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Questions to Ask When Choosing Cannabis Brands

Making your first visit to a dispensary can be a bit overwhelming. The choices are abundant, and it can be challenging to get the best products for a newer cannabis consumer. This chapter will help you get the best products for you, by asking some key questions that uncover whether you’re purchasing from reputable brands.

Chapter 4 · 5 min read
Questions to Ask When Choosing Cannabis Brands

Before you visit your local dispensary or retail location, it’s helpful to have the tools you need to decide on some of the best cannabis brands. While what we’ve described in this chapter as red flags certainly are not deal-breakers or deterrents from finding safe, quality products, they are important to keep in mind while navigating the complex world of finding your favorite cannabis.

If you ask these questions of company employees, in person or to yourself while reflecting on their social media, for example, this may be a red flag. The best companies know these answers like the back of their hands. Here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing quality cannabis brands.

What to Ask Budtenders and Retail Employees

Dispensaries have a responsibility to educate and train their budtenders and employees. This is a crucial aspect of the cannabis consumer experience and could determine whether you return.

  • Which is your favorite? Decide whether you want flower, concentrates, or edibles. Then pick out two you find appealing. Then ask the budtender, out of these two, which do you prefer? It will allow you to understand if they will lead you to quality products, and it will let you know that the dispensary employee knows their stuff.
  • What did you do before this? See if your budtender has a background in cannabis. This will help you determine whether this particular dispensary is one you’ll want to return to.

Do They Have a Certificate of Analysis (COA)?

Transparent, honest, and reputable cannabis brands will usually have these certificates on their products that you should easily be able to access and view. Usually, COAs are found on brand websites. If they don’t have one, it could be that they are a new company and don’t yet have one, or they don’t have one at all. A little digging should allow you to determine which is which. To gain further insights into COAs, we recommend referring to our chapter on How to Read A Cannabis COA.


Do Cannabis Brands Use Misleading Language?

This one is rampant in the legal cannabis industry. This is a tricky one because the use of flowery language in their marketing messages and product labels doesn’t automatically mean they’re making bad products.

However, using phrases like “sun/ organic grown”, “99% pure”, “terpene-enhancer” or “chemical-free” can be misleading. For one instance, ‘organic’ cannabis which is grown outdoors is not necessarily better. The quality and potency of cannabis depends on many factors: the cultivation facility, inputs (what growers use to feed plants), source phenotypes and cultivars, and so on.

Secondly, unless the purity rating comes from a 3rd party rating organization, there is little to no way to verify that a product is 99% pure. Third, if a company claims that they are producing a terpene enhancer, this is something to be skeptical of.

Chemically altering the terpenes of cannabis products typically comes from changes in the source material, at the growing stage. Most so-called terpene enhancers are simply flavor shots, similar to what you’d add to your morning coffee order.

And lastly, everything in this world is made up of chemicals at the molecular level, so nothing can be completely chemical-free, according to science. Something to pay attention to is their use of heavy metals, and how much heavy metals might be found in their products, which companies should be transparent about.

These are just a few examples of the misleading and flowery language that companies will use in their marketing messages. The intent is also important to take into account as well because this type of language is so common in the cannabis industry.

It is entirely possible that even honest and reputable businesses were being genuine and not attempting to sell customers on a bill of goods. Doing your homework is important for anything that goes into your body, and like anything, you will improve with practice and continue to learn what to be skeptical about with cannabis product labels.

Are Extraction Companies Overly Driving Home the Phrase Solvent-Free?

When it comes to concentrates, as is the case with most cannabis products, there is no one-size-fits-all. You might prefer vaporizing flower, while your friend prefers edibles. It’s all a matter of preference. For concentrates, some consumers might like solventless hash rosin, while others will prefer traditional extraction methods of CO2 or butane extraction.

Similar to the concept that “organic and sun-grown” doesn’t necessarily mean better, solvent-based extracts are not inherently better either. Take into account their source material: where and how the cannabis was grown, what the lineage of the cultivar is, the growing and processing facility, and so on.

Quality hash products are often put through what’s called an ice water hash bath, and should almost always use RO (reverse osmosis) water to ensure the highest purity, for example.

These are just a few things to keep in mind when consuming products and choosing the best brands. The key is, again, to do your homework and ensure that you are getting the best possible product.

Trying out various products will help you decide which ones you like best. HashDash has a lot of recommendations (not paid sponsors) of excellent cannabis brands we’ve thoroughly vetted and chosen to highlight. Be sure to check out some blog articles in our Cannabis Industry Spotlight series.

While this chapter is a great way to get you started on how to pick quality cannabis brands, doing so is a lifelong journey. As conscious consumers, we have a responsibility to ourselves, and our fellow consumers to help separate the good from the bad.

What We Learned: Questions to Ask When Choosing Cannabis Brands

The only way we learn how to do this is through experience and gaining all the knowledge we can. Speaking of cannabis knowledge, here’s what we learned in this chapter:

  • Ask cannabis retail staff what their favorite products are, and what they did before working at the dispensary – if you’re able to have a longer conversation, of course.
  • Ask about cannabis brand’s CoA’s, to make sure you’re getting the safest products.
  • Study how cannabis brands may use misleading marketing language to sell products. Examples include the phrases “solvent-free, sun-grown, organic,” and so on.

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Chapter Question

When it relates to cannabis products, what does COA stand for?

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Knowing how to spot “marketing fluff” can help you choose the safest, highest-quality concentrates, edibles, and flower items.




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