by Nebula Haze
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.
Learn how to “strengthen” weak weed!
The biggest factors when it comes to cannabis potency are…
The number one contributor to potency is genetics/strain. Great genetics produce great effects even if you make lots of mistakes, while poor genetics produce weak weed no matter what you do. Unfortunately, growing seeds from strong weed won’t guarantee similar weed at harvest. Just like how a brunette isn’t guaranteed to produce brunette children. The genetics may not be stable and you don’t know who the “father” plant was.
Fix this problem by starting with trustworthy genetics. Many talented breeders create stable strains that let you choose the exact effects and potency. This means you don’t need to wait until harvest to see if your weed turns out good. Learn about researching and finding the right cannabis strain.
There are literally thousands of great strains, each with its own unique effects. For example, Sour Diesel plants tend to grow tall but produce great yields with potent buds.
They can give 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 end up with buds that are weak or produce unwanted side effects.
This bud was harvested too early, and as a result, the mental and physical effects were weak
3.) Not Enough Light in Flowering Stage
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.
4.) Buds Dried Improperly
Buds generally should be slow-dried for at least 3 days (and as much as 7-10 days) after harvest for the best results in potency, smell, and smoothness. Don’t cook or dry them under a fan, as that can make buds weak and/or harsh. In my experience, drying buds properly may be the most important single factor when it comes to bud quality, so don’t skip this step.
Did you know? If you smoke buds right after harvest you’ll notice that the potency of a “live tested” bud is lower than buds that have been properly dried and cured.
Air-drying produces the best bud potency and smoothness when the air is cool with slight airflow (but not windy). Don’t let buds dry in hot or stagnant air.
After buds have been dried, it’s time for curing. The buds are put in airtight jars that get “burped” daily for 2+ weeks. This process of storing newly dried bud in an airtight container while giving them periodic bursts of fresh air is known as “curing”.
Curing helps reduce the harshness and the “green” taste of some newly dried buds, especially if the buds were dried improperly. Curing intensifies the “cannabis smell” that may fade during the drying process, and buds continue to strengthen in potency for several weeks.
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 their quality over time. Make sure buds feel dry (they shouldn’t feel moist)
Open jars daily during the curing process, but otherwise, keep buds air-tight
6.) Very Seedy Bud (Was Pollinated)
Seeds start growing when buds get exposed to pollen (either from a male plant or a hermie) in the flowering stage. A few seeds don’t have much effect on potency, but a very seedy bud that’s been heavily pollinated often produces weak effects. Although the exact reason is unknown, it’s likely the plant simply puts more energy into making seeds than producing trichomes/cannabinoids.
Learn what you need to know about male and hermie plants pollinating your female plants.
This is an example of a pollinated marijuana bud with a seed exposed. Buds with a lot of seeds tend to be weaker.
7.) 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, CBD moderates some of the effects of THC. That means a high-CBD strain won’t produce strong psychedelic effects even if THC is present. Therefore, choose strains that are low in CBD and high in THC if you’re looking for a strong psychedelic mental effect. On the flip side, high levels of CBD are more suitable for reducing anxiety while THC may make anxiety worse for some people.
Cannabis that feels “weak” usually either has low levels of THC and/or high levels of CBD
8.) Tolerance 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.
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 a cool dark place until they stop feeling wet (make sure there is airflow but it isn’t super breezy)
- Place buds in a glass mason jar and optionally add a Boveda 58 Humidipak (this help automatically regulate the humidity for you)
- Open the jar daily for 2+ weeks.
- Enjoy your buds!
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 58 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 potency
3.) Turn Into Edibles, Canna Caps, or Oil
During the process of making magic butter, canna caps, or oil, you extract all the good stuff from cannabis to produce an edible form of cannabis. These products are concentrated, and you can always increase the effects by eating more.
Making edibles is often 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 <– Not Very Efficient
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 reduced effects from your buds than you could have.
Joint or Blunt – Not very efficient consumption method
Pipe <– Somewhat Efficient
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 <– Very Efficient
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 inhale just about 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
Vaping <– Most Efficient
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. The major downside is vapor is much less hard-hitting.
5.) Grind Buds That Are Dense
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 dense 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 grinding adds 10% onto the perceived potency over breaking up the 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. If the buds are easy to break up into tiny pieces this won’t make much difference.
There are lots of cheap but effective grinders. This one is only $12.
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.
How to Store Weed Properly (so it never loses smell or potency!)