The Fragrance of Marijuana Before and After Consumption
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Learn about what gives marijuana its distinctly "skunky," strong odor, and how marijuana smells in plant form, when it's smoked, and more.
Should CBD Smell Like Weed?
Especially if you’re about to go to a business meeting or meet your mother-in-law for the first time.
Let’s not get off on a bad foot!
The type of CBD oil that you buy can definitely affect this question.
There’s a whole class of CBD oil that has a strong hemp smell.
Another subset has a very little scent at all.
We’ll explain the difference and why it’s more important than just the weed smell.
SO, in order to avoid scaring the parents when you go in to teach their children, let’s see if we can avoid the weed smell with CBD.
The two main types of CBD oil and weedy scents
First, there are two main types of CBD available on the market:
- CBD Isolate
- Full Spectrum CBD and/or hemp oil
The CBD Isolate should have very little smell at all and no discernable weed smell.
It’s basically the crystalline CBD substance itself (has no scent. like salt or sugar) added to a base oil.
Now, we have to be a little careful with the base oil in our calculation.
There are three common options:
- Hemp oil
- Olive oil
- MCT oil (from coconut)
Hemp oil can have a weedy smell depending on how concentrated it is and what parts of the plant they use.
The clearer the oil, the less it smells like weed but there will always be some of the scent there.
It is the cannabis plant after all.
That being said, hemp generally has a milder smell than marijuana which is just a function of the level of THC and terpenes in the plant.
Olive oil has its own distinctive smell and you probably don’t want to go on a first date smelling like Olive Garden either.
MCT (extracted fats from coconut oil) is the least noticeable scent.
It has a slightly sweet smell and taste but barely discernible.
Again, it’s an extract from coconut oil. not coconut oil itself.
Very little smell and if added to CBD Isolate, no weed smell at all.
That’s one reason we focus on CBD Isolate and MCT oil at IndigoNaturals.
Finally, the second type of CBD. Full Spectrum CBD.
The weedy smell of Full Spectrum CBD
This type of CBD is pushed everywhere due to the slick marketing term “the entourage effect”.
Basically, there’s a lot more of the hemp plant in the bottle.
This can give it a weedy smell, taste, and color!
It’s not unusual for it to be green and goopy.
The weedy taste and smell can be a dealbreaker for some people.
Keep in mind that a great deal of our taste comes from the scent of what we’re consuming.
Researchers just found scent detectors on our tongues!!
There’s another issue with Full Spectrum.
A good percentage of the US population has allergy and histamine issues.
Roughly 40% and up to 60% for women (maybe higher if over the age of 40).
They are likely to have negative reactions to all that plant material.
The very things that many brands are selling can make people feel bad!
We’ve seen where side effects from full-spectrum disappear with CBD Isolate.
We’re not surprised!
Also, the research is mainly for CBD itself.
There’s no real scientific backing for the entourage effect.
Till we see research, it’s just great marketing to push a product that easier and cheaper to make (bigger margins).
You can get more info on this from a reputable source here:
Also, it can have a distinctive weedy smell.
It can also degrade more quickly since there is organic plant material in the bottle.
It’s not uncommon for it to get darker, more smelly, and thicker once the bottle is opened.
The MCT oil and CBD isolate retain its general viscosity, color, taste, and lack of scent for longer than you’ll probably have any left in the bottle.
You can check out our Does CBD expire page for more detail.
When we tested the big brands, roughly 90% of them had full-spectrum CBD and most had a distinct weed smell.
This brings up one other issue.
Can you travel with CBD?
I was in Vegas just the other week for a trade-show.
Going through security at the airport, the drug dogs we’re winding their way through the people waiting in line.
The dogs are trained to recognize the distinctive marijuana smell in bags and on people.
They are not trained for the smell of CBD (which generally has no scent).
Last we checked, coconut oil wasn’t on their radar as well.
The full-spectrum CBD and/or hemp oil base may be an issue there.
Now, in some states, marijuana is legal.
It’s still a question mark in many other places, especially internationally (Asia comes to mind).
For that reason, CBD Isolate with MCT oil is the safest bet for airport security.
There’s no THC or cannabis plant material to give off a scent!
Always work with a doctor or naturopath with any supplement!
The information provided here is not intended to treat an illness or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified healthcare provider.
Learn why the smell of your CBD has other important consequences. Should CBD Smell Like Weed?