Why does marijuana smell so strong?

Author avatar

Written by Joseph Okonofua on 12/14/2022.
Data Last Updated: 07/04/2024.

Chromometer 8 min

Weed has a distinctive strong smell that requires some skill to hide. As a result of social perception and acceptance, people are often uncomfortable exposing the smell of marijuana. In this article, we will be revealing to you the reasons behind the solid skunky smell of cannabis and tips on how to smoke it without smelling like it.

Marijuana is used in different ways, including being prepared as edibles, oils, tinctures, capsules, and sprays. These methods do not release the characteristic weed smell compared to smoked or raw form. Most often, marijuana is smoked through a homemade cigarette (joint), pipe, or bong. Cannabis smoke has a specific and quite intense aroma. But what does weed smell like?

How does cannabis smell?

How does cannabis smell?

Irrespective of the THC and CBD content of cannabis, it still produced a unique smell. In two words, the smell of cannabis can be described as weedy and skunky. On a general note, the smell of marijuana can be likened to the smell of pine, even though it is slightly unique. To some persons, the smell of weed is pleasant, so they describe it as aromatic. To many others, the smell can be rather discomforting. 

Surprisingly, older and younger marijuana do not smell the same and differ in the intensity of flavor. Weed has a moderate odor while young, but as the plant grows, especially as it blooms and flowers, the odor of weed becomes stronger. Aside from the age of the cannabis plant, its species and method of use influence the scent of marijuana. 

Not to mention that today farms that specialize in cultivating cannabis produce many varieties with diverse flavors. Although the base pine note is always present in the aroma, the additional odors are blueberries, citrus, chocolate, and even cheese.

What gives the smell?

Sativa and indica

Did you know that different strains of weed give off different odors? There is a significant difference between the smell of cannabis Sativa and Indica. Weed varieties of the Cannabis indica strain tend to exude a more obtrusive and pungent smell, while Sativa varieties have a sweeter spicy aroma. However, only a person with relevant experience can actually tell the difference. Most cannabis buyers assume that Sativa and Indica smell approximately the same. Although both are crossbred, experts can still tell which strain is which.

Sativa and indica

What is responsible for the skunky smell of marijuana?

Over the years, scientists and experts have tried their best to identify the actual compound responsible for the skunky smell of marijuana. After several studies, the following have been determined to be majorly accountable for the skunky smell of kush.

  • Volatile Sulfur Compound (VSC)
  • Terpenes

In the past, terpenes had been labeled as the reason behind the pungent smell of weed, but this in-depth research revealed that a variety of volatile sulfur compounds were majorly responsible for the smell. During analysis, these VSCs were discovered to be more as the plant grew older, which correlates with how the smell manifests.

What else can weed smell like?

Terpenes, on the other hand, plays a significant role, as it is responsible for the different aroma and flavors. It is also present in many other plants and animals. The composition of any plant includes the so-called terpenes-substances that give the plant a certain recognizable flavor. Talking about hemp, it contains the following three main terpenes:

  • Myrcene – mango flavor;
  • Pine – the scent of pine;
  • Limonene – lemon flavor.

The presence of certain terpenes determines the smell of a particular variety. The smell is clearly felt during the period of active flowering.

What else can weed smell like?

Some marijuana users describe the smell of cones as grassy or woody. Some varieties have a clear apple or plum flair. Moreover, there are even exclusive varieties with diesel flavor. Today, a huge number of varieties have been developed, each of which has its own set of aromatic notes.

The aroma while smoking

How does weed smell when it is being smoked?

The smell of weed is amplified when it is being smoked. It can linger on the skin, hair, and furniture items if not done with care. The smell can be tricky to describe when you smoke pot because it resembles a collection of different fragrances. 

Weed lovers describe this smell emitted from smoking cannabis as a campfire, pine, woody, citrus, etc., but the weed’s strain determines the perceived odors. For the smoker, the THC may influence how the smell is perceived.

After you have smoked weed, the smell often persists for some time before clearing out. If you smoke on the balcony or an open place, the characteristic fleur wears off quickly enough, though not immediately.

Four things you can do to reduce the smell of smoking weed:

Why does cannabis smell like skunk?

Many people may give a wrong perception of your personality when the smell of weed, or kush, is commonly perceived in you. To avoid this, you can do the following to stay fresh to a great extent:

  1. Always freshen up after smoking weed. Take a bath, brush your teeth and change your clothes.
  2. Keep your house or the room where you smoke ventilated. You can buy an air purifier if you do not have one. It works well in clearing a great percentage of the weed smell.
  3. Make and use a sploof when smoking. 
  4. Spray essential oils and air freshener to keep the atmosphere scented.

Does hashish smell when being smoked?

What does hashish smell like?

Hashish, also known as hash, is a concentrated form of cannabis produced from resin-rich parts of the marijuana plant. The odor produced when being smoked is unique and is very similar to the smell of dry burning grass with a sweet-earthy flair. The average person who does not use weed or a rare user will be unable to detect the difference between hashish and dry cones by smell.

What does synthetic marijuana smell like?

Synthetic weed is an unusual type of marijuana that is created artificially, mainly in laboratories. According to the CDC, it may be toxic, which means that natural is the best. Synthetic weed goes by a variety of names in the street, including K2, spice, or mamba. Synthetic marijuana is mixed with various chemicals. Because synthetic weed has nothing to do with cannabis plants at all, it does not have any specific smell. 

The aroma of synthetic weed will depend on the components that were used in its manufacture. Spice has a pronounced synthetic smell. Depending on the ingredients, it may have a light floral or fruity aroma that is very reminiscent of marijuana.


The skunky smell of cannabis is caused by the combined effects of a family of prenylated volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), a subset of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). They work together to give a bright, intense aroma that cannot be confused with anything. The smell is more pungent in dried marijuana and much more intense. Although it is difficult for a novice to detect, it cannot be forgotten. A good bath and ventilation can go a long way toward masking the smell.


How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!


No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Share your thoughts! Rate and comment.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

scroll to top

We are using cookies to improve our services and offer you the best possible MMJ evaluation experience. You can find out more about which cookies we are using in our Privacy Policy.

Close ✖