Most people recognize the smell as they come across it, that skunky, stinky, intrusive scent that is unmistakable, even after the cannabis user has vacated the area. While some varieties of cannabis are smellier than others, there is no getting around that scent. But why does weed stink like that anyway?
That’s a scientific question that deserves a scientific look into the compounds that exist within the marijuana plant called terpenoids.
What are Terpenoids
In terms of terpenoids, marijuana is no different from virtually any other flowering plant. Terpenoids come in a range of scents as they are produced by the plant, giving each flower its unique characteristic that will either provide your nasal passages with an enjoyable aroma or invade your sinuses like a disease you want no part of, whether or not you use a weed pipe.
Cannabis has different varieties of terpenoids in its own right, offering scents that will remind you of citrus fruits, pine, wood, or balsamic vinegar, along with those skunky odors too.
While at times the odor can be overwhelming, that’s not a bad thing in terms of the effectiveness of the cannabis. The more pungent the smell, the more oils there are in the plant, and the more powerful the THC. That’s not to say THC has a smell, it doesn’t, but that scent is a good indication that the plant was harvested at its peak, so you can get the most out of your THC.
Terpenoids Similar to Other Plants
Marijuana contains around 200 different terpenoids, some of which you might recognize as similar to other types of plants, which is why the weed you smell can remind you of other things. Some of the more common terpenoids found in cannabis include:
- Alpha-pinene, which is smelled in pine needles
- Limonene has that citrus scent found in lemons
- Myrcene provides that brewer’s scent as it is found in hop vine flowers
- Linalool is not one you would think to find in cannabis, as it offers that lavender scent
- Beta-caryophyllene is included in the smell of black pepper
To get that skunky scent from cannabis, however, look no further than the skunkiest beer you can find. Both share the aroma that comes from a metabolic by-product of a particular enzyme.
While cannabis has come a long way since its adolescence in the 1960s and 70s when there was no real effort to harness great quality and different varieties from the crop, that only means stinkier weed. In the end, the price we pay for better quality weed with greater potency happens to be in the skunkiness of the smell we must endure.
If you can smell from a mile away, you know someone is enjoying a good quality batch of weed somewhere. But that’s also why there is a rise in the use of e-pens, cannabis oils, and edibles. They offer the same effects without the same odors you expect from smoking your weed.