strains of marijuana produce different amounts of terpenes and degrees of odor. However, marijuana growers (who cultivate the plant not for its fiber and edible seeds but mostly for its psychotropic effects of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC) often choose the most potent strains, which might lead to official complaints from people exposed to the smell in the surrounding areas.
And they won’t look for less potent plants anytime soon, if the results of a recent study have anything to say about it. Why? Because smell might be a perceived indicator of quality, researchers determined in the study. When participants had to describe the smell of different strains of marijuana using 48 different sensory traits, it became apparent that the more potent marijuana varieties sparked more interest and a willingness to pay higher prices.
Study Describes Cannabis Smell
At wine tastings, connoisseurs might describe the liquid offerings as oaky or fruity, with a hint of blackberry or walnut etc. In the cannabis smell study, participants used similar sensory traits for pot.
The most commonly used ones were earthy, herbal and woody, while flowery, citrus and pungent were also used quite often. Interestingly enough, they also described the marijuana samples with sensory traits like diesel, chemical, tobacco, ammonia and tar, which are arguably quite unpleasant (and possibly dangerous) to people in the neighbourhood.
Managing Cannabis Odor is Good Business
Taking control of strong cannabis smells is a good idea if growers want to stay in business.
In 2016, one of North Denver’s largest growing operation was ordered to shut down after residents complained of the pungent smell. The case marked one of the first instances that a routine license renewal was refused. The complainants had said that the smell was affecting the quality of life of residents living nearby and made it difficult to improve the community. Luckily, marijuana growers can control the air quality in their facilities quite easily.
The Most Effective Filters For Cannabis Odor
According to a leading cannabis user magazine, Leafly, one of the most popular and efficient ways to control cannabis odor in a growing environment is to use a carbon filter.
The cannabis plants’ odor-causing molecules, terpenes, can effectively be trapped by a deep-bed activated carbon filter. The extremely porous activated carbon adsorbs the volatile organic compounds and traps them on its vast surface area.
If growers opt for a combined HEPA and carbon filter, they can not only control the cannabis smell, but also airborne particles and dust as well as microorganism that could harm the plants.
Marijuana growers have a lot of conditions to manage in their growing environment, including the right amount of humidity, light and watering. Air quality is just one other aspect of the business they need to take into account to be successful.
Cannabis has a unique and rather pungent smell. Some people describe it as skunky, others absolutely love it. But no matter what you think about it, it’s too potent a smell to ignore. With more and more countries like Canada legalizing marijuana, Cannabis smell is becoming more of an issue in densely populated areas