Does Grinding Your Weed Make It Less Potent?

Grinding weed is the best way to enjoy an even smoke, but does grinding weed make it less potent? The answer really depends on how you grind weed and how (and for how long) you store the ground weed. With the right grinding and storage equipment, you shouldn’t lose much—if any—potency at all.

How Grinding Weed Affects the Potency

Anyone who’s an experienced cannabis smoker knows that the best way to smoke weed involves grinding the weed at some point. Even if you don’t roll your own joints, the weed contained in Seattle pre-rolls comes already ground for smoking.

The main issue with grinding weed is that breaking the crystal-like hairs—called trichomes—into smaller pieces increases their surface area, and hence makes your weed lose potency (ever so gradually) due to the increased exposure to oxygen, moisture, and heat. 

The other issue is that the sticky bud can catch on your fingers, utensils, grinders, and the kitchen bench. Fewer trichomes mean lower cannabinoid levels and less overall potency for your smoke.

Manual Weed Grinders

Grinding weed manually with a pestle and mortar exposes the trichomes to a lot more air while grinding than electric grinders and coffee grinders, making this method more likely to affect the potency and THC level of the ground weed. If you want the highest possible THC levels from your weed, look for a manual weed grinder that keeps the cannabis bud fully enclosed. Otherwise, grind the cannabis quickly and store it straight away.

Coffee Grinders

A coffee grinder is an effective solution for grinding weed without losing potency. Simply place the plant matter in the coffee grinder and choose how fine or coarse you want the ground weed to be. After grinding, you should find some sticky residue from the trichomes left on the blades. You can (carefully!) scrape this out to make sure you don’t lose any of the cannabinoids.

Electric Cannabis Grinders

The best way to grind weed without losing trichomes is to grind it using a specially-designed cannabis grinder. These grinders are readily available and have a kief catcher in the bottom to collect the trichomes that fall through the holes as you grind the plant matter. Afterward, you can collect the trichomes and press them into a high-THC hash (essentially a homemade cannabis concentrate) for a potent smoke. Yum!

Scissors, Finger Pulling, and Finger Chopping

If you’re after more of a sensory experience, you can always pull the cannabis flower apart with your fingers or chop it with scissors. Unfortunately, you do lose more potency this way simply because the trichomes stick to everything—your fingers, the scissors, and even the kitchen bench. However, for some people, the experience makes up for the loss in THC content.

How You Store Your Ground Weed Affects the Potency

Whereas the grinding process can make weed lose potency because of air exposure and lost trichomes, you’re much more likely to lose potency after grinding due to inadequate storage practices. Studies show that you can lose as much as 16% THC in a year if the weed is stored at room temperature and even more at higher temperatures.

Once you’ve ground a couple of days’ worth of weed, store it in a small container in a dry place out of direct sunlight. To preserve the maximum potency, choose a dark place like a cellar or pantry and store the flower in a glass jar designed to keep the contents at 59-63% humidity. If you want to make ground cannabis stay potent for even longer, you can use a humidor or add a humidity pack to the jar.

How to Tell If Your Ground Weed Has Lost Potency

If you ground weed some time ago and rediscovered it by chance, check for signs that your weed has degraded and lost potency before you go ahead and smoke it. Your ground cannabis flower has most likely degraded if:

  • It crumbles between your fingers.

  • It’s spotted with mold spores.

  • It smells like hay, urine, or mold.

  • The hits are harsh.

  • Smoking the weed makes you sleepy.

Over time, THC degrades into CBN which is known for its sleep-inducing properties. That’s why it’s important to smoke your weed fresh if you really want to get high. Wait too long and all of that potent goodness may have converted into a potent dose of snooze!

What about Smoking Unground Buds?

Some readers might be tempted to smoke unground buds to prevent any risk of ground weed losing potency. However, the loss in potency with properly stored weed is really minuscule compared to the advantages of smoking ground weed.

  1. For starters, ground weed will burn faster and more evenly than a solid nug.

  2. Secondly, because ground weed has more surface area and a better flow of oxygen, you can get a heavier hit than you would get with unground buds.

  3. If you used unground buds, less weed will fit in your joint or pipe.

All of that said, it’s not a good idea to grind all your cannabis at once or you’ll inevitably end up with dry weed. Just grind enough for a day or two and leave your main stash of unground buds safely stored in specially-designed storage jars.

Maximize the Potency of Your Ground Weed

So, does grinding weed make it less potent? Maybe—but only if you handle the buds in such a way that the trichomes stick to your fingers or you leave the ground cannabis out in the air to dry out.

Otherwise, as a general rule, just grind your cannabis flower as you go and store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry, and dark place. The potency shouldn’t be any lower than intact buds and you’ll get a fuller, heavier hit. And as a bonus, you’ll be able to retrieve and add the kief from the kief catcher for an even stronger smoke.