Learn to Identify: What Does Cannabis or Weed Smell Like?

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What Does Cannabis or Weed Smell Like?

If you’ve encountered weed before or any of its other forms, then you probably know what it looks and smells like. Cannabis or weed has quite a distinguishable smell, and if you’ve ever smelled it, then you know what we’re talking about. So for those who haven’t encountered marijuana before, this guide should give you a good idea of how it smells.

How Does Cannabis Smell as a Plant?

First of all, let’s look at weed in its most basic form, which is the dried cannabis flower. It is usually brown in color with a lighter band on the edges of the leaf. The leaves are usually green, along with the stems and buds. The entire plant smells similar to what you would find in a skunk. While not everyone will agree, many people find it to be a musky and unpleasant smell. 

When dried out, the smell of the plant does change a great deal. When the plant is wet, it smells quite strongly like grass. Once it dries out, the smell becomes stronger, and the grassy smell starts to disappear. However, even though the plant’s smell after drying out is quite distinct, it carries the same “skunky” aroma.

Cannabis starts as a grass-like plant with a skunky smell. This can be detected right away if you touch the plant. When dried, the plant smells like a skunky grass smell. This smell remains after the plant is dried or smoked often.

Many people will claim that the dryer the weed is, the more potent it is. This is true to an extent, as the skunky smell when freshly picked plants tend to lessen as it dries out. On the contrary, however, the skunky smell can get stronger, especially if the plant is dried out to the point where it becomes brittle.

What Causes the Skunky Smell of Cannabis?

Marijuana comes from the dried flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant. The two most common varieties of this plant are cannabis Sativa and cannabis Indica.

Different strains of cannabis may have different smells. For example, some strains of cannabis may have a sweeter smell, while other strains may smell more earthy. Additionally, older cannabis plants may have a more pungent smell than younger plants. 

Now the thing that causes the skunky smell is the terpenes that are found in the cannabis plant. Terpenes, also known as caryophyllene (from the Greek word for cabbage), are aromatic oils that are produced by plants. They are found in many medicinal plants and herbs, including oregano, basil, hops, and sage.  

Terpenes are also found in other plants, such as hops, and are present in beer, among other things. In addition, terpenes are present in human sweat but at markedly lower levels. Terpenes can also be found in other plants in the Cannabaceae family and in some essential oils.

Now, there are researchers that claim that terpenes are responsible for different smells and the smell of cannabis. For example, when cannabis is exposed to heat, the terpenes that are responsible for the skunky smell are released. There are also other plants that release terpenes when they are exposed to heat.

When cannabis is dried, the terpenes that were contained in the plant are evaporated. This can also happen when the plant is smoked.

The skunky smell is often caused by the release of terpene into the air.

What Does Cannabis or Weed Smell Like
What Does Cannabis or Weed Smell Like

How Does Weed Smell After Smoking It?

Now that you’ve gotten an introduction to the smell of cannabis as a plant, we’ll now focus on the smell of weed when it’s smoked.

While the smell of cannabis and the scent of the plant are quite distinct, they can both be altered when smoked. When smoking the weed, the smell of the plant is preserved, but the smell of the smoke is altered. That being said, both the smell of the plant and the smell of the smoke are still not pleasant.

When weed is smoked, the vapor released is initially smooth and aromatic. The smoke itself is usually a combination of pungent and sweet, depending on the strain of marijuana.

Once the smoke has been inhaled, initially, the sweet smell is maintained. After the smoke has been inhaled, the smell tends to change because the terpenes evaporate. Also, the stronger the smoke is, the stronger the smell is. Also, if you smoke the weed in “roaches” or “joints,” the smoke will have a stronger flavor, often earthy and citrus-like.

How Does Weed Smell When Being Smoked From a Vaporizer?

Since we’re talking about smoking, let’s talk about vaping cannabis, too. Just like smoking weed, the smell of cannabis when it’s being vaped is different. However, the difference is that the smell is not only altered but also changed and also might have a different effect.

When people smoke, the smoke is in contact with the air. Therefore, the smell of the smoke is altered by the air.

When it’s vaped, the smoke is in contact with the vapor itself. So, the smell of the smoke when it’s being vaped is altered in terms of the smell of the vapor and the effect that it has on the smoker.

Additionally, when vaped, the smell of the smoke is altered by the contents of the vapor, which may be botanical or artificial. For example, herbal vapor tends to have a fresh and more aromatic smell compared to the artificial.

It’s also worth noting that when you’re vaping weed, you may get an effect that is different than the effects of smoking. For example, some people find that they become more relaxed when they are in contact with the vapor rather than the smoke. This can often happen when people use CBD hemp oil.

How Long Does the Smell of Marijuana Last?

The smell of cannabis lasts for a few hours after it is inhaled. The smell usually goes away after about 30 minutes as the terpenes evaporate. Once it’s dry, the smell is no longer strong but can still be detected.

If you’ve smoked grass before, then you already have a good idea of how the smell of cannabis can linger after the smoke has been inhaled. Sometimes, however, the smell can last for up to 24 hours.

As previously mentioned, however, the smell of the smoke tends to be much shorter-lived than the smell of the plant. The smell of the smoke is usually gone within a few hours.

Can the Smell of Cannabis Be Controlled?

Yes, the smell of cannabis can be controlled, sometimes. Now, to do this, either you need to heat the weed so that the terpenes evaporate and you get the same smell of the smoke, or you need to vape.

When you heat the weed, the terpenes are activated, and they begin to evaporate, and the smell of the smoke changes, and the smell of the plant changes.

On the other hand, when you vape, the terpenes are not activated, so the smell of the smoke and the smell of the plant change in a more subtle way, and you get the same.


Now that you’ve gotten a basic idea of what the smell of cannabis as a plant is like, you’ll now understand how the smell of weed when it’s being smoked is different. But since there are so many different strains and types of cannabis, the smell of weed can be quite a different story.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9236214/