Why does cannabis sometimes smell like a skunk?

This is when having a discerning nose counts.

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There is no question that a lot of different cannabis strains can smell a lot like a skunk. Many people have a tricky time deciphering the difference in between the animal and the drug. Others will instantly correlate the smells. Of course, location matters. If you are at a rave, the odour is undoubtedly cannabis but if you are on a back country road, it’s probably a skunk. But what if you are in a city? This is when having a discerning nose counts. 

The majority of people could care less if it was a skunk or weed. But for some people, it brings about a lot of curiosity in finding out what is the culprit for causing that smell. This the question: why does cannabis sometimes smell like the most pungent animal odour out there? To find out, let’s start by taking deeper look at why certain cannabis strains are more evocative than others.

What does pot smell like and why?

What does pot smell like? For experienced cannabis users, it doesn’t have a single odour, but many different fragrances depending on the particular strain. Many strains evoke certain smells – earthy, citrusy, flowery or piney. Others might have strong hints of skunk odour. 

Cannabis is loaded full of terpenes – organic compounds found in many different plants. Some insects also contain terpenes, such as termites. Cannabis contains hundreds of terpenes, and some plants simply have more than others. The kind of terpenes a plant has effects the typ of odours it gives off. This is why one strain can smell completely different from the next. Two strains of cannabis that have the same terpene profile will most likely smell fairly similar.

A lot of terpenes contain a skunk-like aroma, and even though it is not a desirable smell for some, it can be for people that want to get high. Why? Cannabis users know that the more potent a strain of weed smells, the more potent the psychoactive effects will be. Skunk-smelling weed basically means a strain is strong stuff. 

One of these strains is known as Skunk #1, which is indica-dominant and has been very popular since the 1970s. It has a very skunky smell but also contains hints of fruit, woodiness and jasmine. Many people that consume medical cannabis use this strain to relieve symptoms of nausea, glaucoma, auto-immune disorders, asthma, anorexia and overall pain in the body. It also has been known to be beneficial for psychiatric conditions. Skunk #1 gives recreational users a high that is both energizing and relaxing at the same time. It also produces feelings of euphoria.

Skunky smelling strains and strains that don’t smell skunky

Cannabis typically contains hints skunky fragrance, but without a doubt some strains produce much more potent smells than others. Some cannabis users actually look for this smell and find it ideal when they are testing out different strains. Others will avoid skunky smelling strains because they care more about discretion, and it is fairly difficult to be discrete when you bring home a product that fills the house with a pungent odour. 

Golden Ticket is one such skunky strain, but it also contains hints of lemon. Death Star is another, but it has earthy notes. If your goal is to find a strain that is easily concealed these two should be avoided. Instead, try Lemon Haze, which has a citrusy scent and a high that gradually increases over time. Alpha Blue is another ideal strain that tastes a little bit like blueberries. Orange Bud smells like cloves, Kali Mist doesn’t smell too much like skunk yet has a strong herbal smell, and Northern Lights is a fairly sedate strain and tastes pretty good.

What else smells like cannabis?

If you take a look at the Merriam Webster dictionary, the term “skunkweed” is used to refer to a wide range of different herbs are pungent and worth taking a whiff of. Skunk cabbage, which is a plant that grows in moist areas throughout the eastern United States, smells like a skunk when the leaves have received some damage. Gilia Squarrosa is a Californian annual that is also commonly referred to as “stinkweed.” Rocky Mountain Sticky-Leafed Herb and Joe-Pye Weed also contain skunk-like odours that many people will think is instantly cannabis when they smell it.

There are people out there who believe that those who consume cannabis a lot will give off a body odor that smells like skunk weed. Healthline explain this due to the smell of strains that smell like skunks clinging to a smoker’s clothes and hair. The smell can be avoided by choosing strains that have a more dominant fruity smell.