When you go to the liquor store, you’ll notice that all the fancy wine and scotch sits on the top shelf. It’s conveniently located right above its hefty price tag. This position is somewhat symbolic.
The wine or scotch you’re looking at is higher quality and produced by expert craftsmen in a hands-on process. It’s been aged for a very long time to create the perfect delicacy that’s worth the splurge.
It’s easy to understand how to identify these top-shelf brands, and their value requires explanation. Cannabis is very different, and the concept of top-shelf cannabis may not be as easy to grasp.
The recreational cannabis industry in the United States and Canada is still in its infancy. It’s slowly growing, and new cannabis brands are cropping up all the time. Modern branding can make anything look fancy. It’s hard to tell which of these brands is actually delivering top-shelf strains.
What Constitutes Top Shelf Cannabis?
Cannabis is in a unique position. We don’t have a wealth of experience and a broadly accepted reputation for many brands. Most brands can only grow and sell in the states where they’re located and can operate legally, which makes things a little more complicated. This means that top-shelf cannabis will be different in every state. After all, there is no ‘grey goose’ equivalent that you can find in both San Francisco and Toronto.
There is also no officially recognized designation for top shelf or premium cannabis. These terms are unregulated, and any brand can market their own offerings as they see fit. They’re only required to list accurate cannabinoid content and safety disclaimers.
Top shelf cannabis recommendations are usually spread by word of mouth. If you don’t have a close-knit cannabis circle, you’ll need to learn to identify top-shelf strains for yourself. This is why tracking what you consumed, liked and disliked is important.
The Stori App makes it easy.
Top Shelf Cannabis Is a Sensory Observation
The clearest definition of top-shelf cannabis is excellent quality cannabis. If you don’t have a lot of experience with cannabis, you may not have enough of a frame of reference to tell the good from the bad.
The base color of a top-shelf cannabis product should be a vibrant shade of green: light olive green, emerald, sage, and jade hues. The base color of lower-quality cannabis may be a brownish-green color or an army green color. Cannabis should never have brown tones. This is a sign that the flower was improperly cured and has begun to decompose.
The exterior of high-quality cannabis should be coated in silvery-white crystals called trichomes. These trichomes are visible to the naked eye. They sometimes look like sugar or a layer of frost. In some cases, trichomes may take on a slight golden hue. This naturally occurs when expert growers allow Indica strains to mature for longer, enhancing their relaxing or sleep-supporting effects.
Lower quality cannabis will have patchy trichomes or hardly any visible trichomes. Cannabis needs to be appropriately handled and stored in a setting with a controlled temperature. Rough handling and rapid temperature fluctuations can cause the trichomes to become brittle and snap off, taking a significant portion of the flower’s potency with them.
Certain strains, especially those with “purple” in the name, will feature purple or indigo tendrils throughout the flower. Most cannabis flowers will have orange pistils. When the flower is healthy, the pistils will be a deep, vibrant orange. If they’re brown or yellow, this indicates that the flower is of lower quality.
The way cannabis is presented is also a sign of its quality. Growers committed to providing a perfect product will neatly trim and manicure the flower. It should be neat and beautiful to look at. You won’t find big seeds or large pieces of stem anywhere in the container. The buds will hold closely together and maintain a relatively uniform shape.
Cannabis should never smell damp or musty. This is a predictor of improper curing or stale, old flowers. Cannabis should always cast a strong smell when its container is opened, and that aroma should be sharp and pungent.
No two strains of cannabis should smell exactly the same. The best way to evaluate the quality of cannabis flowers is to read their list of terpenes and understand how to identify them. Limonene will produce a potent citrus scent. Myrcene smells sour and earthy, like mango or lemongrass. Pinene smells like pine trees, caryophyllene smells like black pepper, terpinolene smells fruity, and linalool smells like lavender.
You’ll also be able to detect fragrance notes that match a strain’s name. Sour Diesel, Wedding Cake, Zkittlez, Strawberry Banana, and Girl Scout Cookies have a distinct smell, at least to some degree, like you expect them to. It won’t be the most forthcoming fragrance note, but you should be able to catch a hint of it in the background.
Top shelf cannabis boasts very potent effects, even with a lower THC content. When you read strain reviews, you’ll be able to see how people describe its effects. While cannabis works differently for everyone, it shouldn’t be a jump to relate to the experience of others who have tried the strain.
Match a strain’s effects to its proper use case and give it a try if it works well for its intended purpose, which usually signifies better quality. If you don’t feel any positive effects or don’t get the impression that the strain ever really “kicked in,” that usually means the cannabis is of lower quality or is so old that its cannabinoids and terpenes have degraded.
How Much Should You Spend on Top Shelf Cannabis?
Top shelf cannabis is usually more expensive because it’s more labor-intensive to produce. In most cases, you get what you pay for. Boutique growers cannot afford to offer lower prices as bulk retailers can. Their overhead is high.
Top shelf cannabis is usually $5 to $15 more expensive per gram than low or average quality cannabis. This might seem steep until you consider the difference in potency and effects. You’ll need to use much less top-shelf cannabis to achieve the same experience you would expect from lower-quality cannabis. It almost works out to be the same price if you adjust your dosage accordingly.
It’s not worth going broke over high-quality cannabis, but you should view this experience like any other shopping experience where quality matters. If you’re willing to pay a premium for fine wine, a fresh organic lunch, or human-grade treats for your pets, it’s easy to justify the expense of higher quality cannabis.
You can also shop economically. The greater the quantity of cannabis, the lower the cost per gram becomes. If you know you really love a specific strain, purchase a large quantity. This is usually an expensive initial investment, but it can save you as much as $5 per gram.
If you strongly prefer a particular strain, you can legally purchase up to an ounce (28.5 grams) in many recreational states. That’s enough cannabis for 57 larger joints or 81 modest joints.
Did we mention, all of which can be stored in your Stori case as each pod holds up to seven grams. That’s 42 grams!
You can use your Stori pods with Boveda humidity packs to keep your cannabis fresh while you’re using it. This prevents waste, which makes it easier to justify a bulk quantity of flowers. You know you’ll be able to use it all, and you can save time on trips to the dispensary.
Incorporating Stori with Your Favorite Strains
Stori offers plenty of solutions that will help you navigate the world of top-shelf cannabis. For cannabis education, there’s the Stori app.
The Stori app will allow you to view and review strains, leaving notes about your preferences and experiences as you try them. The second is the Stori case. You don’t put your top-shelf wine in a plastic bag and stuff it in the pocket of an old winter coat.
You wouldn’t do the same thing with top-shelf cannabis. You invested a substantial amount of money in high-quality flowers. Treat it with a little bit of dignity. Take care of your nice things with the Stori case.
The Stori case holds six pod containers with childproof and pet-proof lids. These pods are designed to keep your cannabis fresh and organized. The lids are designed to work with Boveda packs, turning each pod into its own humidor. This is the perfect solution for economically purchasing top-shelf cannabis in larger quantities.