A Sneak Peek at Our Cannabis Grading System

Did you know that all of your favourite cannabis strains on our menu fall into a grading system between AA and AAAA?

That’s due to our standardized cannabis grading system, which is designed to give you a quick reference on each strain we carry. It depends on a range of characteristics, and it can help you identify the strains you want based on flower quality and budget.

If you’re looking for some amazing deals or a chance to stock up on a lot of weed for cheap, then the AA-rated strains are the way to go. If you prefer getting the best mix of quality and price, check out our AAA strains. If you only want to smoke the very best, then prepare to be blown away by our fantastic AAAA strains.

Now, let’s take a closer look at how our grading system works and how cannabis strains receive their grades.

What is the Cannabis Grading System?

The cannabis grading system we use evaluates the flower quality and overall smoke experience based on several factors:

  • Aroma/Flavour
  • Potency
  • Density
  • Bud Size
  • How It Smokes
  • Trichome Coverage
  • Ash (Colour and Consistency)
  • Trim

The strain is then assigned an Overall Score, which we use to determine whether it’s AA, AAA, or AAAA material.

While A-ratings is one of the most common grading systems in Canada, they are not standardized industry-wide. It can vary from dispensary to dispensary, as some offer single-A strains all the way up to 5A.

At Budmail, we don’t bother with the A strains, commonly known as ‘dirt weed’, and while we may not have strains rated at 5A, you can bet that our AAAA strains can compete with (and usually beat) any AAAA+ weed you find anywhere else.

The “A-grading” System

This system is one of the most commonly used in Canada. If you check out other online dispensaries, you’ll often find those little letters next to the flower. Others may use variants of the system or use grading terms such as “low grade,” “medium grade,” and “high grade” instead.

  • AA: Also known as “dubs” or “double A”, AA strains are our budget buds. While these strains may not look as pretty or smell as tasty as our other, higher-rated strains, they still get you high, just not to the stratospheric levels of our better stuff. In addition, the smoke may not be as smooth, the ash might be a little darker, and the trim might be more unruly.
  • AAA: Also known as “trips” or “triple-A”, AAA strains are the next step up. Back in the day, this was the highest the rating system went— until the AAAA rating came along. Still, you can expect AAA strains to have attractive and dense buds with moderate to high levels of THC. Think back to when you used to call your “weed connect”, before dispensaries were a thing. Do you remember the best strains you ever got from them? Those strains would probably be considered AAA by today’s standards.
  • AAAA: Also known as “quads” or “quadruple A”, these strains are the best of the best. AAAA strains have big, beautiful buds, tantalizing aromas and taste, and a potent punch that will knock you off your feet. Some AAAA strains qualify for an even more exclusive club— Budmail’s Premier Line. These are top-shelf, premium cultivars that are beyond mere bag appeal. They’ve got jar appeal!

While some people are skeptical about the validity of this system (is it just a marketing tactic?!), the truth is our cannabis grading system is a vital part of how we help you find the best cannabis strains for your needs.

cannabis grading

Something like this, except those plants are cannabis!

Why Use A Grading System?

With the legalization of weed in more countries and options in dispensaries, how can we measure the quality of cannabis effectively?

Many licensed cannabis stores have not adopted this grading system and prefer to grade cannabis on its THC and/or CBD content. For these shops, pricing is often determined based on potency tests provided by a lab that meet legal requirements.

Unfortunately, simply grading cannabis based on CBD and THC doesn’t always provide consumers with an accurate view of the strains’ overall quality because they only measure its potency. Meanwhile, our grading system uses ‘potency’ as one of several factors that contribute to a strain’s overall quality.

For comparison’s sake, that’s kind of like judging craft beers or fine wines based on the alcohol content alone— there’s so much you’re missing out on!

The grading system we use offers more in-depth insight into the quality and characteristics of the strain because we understand that many people are interested in specific grades of weed rather than just THC or CBD content.

While our AA to AAAA system is not perfect, it can provide consumers with a greater understanding of what they’re purchasing, which can be especially helpful when shopping online.

What Determines Weed Quality

Various characteristics and factors determine the quality of cannabis. Accurately graded ratings will look at specific attributes for each strain because not all cannabis plants are created equal, and this system reflects that.

As mentioned earlier, our AA-AAAA grading system looks at the following characteristics:

  • Bud Size – Bud Size is a great measure of aesthetics and overall bag appeal because everyone loves seeing big, beautiful buds. It’s what you show off to your friends, but please keep in mind that bud size alone is not a good indicator of overall quality. Small buds from a fantastic strain will be just as good as the big buds in everything but the looks department.
  • Trichome Coverage – Trichomes are the small, hairlike appendages that cover the cannabis plant, and they’re important because they produce all of the cannabinoids and terpenes, meaning the density of the trichomes is related to the potency level of the strain. More trichomes = higher quality!
  • Trim – Knowledgeable cannabis cultivation involves shearing off the longer leaves from the plant and professional growers trim the leaves to help the plant develop healthy, quality buds.
  • Flavours and Aroma – Cannabis strains come with a unique flavour and aroma profile thanks to the terpenes. Flavours can range from citrusy or fruity to earthy and or woodsy. Depending on the quality of cannabis, these profiles will be more intense and flavourful. Higher graded cannabis will offer users a more distinct and complex flavour experience!
  • Effects  – The effects of cannabis strains depend on a range of factors. Often linked to CBD and THC levels, the expected effects of each cannabis product will usually be indicated on the strain’s dispensary description. Users should look for the specific desired effects which may or may not be linked to the AA to AAAA grade.

To determine the highest quality and lowest quality graded strains, dispensaries will also consider:

  • Density: The density is another important factor to consider when it comes to flower quality. The denser and heavier the bud is, the higher the rating. Dense buds are often preferred over lighter, fluffier buds because you get more flower per gram, as having many lighter, less dense nugs means you’ll end up with more stems.
  • How it Smokes – Does the weed burn smoothly? Is the burn consistent? These factors also come into play when determining the cannabis grade. Higher quality flowers are cured for precisely the right amount of time, releasing excess moisture while retaining the plant’s ability to burn smoothly (and not too quickly, which occurs when weed is too dried out).
  • Ash Colour and Consistency– Ashes of higher quality cannabis will be a pure-white colour when burned. Medium-quality cannabis will appear more grey, while low-quality cannabis ash turns darker or black. The texture of the ash (clumped or scattered) also determines the cannabis quality.
  • Potency: This is where the cannabinoid profile is important. Although it’s not the be-all-end-all of flower quality, many use it as a guide to which strains they want.

cannabis grading

Cannabis Grading System Tiers

The highest level of cannabis strains currently on our menu is the AAAA Grade cannabis, also known as ‘quads’. This is the best of the best!

AAAA graded cannabis is made with carefully selected buds ensuring high-quality strains and cannabis products. This top-graded cannabis is also sometimes referred to as “crank,” “chronic,” or “flame.”

AAAA Grade cannabis strains offer a total experience of elevated flavours, aromas, and effects. Higher concentrations of CBD and THC potency levels lead to a more intense experience. The only downside is that AAAA Graded cannabis is not always easy to find and will likely break the bank a little more than the more common AAA Grade strains.

But if you’re a true connoisseur, it’ll be worth it!

  • For examples of strains that made the AAAA cut, check out our Premier Line strains. They exemplify the best of the best, and they’re so good that we pack them in aesthetically pleasing, reusable glass jars!

AAAA Grade

Quadruple A grade weed is sometimes referred to as “true quads” or “high quads.” While many dispensaries have now added the 5A grading, AAAA Grade strains are often as high as it goes.

AAAA Grade cannabis is pretty much the highest-quality cannabis readily available on the market. This high-level cannabis will meet your highest expectations regarding potency, effects, aesthetics, and bud quality.

These top-level cannabis strains will offer users a smooth and consistent burn with notably pleasant flavours and aromas. Even casual consumers will see the step up from common AAA grade to AAAA strains.

Some examples of AAAA graded strains:

AAA Grade

Before AAAA grading joined the system, triple-A grade cannabis was the best you could get. Today, this high-quality level of cannabis strains is considered middle-ground on quality but still contains many of the same features and characteristics as higher graded cannabis.

For this happy medium, buds will be slightly less dense with weaker THC and CBD potency, and the aromas/flavours may not be as prominent.

AAA grade cannabis strains are the most common for most online dispensaries. This quality level is sufficient for most recreational or casual cannabis consumers.

Examples of cannabis strains often given an AAA grade:

cannabis grading

AA Grade

AA grade cannabis is a good option for consumers on a budget! The quality may be a little lower, but AA-graded strains will still get you lit. Think of homegrown plants as likely being an AA grade level. They may not be the best – but they’re also not the worst!

Dispensaries won’t usually carry as many AA grade options, although they may offer a few of these lower-quality strains mixed into their inventory of AAA indicas and sativas.

Cannabis strain with an AA grade:

Which Cannabis Strains are the Highest Grade?

Where to Buy AAAA weed

AAAA graded weed can be challenging to find at physical shops as only online dispensaries in Canada use this quality grading system.

Keep in mind that the weed grade is not linked to the strain itself but the particular batch. You may find a strain labelled as AAA on one dispensary site and as AAAA on another!

Can You Tell the Difference?

Is seeking out the top-notch graded cannabis strains worth it? For casual or first-time consumers, the differences may not be immediately noticeable. For cannabis connoisseurs, however, specific characteristics of AAA and AAAA strains will stand out.

With the highest-quality strains of cannabis, the flower will contain a denser profile of terpenes and cannabinoids, leading to more intense flavours and aromas. The CBD and THC content may be more potent, and the overall experience will be elevated.

Most users, however, have little to no complaints about a solid AAA Grade strain. Whether or not the slightly elevated experience is worth the extra cost is up to you!

Final Thoughts on the Cannabis Grading System

When purchasing cannabis products, consumers want to know exactly what they’re getting. A specific cannabis strain grading system helps users understand the expected effects of particular strains.

The AA-AAAA grading system also lets users know the level of quality of the strain they’re buying. This more precise quality level grading offers better communication between consumers and shops.

Many virtual cannabis dispensaries like Budmail use the grading system to give consumers the most information possible about every strain available through the website.

Understanding a strain’s quality and expected effects helps individuals get the flower’s full experience and enjoy high-quality weed.



Cannabis Tech: Is there a Cannabis Grading System?.

Grass Chief: Cannabis Grading System.

The Pot Advisor: Weed Grading System.

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