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Why Don’t Many Dispensaries Sell Pre-Ground Cannabis?

As you painstakingly turn your grinder against the resistance of sticky resin, you may have at one point thought to yourself, “why doesn’t my dispensary sell cannabis that’s already ground?” If you pack a lot of joints or vaporize your flower, it would certainly be convenient. After all, most grocery stores offer both whole bean and ground coffee–so why is it so much harder to find these options in cannabis?

The reason is twofold: freshness and potency.

Cannabis Freshness

When you grind cannabis, you’ll notice that the bud’s aroma bursts out, filling your nose with all the nuanced fragrance the strain has to offer. What you’re smelling are terpenes, or aromatic oils that give cannabis its spectrum of smells from Sour Diesel’s fuel to Granddaddy Purple’s berry. Terpenes are highly volatile and evaporate readily, and grinding your cannabis expedites their release.

This is also true when grinding coffee beans, which is why some coffee cuppers prefer to buy whole bean and grind it only when they’re ready to drink it. Just as whole bean coffee tastes better when freshly ground, so does cannabis.

Cannabis Potency

The second reason producers typically don’t grind whole cannabis flowers is potency. When cannabis is ground, more surface area is exposed to light, oxygen, and heat, which can degrade THC and other chemical compounds. When a bud is left intact, terpenes and cannabinoids remain better protected.

Grinding cannabis also knocks precious trichomes off the buds, which are responsible for producing THC, terpenes, and other cannabinoids. For this reason, waiting until the last possible moment to grind your cannabis is wisest to ensure you’re able to pick up all that loose kief and add it to your bowl (a grinder with a kief catcher is especially helpful here).

Most growers wouldn’t dare to pre-grind whole cannabis buds unless they were being processed into high-quality pre-rolls, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find ground cannabis at your local dispensary. Some locations sell loose cannabis called “shake,” which is basically cannabis crumbs and plant material that are separated from the main terminal buds (or colas). Though less potent than whole buds, shake is often sold at a much lower price and works great for rolling joints and blunts or for cooking into cannabis oil.

Maybe one day when cannabis is as commonplace as coffee, more dispensaries will accommodate consumers who value time over the freshness of their buds. But for now, the general consensus winces at the thought of pre-grinding beautiful, quality flowers for the sake of convenience.

Ever wonder why dispensaries don’t sell cannabis that’s already ground? Learn why you don't often find flower for sale in this form.

How to grind weed without a grinder

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Contents

  1. Why it’s important to grind your weed
  2. Grinding weed without a grinder
  3. How to break apart marijuana with your hands
  4. Protect your trichomes
  5. Other methods for grinding weed without a grinder
  6. Bottom line

Grinding your weed is a key preparation before smoking. The best way to grind weed is with a grinder designed specifically for herbal applications. But what if you don’t have a grinder on hand? If you find yourself in this situation, you’ll want to know how to grind your weed without a grinder. This guide will equip you with everything you need to know about how to grind weed without a grinder.

Why it’s important to grind your weed

Before you get started with actually grinding your herb, it’s important to understand why you should focus on getting a good grind prior to smoking.

The specific reasons for grinding your cannabis before smoking differ depending on your smoking method. For starters, if you are trying to roll your herb into a joint, spliff, or blunt, then breaking your cannabis down into smaller chunks is obviously the only way you can fit the herb into your rolling paper. There would simply be no way to roll up an entire nug all on its own. But when you grind the weed into small pieces, you can spread it evenly across your wrap and then roll the whole thing up into a smokable form.

When you grind the weed into small pieces, you can spread it evenly across your wrap and then roll the whole thing up into a smokable form. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Grinding weed is also necessary for other forms of smoking. For example, if you are smoking out of a bowl—whether it’s part of a spoon pipe, a handheld bubbler, a bong, or anything else—you should always grind your herb first if you want to get the most out of your cannabis. Technically speaking, you can get away with dropping a full nug into your bowl and smoking it. But doing so is incredibly inefficient. That’s because there is a very limited amount of surface area that can be exposed to the flame, which will result in an uneven burn and make it hard to tell if there’s unburned green in the center of the nug.

However, if you grind that same nug into smaller chunks, you will be able to pack it evenly into the bowl. And when you ignite the weed in your bowl, there will be a larger surface area to burn. This technique gives you a more uniform combustion across all of your herb and ensures that you ignite the entire quantity, leaving nothing behind. To put it simply: grinding your marijuana ensures that you thoroughly burn and smoke your entire nug so that nothing goes to waste.

Grinding your marijuana ensures that you thoroughly burn and smoke your entire nug so that nothing goes to waste. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Grinding weed without a grinder

By far the best way to grind your cannabis is with a dedicated herb grinder. This tool gives you a uniform grind so that the small pieces of herb are all more or less the same size, further enhancing the efficiency of your smoking experience and letting you get the most combustion out of your marijuana. Further, grinders can help leave intact a greater portion of trichomes—and all the cannabinoids they contain—since they’re not rubbing off onto your hands. However, with all that said, there are still times when you simply cannot access a grinder. In those cases, you can improvise and break apart your marijuana with your hands.

How to break apart marijuana with your hands

This process is best done using a rolling tray or flat surface that can catch your weed and allow you to use both hands to pull apart the nug and separate stems and seeds. But if you’re in a pinch and don’t have a flat, smooth surface handy, you can use the palm of your hand.

Hold your non-dominant hand flat. This will be where you collect your ground-up marijuana. Hold your nug in your dominant hand.

Gently but firmly roll the herb between your middle finger, index finger, and thumb. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Gently but firmly roll the herb between your middle finger, index finger, and thumb. Be sure you roll the herb directly above your non-dominant hand so that all the little pieces fall into your open palm. Continue this process until you have crumbled the entire nug.

Carefully sort through the crumbled herb in your palm. Break down any especially large chunks with your fingertips until all the pieces of herb are roughly the same size.

Once you’re happy with the consistency of your grind, use your ground-up marijuana to roll up your joint, spliff, or blunt, or to pack your bowl.

Protect your trichomes

When you crumble weed with your fingers, the ultimate goal is to strike a balance between applying enough force to break apart the cannabis without damaging the herb.

Remember, you’re trying to protect the trichomes as much as you can, since this is where all the THC and other cannabinoids are concentrated. No matter how gentle or careful you are, you will still end up with sticky resinous fingers when you’re done, and there will be some degree of trichome loss as a result of the crumbling process. Do your best to be as gentle as possible while still applying adequate force to break apart the bud.

Other methods for grinding weed without a grinder

Crumbing weed with your hands is the classic go-to strategy when you find yourself without a grinder. But there are a few other methods you can try if you have access to some basic household equipment.

Method 1: Scissors and a shot glass

For this method, you’ll need a clean shot glass and a pair of clean, sharp scissors. Place your nug into the shot glass. Then poke the scissors down into the shot glass and slice apart the marijuana. Be careful that you don’t spill the cannabis as you work the scissors. As always, shoot for slicing your cannabis into pieces that are as uniform in size as possible. And remember, the sharper your scissors, the more precise your cuts will be and the more intact your valuable trichomes will remain.

Place your nug into the shot glass. Then poke the scissors down into the shot glass and slice apart the marijuana. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Method 2: Coffee grinder

Did you know that you can also grind your marijuana in a coffee grinder? Doing so will give you a decent grind, but will leave the blades of your coffee grinder sticky with resin. Try this method only if you’re fine with having a resin-covered coffee grinder.

Method 3: Kitchen knife and cutting board

Another method is to chop your cannabis using a very sharp kitchen knife and cutting board. If your knife is too dull, you will end up tearing your bud rather than slicing it cleanly, and this could lead to significant trichome damage. But if you can get a nice clean slice, you’ll leave intact more of the trichomes and get a much more uniform final product. Of course, your knife and cutting board will accumulate residual sticky resin, so you should plan on washing them immediately after slicing apart your marijuana.

You can grind your weed by chopping your cannabis using a very sharp kitchen knife and cutting board. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Bottom line

While a grinder is the single best piece of equipment you can use to grind marijuana, you can also improvise with household items and your own hands.

How to grind weed without a grinder Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents Why it’s important to grind your weed Grinding weed without a grinder