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Tuesday October 30, 2018

By Matthew Mongelia


In recreational states across America, discount cannabis is a staple – and something that is highly sought after by many consumers looking to save money. But how can you tell if that bargain bud is quality? And how do you know if you’re getting conned or getting a good deal? A number of factors determine why a product is discounted, either alone or in combination, meaning there’s no simple answer. There are many pros and cons to buying bargain weed, and a little understanding can go a long way in helping you make an informed cannabis purchase. Here’s a rundown of how it all happens and why the bud might be on discount:

Marketing Tactics

There are over 350 medical and recreational cannabis dispensaries in Denver County alone. That doesn’t even include the rest of the state, much less the immediate neighboring areas in short travel distance. Competition is fierce; there are more than a few dispensaries in town with a rival literally across the street, which leads to dispensaries needing to attract customers over the competition, even at a small loss.

Finding dispensary deals can be a great way to get excellent products at a reduced rate.

Especially around cannabis-related celebrations and major holidays, dispensaries want to build brand recognition and are willing to bank on revenue from volume to make a profit. Because these dispensaries are using discounts and deals to get their name out, they usually select decent flower to put on discount for these occasions to create a lasting positive association. Marketing focused discounts are perhaps your best bet at scoring top-shelf products for a bargain price. PotGuide even has a dedicated deals system for such promotions that allows consumers to filter and search for their favorite products!


Plants are living things, and naturally, that comes with a degree of variance. Sometimes, a harvest will exceed expectations and overproduce flowers, resulting in a shift between the overall supply and demand of the product. The dispensary will find itself with a glut of product and will discount the price in order to move it faster.

Remember that shelf and storage space is limited in retail, so holding on to a large amount of one strain can wind up costing the business money in the long run if they don’t sell it quickly and efficiently enough.

Essentially, the strain will have to be temporarily discounted to maintain profits. This is the most ideal way to find a discount, as it’s a benefit to both the dispensary and end consumer. The majority of overstock happens when a dispensary runs its own grow, but many cannabis farms sell wholesale, which creates a ripple effect of the overstock issue on a larger scale.

THC Content and Overall Potency

A lack of cannabis familiarity means that a large portion of cannabis consumers to still primarily base their purchases on THC potency. This can occasionally leave lower THC strains sitting on shelves for longer than desirable, and dispensaries will often discount them to move them out the door faster.

THC isn't the only determining factor for quality cannabis. photo credit

There are a wide variety of quality strains along the spectrum of potency. However, consumer perception drives demand, so as long as the market remains biased toward potency, the conscientious shopper can grab one hell of a deal if they shop around.

Bag Appeal

Great bud doesn’t always look amazing, however, the aesthetics of flower can largely affect a given crop’s market price. Too many stems can be more work for the consumer to pick apart, or if a given plant gets too close to a light fixture, it can get a slight “burn” (like a sun burn, not combustion). While many of these small changes can be cumbersome or unappealing, they often only minimally affect smoke quality.

Furthermore, buds that appear too dense may be undesirable to some for the sole factor that they look like they weigh less than nugs with a fluffier makeup.

Also, each crop will inevitably have a collection of smaller buds, referred to as “popcorn” for their size and shape, which some consumers do not prefer. Any of these and many other aesthetic factors (too leafy, bad trim, mild or uninteresting terpene profile, the list goes on) can cause a crop to be put on the discount list. Think of it like buying the floor model. It might not be quite as shiny, but it often works just as well.

Poor Quality Product

Thankfully, this is the least common occurrence but unfortunately it is something that happens in the cannabis industry. This makes it extremely important to understand what quality bud looks like. If a crop was improperly cared for, it may have turned out less than ideal. And since the dispensary has spent resources on the bad bud, they might try to recoup some of their money back by selling it at an extreme discount.

Moldy Bud
If you see mold or powdery mildew when checking out discounted strains, say no thanks!

To avoid being sold problematic buds, always try to buy from a reputable dispensary and inspect the bud before purchasing if possible. It’s usually worth the effort to ask your budtender why a strain has been discounted. Though you will sometimes get a corporate line as a response, more often than not the budtender will just level with you.

Pros of Buying Bargain Cannabis

Beyond the price, there are a few other perks to grabbing discounts. Shops will usually have bargain items pre-packed and ready to go so they can be a quick option if say, you’re on your way to a party and running late. As overproduction is often the cause, many times you’ll be able to try a very high quality strain at budget price, maybe something you wouldn’t have sprung for before. With all of the options and variety of the modern market, it is less common to be surprised when grabbing some flower these days, and picking up an unknown strain on the cheap can bring back some of that fond nostalgia while expanding your weed repertoire.

Cons of Buying Bargain Cannabis

As mentioned, there’s a chance that a business is trying to offload its junk stock in the form of bargain buds. This can be something innocuous like a weak terpene profile, or it can be something nefarious like they are trying to hide bud rot or mold. The best way to avoid this would be to look up reviews about the dispensary and see what others have said about it. Bad bud generally tends to upset people, and they will speak out. By all means, if you get some really nasty product, let it be known and leave a review on PotGuide to help others avoid it.

Additionally, if you’re picky, bargains might not be ideal as there is often only a limited selection on sale (usually one indica, one sativa). As mentioned, you might have to deal with some more stems or small buds on occasion, and if the bud is prepackaged for discount (as is common) it can be a little random. All sales are final in the dispensary world, so if you’re upset after the fact, there’s little that can be done to correct the issue so choose wisely.

The best way to take advantage of discounted cannabis is to gather as much information as you can before purchasing. If you can discern the reason the product was put on sale, you can usually figure out how good of a deal it is, and whether or not it is worth your hard-earned cash.

Do you have any tips for buying discounted cannabis? Share them in the comments below!

Photo Credit: WeedPornDaily (license)


Matthew Mongelia Matthew Mongelia

Matthew Mongelia is the Content Manager for He holds an MFA in Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a BFA in Creative Writing from CUNY Brooklyn College. He has worked in the industry in numerous roles for over 5 years while covering cannabis content from coast to coast. Like so many in the industry, he first became acquainted with cannabis as a medical patient, and has been a passionate advocate for the plant ever since. He is a writer for the comic Dark Beach, and has previously covered music and cultural content for SOL REPUBLIC.

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