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.
What Does Marijuana Smell Like?
The smell of marijuana is easily distinguishable if you’ve ever been around it. Due to its increased legality, this is an odor you might encounter more often. Before or after it’s smoked, marijuana has a strong musky odor, similar to a skunk, with other herbal undertones. If you have not been exposed to this scent before, there are a few key factors that can help you identify it.
What It Smells Like in the Bag
Marijuana will smell differently depending on the strain. In general, marijuana in the bag will have a combination of a few scents, such as woody, earthy, musky, citrus, skunk, floral, and/or pine notes with one smell tending to dominate. Often times, marijuana is stored in small airtight containers that dampen the smell significantly. Stinkier marijuana strains include Cat Piss, Space Queen, and Super Skunk. Space Queen is said to smell similar to spoiled dairy, while Cat Piss and Super Skunk are aptly named for their stinkiness.
What the Plant Smells Like
The marijuana plant will vary in scent depending on how mature the plant is. Immature plants tend to smell less, and if stored appropriately, a scent may not even be detectable. More mature plants will have a stronger odor. The plant can smell earthy, floral, or woody and have notes of pine and skunk, depending on the strain. The weather can also influence scent with heat intensifying the odor, so you may notice the smell more on hot days.
What It Smells Like when Smoked
During the smoking process, marijuana will smell like the dominant notes in the strain. However, smoking adds some other layers to the odor, including the scents of fire, smoke, and a stronger skunk smell. Some strains have fruity scents, while others tend to be more earthy, musky, and herbaceous. The smell can be strong enough to stink up a room or even an entire house, depending on how much was smoked. If someone is smoking in a car, the scent can penetrate the upholstery and can be difficult to cover or get rid of.
What It Smells Like After Being Smoked
Marijuana smells very similar after being smoked as it does during the smoking process. This is especially true if the smoke gets on your clothes, sheets, upholstery, or other fabric sources that tend to absorb smells. Most people note that it smells like the dominant strain notes mixed with a skunky odor. For example, if the strain has a lot of lemon notes, after it has been smoked, it will smell faintly of lemon and skunk.
What Else Smells Like Marijuana?
There are many other living things that can smell like marijuana. The following have the potential to trick your mind into thinking you’re smelling marijuana:
- Skunk cabbage: This is a wetland plant that can smell like marijuana or rotting flesh during its blooming season. You may encounter it on the woods or on hikes.
- Skunk: Marijuana can smell skunky, depending on the strain. The skunkiest strains include Chronic, Uncle Andy, and Master Kush. However, skunk generally doesn’t include the undertones of herbs.
- Hoppy beer: Hops and marijuana may be genetically related, hence the similar scent.
- Moss phlox: This flower has a smell so similar to marijuana, it triggered a police raid.
- Spider flower: Many people say this flower smells musky, lemony, and skunky with leaves that resemble marijuana leaves.
Identifying the Smell
Just like anything, some people find the smell pleasant, while others cannot stand the scent that accompanies marijuana. Chances are if you’re smelling something vaguely reminiscent of a skunk mixed with herbs, floral, or citrus notes and without the telltale skunk smell of sulfur, it’s probably marijuana.
The smell of marijuana is easily distinguishable if you've ever been around it. Due to its increased legality, this is an odor you might encounter more …