“Top-shelf” is slang for a high-quality cannabis product often priced to be the most expensive on a menu. In terms of cannabis flower, top-shelf will exhibit an aesthetically pleasant appearance, demonstrate desirable terpene aromas and flavors, and have a high cannabinoid content. Top-shelf weed is alternately referred to as loud weed for its potent fragrance and high quality. It also has other synonyms, including dank and chronic.

weed joint container Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Good weed vs. bad weed

An experienced budtender may be able to guide you, but when it comes to separating good weed from bad, trust your senses. Specifically:

  • Smell. Though there might be some variety in specific scents between strains, all weed should have a strong, pungent aroma. Moldy, musty, or straw-like aromas all point to low-grade cannabis that should be avoided. 
  • Appearance. Deep green buds with orange or red hairs and a heavy coat of glistening trichomes indicate top-shelf weed. While some high-grade buds are a little fluffy and others more dense, anything that's either rock-hard or very light and fluffy should be avoided. 
  • Feel. All those trichomes should make quality weed a bit sticky. The nug should also feel a bit spongy but never wet or damp.

Some point to potency or the flower's THC level as an indicator of quality but that's not necessarily true. Like everything else about enjoying cannabis, the level of THC in your weed is a matter of preference. Some people prefer the experience of less THC or more balanced THC-to-CBD strains.

In the end, top-shelf weed means high-quality, cannabinoid- and terpene-rich cannabis produced without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers.  

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The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical or legal advice. This page was last updated on February 1, 2021.