What Does Marijuana Smell Like?

This is a question that many people are curious about, especially those considering using cannabis for medical reasons. Generally speaking, cannabis has a “skunky,” somewhat intense smell. However, the scent can vary based on other factors as well.

In this article, we will discuss what marijuana smells like, what the different smells mean, and the different variables that influence the smell of cannabis.

Terpenes and The Smell of Marijuana

Typically, when people describe the smell of marijuana, they use terms like “skunky” or “earthy.” These smells are caused by terpenes, which are aromatic organic hydrocarbons. Terpenes are not unique to cannabis; they can be found in many other plants as well.

However, there is quite a bit of variation in the scent of cannabis. This deviation is because each strain has a different set of terpenes responsible for the smell.

Terpenes are the chemicals that give plants their unique smells. Some common terpenes found in marijuana include:

  • Myrcene: Myrcene is the terpene that gives marijuana its skunky smell. It also has a musky scent that most people associate with weed.
  • Limonene: This terpene is found in many citrus fruits and has a robust and lemony smell.
  • Linalool: Linalool is a floral terpene that is often used in perfumes. It has a sweet, lavender-like smell.
  • Caryophyllene: Caryophyllene is found in many spices, such as black pepper and cloves. This terpene has a peppery, woody scent.

With varying terpenes, the smell of marijuana can change depending on the strain and terpene profile.

Harvest Time

The smell of marijuana also depends on when it is harvested. The younger the plant is when harvested, the less strong its fragrance will be. This is because the terpenes haven’t had a chance to mature and develop yet.

On the other hand, cannabis that has been harvested later will have a more pungent smell. Although THC doesn’t have a smell, the terpenes in cannabis are much more aromatic when harvested later.

Cannabis Smell Changes When Smoked

When you think of marijuana, you probably imagine the smell that fills a room after someone lights up a joint or takes a hit from their bong. However, raw weed and smoked weed have very different scents. This is because the smoke from cannabis contains other compounds than cannabis does before consumption.

When cannabis is smoked, it releases carcinogens and other toxins into the air. These substances change the smell of marijuana, making it acrider and harsher.


Overall, weed has a skunky, earthy scent that is somewhat pungent. However, this can vary based on the cannabis strain and when it was harvested. When it’s smoked, marijuana also smells different than before consumption. Although each person’s sense of smell is different, these are the most common smells associated with marijuana.

We hope this article has helped you to understand what marijuana smells like. If you’re considering using cannabis for medical reasons, be sure to discuss the smell with your doctor or dispensary staff. They can help you find strains that have the most appealing aromas.