Do Marijuana Strains Actually Smell Different?

Weed smell

Some people might laugh at the names of some strains. “Mac & Cheese,” “Lucky Charms,” or the less appealing “Jet Fuel” are some examples, but you might be left thinking about what makes them unique. Of course, you have to consider whether they are sativa or indica-dominant, or perhaps they are a hybrid. But some dispensaries will also allow you to take a whiff of a strain to absorb all of its subtle notes. In many ways, your trip to the dispensary could feel similar to shopping for wine or a wonderful perfume. Weed can be nuanced and a sensorial experience if you are willing to pay a bit more attention. 

So what does weed smell like? This question can present a lot of interesting answers. To some, marijuana smoke can remind them of skunk. Others might say things like vibrant, herbaceous, or uniquely citrusy. All of these descriptive words are indicators of how aromatic marijuana is, making the experience of smelling strains an interesting one. But then again, do they really smell all that different? Like with many aspects of marijuana, this can be better explained by science. Let us take a deeper look at how strains can differ in scent and everything that is going on beneath the surface that makes bud so interesting to take a whiff of. Sample strains and discover the difference yourself from home by using the best dispensary delivery in Los Angeles.  

What gives cannabis its smell? 

Like with other plants, the smell given off from weed can be found in its natural oils. Also known as terpenes, these oils can be found in all plant species and help shape their unique smell. It is believed that terpenes also play a role in how our body reacts to THC.  

How can I smell the difference?  

Again, like with many things that revolve around scent or taste, picking up on these subtle differences requires time. Similar to how sommeliers train to pick up the differences in wine or coffee roasters sip different blends of beans, aspiring weed experts must spend time sniffing and sampling various strains of weed to notice these details.  

Do Marijuana Strains Smell Different?

Are terpenes different?  

Different terpenes give off different smells! It is the combination of these oils that create a unique scent. Some dispensaries will tell you the terpene profile of each strain, allowing you to more or less develop an understanding of their smell. This, however, requires you to know a few of the most commonly found terpenes in cannabis (and other foods or plants as well.) Here is a list of some widely found terpenes: 

Myrcene: This is the most commonly found terpene in cannabis, including booth indicia and sativa strains. This is the terpene responsible for the fruity, acidic, and hoppy flavor that dominates cannabis’s scent. You can also find it in mangos.  

Linalool: This terpene is commonly found in indicas and is associated with being a sedative. Linalool is also prominent in lavender, which explains why so many sleep-inducing products are lavender scented.  

Limonene: As the name might suggest, this terpene is found in lemons, limes, and other sour citrus fruits. It is also found in sativa strains are associated with sativa’s energizing qualities.  

Humulene: Another hoppy terpene, this oil is commonly found in beer or woods. It is musk and earthy yet still somewhat vibrant in a subtle way.  

Beta-Caryophyllene: Commonly found in indica strains, this terpene is known for its calming and sedative properties. It is also found in some popular herbs and spices, such as rosemary, peppercorns, and sage.

Pinene: Think pine needles, trees, and the smells of the forest after rain.

Sativa or Indica?

You might not be able to remember all of these terpenes, and that is totally okay. There are some general patterns that you come across when smelling cannabis strains. For the most part, you can associate sativa with citrusy scents. Think fruity, sour, tangy, and, for the lack of a better word, juicy. You can sense the prominent quantities of limonene and myrcene when smelling sativa strains.  

Indicas, on the other hand, have a higher quantity of mycerene than sativas. This gives indica strains a hoppier smell profile, but not in the same way as herbaceous sativa. Instead, indicas are much earthier, with varying levels of pinene and humulene. Think grassy smells and scents of pine forests and warm spices. Some indica strains also contain high amounts of linalool, giving it a floral and more delicate smell. Indicas usually do not come across as too bold when giving them a scent, unlike sativas. The overall smell is less intense but still very nuanced and aromatic. And if all of this is still a bit hard to process, just assume that indicas are on the funkier side. Train your nose to pick up on these diverse scents by paying a visit to California Caregivers Alliance: Silverlake.