5 Qualities of Top-Shelf CBD Hemp Flower – How to Tell at a Glance

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So you’re browsing a brand-new dispensary’s shelves and the enthusiastic attendant is smooth-talking you into a purchase. Try the Sunset Road Sherbet, they said, it’ll be fun, they said. And while the catchy sales talk might just teeter you over the edge into finalising the transaction, it’s worth remembering that you don’t always have to rely on what the guy behind the counter has to say.

If you don’t want to come home from the dispensary with a bag of hemp that doesn’t meet the expectations set by that overly-eager (and almost creepy) shop assistant, then you might want to look for these qualities to guarantee you’re getting top-shelf hemp flower.

, 5 Qualities of Top-Shelf CBD Hemp Flower – How to Tell at a Glance, ISMOKE


Anyone who has had their fair share of walking through a dispensary should know that hemp flower can come in a reasonable array of colours. Sure, they’re all pretty much green, but if you’ve got a keen eye, then you should notice a variety of hues that underline the herb’s overall look.

Some strains will take on a bluish-green tinge, while others stand out with bright, rich purple undertones. In general, these samples tend to provide the best effects, earning them a rightful spot on the top-shelf. But since hemp flower of this calibre can be pretty rare, some other colourways might suit your standards.

Hemp flowers that tout deep, dark green leaves come pretty close to the top-shelf, providing its user with potent benefits. But be warned – not all robust colourways work in favour of the user. In general, reddish, brownish, or yellowish colours indicate poor quality and dampened chemical profiles, so try to avoid flowers that manifest these colours.


According to Plain Jane, it doesn’t matter how much care and thought goes into growing the hemp plant itself – if it isn’t dried and cured properly, then it’s all for nought. If your local dispensary attendant will let you, go ahead and grab into the jar. What does the bud feel like to touch?

If the stuff breaks up too easily, crumbling under the slightest touch, then it’s been dried too much. For you, this means that the flower might have lost significant chemistry through heat during the drying process, making it much less potent had some moisture been retained.

On the other hand, if the stuff feels too wet – like it was plucked off of a living plant just a few weeks ago – then that means it wasn’t dried enough. In this case, the issue would be the growth of mold, especially during storage, which won’t only take away from the hemp’s quality but also impose risks on your health.

To tell if you’re holding a quality piece of hemp flower, it should break with a moderate touch, but it should crumble under your fingers. It should also leave a sticky residue on your fingers, indicating that the bud is rich with precious resin.


Take a nice, good look at that flower in your hands – do you see all the complexity on its surfaces? Probably not. A reputable store should have some sort of magnification device at the ready to help buyers inspect all those details. If they don’t have one, then you might be able to get a similar effect by taking a macro shot on your phone and then zooming in.

Those little fuzzy things on the surface of the bud are called trichomes. They’re the resin glands of the hemp plant, so to speak, and that’s where all the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavounoids come from. And while you might have already deduced by now, more trichomes means more cannabinoid goodness.

Hemp flower that’s hacked with a machine trimmer can lose a lot of its trichomes. In general, true, top-shelf hemp flower should be tightly and neatly hand-trimmed to avoid all of the unnecessary shaking and rough handling that machine trimmer cause.

, 5 Qualities of Top-Shelf CBD Hemp Flower – How to Tell at a Glance, ISMOKE


Another element of the whole hemp flower package is the presence of pistils. These are typically yellow-orange to red in colour, but again, higher quality hemp tends to teeter towards the blue-purple end of the spectrum.

While pistils don’t produce THC, CBD, or other cannabinoids like trichomes do, they tell you more about the plant’s maturity. So aside from colour, you’re going to want to look at the quantity of the pistils on the nugs. Is there an abundance of those little, fiery hairs do you have to push aside some of the leaves to really see them peeking through?

Hemp flower that’s harvested at the perfect time in its maturity should have a significant number of these pistils. This also lends clue to the level of experience that the farmer behind the flower has. More pistils can mean that the herb was probably grown under the care of someone who really knows their hemp, but this can also be dependent on genetics.


Closely tied with texture, structure pertains to the overall silhouette of the buds in question. Good hemp should be tightly packed, even if you’re buying sativa strains that tend to be slightly airier than the indicas. You shouldn’t see the stems in between, and the leaves definitely shouldn’t be breaking off with the slightest touch.

If the hemp you’re buying is sold in pre-measured mylar bags, then take a peek into the packet. Are there too many loose leaves or shakes at the bottom? Top-shelf hemp should come in dense nugs with very little break-off. If there are too many loose leaves, then you can bet your bottom dollar that ain’t top-shelf.

Know Your Hemp Flower

It’s true — there are way too many opportunistic vendors out there hoping to make a quick buck off of an unsuspecting buyer. So don’t be fooled by the smooth sales talk or the eye-popping discount offers. Instead, take a minute to really see what you’re getting. Does this hemp live up to what it’s chalked up to be? A quick glance should be all you need to tell whether you’re dealing with top-shelf flower.

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