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How To Grade Your AA, AAA, and AAAA Cannabis

Over the years we’ve noticed that the term “Quad” and “Trip” get tossed around a lot along with the names of strains.

A lot more growers and breeders are using designer genetics. You’ll see names like Seed Junky, Jungle Boys and Thug Pug being tossed around a-lot, and their winning cuts get crossed with other amazing breeders like Jordan Of The Island from right here in Canada.

People have learned that to make quality smoke you need fire seeds. But just because you buy a package of designer seeds from a choice breeder it doesn’t mean you’ll end up with a quad strain that everyone talks about. A lot goes into producing amazing cannabis. Every step of the way if you make a mistake your final product will pay the price.

So What Does Quad and Trip and Dubs mean?

Quad, Trip, and Dubs are slang that refers to the grade system we use with Cannabis.

  • AA grade, also known as Dubs, or Budget Bud, is the lowest grade with poor bud structure and is the cheapest pot around.
  • AAA grade is known as Trips, is a good quality weed, but with poorer bud density
  • AAAA grade, or Quad, is premium weed, with the highest grade bud available.

Whether you are a long-time user, or simply new to the cannabis industry, there is one thing which you will quickly learn to judge: that is, the quality of your weed.

With such a demand in the current market, thanks in part to the legalization of cannabis in Canada, it will come as no surprise to learn that this means an increase in the number of low-quality growers and breeders out there. Often the old saying, “you get what you pay for” rings true in the quality of cannabis. If I buy a bag of Kush Mints for $99 an oz you can almost guarantee that its not going to be very good, likely green house or something of that nature. It’s like buying a case of cheap beer, it’ll do the trick but its not something that I brag to my friends about.

What Are The Different Grades Of Weed?

When it comes to the cannabis industry, you may find a variety of different grading systems depending on who the seller is. Most online stores I’ve found rate their products much higher than it should be. This is quite normal to find, although they can be very subjective.

As you would expect, there can be a vast difference in quality through the different levels from A-AAAA. Bearing in mind that single A is the lowest, and quadruple A is the highest grading. Here we will take a run through each grading level and try our best to give you a good idea of what you can expect

in terms of weed quality. It should also be noted that the most common top quality of weed which you may have already sampled is usually classified as AAA. That is not to say that AAAA is an unachievable benchmark, just that it is relatively rare to come across. It’s the cannabis unicorn. Anything under $200 an oz in Canada is not going to be a AAA and is especially not a AAAA. From time to time you might find them on sale. But you should expect to pay around $220 to $260 for top shelf cannabis.

1) A-Grade Cannabis: “Outdoor” or “Greenhouse” Weed

Commonly referred to as “dirt weed”, it is the lowest quality of all cannabis grades. At this level, you are really scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of weed. Many would suggest you are even better off not consuming products of this level as it may give you an unrealistic impression of what the experience of top-quality weed really is.

An A-grade level of cannabis is really nothing more than very low quality of weed product. In many cases, vendors will use flower to make extracts out of it, and then sell the flower corpse to their clients for extra profit. This means that the flower would be butane-blasted for shatter production first, and then the bud gets sold since it still looks ok. This is called *washed weed*.

We would also recommend other selections if you have resorted to purchasing at this quality tier. Perhaps you can reduce your purchase size in order to increase the level of quality you can afford. At any rate, even a strain which seems to be great value at this level is not representative of what you can expect to find when it comes to quality at the other higher grade levels.

2) AA-Grade Cannabis: “Dubs” or “Reggie Weed”

AA offers a variance in quality, and it’s not uncommon to see AA- and AA+. Often referred to as “reggie weed” or “dubs,” AA-grades have a brown or off-color tinge in their green outlook. This type contains relatively more THC than its lower counterpart. But still isn’t good by any means.

If your budget is restricted, you may find yourself venturing down the path of lower quality. AA grade is typically seen as a very budget choice. The old saying of, “you get what you pay for” comes into play here. While you may stumble upon a rare, good selection in this category, this should definitely not be expected.

An example of AA-grade Weed. Lots of brown and off-colour

The quality of the strain is much more likely to be on the poor side, with a lot of brown or other off-color appearances. The smell is also likely to be quite a way from what you would get with just one step up in grade level. The lower the grade quality, generally, the darker the ash also becomes. It’ll be pumped with nutrients until the very end to try and make up for the loss in the final price. Also it would be tossed through a machine to trim so you’ll lose about 12% of the crystals and all the trichomes will be damaged and crushed. Most pre-rolls are made of this grade and or the trim from it.

Purchasing anything less than an AAA grade may surely save you money in the short-term, but will also be a sacrifice of quality which can be hard for some to enjoy, particularly those who are accustomed users which typically means they have experienced higher levels in the past. You could also expect that some of the noted effects at this level would not be as strong or predictable.

3) AAA-Grade Cannabis: “Trips”

The Triple-A grade was formerly regarded as the best quality there is. As mentioned, AAA grade cannabis is probably the most common you will see when making a purchase. This level would be what most consider as standard. It can still be of really excellent quality, and you can always rely on a varied selection of AAA grade to be available almost all of the time from any respectable location.

In order to be thought of as AAA quality, many of the same qualities as the highest level still need to be present. A little more discoloration can be expected, although not enough to include too much brown or tan. Also some strains are that colour. Most heavy Sativa’s are brownish and the buds are more airy. So you cant always associate these features with lower quality.

Greener, better quality AAA weed

The levels of THC in a particular strain are not important when determining the grade. The main elements to identify would be how it looks, how it smells, and how it tastes. The potency will also come through easier in grades of a higher level. As AAA is still at an extremely high level, you can expect it to deliver almost maximum potency and trust that you will feel the full effects of the THC contained within it. If you ask around to those who are experienced users, you will also find that they would rarely consider purchasing anything below this level. As many say (Its not worth the paper to roll it up)

4) AAAA-Grade Cannabis: “Quads”

The AAAA cannabis grade level will typically be the best of the best available. But a lot of stores will list AAA as AAAA and most people wont be able to tell the difference. If you shop around you can find several great strains at this high level. This is the stage at which everything aligns for a strain. This means that the smell, look, and taste of the cannabis should be reaching near perfect levels in order to receive a quad A rating It should be all frosty buds that have had a nice hand trim and been dried slowly. Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid is no matter here, the rating system is judging quality.

What does that situation look like? Well, in terms of smell, it should be pungent and pleasing. There should be no unintended off notes when it comes to the aroma. The structure of the bud and presence of plentiful trichomes is important when considering the look of a top-quality strain. These trichomes are the tiny, hair-like features which you will see. The buds themselves should be dense and well-kept in form, with a hint of orange or purple, everything looking neat and well-packed.

Some sweet sweet AAAA bud. You really can see the difference.

Presence of a poor-trim or less than healthy coloration ultimately means the level is not quite as high. When it comes down to taste, one which compliments the aroma, without a harsh aftertaste is the minimum which can be expected from the highest graded level of cannabis.

Final Thoughts On Cannabis Grading for Smoking Or To Sell.

As we have covered, there is a big difference between the grade levels of cannabis in a few areas. These are mainly taste, smell, and how it looks. As a more experienced user it is certain that you will notice the difference when presented with these different grades. These may be subtle between AAAA and AAA, but venture down to the lower two tiers and you will certainly see a large gap appear in terms of quality.

If you are a less experienced user, you may not directly be able to put your finger on why there is a difference, but you would certainly be able to notice it.

The question of whether it matters is down to you. As experienced users, we would certainly say that it matters a lot. Just as with many products, you want the best quality and experience with your purchase. I remember when all my friends were excited for Buck-a-beer. You can get a case of lucky for 24 bucks…Yep it taste like dirty water and the buzz isn’t great. But it’s a buck and you get a lot of beer.

You get what you pay for. I would always spend the extra money and get something I would enjoy, because I didn’t need to drink as much as I could for the amount of money I had, Instead I wanted the experience and I wanted to enjoy every part of it.

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