When it comes to marijuana, most seasoned smokers probably consider themselves a bit of an expert in their own eyes, but in reality the notion that smoking a whole lot of pot makes you a weed expert is like claiming that driving a car every day automatically qualifies you as a professional NASCAR driver.
Sadly, this just isn’t so.
As a professional cannabis critique writer, I have the best job on the planet. I mean who wouldn’t want to get tons of free weed AND get paid to write about it? However, writing about cannabis is not about smoking pot all day and then throwing some words together that read like two cavemen arguing over whose fire is hotter.
It takes a certain level of expertise to be able to differentiate between very similar strains so that your readers, customers or friends learn to trust your judgment. My goal for you - our loyal Merry Jane reader - is that by the time you finish reading this you’ll be able to pick out Gorilla Glue #4 by smell alone while in a room with five real gorillas gluing woodcrafts together.
If you’re ready to take your ganja game to the next level, here are a few ways to talk like an expert and leave your friends in awe of your magnificence:
Appearance: trichomes, pistils and foliage, oh my!
This is usually the first thing you’ll notice about a strain. To the untrained eye, most buds look quite similar: greenish, sparkly and slightly hairy. However, if you were to describe a strain using those words, chances are you wouldn’t impress anybody and you’d find yourself out of a critiquing job.
Instead of using general terms like saying “it’s big and green”, look for more subtle details. If you don’t already know what the scientific names for “hairs” and “crystals” are, ask Google. The key to being able to describe a strain’s appearance like an expert is to think critically and look for specific traits that make this bud stand out from all of the others.
Are there tiny ballerinas dancing on the leaves? Does the plant look like Willie Nelson’s golden braids? Use your imagination and give your audience a reason to smoke this bad boy.
One of the easiest ways to discover whether someone is full of actual cannabis knowledge or just full of shit is by their vocabulary. If you hear someone refer to trichomes as “trichromes” or “crystally thingies”, chances are you should not be asking that budtender for advice. Instead, hand them this article and politely offer to teach them the ways of the Dank Side.
Smell: how to utilize the true potential of your sniffer
Once you’ve picked apart the initial visual cues, it’s time to move on to the smell. To most marijuana novices, all buds smell like Christmas trees or dead skunks (or so says my wife). Sure, this might be a brave way to put it, but who wants the image of a road-killed striped animal going through their heads when toking up?
To hone your skills, try this exercise:
Open your nug jar and bring it close to your nose. Close your eyes and breathe-in deep, taking mental notes of any scents you can describe. Keep industry standard words like “piney, fruity, woody, floral, metallic” in mind as you attempt to place your mental finger on what you’re inhaling.
Write down every descriptive word you can think of that best describes what you smell and then put those words together in a beautifully poetic sentence that would leave James Joyce reaching for a tissue. For example:
“Like opening a fresh grapefruit, the sweet citrusy fragrance saturated the air like we were walking through a beautiful Floridian orange grove on a cool summer morning.”
You see what I did there? If you bust out something close to that sentence on your friends, I guarantee many “whoas” will follow.
Learning to describe the various scents each unique strain produces is critical to being able to tell one bud from another. Some strains look almost exactly alike (see Afghan Diesel vs. Sour Diesel) so it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference based on sight alone. This is where your keen sense of smell will come in handy. Just remember - your nose is there to help you unfold the delicate aromas that will tell you whether you’ve got Skywalker OG in your hand or Grapefruit Crush.
To talk like an expert, you have to be able to determine nearly 81.6% of what you need to know about your bud before smoking it (I did the math). Much like a seasoned sommelier, an expert cannabis critic must have a well-honed sense of smell and one or two functioning eyes in order to resolve whether or not a product is even worth moving onto the next step: partaking.
Body effects: the final piece of the puzzle
Now that you’ve covered the proper ways of describing sight and smell (and absolutely dazzled your stoner friends), it’s time to move on to the final lesson and turn you into a marijuana expert. It’s often said that you can’t judge a book by its cover. The same applies to critiquing marijuana; it could look great and smell great, but it may not get you high. At the end of the day, isn’t the high what really matters most?
You could put perfume on a pig and dress it up all you like, but if the bacon tastes like dirt, who’s going to eat it?
Use this mental mindset to help you determine whether you would recommend a strain to your friends. Smell and appearance go a long way but ultimately mean very little if you don’t get high off of it. Describe how you feel from your eyes down to your toes when you take that first hit. Does it feel like a sumo wrestler is sitting on your chest or more like a freight train hit you between the eyes?
Pro tip: use similes, they’ll make you sound more edu-ma-cated and will impress your cohorts even more.
I’ll let you in on a secret: get your note-taking done before you get so blazed that you forget what you were doing and end up in the kitchen searching for snacks. As you’ll discover on your journey to cannabis expertise, some strains will help you concentrate while others will leave you so scatterbrained you’ll forget how to use a pen.
By following these expert tips and advice, you will take your marijuana knowledge to the next level and *surely earn the admiration and respect of those around you. Just don’t be surprised when your friends start bringing you hay bales of weed to critique for them so that they too can follow your expert guidance and start their own journey to becoming star-studded cannabis critics like you.
*by surely, I mean maybe.