Weed slang: the difference between dank, mids, and ditch weed
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- Dank weed
- Ditch weed
- What is kind bud?
- Factors that affect weed quality
Consider for a moment the difference between a cheap bottle of wine from the local convenience store and a pricey selection from an upscale Italian restaurant’s reserve list. While both are classified as wine, the grape quality, grow climate, and post-harvest techniques all distinguish the finest varietals from wines of lesser quality.
The same principles can be applied to cannabis plant quality, too. As medical and adult-use cannabis legalization continues to take root across North America, the difference between dank bud and ditch weed has never been clearer than it is today. Over the decades, people have used a variety of slang terms to classify weed. Like all slang terms, they vary by region. What is called reggie by some, may be seen as schwag to others. While one person may be looking for dank, another may be asking for top-shelf. But in the end, they’re usually looking for the same thing: the best marijuana on the market.
Weed quality is relative to what’s currently available on the market and the location of that market. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Overall, the quality and potency of weed have dramatically increased since the 1960s and 1970s. What was once considered dank a decade ago would likely be relegated to mids today. Something that is considered to be mids in California might be coveted as top-shelf in a state where cannabis is illegal.
In this article, we’ll break down the main categories of weed to help you distinguish between schwag or top-shelf herb and learn the most popular slang terms in the process.
(AKA top-shelf, loud, chronic, kind, headies, piff)
Dank, fire, dang good. Whatever you wish to call it, this is the type of weed that you’ll find on the top shelves of dispensaries. In this most premium category, you’ll find a diverse cast of products with strains that vary in effects, flavors, and aromas. In legal states, top-shelf weed usually comes at a top-shelf price. An eighth of dank can cost upwards of $60 in some adult-use markets. Ultimately, the price will vary on a number of factors, such as the dispensary location, cultivator, and product availability. Think of top-shelf bud as craft beer, carefully curated to offer unique aromas and flavors. In most adult-use markets, top-shelf weed tends to have a focus on higher THC levels.
In most adult-use markets, top-shelf weed tends to have a focus on higher THC levels. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Top-shelf, high-quality nugs can range from bright green to a darker green with streaks of purple, often heavily blanketed with sugary trichomes and vibrant hairs that boast a fiery orange or red hue. Most dank buds come in the form of dense, vibrant, frosty nugs. The trichomes should sparkle when the surface is struck with light.
Taste and aroma
Similar to the appearance, the taste and aroma of dank will also depend on the strain’s terpene profile. One quick sniff of top-shelf bud will pry open a world of aroma that is louder and tastier than milder mids could ever evoke. Taste will also be determined by the strain type and the presence of certain terpenes. If the abundance of trichomes doesn’t convince you of the dankness of a particular strain, a complex, well-balanced aroma and flavor can indicate high-quality flowers.
With top-shelf cannabis products, high potency should be expected. THC levels for the particular product you select will depend on the strain and grower. You can find lab analysis results on the packaging of products sold in most adult-use and medical markets. In general, top-shelf flower in recreational markets will have high THC levels — anywhere from 25% to 30%. But psychoactive potency isn’t necessary for consideration as top-shelf as is the case with hemp products. On the medical market, for instance, high-CBD strains derived from hemp plants (such as perennial favorite Charlotte’s Web) are also seen as top-shelf selections.
More closely related to dank than schwag weed, mids are, as the term denotes, middle-of-the-road in quality for marijuana plants. Although legalization has caused an influx of high-quality weed to flood legal markets, prices for top-shelf bud can be prohibitive. This has made mids an enticing option for those living in legal states, as it offers a decent bang for your buck. While some dispensaries classify mids as lower-potency strains, this could end up being a bargain for consumers who prefer something lower in THC and higher in other cannabinoids.
Cannabis labeled as mids will usually have more airy buds compared with the densely packed, trichome-coated flower that is sold at top-shelf prices. But most mids should still have a noticeable amount of frosty trichomes sprinkled throughout the bud. Compared with top-shelf, mids tend to be less vibrantly green in color with fewer orange hairs sprinkled throughout the flower. Mids rarely contain seeds and have been trimmed to remove most or all stems. In certain locations, mids can pass as high-quality nugs.
Taste and aroma
Mids have a smaller concentration of trichomes, which contain the terpenes that make cannabis aromatic and flavorful. As a result, the aroma and flavor of mids will be less intense than those of their top-shelf counterparts.
Depending on the location, mids will boast THC contents ranging anywhere from 10% to 16%, or sometimes higher in legal states. The price of mids will also vary on where they’re being sold.
(AKA regs, reggie, schwag, dirt weed, brick weed)
When someone tells you that you’re smoking ditch weed, they probably didn’t intend that remark as a compliment. Ditch, also known as schwag, is a term for low-grade cannabis that can be rather unpleasant.
Ditch weed will typically take on a brownish appearance with hints of dark green, and is often mixed with byproducts of the plant such as stems and leaves. In some cases, ditch weed is so dried out that it simply crumbles upon contact.
Taste and aroma
One whiff or look should be all it takes to figure out whether you have ditch weed. This grade of marijuana has an earthy, dirt-like smell that translates into a harsh and pungent taste upon combustion. Some might find the flavor bearable, but ditch weed lacks the nuanced flavor that top-shelf strains have to offer.
Ditch weed has an earthy, dirt-like smell that translates into a harsh and pungent taste upon combustion. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Ditch weed is uncommon in legal markets. As a result, the potency and effects produced by it are difficult to quantify. It stands to reason that cannabis grown in sub-optimal conditions is likely to result in lower potency and less desirable effects than mid-grade and top-shelf cannabis.
What is kind bud?
Sandwiched in the gray area between mids and dank is a type of flower known as kind bud. Correctly spelled “kine,” from the Hawaiian word for “excellent,” this type of bud is above average but doesn’t score quite as high as dank. With kine bud, the cannabinoid profile can be either high in CBD or THC depending on the strain, so potency isn’t a distinguishing factor. You can identify kine bud by stacking it up against the factors used to measure mids or dank, with some slight modifications. For example, kine bud might be more potent than mids but less so than dank. You also might observe more trichomes on a kine bud than on a mids, but fewer trichomes than would be on a typical top-shelf flower.
Factors that affect weed quality
High-quality cannabis is typically cultivated in optimized environments where growers have greater control over every aspect of the cultivation and curing process. Strains are carefully selected and the cannabis plants are often grown with the finest cultivation supplies, such as living soil and organic nutrients. In order to maintain a natural shape and keep the trichome-coated bud intact, most top-shelf marijuana is carefully hand-trimmed, but even machine-trimmed marijuana can still classify as dank.
Schwag weed is typically grown in a harsh environment, causing the buds to form early without the glittery trichomes commonly found on the surface of dank or mid flower.
Curing is an important part of the cultivation process that, if done improperly, can turn top-shelf potential into mids. Mids will sometimes have a grassy or harsh taste due to improper curing. Aside from the lack of aromatic enjoyment, additional signs of poorly cured weed include dampness to the bud and stems that don’t easily snap.
In most cases, mids will still contain a passable terpene profile that gives off a pleasant aroma that is more akin to dank than ditch, but the difference in pungency between mids and top-shelf should be discernible.
If bud is harvested too early, it could be relegated to the mids or even schwag category, as a premature harvest can result in reduced potency and a less enjoyable taste.
When we’re talking about top-shelf bud sold on legal adult-use markets, the packaging is oftentimes as enticing as the nug itself. High-quality flower should have THC and other cannabinoids listed on the product label and should come with a certificate of analysis from a third-party testing lab to ensure there are no pesticides, mold, or other contaminants on the bud.
Schwag, on the other hand, is sometimes compressed and transported in a brick that contains a mixture of small, dry nugs, shake, and lots of seeds and stems — hence the well-deserved nickname “brick weed.” When improperly handled and cured, even the best nugs can contain high levels of the cannabinoid, cannabinol (CBN), which may offer sedative qualities.
Although this sleepy cannabinoid might not be preferable to the recreational user seeking a buzz, CBN has been studied for the potential ability to treat insomnia,inflammation, pain, and bacteria, and may even act as an appetite booster. In its molecular form, CBN might sound appealing to some, but keep in mind that low-grade weed could also be contaminated with pesticides, mildew, mold, or insects due to having an adverse growing environment.
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Stoners Explain Why They Prefer Crappy Weed
It’s morning in America for potheads. More and more states are legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana, studies are finding more and more medicinal uses for it, and the quality of herb is getting stronger by the season. As VICE weed correspondent T. Kid once wrote, “In place of the leafy, stem-filled weed that prevailed decades ago, we now have access to meticulously crafted cannabis flowers tinted white with THC crystals. These days, the weed is prettier, more fragrant, and gets you much, much higher than it ever did before.”
This is all well and good, but I prefer shitty weed.
It took me a while to realize this. In college, I lived with some stoners, and we exclusively smoked the stickiest icky we could find, medical-grade delivery-service shit that got me so high I’d turn temporarily illiterate.
I once brought home one of these strains—called Blue Dream or Silver Haze or something flashy—to share with my mother, a cool lady who used to smoke finger-sized doobies as if they cigarettes in the 70s. Like many adults who become parents, she took a decades-long herb hiatus, and wasn’t familiar with how the drug had evolved over the years. She wanted to try smoking again, and we shared a joint of my weed. After a puff, she was blown away by the taste and felt good. Two puffs later and I had to carry her upstairs and tuck her in as if I were the parent. To her, a hit from modern weed was akin to a rip from an opium pipe.
Flash-forward a few years, and I can relate to my mom. I like to smoke weed with my friends, meaning we roll up multiple spliffs at once and prefer to continuously be smoking something to keep the conversation going and pass time. I can’t do that with medical weed, “headies,” “dank kush,” or whatever you want to call stuff with upwards of 20 percent THC content.
Though it sounds weird to say it, I feel nostalgic for the weed I’d buy in high school: cheap bags full of forest-green shake that resembled (or might have been) oregano. This stuff is to medical chronic as Budweiser is to whatever microbrew beer bros are drooling over these days; I could chain smoke it all evening long while just maintaining a slight buzz. Whenever I’d express this opinion to heavy smokers, they’d call me a narc, tell me to get a vape, or suggest I purchase a used Sabbath record to jerk off onto. But the more I started asking around, the more stoners I found who felt a similar soft spot for shake. Here’s what a variety of weed lovers, who wished to remain anonymous, told me about why they like their pot weak.
A bunch of weed next to VICE contributor Hamilton Morris
Female, age 26
I like shitty weed because I grew up in Africa, where we got shwag and hash. It’s a buzz, but not a total “drop you to the floor” high. I like it because it’s not so druggy both in affect and culture. I like deseeding and breaking up weed. The community you smoke this stuff with is generally more relaxed, and you don’t get that high, knocked out, or the anxiety that the dank shit is guaranteed to give you.
Also, you can smoke weed all day and not feel like a loser (said the pothead).
American weed is too good. I also hate bongs and paraphernalia to smoke weed. I like my joints like I like my women: thin and classy.
Male, age 24
My love for mediocre weed all started when I went to Jamaica on a family trip. The first thing I did when I got there was chat up the bartender at the hotel for some pot. He asked me for a $50 and the next day came through with a giant bag of shit weed—seeds, stems, the whole nine yards. But I loved it. I would smoke so much and be mellow. Plus, I was listening to a bunch of 60s and 70s music on the beach the whole time and felt like I was back in that time period.
Ever since then I’ve found myself missing shake. Weed these days is honestly just too potent for certain situations. If I’m just gonna smoke and chill by myself or with friends, it’s perfectly fine. But the second I have to do something—be out in public, hang with my family, or anything like that—it becomes way too much. So many of the strains these days in California, Colorado, or even here in New York boast that they’re anxiety-reducing, but that isn’t really the case because they all have really high THC contents. In my opinion, the only way to actually get a really mellow high is to smoke weed with low, low THC content—i.e. shake.
If you want to be a functioning person, then shake or mids is the only way to go. You can smoke as much as you want and not worry. These days, in a high-speed, ADD-rattled society, the last thing people need is to smoke this super hero weed that makes them just stare at their phones and twitch, instead of continue to chill with the homies or continue about their days.
Male, age 30
I don’t even smoke weed anymore; it’s too crazy. But if my I’m riding in a van through the mountains of Oaxaca and we stop in San Jose del Pacifico, you know that when I buy a big bag of mushrooms that, yeah, I’ll take two fat tree branches of the shittiest weed you ever saw for $10. I’ll put the seeds in my wallet and give them to my girl when I get back to Mexico City so she can throw them in a pot on her windowsill, and we’ll twist up a stupid-big joint on the beach and let it burn. I’ll hit it like twice, but that forest smell will sure bring me back, you know? Plus, I used to steal shit mids from my dad that he grew out in the woods somewhere and smoke alone. If I had the choice of smoking a big fat blunt full of mids or a bowl of NYC “heady” weed that costs $60 for a light eighth from some kid on a bike, you know I’d rather smoke that blunt.
Female, age 25
I love shitty weed because that’s the kind I grew up with in Warsaw. Polish weed was also full of chemicals, and it’d get you real fucked up. Well, it would give you hangovers, and if you smoked a lot of it you would sometimes hallucinate. It had some seeds in it, and it was really dry and even ashy. We didn’t have “good” weed. The bad stuff was just what was available, and everyone was smoking it.
It was real cheap, too, at around 30 polish zlotys [$8) for a “gram,” though it was probably less than a gram because no one had scales. It reminds me of growing up in my native country, so now that I live in Berlin, I go out of my way to buy the low-quality stuff that the African migrants sell at Gorlitzer Park in Kreuzberg. It’s a way to feel nostalgic while also smoking nonstop without it overwhelming my entire day and feeling like a commitment.
Image via Flickr User Blind Nomad
Male, age 22
It’s not that I prefer shitty weed, I just wouldn’t waste my time searching for “fiya” if I can easily get weed that’s significantly cheaper.
I dealt for so long, and I know there is better weed, but to me it’s just gets you high. I don’t need weed for medical reasons. I would sell cheap weed for like $25–$30 an eighth, and good stuff around $60. I have a guy who I can get an ounce from for $80. I also have friends who sell that hydro, sticky Cali whatever for $350 an ounce.
If I smoked once a year, I understand splurging. But for people like me who smoke multiple times a day, you’re crazy for spending so much on weed that’s not that much better. I’m young and broke, so I think of it like wine. Sure, a nice expensive bottle if wine is amazing and pairs well with food. But if I’m just a kid looking to get drunk, which in most situations I am, two-buck chuck does exactly what I need it to.
I hear people who advocate for expensive shit say that cheap weed gives them headaches or other bullshit. To me, that’s like people saying they feel shitty if they eat gluten. Yes, you will feel tired and bloated after eating a full pizza.
Americans idolize or idealize Rastafarian culture, especially when it comes to weed—but those dudes smoke some of the worst bush weed you can smoke. Yet they’re still happy smoking that weed than most people here who pay shitloads of money for tiny bags of top-shelf product. So my logic is if I get high, I’m happy. Weed is weed.
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Pot is more plentiful and powerful than ever, but low-grade shake still has its fans.