What Does Marijuana Smell Like?

what does marijuana smell like?

Last Updated on May 19, 2023

Have you ever wondered what does marijuana smell like? This pungent plant has a distinct aroma that is unmistakable when encountered. Whether it’s in the form of dried flower buds, oils, or edibles, cannabis emits a unique odour when smoked or consumed. 

But what exactly does marijuana smell like?

The answer varies depending on the strain and how it was grown. Some varieties have an earthy scent with notes of pine and citrus, while others are more sweet and fruity. 

Additionally, different methods of consumption will also influence its smell as smoking releases more terpenes than eating an edible would. In this article, we’ll explore the various aromas associated with cannabis products to help you identify them in your own home or out in public.

What is the Cannabis Plant?

weed plant

The cannabis plant is a unique species of flowering plants that are part of the Cannabis genus. It has been used for medicinal and recreational purposes since ancient times and continues to be one of the most popular psychoactive substances in the world today.

Cannabis plants can be cultivated indoors or outdoors, with each strain having different characteristics such as aroma, taste, potency, and effects on users.

The two main types of cannabis are hemp and marijuana, which differ in their levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – the compound responsible for producing a ‘high’ when consumed. Hemp contains very low levels of THC, whereas marijuana typically contains higher amounts making it more potent than hemp-based products.

Both varieties contain other compounds known as cannabinoids which have various health benefits, including pain relief, anti-inflammatory properties, stress relief and more.

Do All Marijuana Strains Smell the Same?

No, not all marijuana strains smell the same. The smell of each cannabis strain will vary depending on how it was grown and what type of product is being consumed. Some varieties have an earthy scent with notes of pine and citrus, while others are more sweet and fruity.

Why Cannabis Smells Differently?

weed and fruit

The smell of cannabis is due to the terpenes, a group of organic compounds found in many plants and herbs. These terpenes are responsible for creating the unique weed smell that each cannabis strain has.

In addition to providing its natural scent, certain terpenes can also have an effect on users, such as calming anxiety or reducing inflammation.

Different environmental factors can also influence the terpenes found in cannabis, such as humidity, temperature and exposure to sunlight. This is why two plants grown under different conditions may result in different smells, even if they are from the same strain.

What Does Marijuana Smell Like?

Marijuana has a distinctive odour that can vary depending on the strain and how it’s grown, but it is generally described as earthy, woody, and herbal. Overall, the smell of marijuana is quite distinct and recognisable to those who have encountered it before. Here are some different smells associated with marijuana:

  • Earthy
  • Woody
  • Herbal
  • Skunky
  • Pungent
  • Floral
  • Citrusy
  • Fruity
  • Spicy
  • Diesel-like
  • Sweet
  • Minty
  • Nutty
  • Cheese-like

To sum it up, marijuana has a distinct, unmistakable aroma that varies depending on the strain and how it is used.

What Causes Marijuana’s Aroma?

Marijuana’s aroma is caused by a complex combination of compounds called terpenes and cannabinoids. Terpenes are organic compounds that are found in many plants and are responsible for the distinct smells associated with them. Cannabis plants contain a variety of terpenes, such as myrcene, limonene, and pinene, which give the plant it’s characteristic earthy, citrus, and pine scents.

Cannabinoids are another group of compounds found in cannabis that contribute to its aroma. The most well-known cannabinoid is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for the plant’s psychoactive effects. However, other cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD), also have distinct aromas that can affect the overall smell of the plant.

The Entourage Effect Of Cannabis Terpenes

The entourage effect is the phenomenon wherein terpenes from different cannabis strains interact synergistically to create a greater effect than when any one of the compounds is used alone. This means that by consuming a variety of terpene-rich cannabis strains, users can experience more intense and longer-lasting effects than when just one strain is used.

Examples of Different Types of Terpenes

There are many types of terpenes found in cannabis. Here are some of the most common ones:


This terpene is often found in mangoes, hops and bay leaves. It has musky, earthy, herbal aromas comparable to mangos.

Thyme Β-caryophyllene

This terpene is found in black pepper, cloves and cinnamon. It has a peppery, spicy smell with woody undertones.


This terpene is also found in citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges. It gives off sweet, citrusy aromas with a hint of lemon zest.

3 Different Types of Cannabis Strains

different marijuana buds

When it comes to cannabis, many different strains are available on the market today. Each strain offers its own unique combination of terpenes, effects and medicinal properties.

1. Cannabis Indica

Cannabis indica is a strain of cannabis known for its sedating effects and higher CBD content. Though its aroma depends on the particular strain, people describe indicas as earthy, skunky, or woody with herbal and spicy notes.

2. Cannabis Sativa

Cannabis sativa is a strain known for its stimulating effects and higher THC content. It usually has an uplifting, citrusy aroma with notes of pine and pepper.

3. Hybrid Strains

Hybrids are a combination of Indica and sativa strains, offering the best of both worlds. Depending on the genetic makeup of each hybrid, some may have an earthy smell, while others can be more of a floral fragrance.

How to Identify the Smell of Cannabis Strains?

Marijuana has a pungent and distinct aroma that can often be identified when it is smelled, smoked or consumed. Its scent is typically described as earthy, sweet, musky, or skunky, depending on the strain.

If you’re ever in doubt, pay attention to the smell when you’re near a dispensary or someone smoking cannabis. With experience, it’ll become easier to identify marijuana by its scent alone. Before you know it, you’ll be able to tell the difference between weed strains using just your nose!

Does Marijuana Smoke Smell Worse Than Cigarette Smoke?

Yes, the smell of marijuana is often said to have a stronger and more pungent smell than cigarette smoke. Marijuana contains more terpenes which give it its distinct aroma and can linger in the air for longer periods of time.

On the other hand, cigarette smoke may contain some terpenes, but it also has many other chemical compounds from tobacco and additives that can mask its smell.

Not everyone likes the smell of marijuana. For those who don’t, using a smoke filter or an odourless method such as vaporisers can help reduce the smell.

Does Marijuana Smell Like Skunk?

Some strains of marijuana are said to have a skunky smell, reminiscent of the musky odour that skunks emit. This is because these strains contain high levels of terpenes like myrcene and humulene, which give off a pungent aroma similar to skunk spray.

What Does Synthetic Marijuana Smell Like?

Synthetic marijuana usually has a chemical-like odour that is often described as unpleasant. This is because it contains synthetic cannabinoids, which are not naturally derived from the cannabis plant and have a distinct smell.

Related: Synthetic Marijuana vs Real Marijuana

What Does Mouldy Weed Smell Like?

Mouldy weed, or cannabis that has been contaminated with mould, usually has a musty and unpleasant smell. This is because the mould can produce its own odorous compounds as it grows on the bud, giving off a pungent aroma.


As you can see, there are many factors that influence the smell of weed. Different strains have unique aromas and terpenes, giving off distinctive scents. Synthetic marijuana has its own chemical-like odour, and mouldy weed will often produce a musty aroma when it is contaminated with mould.

With experience, you’ll be able to identify different types of marijuana by scent alone! Whether for medical or recreational use, understanding the basics of how marijuana smells can help inform your decision on what type of strain to buy. 

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