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what smells like a skunk but isn’t

The Fragrance of Marijuana Before and After Consumption

Marijuana is the dried leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant. Cannabis has psychoactive and medicinal properties because of its chemical makeup.

Marijuana can be rolled up in a handmade cigarette (a joint), in a cigar, or in a pipe (a bong). It can be used for pain relief, to treat anxiety, or for recreation.

In many states, the sale and use of marijuana without a prescription is still illegal.

You can usually tell if someone has been smoking marijuana by detecting the scent of piney, slightly skunky grass that smoked cannabis leaves behind.

But figuring out for sure if what you’re smelling is weed can be a little difficult if you aren’t attuned to the scent. Various strains of marijuana can smell different from each other, making it even more complicated.

This article will cover what marijuana smells like in different stages of its use and consumption, as well as some differences between strains.

The strongest factor in the way marijuana smells is the age of the cannabis plant when it’s harvested. Cannabis that’s harvested earlier in its life cycles has a milder, less skunky scent.

It’s also less powerful when you smoke it. Cannabis that grows older before it’s picked and dried will have a stronger odor.

Organic compounds called terpenes are found in all plants, including cannabis. Myrcene (mango), pinene (pine), and limonene (lemon) are terpenes found in some strains of cannabis.

Terpenes change the scent of marijuana. For example, cannabis strains with pinene will smell more like pine.

Marijuana plants smell similar during the growing process and when they’re harvested and dried. They give off a slightly weedy, piney “skunk” scent that gets stronger as the plant grows older.

When cannabis flowers and blooms, the scent becomes powerful.

Indica vs. sativa

For decades, botanists and marijuana connoisseurs claimed that indica and sativa are different species with distinctly different effects on the body. Indica strain smells more acrid, while sativa smells more spicy or sweet.

But it would appear, at least to some experts, that there’s no way to smell the difference between indica and sativa definitively. Part of the reason is that there’s a lot of crossbreeding between these two particular strains.

However, one small study did find that participants who had purchased weed within the prior several months were able to smell the difference between several different strains of marijuana.

Marijuana consumers describe the scent of the plant as earthy, herbal, and woody. Sometimes the plant scent carries notes of lemon, apple, diesel, or plum.

Dried marijuana smells a lot stronger than some other dried plants.

When you’re smoking marijuana, the natural scent of the cannabis scent is amplified by the smoke it creates. Fire, smoke itself, ash, and the smell of rolling paper add additional layers to the scent.

When a person is smoking cannabis, notes of lemongrass, pine, fire, and wood may stand out. The distinct “skunk” smell of marijuana is often reported.

Learn about what gives marijuana its distinctly "skunky," strong odor, and how marijuana smells in plant form, when it's smoked, and more.

Mike Holmes Reveals Five Reasons Why Your Home Might Smell

Sep. 19, 2018 Mike Holmes

Homeowners need to put their senses to work to keep their homes safe and healthy. And I’m not just talking about keeping your eyes peeled for potential hazards. It’s important to train your nose to recognize dangerous odours such as a gas leak or an electrical fire. Hazards like these can be dangerous, so know the specific smells and what to do when you come across them.

1. Skunk Smell

Natural gas stinks; your smoke alarm or CO detector won’t detect it, but your nose will. Utility companies add a strong smell to the naturally odourless gas to make sure that the smell is obvious. It can smell something like a dead mouse or skunk. Should you smell it in your home, you need to act quickly. Don’t use electronics near the suspected leak, or turn lights or appliances on or off; anything that can cause a spark near a gas leak will ignite the house. If possible, turn the gas off at the source. Leave the house and call the utility company. If the leaking natural gas has ignited and is burning, don’t attempt to put the fire out yourself. Leave the house immediately and call 911.

2. Rotten Eggs

Septic gas has a strong, naturally occurring odour that smells like rotten eggs. The smell is hydrogen sulfide, which comes from sewage and can be a sign that there’s a problem with your plumbing. Prolonged exposure of even low levels of hydrogen sulfide can cause health issues such as headaches, fatigue, dizziness and loss of appetite. If you smell it, there’s no need to evacuate your home, but do call a professional plumber to have things checked out.

If your home’s plumbing gets the all-clear and your home still has that rotten egg smell, you may have an issue with toxic drywall. Toxic drywall was made in China and distributed throughout North America from 2001 to 2007. The sulphur in the drywall will off-gas once there’s humidity in the air, which can cause health problems and can also corrode any exposed copper pipes or wiring in your home. If you have toxic drywall in your home, even just a few sheets of it, I recommend tearing it out and having it replaced. And this is not a DIY job; it must be removed by a professional.

3. Smell of Something Burning

You should never ignore the smell of something burning, especially something that smells like burning rubber. Appliances that have a burning smell when they’re on, or even lights in a room that smell like they’re burning, is a sign that something is dangerously overheating with the potential for a fire. Your first step is to go to your breaker box and turn off the circuit you think is causing the problem. Then, call a licensed electrician. If you see flames, leave your house immediately and call 911. And of course, always make sure you have a working smoke alarm on every floor of your home.

4. Mushroom Smell

You might think your nose is playing tricks on you, but a mushroom smell in your home (when you’re not cooking mushrooms!) could be dry rot. Dry rot is caused by a fungus that sucks the structural strength and stiffness out of healthy wood, especially in older homes where wood framing wasn’t pressure treated. Dry rot thrives in high-moisture environments, so it’s important that your home has proper ventilation. If you get that mushroom smell in your home and discover areas of dry rot, you’ll need a qualified mould remediator to get rid of it. Dry rot is progressive; not getting rid of it properly means that it will continue to spread and cause further damage.

5. Musty or Mossy Smell

Mould smells musty, mossy or like mildew. In most cases, you’ll not only get that musty smell, but you’ll also see the black stains on common places like window sills, basements, bathrooms and ceiling corners – anywhere where there’s lots of moisture. If there is a musty smell but you can’t see any stains, you may have mould growing behind your walls. In that case, you’ll need to hire a professional home inspector who uses thermal imaging to see what’s going on behind those walls. If the mould in your home covers an area of 10 square feet or less, you can tackle the issue yourself. Just remember to use the proper protective gear. If the area is larger than 10 square feet, or if there’s sewage involved, bring in a professional remediation company to handle it properly and safely. Mould found in homes usually isn’t toxic, but it still presents a health risk and can cause allergy and asthma symptoms if inhaled.

Images courtesy of The Holmes Group and Getty Images

It’s important to train your nose to recognize dangerous odours such as a gas leak or an electrical fire.