How to Appreciate Cannabis Through The Senses

sensory experience

Our sensory systems are powerful, intricate components of the perceptual experience of reality. In short, our senses create that reality. It is essential, then, to understand how we can use our sensory processing to appreciate the more beautiful things in life like food (taste), fragrance (smell), and music (sound). Our team at Sparc believes that appreciating cannabis should follow a similar logic. 

We believe using the senses t o appreciate cannabis is essential since, again, our senses inform our reality. For example, sensory enrichment is a therapeutic technique whereby therapists stimulate a neural processing system like smell — also known as olfaction — to improve things like memory, cognition, mood, and global functioning. 

Thus, since sensation is such a powerful tool for rewiring our brains and reassessing our worldview, we can apply it to judging cannabis quality and discovering a new appreciation for the substance that has helped many live happier lives.

How to Judge Cannabis Quality and Appreciating It?

cannabis sativa

Judging cannabis quality comes down to using your senses to dissect and examine the strain you have. You can assess a lot about cannabis by focusing your processing on distinct domains of sensation.

Are you searching for the perfect strain for your needs? Contact us at Sparc today! 


Our sense of smell is one of our most sensitive senses, and it is often the first thing you will notice about your marijuana; the aroma is traditionally very powerful, but if you can get past the initial bitter astringency, you will find that the fragrance can be lysed into the top, middle and bottom notes. 

Top notes usually consist of the strongest terpenes such as limonene, linalool, and geraniol, which are found in lemons, lavender, and roses. Middle notes are generally the ones responsible for sensations, and the most common ones are alpha-terpineol, beta-caryophyllene, and alpha-terpinene, which are astringent, spicy, and aromatic, respectively. Bottom notes are the smells that persist, such as gingerol, eugenol, and trans-nerolidol; these three are responsible for the sweet and spicy aroma associated with ginger, cloves, and apples.


The color of your marijuana will almost certainly be a variation of green and more refreshing hues; some strains look so purple that they appear black. This depends a lot on how the plant was grown; for instance, darker crops are often due to low temperatures. You may sometimes notice patches of orange or red, and those are due to the dried pistils left over from the flower; these are normal, and a sign of a quality strain.

In short, shades of green are standard, and purple strains are nothing to worry about. Watch out if you get a strain that has odd patches of gray or white, as those are to be avoided. 


This one is a bit more subjective because many things can influence the taste of cannabis; if you are using an old pipe, for example, the taste may be unpleasant and lingering due to residue in the pipe. You will find that milder-tasting strains work well in cannabis cooking recipes since their flavor is soft enough to be well-incorporated into most dishes. You will want to avoid plants that taste metallic or like copper; this means the plant was not properly flushed prior to harvest. 

The taste component should be one of the first things you consider, too, if eating edibles, especially baked or cooked goods. Rancid tastes should be treated the same way as if you tasted them in typical pastries, and it’s important to throw away old food no matter what. 


Cannabis should feel slightly sticky, but not too sticky. There is a balance between elasticity and dryness that high-quality marijuana will have when you examine it with your fingers. It may have a slightly spongy texture when you squeeze it, and you want that because it means the strain is not too dry, and it springs back up when pressure is removed. If your cannabis feels too sticky and clumps together, it was improperly stored and exposed to too much moisture; the last thing you want is a moldy cannabis mess, so be sure to check your bud whenever possible. 

Related: Hash Isn’t for the Timid | SPARC

What Are The Potency and Effects of Cannabis?

cannabis hemp plant

Potency and effects vary among cannabis strains, as well as the individual’s genetic predisposition; where one person will get a mild high from a particular strain, another person can get a potent high from that same strain. The most common highs induced by a strain will usually be listed, or at the very least, explained to you by your budtender. If you are unsure, ask!

Related: How Does It Feel When You Take CBD?

Types of high

The types of high can include physical or bodily highs, relaxing types of highs, and even some that induce states of flow. Again, these depend completely on your individual predispositions, so explore with caution.

Physical highs, also known as body highs, are distinctly different from the head high commonly talked about among cannabis consumers. Body highs induce very strong feelings of relaxation, while head highs are reported to increase attention. Relaxing highs can be compared to this body high. 

Flow is the state of consciousness associated with directed attention on a specific task, and people who experience it report altered sensations of time. It’s the feeling you get when you engage in highly technical but enjoyable activities. Certain strains of cannabis are alleged to induce flow states, depending on the strength of their head high. 

Tolerance Range

Our brains naturally build up a tolerance to a substance no matter how measured your use of cannabis may be. Some strains are especially predisposed to generating tolerance, and while this phenomenon is less intense than that of harmful drugs (or even caffeine), all cannabis strains will still decline in effectiveness over time if used too frequently. You should remember to take breaks if you want to maintain the potency of the cannabis over longer periods. You can also up your amount per session, but this can lead to additional costs since you’re buying more product for less effect.

Medicinal Effects

Cannabis is currently only clinically-validated for its effectiveness in treating acute and chronic pain, but its ability to influence mood and general prognosis for more serious diseases are being investigated. If your doctor has recommended medicinal cannabis, you need to be honest with them about whether or not the treatment is improving your quality of life. You may need to switch strains until you find a treatment plan that works best for you and your individual goals. Always make these decisions in consultation with a healthcare professional.

Mouth and Throat

This can depend on the route of administration and is especially prominent when you smoke cannabis. Your mouth should feel a slight tingling, but it shouldn’t be excessive. You should also pay attention to things like warmth or tingling in the throat. Does the strain cause irritation every single time you smoke it, or only sometimes? Does it cause heat sensations that linger after a session? Is anything painful? Try switching up your pipe or think of switching strains, since irritation can be harmful to your larynx if it continues over time. 

Related: Sonoma County cannabis oil manufacturers seek to ease vaping fears


Appreciating cannabis involves paying attention to your sensory processing of the substance, and deciding whether a strain is high-quality, or if it is time to switch. 

Ready to dive into the world of cannabis appreciation and criticism? Check out our recommendations at Sparc

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