August 26, 2020 7 min read

By Lydia Kibet

Are you an avid weed smoker or cannabis cultivator?

You've probably heard about the word 'schwag weed' tossed around or heard people complaining about low-quality weed.

Cannabis quality is what distinguishes an enjoyable smoking experience from a bad one.

With a massive collection of different types of weed and strain options available in the market, it can be overwhelming for novice smokers to differentiate between substandard and top-shelf weed.

Surprisingly, unscrupulous dealers out there will sell low-quality marijuana, popularly known as schwag weed to unsuspecting buyers.

However, all is not lost, especially with this article. We're going to shed some light on tips to identify schwag weed before losing your hard-earned money, as well as covering some frequently asked questions from cannabis enthusiasts.

What is the Meaning Schwag Weed?

Schwag is a slang term in the cannabis culture used to refer to low-quality marijuana that is typically brown in color and overly dry.

Also known as dirty weed, skunkweed, Reggie weed, ditch weed, regs, swag, or schwag weed contains excessive stems, seeds, and other unpleasant plant fibers.

Due to the fast harvesting and packaging process, schwag is often a bag full of plant stems with a foul odor, instead of premium buds.

Trichomes are rare on schwag and therefore has low concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other cannabinoids. For this reason, users barely get high, unless consumed in large amounts to experience the effects.

Most of the time, schwag weed effects are harsh, and users may start coughing or have a sore throat after every hit. Besides, schwag has an unpleasant flavor.

Perhaps, you're asking yourself, where does schwag originate?

Where Does Schwag Originate?

The cannabis industry is estimated in the billions of dollars per year, with the market growing at a substantial rate.

Several marijuana dispensaries and companies are popping up every day as more investors cash in on this booming industry to cater for the high demand.

As more states continue to legalize recreational marijuana, cultivators strive to produce top-shelf cannabis by carefully selecting specific strains of marijuana to stand out from the crowd.

However, some cultivators who are in the industry for profits end up growing weed on a large scale and rush the cultivation process. The end result is low-quality cannabis like schwag weed.

Schwag is typically associated with weed that comes from Mexico smuggled across the border to the US.

Usually packed with excessive stems and seeds, schwag is unhealthy, substandard weed. As mentioned earlier, a user has to smoke more to achieve the 'high' feeling a small amount of top-quality cannabis can give.

Tips for Identifying Schwag Weed

Once you know how to differentiate good and bad weed, you can easily spot dirt weed before you make a purchase. Here are some quick pointers to help you identify schwag weed:

1. Aroma

Schwag weed has a moldy odor and shouldn't be confused with some earthy smells linked to some cannabis strains. If you're planning to make a purchase, you shouldn't shy away from sniffing to identify lousy weed. Compared to the robust scent of high-grade marijuana, schwag's smell is probably due to weak genetics and oxidation from improper storage. If you sniff a weird smell, perhaps that could be schwag, and you should steer clear.

2. Appearance

Stems and seeds are the first signs of schwag weed.

Stems contain very few cannabinoids, and they give an unpleasant smoke. Stems are typically cut from top-shelf buds, so it doesn't add any value to your bong or joint.

On the other hand, seeds indicate female marijuana plants that have undergone fertilization. Once pollination takes place, the energy that female plants could have used to produce more THC is diverted to seed production. As a result, a low potent weed like schwag.

3. Color of the bud

Several marijuana strains show a wide range of leaf colors from deep purple, neon green, to pink.

However, if you notice buds brown in color, that's a clear indication that it has been exposed to oxygen, or it is too old. There's a reason why schwag is called brown or dirt weed. You can easily recognize schwag by its distinctive brown buds.

4. Texture

Thoroughly cured and stored weed are mostly dry and sticky when touched because of the trichomes.

Overly dry buds that crumble when touched is a sign of schwag weed. This means the buds didn't cure fully, or they were stored inappropriately.

5. Trichomes

Trichomes are sticky resins that give cannabis the needed potency.

They are glossy crystal-like small outgrowths that look like fine hairs found in high-quality buds, but not present in schwag weed.

Top-quality marijuana growers strive to maximize the production of trichomes by making use of specific genetics and separating male plants in the pre-flowering stage, harvesting at the right time, and storing correctly. Schwag weed is typically grown and attended to with minimal care resulting in fewer trichomes.

6. Watch out for microbial contamination

Powdery mildew is a clear indicator of low-quality weed, which may have adverse side effects.

While it may not be easy to identify mold with a naked eye, using a magnifying glass can help you look at it closely.

You can spot powdery mildew on the leaves surface or sandwiched between trichomes stalks. If your weed looks moldy, don't smoke it as it may affect your health.

7. Trim

Cannabis buds are trimmed after harvest to remove unnecessary leaves. Substandard buds are machine trimmed, while high-quality buds are hand-trimmed.

Using machines to trim crush the buds and interfere with trichomes that contributes to a higher potency. Untrimmed buds with excess leaves or machine-trimmed buds are signs of rushed cultivation practices popular with schwag weed.

Useful Applications for Schwag

While schwag weed may not be the desired quality for smoking enthusiasts, it may be useful in various ways.


  • Shareables: Are you looking to throw a 420 event for like-minded persons and want to offer weed? Schwag weed is perfect since the majority of us may not afford to give the finest pot to a house full of stoners. This makes schwag a decent option for 420 parties and can be used in pre-rolls, bongs, joints. Eventually, it will save you more bucks and high-end buds for yourself.
  • Tinctures: You can create cannabis tinctures from schwag weed by decarboxylating and infusing it with alcohol or cooking oil.
  • Edibles: The majority of cannabis recipes need massive amounts of flowers, and schwag can be a perfect substitute for baking with more costly strains.
  • Grow cannabis with schwag seeds: You can use schwag seeds to grow your own marijuana. Although it may not be the most potent strain on the market, it will help you perfect your cannabis cultivation skills.

    3 Factors that Affect Weed Quality

    For cannabis connoisseurs, weed quality determines the smoking experience and whether you'll get the most out of your weed. However, the quality of weed is determined by the following factors:

    1. Cultivation environment

    Top-shelf cannabis is cultivated in favorable environments where growers watch the growth cyle with extreme care.

    Besides, high-quality marijuana strains are chosen, and the plants are grown with the best soil and organic ingredients. Growers strive to keep trichomes intact with quality weed being hand-trimmed to avoid interrupting with the trichomes they harbor. 

    Schwag weed is grown in a harsh environment. As a result, buds form early without trichomes commonly found in high-quality cannabis flowers.

    2. Harvesting

    Curing is a crucial step in the cannabis cultivation process.

    The longer the curing process, the higher the potency of the buds, and the more enjoyable.

    If curing is done improperly, the outcome will be a low potent weed like schwag that has a harsh taste. Moreover, poorly cured weed lack the sweet aroma, have moisture, and the stems don't snap easily.

    3. Storage

    When we talk about high-quality bud sold by marijuana dispensaries out there, the packaging can be luring like the nugget itself. Top-shelf buds have THC levels plus other cannabinoids listed on the product label. Besides, it should come with a certificate of analysis (COA) tested by a third-party lab to ensure that it is free from pesticides, herbicides, molds, and heavy metals.

    On the other hand, schwag weed is often compressed and transported in bricks that contain a mixture of buds, stems, and seeds – hence the name brick weed.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Schwag Weed

    Here are some of the frequently asked questions about schwag weed. Take a detailed look at these questions as many cannabis enthusiasts tend to have similar questions.

    Should I buy schwag weed?

    Schwag weed is smokable unless it is moldy, although it may not give you the high you need.

    Depending on your preferences and circumstances, schwag weed could be worth a buy. While it has earned a bad reputation, it could make an excellent option for anyone who needs a low tolerance for THC.

    Also, financial concerns could be another reason to turn to schwag weed. Since schwag is produced in large quantities, they're cheaper than more potent cannabis. If you're on a tight budget and looking to buy weed in large amounts, then, schwag weed might be suitable for you.

    What makes it so bad?

    With all the high-potency buds out there, what makes schwag so bad?

    The simple answer is money.

    Grower practice rush cultivation with an appetite for huge profits, resulting in mass production of the low-quality herb. When all you have to do is throw some seeds in the field, and without much care, mother nature does his thing.

    Besides, you're cutting the buds early, sun-drying, and tossing it in a trash compactor to brick.

    But, if you can grow it without spending much and the demand exists, then it's possible to grow fields of dirt weed with minimal care. The bottom line is money-making, not quality.

    Why do some cannabis smokers still have a soft spot for schwag weed?

    With technology advancements that have sparked several innovations in the marijuana industry, cultivation and production of top-shelf potent weed have become easy.

    However, some stoners out there still love schwag, which they say is nostalgic and gives them a soothing experience, unlike today's marijuana.

    Can you grow good weed from schwag seeds?

    If you're that person who loves to try out new things, you might consider growing your own marijuana from schwag seeds.

    Is schwag bad in genetics, or is it grown negligently that it never lived up to its full potential?

    Well, you can only know this by home growing the seeds. Under favorable conditions, your weed may produce significantly better herb than mid-grade weed.


    Finally, it all depends on your preferences, needs, and what you're trying to achieve. What is best for you may be the worst for someone else. With tons of cannabis strains cultivated by thousands of growers across the globe, your main focus is to find a strain that suits your needs.

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