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Cannabis 101: Harsh smoke and the importance of curing

By Sue Vorenberg
Cannabis Daily Record

(Drying and trimming buds prior to curing at CannaMan Farms)

(Drying and trimming buds prior to curing at CannaMan Farms)

Fall is a great time for cannabis enthusiasts – the big outdoor harvests start to come in, the array of strains at local shops expands almost exponentially and prices drop due to the large amount of flower entering the market.

If you’re not a fan of harsh smoke (Are there people out there who actually like harsh smoke?) than there’s an important question you should ask your budtender before parting with your money: Has this product been cured properly?

Curing isn’t rocket science, but it is time consuming. When a plant is harvested, growers typically trim off the larger leaf clusters and hang the buddy branches over wires to let them dry for four to 10 days.

Once the buds feel dry, they’re removed from the branches and trimmed more closely. Then they’re placed in some sort of storage container and dried for another few weeks until they’re sticky but not brittle.

Here’s a chart from the site on the curing process:

(Curing chart from

(Curing chart from

Curing does several things to make your buds better. It improves the flavor and reduces the harshness of the smoke (partly because it breaks down chlorophyll as part of the process), and there are some indications that it also can increase potency and reduce some of the anxiety and paranoia issues you might feel with cannabis.

If buds aren’t cured enough, you get harsh smoke, weed that’s a bit harder to grind and physical effects like headaches or a hung over feeling that you don’t get with properly cured buds.

If your buds are cured too much, they become dry and brittle and lose some of their flavor.

Personally, I’ve found that improperly cured buds are most commonly found early on in the fall harvest and also in newly launching recreational markets (I noticed some recently among the buds I’ve tried in Portland, Oregon, which opened limited recreational sales on October 1, 2015 – and I also noticed that trend when Washington’s recreational market first launched in July 2014).

Poor curing methods are most common when product is pushed onto the market early because of increased demand (hence the issues with launching markets). For the most part, established indoor growers who cycle their plants seem to be more aware of curing issues – and curing is part of their timeline to bring products to market.

Experienced and high quality outdoor growers are also aware of curing and add it into their cycles. But newer outdoor growers – especially if they’re out to make a quick buck – sometimes skimp on the time that they let their products cure.

It’s a buyer beware issue that comes to light more prominently during the fall. So if you’re checking out a new grower – you might want to ask your budtender for details about their curing process.

Cheers and enjoy!


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