Premium flower in a clear jar next to a pile of cannabis flower

What is Premium Flower?

Premium flower is the trichome-rich, pungent, brightly colored cannabis buds, trimmed to perfection, available at licensed medical and recreational dispensaries. They’re grown with a careful combination of master growers, high quality cannabis seeds, and state-of-the-art indoor and outdoor growing facilities.

In fact, when it comes to premium flower, cultivators must monitor and maintain near-perfect conditions for every marijuana plant, ensuring that everything from temperature to moisture and wind are regulated for optimal growing. These steps are necessary for producing the giant buds of premium flower. In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about premium flower, including:

  • What is Top Shelf Flower?
  • What Are The Other Names For Premium Flower?
  • What Part Of The Cannabis Plant Does Marijuana Bud Come From?
  • How Do You Know Flower Is Premium?
  • What Are The Pros & Cons Of Premium Flower Buds?
  • Premium Flower FAQs

What is Top Shelf Flower?

Top shelf flower is another term for premium flower, and it earned this nickname because high-quality products (not just cannabis!) are often stored on the “top shelf” behind the counter. While many dispensaries aren’t able to display marijuana flower, you can still ask a budtender about their top shelf selection.

What Are the Other Names for Premium Flower?

Cannabis enthusiasts love to find different slang terms for marijuana. In the case of premium flower, the two most common terms are:

Bud: Bud” gets its name because it is from the cola or flower (think flower bud) of the female marijuana plant. When dried, it can be smoked or vaporized. It can also be used to make concentrates depending on the extraction technique used. In general, this term is used interchangeably with nug.

Nug: A “nug” is simply a chunk of cannabis flower that has held its shape and looks like a nugget or nug for short. Premium nug grows near the top of the female flower, or cola, and they tend to be bigger and more rich in trichomes. It is possible to have a nug that isn’t premium flower, but typically, the term is used by cannabis enthusiasts in reference to large, beautiful clusters.

Learn how to store your premium bud with our cannabis flower storage guide.

What Part of the Cannabis Plant Does Marijuana Bud Come From?

Marijuana bud comes from the dried flower of the female cannabis plant, specifically. In fact, while the male plant will flower, that flower turns to seed. The female flower, as long as it isn’t exposed to the male flower for pollination, will become the buds most marijuana users are familiar with.

While there are buds that run the length of the female flower, premium buds are the large, fluffy flowers at the top of the stems that are trimmed into a nugget-like shape. (That’s why these types of buds can also be called “nugs.”) Because the flower is the part of the cannabis plant that receives the most exposure to light, it is typically coated in trichomes that contain the highest amount of terpenes and cannabinoids to produce the Entourage Effect.

Want to try flower without the high price tag? Learn more about popcorn and shake.  

How Do You Know Flower is Premium?

There are a few telltale signs that flower is premium. At a licensed dispensary, the first thing you’ll likely notice is the price. Premium flower is typically one of the most expensive things you’ll find in a dispensary, and this is because of the intensive process required to actually grow and cultivate top-shelf flower. To keep conditions as perfect as premium flower requires, growers face higher expenses and as with most things, that translates into higher costs for consumers.

Another way to tell if a bud is premium is to simply look at it. Is the marijuana bud larger than others being sold? Is it fully intact? Is it coated in a thick layer of something that looks almost like crystals? If that’s the case, there’s a good chance you’re looking at a premium flower bud covered in a rich layer of trichomes. Trichomes contain the cannabinoids and terpenes that give marijuana its effect, flavor, and aroma, and cannabis enthusiasts will tell you—more trichomes means better marijuana.  

What Are the Pros of Premium Flower Buds?

You may hear cannabis aficionados request premium marijuana buds, but what are they looking for and why? Here are a few of the reasons cannabis consumers may request this type of flower:

Most Appealing: Premium flower means you’re getting the best the dispensary has to offer—a sticky, spongy flower bud covered in trichomes that is rich in scent, flavor, and visual appearance. If you’re looking for the best flower, you want premium flower.

More Terpenes and Cannabinoids: As we’ve already discussed, premium buds are the part of the plant that is richest in terpenes and cannabinoids. Depending on your purpose for consuming cannabis, this could be a crucial part to consider.

Hard-to-Find Strains: If you’re interested in experiencing different strains, particularly ones that are hard to find, you’ll have more luck with premium flower. That’s because if there’s an opportunity to sell something rare, most dispensaries will want the best version.

Learn more about hard-to-find cannabis with our article about zaza strains.

What Are the Cons of Premium Flower Buds?

So then what are the cons of premium marijuana buds? The “cons” of top-shelf flower bud come down to the individual cannabis consumer. Here are a few of the most common:

Larger Price Tag: Premium flower means top-tier prices. In fact, you can expect it to be some of the most expensive marijuana flower you’ve ever smoked or vaped. Some consumers have no problem with paying more, but others may feel it isn’t worth it.

More Preparation: If you’ve paid a high price for flower, you should also have the right tools to consume and store it properly. If purchasing items like pipes, grinders, rolling paper, and storage containers aren’t for you, you may want to explore other methods.

Stronger Smell: Since premium flower offers stronger flavors and aromas, it’s not one of the most discrete consumption methods. Expect those around you to be able to smell what you’re smoking.

Did you know marijuana flower comes in a variety of flavors, including grape? Check out our list of grape-flavored flower strains to learn more.

FAQs About Premium Flower

Is premium flower more potent than regular flower? 
Premium flower buds are the most potent, as they have the largest concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes. This makes it highly coveted and more expensive.

Why is premium flower more expensive? 
Premium flower takes the most time during harvesting and packaging as cultivation workers take extra care to preserve the bud. But this is exactly what makes premium flower so desirable!

What does premium flower look like? 
You can easily tell if flower is high-end by looking at it: full, healthy buds that are frosted in colorful trichomes. Colors vary by strain, but in general you should see vibrant colors throughout the bud.

Where Do I Find Premium Flower?

Premium cannabis can only be found at licensed dispensaries. If you’re looking for premium flower at your dispensary, look up, as it’s likely lining the top shelves in the retail area. Of course, if you know exactly what strain you’re looking for, you can always talk to a budtender. They can let you know if they have that strain in a premium flower, and if not, they can offer suggestions for something that is comparable. 

Recreational cannabis is not available in all states. Cannabis is for medical use only and may only be used by certified patients in Pennsylvania. State laws impact what dispensaries can and can’t sell to recreational customers and certified patients. Not every type of product, consumption method, dosage form, or potency mentioned on this blog will be permitted in all locations.