What’s Cannabis Shake & Is It as Potent as Bud?

What is cannabis shake?

Cannabis shake is a raw form of cannabis that isn’t as common as flower or bud, but you’ll often find it on dispensary and delivery service menus. Get the rundown on what it is, how to use it and whether or not it’s as potent as other forms of weed.

Cannabis shake is a term used to describe the leftovers from a batch of cannabis. When you put cannabis buds in a bag or jar and regularly handle them, little bits of that flower will fall to the bottom of the container. When you take all of the full-sized buds out of the container, you usually have some shake left over. This pile of cannabis bits can’t be sold the same way as whole buds, so dispensaries often repurpose cannabis shake by selling it at a drastically reduced price than that of whole cannabis flower.

But many cannabis users wonder about the quality level on this discounted cannabis. 

Like other kinds of leftovers, cannabis shake’s quality can vary. It may be potent or weak, delicious or disgusting, easy to smoke or may cause coughing fits. It all has to do with how the cannabis shake started, and how it was treated along the way.

For starters, cannabis shake is sometimes strain-specific, but more often, it is an unmarked combination of multiple strains. So, from the get-go and from a medicinal point of view, shake’s effects can be hard to predict.

It can also vary in terms of quality. In the best case scenario, you may find shake that’s just broken pieces of cured, top-shelf indoor cannabis, with high potency and a smooth smoke. You may even find some with super-high potency if a lot of kief (the sticky resin that coats cannabis buds) has fallen off into the shake. In other cases, the quality may be terrible,  with a mix of mostly stems and little leaves; this mix that will leave a burning feeling in your throat if you try to smoke it and probably won’t provide enough of the properties you need.

Usually, though, the shake you buy will be somewhere in between: a collection of broken-up bud with some tiny leaves and stems, usually at somewhat lower potency than that of normal flower.

Another factor with cannabis shake is its longevity. Cured bud tends to preserve its cannabinoids and terpenes inside the bud itself. But when these buds are broken into pieces, there’s nowhere to hide. Shake dries out quickly and the chemicals in it oxidize much faster than they do in bud. This can diminish the quality and potency of the cannabis.

To find higher-quality shake, look for shake that still smells like the flower it came from, and observe that it doesn’t have a lot of sticks and leaves. Then consume it as quickly as you can, since its quality will fade faster than the quality of your full-flower bud.

Three Ways to Use Cannabis Shake

There’s a big quality difference in shake. Still, whether you have top-quality shake or a bag of sticks and leaves, you can find ways to use this cannabis product.

Here are three popular ways to use up shake:

  • Edibles and tinctures: Using shake in homemade edibles and tinctures is probably the most popular way to use it. This makes sense, because cannabis quality isn’t the most important factor when it comes to marijuana edibles or tinctures. You can pull cannabinoids from just about any form of cannabis. So for edibles, prioritizing quality in the ingredients you’re combining with the shake—like butter, honey, glycerin or high-quality oil—is more important.

    One important note on shake and edible potency: Shake rarely has reliable test results for cannabinoid content, so it will be hard to determine the dosage for your edibles without some experimentation.
  • Joints and pre-rolls: For shake that isn’t all sticks and leaves but mostly made up of pieces of crumbled-up bud, try rolling it up into joints. In fact, using shake for joints is a common practice for dispensaries and delivery services. If you’ve ever received a free pre-roll from a dispensary that tasted a bit like dried grass, it was probably a shake pre-roll. While these tend to be less potent than a normal bud pre-roll, some swear that they prefer the mellow and toned-down high that shake provides. With lower tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content on average, shake may be a good solution for those who experience negative effects from high-THC bud.
  • Blunts: Blunts are another popular way to use up shake. These extra-large joints are traditionally wrapped in a flavored tobacco paper (though given the health effects of tobacco, we’d recommend switching to blunt wraps made of hemp to get the classic experience). This masks the flavor of the shake, making its quality less important. Plus, because of a blunt’s large size and the amount of cannabis it takes to fill, some folks like to combine shake with higher-quality bud or add in hash and kief to fill the gaps. 

If you have more questions about shake, or just want to chat with an expert about your cannabis needs, reach out to our team (free of charge!). We’re always happy to chat about how you can make the most of your cannabis experience.

Photo credit: Vuk Stajic/


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