Marijuana is the dried leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant. Cannabis has psychoactive and medicinal properties because of its chemical makeup.
Marijuana can be rolled up in a handmade cigarette (a joint), in a cigar, or in a pipe (a bong). It can be used for pain relief, to treat anxiety, or for recreation.
In many states, the sale and use of marijuana without a prescription is still illegal.
You can usually tell if someone has been smoking marijuana by detecting the scent of piney, slightly skunky grass that smoked cannabis leaves behind.
But figuring out for sure if what you’re smelling is weed can be a little difficult if you aren’t attuned to the scent. Various strains of marijuana can smell different from each other, making it even more complicated.
This article will cover what marijuana smells like in different stages of its use and consumption, as well as some differences between strains.
What impacts the smell of marijuana?
The strongest factor in the way marijuana smells is the age of the cannabis plant when it’s harvested. Cannabis that’s harvested earlier in its life cycles has a milder, less skunky scent.
It’s also less powerful when you smoke it. Cannabis that grows older before it’s picked and dried will have a stronger odor.
Organic compounds called terpenes are found in all plants, including cannabis. Myrcene (mango), pinene (pine), and limonene (lemon) are terpenes found in some strains of cannabis.
Terpenes change the scent of marijuana. For example, cannabis strains with pinene will smell more like pine.
How a marijuana plant smells
Marijuana plants smell similar during the growing process and when they’re harvested and dried. They give off a slightly weedy, piney “skunk” scent that gets stronger as the plant grows older.
When cannabis flowers and blooms, the scent becomes powerful.
Indica vs. sativa
Two common strains of cannabis plant are cannabis indica and cannabis sativa.
For decades, botanists and marijuana connoisseurs claimed that indica and sativa are different species with distinctly different effects on the body. Indica strain smells more acrid, while sativa smells more spicy or sweet.
But it would appear, at least to some experts, that there’s no way to smell the difference between indica and sativa definitively. Part of the reason is that there’s a lot of crossbreeding between these two particular strains.
However, one small study did find that participants who had purchased weed within the prior several months were able to smell the difference between several different strains of marijuana.
What does marijuana smell like at the point of purchase?
Marijuana consumers describe the scent of the plant as earthy, herbal, and woody. Sometimes the plant scent carries notes of lemon, apple, diesel, or plum.
Dried marijuana smells a lot stronger than some other dried plants.
How it smells while smoking
When you’re smoking marijuana, the natural scent of the cannabis scent is amplified by the smoke it creates. Fire, smoke itself, ash, and the smell of rolling paper add additional layers to the scent.
When a person is smoking cannabis, notes of lemongrass, pine, fire, and wood may stand out. The distinct “skunk” smell of marijuana is often reported.
What does weed smell like on a person after it’s smoked?
The smell of marijuana smoke can cling to a person’s hair, skin, and clothing. The “skunk” odor mixes with the scent of fire and smoke, and can also layer (and amplify) the smells of sweat and natural odors people naturally produce.
Some people say the after-smoking scent can take on notes of mustiness or a faintly foul, overly sweet scent.
Why does weed smell like skunk?
Cannabis smells like “skunk” because of one of its terpene components — myrcene.
Myrcene is in lots of other highly fragrant plants, such as bay leaf, mangoes, hops, and thyme. Different strains of marijuana can contain more or less myrcene.
It’s interesting to note that the sedation and calming faction in many cannabis strains is linked to the myrcene content of the plant. Marijuana strains that smell more fruity or skunky may have more “couch-lock” effects.
What does hashish smell like?
Hashish is a distilled, highly concentrated form of marijuana product.
It’s made from the compressed resin of the cannabis plant. Hashish smoke smells similar to marijuana smoke — an earthy scent mixed with notes of fires and ash.
What does synthetic weed smell like?
Synthetic weed is produced in a laboratory and mixed with other chemical elements. Chemicals are sprayed on plantlike material that is then distributed to be smoked like weed. It’s sometimes called K2, mamba, or spice.
Synthetic marijuana is not related to the cannabis plant. It’s not regulated, and really could contain any kind of chemical. Because of this, there’s no standardized synthetic weed smell.
Marijuana gives off a distinctly skunky, strong odor. It might be hard to identify at first, but once you’ve smelled or been in contact with it, it’s quite unique.
Marijuana smells slightly different depending on what kind is being smoked and how strong the strain is.