Why does marijuana smell different than it did in the '80s?

Back in the '80s, marijuana had a unique, pleasant odor. Nowadays, it smells like a skunk. Why does it smell different nowadays?

The really good stuff smelled like skunk in the 80s in my experience but not nearly as strong in general. Since then there has been a lot of selected breeding to make the THC levels higher and the potency to be greater which has resulted in a stronger smell. Being in an enclosed space with a big bag of strong weed gives me a headache now.

I’m not sure why, but it definitely smells like skunk. My next door neighbor smokes it a lot with his friends that come over. My apartment reeks of it at times. I bought a good-size air purifier, and it helps a little.

Doesn’t a lot of it get stuffed into cigars purchased at the local 7/11? I smell that more often than the pure reefer smell.

Be thankful they got a strain that smells like skunk and not a strain that smells like cat piss.

Nothing’s the same, dude… your nose, your brain, and your memories have all aged.

My marijuana memories are from fifty years ago. And are half nostalgia.

(Mmm, smells like the summer of ‘70, gettin’ away with somethin’, stickin’ it to the gummint, pulling one over on your parents, hangin’ with Hugh ‘n’ Willy, and it smells like any new insight is really deep, man)

It seems to me like modern-day weed is stronger, but has the same smell. No more “skunk” smell, but no less.

Smell varies wildly by strain–skunk strains smell like skunk, it’s kinda right there and they’ve been intentionally bred for that smell. Other strains smell of citrus or floral or fruity or yeah, kinda like cat pee, depends.

And modern day weed doesn’t “seem” stronger, it is. In Oregon legal weed sold in dispensaries has to be tested and the THC and CBD levels published and there are strains topping out at over 30% THC, whereas old school landrace strains run considerably lower, as in the low to mid teens for THC. Modern cannabis is to old school cannabis as the Westminster dog show is to your backyard coyotes. It’s come a long way from its roots.

Cannabis may very well be the only thing in the world that, the worse it smells, the better it is.* Well maybe that and some kinds of cheeses.

*Up to a point. I mean, if it’s contracted some sort of smelly fungus or something, that’s not good.

It always smelled nauseating to me. I expect it’s a subjective thing.

IME, and this only goes back to the 90’s, there was normal weed (schwag, ditch weed etc) and there was KB (kind bud). I never ran across kind bud in high school, just heard about it here and there. I was in college from 98-02 and saw it on a much more regular basis. By the time I finished college ‘good’ weed was more prevalent than the cheap stuff.
Based on what I see/hear now, I have a feeling the skunky (good) weed is more or less all that’s available.
It wouldn’t surprise me if people that are young enough to have only started using it in the last 5-10 years will never know what it’s like to buy an ounce for 100ish dollars and going through the entire thing over the course of a weekend with a few friends or being able to smoke an entire joint by yourself and still be able to walk.

Yes, it’s very subjective. I’ve always said I like the smell of skunk. I mean, not when it sprays on my pets or gets in my house, but driving down the road and you can tell that one must have sprayed off in the distance somewhere, I’ve never had a problem with that (and I knew that before I knew what pot smelled like). Similarly, I’ve always liked the smell of weed as well, but like skunk, it can get a bit pungent when it’s smells that strongly.
To get back to the OP, I think the good stuff always smelled like skunk, it’s just that there’s more good stuff around than there was 30+ years ago.

I was in college in San Diego in the 80s, we almost always smoked Mexican red hair. It didn’t smell like much at all and it was full of seeds. We would only get the NorCal green around harvest time (October and November). It was twice as expensive generally.

Before the Great Dry Summer of '86 (thanks, Ronnie), the Mexi cost $25/quarter. Prices nearly doubled after that.

My memories of the way weed smelled from my childhood (the 90s and early 2000s) was that it smelled (when burned) a little like burning leaves or wood. I do not remember it having the powerful “skunk/pine-resin/citrus” smell that it now typically has (if it’s good), and I have a pretty acute memory for smells. I imagine this is down to the higher quality of modern cannabis.

yeah it always had a smell but you had to be pretty close to notice in the 70s-2010’s

Now its so strong that you can smell it walking down the street even when its lit inside……

and its defiantly stronger than in the 90s too I could smoke homegrown by the bag and be moderately high …. now if I smoke a bowl or two im done …

Well, the reason why brick weed in the '80s usually smelled differently than the nicer weeds of today is that the nicer weed is dried/cured more carefully than the brick weed. The brick is usually compressed/packaged while there is still some moisture left. This means that metabolic processes of the weed and all the microbes on it get to keep working for a while longer, and the smell/taste of the weed changes as a result. The nicer weed gets dried more thoroughly, along with its cure being more carefully controlled, and its smell and taste are preserved much better.

Curing is putting semi-dry marijuana in a container (in the old days, a paper grocery bag) that slows down the drying process for a few days until the expected flavor develops. Completely uncured marijuana has an odd, minty flavor. Curing usually gets rid of that, if nothing else. Since brick weed still has some moisture in it when it is bricked, the cure continues while it’s being transported. When the seller breaks the brick up for sale, it ends up drying out enough that the cure mostly stops.

I’ve had brick weed that was devastatingly good, and good quality weed that wasn’t that strong. It’s largely the same weed before it gets cut and dried, and as long as your brick weed was relatively fresh and packaged well, there wasn’t much difference in potency other than you’re paying for the weight of seeds, so it’s 1/4 the price. I still miss the brick stuff sometimes, but then I remember de-seeding it and having hands covered in natural adhesive afterwards, and that feeling disappears.

I smoked weed occasionally in the 60s & 70s, but I’ve had it maybe 3 times since 1980. I have to disagree with the people who say good weed always smelled skunky.

My recollection is that skunky weed was very low quality (bottom 10%). Middle grade (commercial) weed smelled like… well, weed. The best weed (top 10%) had a wonderful warm, resiny aroma that gave me a mild buzz without even lighting it.

If I ever smoke weed again, I don’t care how good it is, I don’t want to put skunky smoke in my lungs.

PS: What’s the deal with putting “weed” in red?

The penalties for possession / trafficking weed were always only about quantity, not quality. The sentence you got for 0.2 g in the bottom of your pocket was the same if is smelled sweet of smelled like skunk.

So there was a commercial imperative to breed the and sell the oiliest weed you could.

You might look into a commercial ozone generator. It is not without precautions as people, pets and plants have to be out of that area treated till the ozone clears, but it works great with this and other odors and allergens. If you are out during the day, and have no plants or pets you can set it to run for a bit when you are out, coming back to a few clean smelling environment.

If you came to this thread via a board search on “weed” then the search term(s) is in red.

Back in the 80s the weed I purchased was mostly field grown mixed sex product that was baled/compressed in Mexico. It smelled dusty, dry, musty. It was seedy af.

The stuff I buy today is mostly indoor or greenhouse grown female plant matter and it smells heavenly. A seed is a rare finding.


Just a reminder, everyone, that we’re not allowed to encourage illegal activity on this board, and marijuana remains illegal everywhere in the United States. Nobody’s crossing that line yet; I just want to make sure it stays that way.