Why Is My Weed Weak? (And How to Fix It)
So you grew some cannabis, and unfortunately, it’s not as potent as you would have liked. Perhaps you aren’t getting much of an effect, or even worse you may be getting negative side effects like headaches or racing thoughts. There are a few reasons this happens and today I’m going to break it down so you grow marijuana with the potency and effects you’re looking for!
The biggest factors when it comes to cannabis potency are…
The number one contributor to potency is the strain you grow. Unfortunately, growing seeds from “strong” weed won’t always result in strong weed. In order to get consistent potency, it’s important to start with good genetics. Fortunately, there are many talented breeders who have stabilized specific strains so you can choose a strain that produces the effects and strength you’re looking for!
There are literally thousands of great strains, each with their own unique effects! However, I think my all-time favorite strain for pure potency is Sour Diesel by Reserva Privada (aka DNA Genetics).
It gives you a head rush; I almost had to put a warning on it!
2.) Harvested Too Early
Cannabis buds are not potent when they first grow in and need time to mature before they’re ready to harvest. Not only that, buds harvested too early are more likely to give you headaches or racing thoughts. It’s common for new growers to harvest their plants too early, and as a result, their buds will not be as strong as they could have been, or have unwanted side effects.
This bud was harvested too early, and as a result, the mental and physical effects were very weak!
3.) Didn’t Provide Enough Light
When a plant doesn’t get strong light levels during the flowering stage, it can result in small, airy buds that don’t have a strong effect.
Up to a point, more light is better! Some growers even combine more than one type of light, like this grower who combined both HPS and LED grow lights!
pic by NOCO GROWER
4.) Buds Dried Too Fast After Harvest
Buds need to be slow-dried for at least 2-3 days (and as much as 7-10 days) immediately after harvest for the best results in potency. This is step one of the post-harvest process. As a grower, if you pick a few buds early you’ll notice that the potency of a “live tested” bud is lower than buds that have been properly dried and cured.
5.) Buds Weren’t Cured for 2+ Weeks
After buds have been slow-dried, they should be put in airtight jars that are “burped” daily for at least 2 weeks. This process of storing newly dried bud in an airtight container while giving them periodic bursts of fresh air is called “curing”.
Curing reduces harshness and the “green” taste of newly dried buds, and curing also helps your bud regain its “cannabis smell” which tends to fade during the drying process. Make sure buds never feel moist, they should be dry!
Buds are not only smoother after curing, but they also feel more potent than before they were cured! Learn how to cure your cannabis like a professional.
Put freshly dried or “green” buds in glass mason jars to improve the quality
During the curing process you should open your jars daily, but otherwise, keep buds air-tight!
6.) Very Seedy Bud (Was Pollinated)
If your buds are exposed to pollen (either from a male plant or a hermie plant), then it can develop seeds in your buds. A few seeds aren’t going to have much effect on the overall potency of your buds, but very seedy bud that’s been heavily pollinated can sometimes be weak because the plant was putting more energy into making seeds than producing trichomes.
This is an example of a pollinated marijuana bud with a seed exposed
7.) Incorrect Ratio of THC to CBD
There are dozens if not hundreds of compounds in cannabis (some of the most common are cannabinoids and terpenes) that each change the overall effects of the bud. This means there’s more to potency than just strong vs weak. Different strains and buds have different effects.
For example, if you have a strain that is high in CBD, it will prevent the buds from having a psychedelic effect even if THC is there. Therefore, if you’re looking for a strong mental effect, it’s important to choose a strain that’s relatively low in CBD. On the flip side, high levels of CBD is very suitable for certain medical marijuana patients.
Learn about different cannabinoids as well as how to increase THC and increase CBD levels in your buds, so you get the effects you’re looking for.
Cannabis that feels “weak” usually either has low levels of THC and/or high levels of CBD
8.) Getting Used to Strain
If you’ve been enjoying the same strain for a while, especially if it’s also from the same harvest, the feeling of potency may start to lessen over time. If you don’t want to feel “messed up” that can be a good thing, but if you want to maximize the overall perceived potency and “strength” of your cannabis, you will get the best results by changing strains on a regular basis if possible.
If you’re consuming the same harvest for a while, it can start to feel less potent over time as your body gets used to the effects.
How to “Strengthen” Weed (Increase the Perceived Potency)
If you have weed that is “weak” there are a few things you can do. These aren’t miracle workers, but they can help make a difference in some cases, especially if your buds are fresh and/or you have a lot of it!
1.) If Buds Are Green or Wet…
If your bud is still bright green or wet, chances are it has been freshly harvested and is uncured. In this situation, drying and curing the bud properly can sometimes increase the perceived potency. As a bonus, the curing process can also increase the smoothness and smell of buds!
However, this is only effective if the problem is that your buds are fresh and weren’t dried and cured. It has a much smaller effect on buds that are already a few weeks old.
Example of fresh buds (they are very green, feel moist and look “plump”). These need to be dried and cured before they reach peak potency.
Here are those same buds after they’ve been dried and cured. They’ve sort of “tightened up” and appear less green. If buds already look like this, the curing process may have already happened. However, it can’t hurt to jar your buds anyway because poorly cured buds may still see improvement!
What to Do if Buds are Green or Wet
- Let buds dry slowly in the dark until they stop feeling wet
- Place buds in a glass mason jar and optionally add a Boveda 62 Humidipak (this will help automatically monitor the humidity for you)
- Open the jar daily for 2+ weeks.
Note: If the buds ever feel moist, leave the lids off for an hour until buds feel dry, then continue curing. This prevents mold or bacteria from growing.
Curing your buds in jars with Boveda 62 packs can help improve smoothness, taste, smell and potency if your buds are weak because they were freshly harvested
2.) Turn Some Bud Into Hash & Mix with Your Weed
Turning some of your buds into hash can be a really good solution if you had a really big harvest and the buds ended up being less potent than you hoped.
This technique is most effective if you have a lot of bud, because you want a good amount of bud to turn some of it into hash. One of my favorite ways to get hash is the dry ice method, because this wastes far less cannabis than most other methods, so you end up with the biggest yields in the end.
With dry ice hash, you put your buds in a specialized bag with dry ice. The dry ice freezes the trichomes off the buds, and if you shake the bag all the trichomes/hash spills out the bottom, leaving all the inert material behind. This is one of the highest-yielding methods for making hash!
Once you make hash from some of your buds, you can then mix it and/or sprinkle it over your remaining buds. This will dramatically increase the potency of the buds that get augmented this way. You’re basically extracting the “good stuff” from some of your weak buds, then using it to increase the potency of the rest.
Sprinkle hash on your remaining buds to dramatically increase their actual potency!
3.) Turn Into Edibles or Canna Caps
During the process of making magic butter or canna caps, you usually extract all the good stuff from cannabis, just like making hash. This allows you to make edibles that are a lot more concentrated. You can also increase the effects of edibles simply by eating more.
Making edibles is usually easier if you have a lot of bud to work with, but there are some methods like Firecrackers that allow you to get decent results with relatively small amounts of weed.
Turning buds into canna caps lets you take as many caps as you need to get the effect you want
4.) Use a More Efficient Delivery System
The least efficient ways of consuming cannabis are joints/blunts and pipes, which also happen to be the most popular. These methods use more cannabis to get the same effect compared to a more efficient delivery system.
Joint or Blunt
These can be great for many situations, but if you’re trying to get the most out of your cannabis, it may not be the best choice. Joints and blunts waste cannabis smoke whenever someone isn’t actively inhaling, so you end up getting less effects from your buds than you could have.
Joint or Blunt – Not very efficient consumption method
pic by Psychonaught
A regular pipe is more efficient than a joint or blunt when it comes to reducing smoke loss. However, I personally don’t care for most pipes because they can be harsh on your throat, and it’s easy to end up with ash in your mouth!
Pipe – a bit more efficient at cannabis consumption
Water Pipe, Bong or Gravity Bong
With a water pipe or bong you waste less smoke than with a pipe because they generally hold the smoke within the device itself until you breathe it out. With some practice that means you can use every last bit of smoke.
Additionally, when the smoke goes through the water, it cools the smoke and filters out tar without affecting the potency of the smoke (since THC doesn’t bind to water). As a result, buds smoked out of a water pipe taste better and are easier on your throat than a joint or pipe. The more water the smoke has to filter through, the greater the effect, which is why you sometimes see water pipes with many elaborate water chambers 🙂
Water Pipes, Bongs and Gravity Bongs – much more efficient that pipes, joints or blunts
Vaporizing your cannabis is probably the most effective way to get “every last bit” but is less hard-hitting and takes longer for effects to take hold than smoking. A bonus of vaping is you can take your already-vaped-buds and use them to make edibles, so you get a second use out of your buds.
Vaporizing – Most efficient consumption method, and you can use the buds a second time by taking the vaped buds and turning them into edibles
5.) Grind Buds That Are Whole
I know it doesn’t seem like it would make much difference to grind your buds vs breaking it up with your fingers, but it really does make a difference if you’re working with whole nugs. Weed at least feels more strong when it’s smoked or vaped with the consistency of ground bud (which looks like loose flecks or the “shake” that falls to the bottom of the bag). If I had to put it in numbers I’d say it adds 10% onto the perceived potency over breaking up whole bud with your fingers. It makes the most dramatic difference if you’re working with very dense cannabis that’s hard to break up.
I hope this article has given you some ideas for what to do if your marijuana is weaker than you’d like! And read our basics tutorial if you want to learn how to grow your own cannabis, so you get top-quality bud every time! If I missed anything, don’t hesitate to contact us!
How to Store Weed Properly (so it never loses smell or potency!)
Why Is My Weed Weak? (And How to Fix It) So you grew some cannabis, and unfortunately, it’s not as potent as you would have liked. Perhaps you aren’t getting much of an effect, or even worse you
How to Increase THC When Growing Weed
Table of Contents
Increasing Cannabis Potency During the Growing Process
When it comes to growing cannabis, there are lots of different goals by different growers. Many growers are growing medical marijuana for medical-related purposes. Others are growing for their personal adult use. For many growers, including both medical marijuana and recreational cannabis growers, a common goal is to maximize the amount of THC and other cannabinoids produced when growing cannabis (ie increase the “potency” of your buds).
This cannabis bud was grown to produce the highest levels of THC possible – as a side effect it is dense, sticky and looks great.
Why Increase Maximum THC Levels?
- Greater mental and psychoactive effects from the same amount of bud (your harvest will go further!)
- Many medical marijuana growers desire high THC levels for the relief of nausea, certain types of pain, spasticity, certain symptoms of multiple sclerosis, etc.
- Many of the things you do to increase THC levels will also increase your overall cannabis yields.
However, not every grower wants the highest levels of THC in their bud, and may actually be seeking other cannabinoids found in certain strains. For example, there are many medical marijuana growers who prefer low-THC, high-CBD cannabis, which is non-psychoactive and may be of interest to those looking for possible relief from anxiety or seizures. Learn more about the difference between CBD and other cannabinoids like THC (unfortunately you can’t use grow methods to increase CBD levels, you need to start with a low-THC, high-CBD strain).
Much of the THC and “potency” in your buds is contained in the sparkly trichomes
What increases THC levels and overall potency?
These are the most important factors that will affect your THC levels and overall marijuana potency:
Strain & Individual Plant Genetics
Your plant’s genes are hands-down the most important aspect of cannabis potency when it comes to growing!
Your plant genetics set the “upper limit” of how much THC and other cannabinoids your plant will ever be able to produce. Although you can use grow methods to maximize the THC within that limit, you will never be able to overcome the limits set by your strain and plant genetics.
So as a really rough example, let’s say your strain/plant genetics can only produce 15% THC at most. That means you may get less than 15% THC in your buds if you don’t grow the plant right, but no matter what you do you’ll never be able to increase it above 15%.
In order to get really high levels of potency and THC, it’s essential to start with high-potency, high-THC genes from a respectable breeder. Learn how to research strains so you get the most potent cannabis plant to fulfill your needs. If you’ve never ordered cannabis seeds before, learn how to get seeds delivered to the US and worldwide.
Some strains just don’t have the genetics to make cannabis buds as potent and trichome-covered as the one pictured here! Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to beat genetics so start with good genes!
Many cannabis growers don’t realizing they are actually harvesting their buds too early, dramatically reducing yields and potency!
There is a 2-3 week period during the flowering stage when plants are “mature” and buds are at the highest levels of THC. At this point, the tiny resin glands (trichomes) on the buds have turned milky white, and most of the white hairs (pistils) on the buds have darkened and curled in.
Highest Level of THC When…
Most white pistils have darkened and curled in (bud looks more “solid”)
Most clear trichomes (looks like glass) have turned white (looks like white plastic)
If the plant is allowed to keep maturing, the cannabinoid profile continues to change. Buds harvested on the later side tend to produce more of a relaxed “body” effect, though the psychoactive effects of THC may be somewhat reduced.
If you harvest earlier than this, the plant hasn’t reached its full potential. Sometimes early-harvested buds can produce a “speedy” effects, or give some people headaches (curing will help with this) so avoid harvesting early if you can!
Learn more about when to harvest cannabis (with lots more pics!)
Get the effects you’re looking for!
This cola has several weeks to go before it reaches its highest THC levels – harvesting now will reduce both your yields and your potency!
Plant Health & Care
In order to get your cannabis to produce the most potent buds possible, you need a robust, healthy cannabis plant with lots of bud sites getting direct light during the flowering stage. This means it’s important to avoid common plant health mistakes like overwatering, underwatering, heat stress, root problems, irregular light cycles, and nutrient problems. Check out our 7-step remedy to fix most cannabis plant growing problems. Try to maintain balance and avoid environmental extremes. Basically, treat your cannabis plant like it’s a celebrity – it gets everything it wants!
Although cannabis can grow in relatively low light conditions (it grows like a weed!), it will not produce significant amounts of bud without very bright light in the flowering stage. Cannabis uses light to power the growth of buds, along with the THC and cannabinoids contained inside. Outdoors your plant needs direct sunlight 8+ hours a day to produce to its fullest, and indoors you need strong, bright grow lights (like LEDs or MH/HPS grow lights) to produce the highest levels of THC.
Although there is no evidence that the curing process (jarring up buds after they’ve dried) increases THC levels directly, there is a lot of evidence that it increases the perceived potency of buds.
Though not well understood, this may be because there are chemical changes that happen during the curing phase that “intensify” the effects of THC and other cannabinoids.
The curing process also has other benefits for marijuana growers. For example, newly dried cannabis buds often smell like cut grass or hay, even if they smelled great in the flowering stage. The curing process helps get rid of the unpleasant grassy taste/smell and brings back the natural taste and smell of the cannabis plant.
Lastly, uncured and early-harvested buds can cause “speedy” thoughts or headaches for some people, and curing often reduces these negative effects.
Common Myth: Using CO2 increases THC levels
Although it’s true that using CO2 can increase your overall cannabis yields, there isn’t any evidence that it actually increases the potency of your bud. Learn about other ways to increase yields.
Unknowns: These Growing Methods May Increase THC But Aren’t Well-Tested
These are some of the common ways growers try to increase the THC levels of their cannabis. These techniques and methods are considered “unknowns” because there hasn’t been a whole lot of scientific testing to see what works and what doesn’t work as far as increasing THC.
Supplements to Increase THC and Overall Potency
There are many supplements for growing cannabis, and each one has a different purpose. Some supplements are great, while others are just snake oil.
When it comes to supplements for bud quality, most claim to increase yields or flavor as opposed to potency. However, there are some supplements that either claim or insinuate that they will increase the potency and/or THC levels in your cannabis.
Unfortunately, at this time there aren’t any supplement companies which have conducted systematic tests showing that their supplements will actually increase THC. Because of this, although it seems possible that some of these do work as stated, I can’t recommend any ones in particular.
If you know of any supplement manufacturers who have actually tested their products on real cannabis plants and can demonstrate that their supplements actually increase THC, we’d love to hear from you!
Allow Plant to Remain in Vegetative Stage For 8+ Weeks
I’ve heard this one from different growers over the years, but for now, the jury is still out. The idea is that a cannabis plant needs to remain in the vegetative stage for at least 8 weeks before being switched to the flowering stage in order to reach its maximum THC levels when it starts budding.
Cannabis plants which have been allowed to grow for at least 8 weeks in the vegetative stage tend to be much bigger and more robust than plants switched earlier, and they produce far greater yields. But does that mean that they produce higher levels of THC? It seems like it could be possible, but it might also be related to other factors. For example, big plants are usually grown under powerful grow lights, which affects potency, and are also often grown by more experienced growers. More testing is needed!
My idea for a test (hopefully someday I’ll get to do this when I get more room to grow!)
- Sprout several seeds from a very stable cannabis strain like Northern Light to reduce genetic variation between the plants
- Allow each seedling to grow out to 8 weeks in the vegetative stage, then take a clone off each plant. Although clones are the size of seedlings, they are the same internal “age” as their mother so in a way, these clones would already be 8 weeks old
- Sprout more seeds of the same stable strain and grow them until they’re about 3 weeks old so they’re the same size as the clones. You want to time this so that the seedlings are about 3 weeks old just as the clones are the same size and taking root. Seedlings can’t start flowering before 3-4 weeks old and we’re trying to create as close to the same conditions as we can between the two plants to reduce as many variables as possible.
- Now that you’ve got your 3-week seedlings and your “8-week” clones that are the same size, flower them together in the same conditions.
- After harvest, test the THC levels! If the buds from the clones are more potent than the ones from the seedlings I’d say it’s pretty good evidence that increased age increases potency. If not, well, back to the drawing board to try another test!
Letting plants get older before the switch to the flowering stage definitely results in bigger plants and higher yields, but we don’t know if it increases cannabis potency!
Lack of Pollination (Producing “Sinsemilla”)
Just a few decades ago pretty much all cannabis bud you could find was full of seeds. This is because at the time many growers didn’t realize that male and female cannabis plants need to be separated in the flowering stage to prevent the female plants from getting pollinated and making seeds.
However, once cannabis growers became more aware of growing techniques including how to prevent pollination, there was a rise in “sinsemilla” weed, a word which combines the Spanish word “sin” (without) and “semilla” (seed) to mean cannabis “without seeds.”
Seeds belong in your garden, not in your buds!
The sinsemilla bud that started flooding the market was much higher potency than the seedy, low-quality bud that had been available before. This led to the term sinsemilla being used to describe very high quality and potent cannabis. There’s no doubt that most growers prefer buds without seeds, but the term sinsemilla has led to the idea that cannabis buds without seeds were inherently more potent than seedy bud.
While this may very well be true, there isn’t much evidence that it’s actually the lack of pollination which caused the dramatic increase of potency experienced by cannabis enthusiasts at the time. Right around the time growers started producing non-seedy buds, the cannabis breeding scene was also starting to get established. Publications to assist cannabis growers like the High Times magazine appeared on the scene to help growers learn better growing techniques, and cannabis breeders like Nirvana started shipping cannabis seeds of famous strains to growers all around the world by mail order.
High Times Top Strains of 1977
Growing and breeding techniques were improving simultaneously. It’s possible that the increase in potency experienced by people who switched to seedless buds was actually the result of better genetics/breeding. These days, most people only get sinsemilla and no one really wants to do direct comparisons.
However, keeping buds from producing seeds will dramatically increase the perceived quality of your buds, as well as your yields, so regardless of whether it increases bud potency or not, it’s something every grower wants to do! Don’t let your female plants get pollinated – remove all male plants from your grow room immediately (or start with feminized seeds, which don’t produce any male plants)!
Type of Grow Light & Spectrum – HPS, LED & LEC Grow Lights
Different types of grow light produce different spectrums (colors) of light. There are some growers that believe that growing cannabis under the unique light spectrums of LED grow lights or LEC grow lights may increase resin production and THC levels. Other growers swear that you need powerful HPS grow lights to produce the highest levels of THC.
Special Ways of Flushing
During the flushing process of growing cannabis, a grower generally gives their plants just plain water for the last few weeks before harvest. This is done to encourage the cannabis to “cannibalize” itself and use up all remaining nutrients in the plant.
The idea is to get the plant to use up any nutrients that may have built up in the buds which could possibly affect that taste/smell after harvest
However, there are several additional types of flushes that many growers believe will increase THC levels. Most of these are done in addition to regular flushing, just before harvest. Unfortunately, there aren’t many (if any) tests determining which one of these work, but there are many experienced growers who swear by these methods!
Unfortunately, they don’t all match (for example some growers say to harvest in the morning, while others believe you get more THC if you harvest during the plant’s dark period), but these are the most common flushing techniques that I’ve heard to increase THC levels right before harvest.
These “flushing” methods may (or may not) increase THC:
- keep plant in the dark for 2-3 days before harvest
- harvest cannabis in the morning
- harvest cannabis during the plant’s dark period
- water plants with ice water before harvest
- chop down and hang entire plant upside down for a few days before trimming and drying buds
Air Temperature, Humidity and Overwatering
I wrote this section after reading the results of a 6-year study about industrial hemp. Although hemp is closely related to the cannabis, they’re not the same thing so these finding should definitely be taken with a grain of salt. In the study the researchers found the following environmental factors were associated with higher levels of THC:
- High humidity
- Warm air temperature
- Lower levels of precipitation (rain)
Since the study is based on hemp grown outdoors, it’s hard to know if these factors will influence the THC content of cannabis plants grown indoors, but I do think it’s a good idea to keep things warm (at least above 70°F/20°C which is the minimum recommended temperature for optimum growth) and avoid overwatering!
Common grower knowledge says that lower humidity towards the end of the flowering stage will raise THC levels, but this study makes me want to look into that further since the hemp in the study actually produced higher levels of THC at higher humidities!
Conclusion: Time to Grow More Potent Cannabis!
There are certain techniques that will definitely maximize the THC produced by your cannabis, and there are other methods which may increase potency but their effects are less certain.
If you are serious about increasing the THC levels in your cannabis, make sure to follow the top steps which are known to increase potency! Skipping any of those steps will reduce your potency for certain! Choosing the right strain, giving plenty of bright light, taking great care of your plants while they’re alive, and harvesting/drying/curing properly are the most important steps you can take to increase the THC levels of your buds!
But luckily for cannabis growers, most of the “unknowns” can’t hurt your plants, so there’s no harm in trying them out, too!
There are a few growing techniques known to increase the THC of buds, as well as several "unknowns" which may also have a big effect on potency. Learn what you need to do to get the results you want!