Hemp flowers, just like marijuana, can be smoked, vaped, or eaten. They are available in several forms and a multitude of strains. If you’re new to these flavorful flowers and their many benefits, you probably don’t know where to begin—which flowers should you buy, and which brands should you trust?
All these things and more will be addressed in this guide to buying hemp flowers.
How to Choose the Best Hemp Flowers
You wouldn’t go to a bar and ask for “beer.” You wouldn’t pick up a drinks menu in a restaurant and just ask for “wine.” You’ll think about the options.
Should you opt for ale or lager; red wine or white wine? What strength do you want, what flavors will you consider, and do you want a glass, bottle, or a pitcher?
It’s much the same with hemp flowers. For the best flowers every time, consider all the following:
To get the best hemp flowers, look for “high-grade” or “top-shelf” labels. These flowers have been grown, harvested, and prepared to exacting standards. They are slow-cured, hand-trimmed, and they deliver the highest-quality experience.
Some brands also use “private reserve” labels, which simply suggests that the flowers are the pick of the harvest, the cream of the crop, and are available in limited quantities.
Medium-grade flowers are a step down from top-shelf. They are still high quality, however, and because of the reduced price, they may be a better option for buyers on a budget.
Then you have bottom-shelf or low-grade hemp flowers. This is the cheap stuff. The colors may be dull, the flavors weak, and the cannabinoids low. These buds don’t offer the best experience, but they are much cheaper.
If you’re trying hemp flowers for the first time and don’t want to spend a lot of money, we recommend opting for a small quantity of top-shelf flowers. If you decide to buy cheaper quantities in bulk at a later date, at least you’ll have something to compare them to.
Hemp flowers may also be labeled as “bulk” flowers. Unless they specifically state that they are high-grade, these flowers are likely to be very low quality.
There is also something known as “shake.”
Hemp flowers are stacked in large jars and occasionally disturbed. Every time some of those buds are removed, small pieces fall off and gather at the bottom of the jar. This “shake” is easier to roll and often used to stuff pre-rolls. It’s still a good quality product, but it’s generally not as potent as the buds themselves.
A hemp flower’s flavors and aromas are provided by its terpene content. These compounds are found throughout nature and are the main component of essential oils.
Some produce citrusy flavors; others are more floral. Some smell strongly of bitter hops, black pepper, and pine, while others are described as being akin to diesel. When you combine many of these flavors in a single flower, it can produce a completely unique profile.
If you’re new to hemp flowers, it’s easy to feel a little confused by the wealth of terpene names and concentrations. There’s no need to worry about this in the beginning, though.
Take a look at the aroma descriptions listed by the retailer. Find one that you like and pay attention to the most prominent terpenes. Over time, you’ll learn about the effects and aromas that specific terpenes provide and will know what to look for in the future.
The Cannabinoids and Benefits
All legal hemp contains less than 0.3% THC, which means it won’t make you high or paranoid. However, research suggests that CBD, CBG, and other minor cannabinoids can provide a wealth of health benefits. They may reduce pain and inflammation, help with relaxation, and combat stress and insomnia.
Everyone responds differently and there are several legal cannabinoids to consider, including CBD, CBG, and CBN.
It’s not only about the cannabinoids, either. If that was the case, the best strain would be the one with the highest level of your chosen compound. In fact, many of the benefits of hemp flowers are provided by something known as “the entourage effect,” which describes the benefits provided by a combination of ingredients.
The best way to understand these effects is to consider them in the same way as antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
We know that a diet rich in antioxidants significantly reduces the risk of cancer, heart disease, and a host of other ailments. However, when these compounds are taken in synthetic form, many of those benefits disappear and in some cases, including green tea extracts, they do more harm than good.
With hemp flowers, you get multiple cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, all of which combine to provide the benefits and sensations that these flowers are famous for.
Hemp flowers are sold in the following forms:
- Whole: 100% whole hemp flowers, often secured in glass jars.
- Blends: Chopped flowers mixed with synergistic herbs and designed to replicate marijuana or provide some unique benefits.
- Pre-rolls: Often hand-rolled, these joints typically contain 100% hemp flowers and range from around 0.7g to 1g per roll.
- Packed Cigarettes: Hemp cigarettes are designed to look like tobacco cigarettes and are even packed into branded packs with colored filter tips. They are flavored and often use low-quality flowers and other parts of the hemp plant.
- Cigars: Thick blunts that pack up to 6 grams of hemp flower into a single smokable.
The “best” option comes down to preference and budget. Hemp flowers are often the most versatile. They can be rolled into joints, packed into premade cones if you can’t roll, smoked in a bowl, or eaten. You’re always guaranteed 100% hemp flowers and you’ll know exactly what you’re getting.
Hemp cigarettes, also known as hempettes or hemperettes, are arguably the most convenient, but that convenience is often at the expense of quality. If you don’t want to bother with the hassle of grinding and rolling, we recommend pre-rolls instead.
As for cigars, they are best reserved for more experienced smokers. 6 grams is a lot of herb to consume in a single period and even over the course of a day or two. You can nip it and leave it for later, but it’s often easier to buy smaller pre-rolls.
The signing of the 2018 Farm Bill opened the floodgates and heralded the age of industrial hemp. Many of the industry’s biggest brands were either founded during this time or expanded because of it.
Some companies grow and produce their own hemp, before branding it and selling it retail and wholesale. Others buy direct from local farms and many work with major producers that supply their products and offer branding services.
The category that a company falls into isn’t as important as the supply chain, quality control, and attention to detail.
Don’t assume that the best companies are the ones growing their own hemp and producing their own CBD. While this might be the case, they could just as easily be using low-quality hemp. On the flip side, a retailer that buys direct from multiple farms may have a strict quality control process that guarantees only the very best flowers.
Look at the branding, attention to detail, aftersales, price, and the supply chain. Stick with brands that independently test their flowers and are 100% upfront about the strains and their terpene/cannabinoid content.
For instance, while the best brands will tell you exactly what every pre-roll, cigar, and flower jar contains, right down to the CBD percentage, others simply label them as “hemp flowers” and use general terms like “premium.”