How to Recognize 6 Types of Marijuana

There are several different types of marijuana and they are called by many different names. To the uninitiated, these may seem like completely different drugs. However, they are actually different ways to prepare the same drug and they all have the same psychoactive ingredients.

The potency of marijuana can vary greatly from one plant to another and from one preparation to another. Also, the route of administration can strongly affect the intensity of marijuana's effects.

One person's experience of taking marijuana can be completely different from that of someone else.


Dried marijuana buds
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Often simply called weed or pot, this is the unprocessed form of marijuana. It is the most common and is generally smoked for the THC high that marijuana is known for.

Weed consists of the leaves and buds of the female Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica plants. Essentially, the only preparation that happens to weed is that the leaves and buds are dried.

Occasionally, weed is sprayed with contaminants, such as other psychoactive drugs, to enhance its effects, particularly of poor quality or stale marijuana. This may also be done to the leaves of male plants, which do not naturally contain THC and are therefore not psychoactive.

How to Recognize Weed

Dried weed
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Weed typically looks like a greenish herbal mixture. Unlike kitchen herbs, it is lumpy rather than finely chopped.

One of the most distinctive characteristics of weed is the smell. It has a very pungent and recognizable odor, both in its unburnt state and while being smoked. This odor is quite unlike kitchen herbs, although weed can be cut (mixed) with benign kitchen herbs such as oregano and parsley.

Once you know the smell of marijuana, you may notice it as third-hand smoke on the breath or clothing of marijuana smokers. They may be unaware of how strong and obvious this odor is to other people.

Learning to recognize the smell of weed can keep you wise to whether you are in the company of a marijuana user. It's also a good way to know whether you are being offered marijuana to smoke.


A 50g block of hashish
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Hashish, or hash for short, is a preparation of marijuana made from the resin of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. The resin is dried into blocks of hashish, producing an oily, solid substance.

Cannabis resin can be referred to by the names for the specific type of hash, rather than the generic names of hashish or pot. They are all the same drug. These different names for hashish include black, goldseal black, redseal black, and Morrocan (Rocky for short).

Hashish is often warmed, crumbled, and rolled together with tobacco. It may also be smoked in a pipe, bong, or chillum.

How to Recognize Hashish

Close up of fingers crumbling hashish
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There are several different types of hashish. The colors range from dark brown or almost black, through various shades of brown, to a dirty yellowish color.

The appearance of different types of hashish can vary as well. Some may look dark and shiny (a bit like licorice) and some may be lighter and dull or matte (a bit like a soup stock cube). The texture of hashish also varies from quite dry and hard, like a piece of fudge, to moist and pliable, like modeling clay.

As with weed, hashish has a very distinctive, pungent odor. It is one of the easiest ways of identifying it as a form of marijuana. The appearance of hashish is so varied that novice users are often duped into buying licorice or other cheap, benign substances that look similar.

Hashish Oil

Bottle of cannabis oil with a cannabis leaf
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Hashish oil, or hash oil, is the strongest form of marijuana and is the least common form of the drug. It is sold in tiny bottles or sealed plastic bags.

Only a small amount is needed to produce the effects of marijuana. Typically, hash oil is smoked in a pipe or painted onto cigarettes or joints.

Marijuana Cigarettes

High Angle View Of Marijuana Joint On Table
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Weed is commonly smoked in hand-rolled cigarettes, known as joints, spliffs, or doobies. The lumpy texture of weed can be felt through the tobacco rolling paper. This is one of the characteristics that can differentiate a joint from a hand-rolled tobacco cigarette.

Hashish and weed can be mixed with rolling tobacco, which is a soft, moist, sticky tobacco preparation designed for hand-rolling. It may also be mixed with the dry tobacco from deconstructed cigarettes.

The technique of warming then crumbling hashish into hand-rolled joints is an important part of the ritual of marijuana use in some circles. It is also a clue that you are with drug users.

If you are offered a hand-rolled cigarette to smoke, be aware that it may contain marijuana.

Marijuana Paraphernalia

A selection of glass bongs
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Heavy users of marijuana, in particular, may own and use a variety of paraphernalia for consuming marijuana.

Weed, hashish, and hashish oil can be smoked in pipes, water pipes, and bongs, or mixed with tobacco and smoked in a chillum. Some young adults have also used e-cigarettes to inhale marijuana through "vaping."

Paraphernalia can range from simple, homemade devices such as water pipes made from used soda bottles to elaborate and ornate bongs, which can be quite large. If you are in the company of people who use elaborate bongs or pipes, be aware that they are likely heavy users. These items can cost a lot of money and come with a high risk of discovery.

Marijuana-Laced Food and Drink

Dark chocolate brownies with cherry
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Marijuana can also be taken orally and is often cooked into food. In this form, it is commonly called edibles. A classic way to eat marijuana is in the form of brownies or cookies. However, marijuana can be added to many types of food, just like an herb, and may even appear in candy.

Hashish and hashish oil can be dissolved into milk and consumed in drinks. Milk is the carrier of choice due to its emulsive properties as cannabis is an oil-based substance.

You may not be able to detect the smell of marijuana in food. The other ingredients can mask marijuana's distinct smell, making it more difficult to identify. With edible forms of marijuana, it takes longer to feel the psychoactive effects and it can be quite potent.

A Word From Verywell

It is wise to be able to identify marijuana in its many forms so you know when you encounter it. Keep in mind that some of these, particularly edible forms, can be quite varied. When in doubt, don't eat or drink anything unless you have prepared it yourself or are absolutely sure of its source.

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