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Cannabis Pricing Tiers: What’s the Difference Really?

by Hasum | | 420 Smoke Shop Near Me | 0 Comments

A Look at the Different Rating Systems and Which Will Apply to Your Dispensary

Using a rating system to classify the quality level of weed can be traced back to the 1980s when the cultivation of cannabis started to expand—rapidly. But it wasn’t until the 1990s that a system was put in place to indicate the quality level of specific cannabis buds officially.

The first rating system was just A through AAA, with A being the lowest quality and AAA the highest quality. This system is still used today and is the system most online dispensaries use. But this original rating system has changed somewhat. Ratings still start at A, but they can go as high as AAAAA, and there can even be pluses and minuses to indicate what level of “A” they are on.

Though the A-rating system is the most commonly adopted, especially by online retailers, there are other rating systems out there. You may also see cannabis referred to as top-shelf, high-grade, mid-grade, and low-grade. These ratings may be more prominent in actual brick-and-mortar dispensary locations.

But, if you wonder how the two rating systems compare, it’s pretty easy to match them up.

  • A will not have another distinction. Your dispensary and other reputable cannabis sellers will most likely not sell A-grade products. This distinction often refers to home-grown products as opposed to professionally grown cannabis.
  • AA matches with the low-grade distinction.
  • AAA is mid-grade.
  • AAAA and AAAAA are considered high-grade and top-shelf, depending on which wording a retailer uses.

Remember, if you are an online dispensary, you’ll want to use the “A” rating system as it is most accepted in online stores. In-person dispensaries can use either, with the high-grade system being the more common system.

What Determines a Rating

What Determines a Rating?

Many factors go into determining the rating a batch of cannabis will receive. Before we get into that, it is crucial to note that the rating system does not reflect the strain or its effects but rather the batch quality.

This means that a high rating does not equate to a high potency in the strain. After all, an intense high isn’t what everyone is looking for. To get a sense of the potency a strain has to offer, customers will need to look at its THC and CBD content, as well as reviews from users.

The grades are given to each batch of cannabis to represent the overall quality of the product. Grades are assigned based on factors such as:

  • The flower structure. Buds should be soft, spongy, and a bit sticky. They should also be fairly symmetrical and evenly shaped. The closer they are to fitting this description, the higher the rating they can receive.
  • The trichome density. Trichomes are the hair-like fibers that cover cannabis buds, and they have an essential job: storing the THC of the plant and protecting it from insects and too much sunlight. More trichomes tend to indicate a more potent plant, and plants with large amounts of trichomes will likely rate higher.
  • The terpenes profile. Terpenes determine the way a cannabis strain smells and even tastes. They also, along with the THC and CBD content of the plant, play a role in determining what specific effects users will experience. Strong profiles equate to higher cannabis ratings.
  • The flavor. Cannabis can come with many flavors, from citrusy to woodsy, and some may even offer users ashy and earthy tastes. Poorly grown plants will not have a strong smell, which can impact the overall experience of the bud. A robust flavor profile is a hallmark of a high-quality plant.
  • The trim. As we’ve mentioned, the ratings indicate the level of care given to a plant. The trim is a part of this. Plants that have been well-taken care of and grown correctly will have had the long leaves removed from the plant. Trimming the plants helps them develop larger, healthier buds. So, a well-trimmed plant will receive a higher rating than one that is never cut.

As you determine the quality of the strain you are selling or growing, these are some of the factors you’ll want to pay attention to. But, other factors will determine the rating that will be listed for each strain as well.

A Closer Look at the Ratings

A Closer Look at the Ratings

Now that you know how ratings are determined, you should know the different quality ratings and what they mean. We’ll start at the highest rating and work our way down to the lowest.

  • AAAAA. A bud with a 5-A rating is the pinnacle of quality, a cannabis plant grown with the highest care. This level is relatively new and is mostly utilized by online retailers. And, finding AAAAA cannabis can be quite a challenge as not many make the cut. If you are selling a bud with this coveted rating, you can plan to charge customers top-dollar to get it. 
  • AAAA. Sometimes called “quads,” weed that has earned this 4-A ranking is still of high quality. Though they may not have reached the level of perfection that AAAAA products have, they are almost there. The taste will be prominent, the smell strong, and the flower itself appealing and well-formed. AAAA is still considered top-shelf products among sellers and will be something cannabis enthusiasts will look for in your shop.
  • AAA. This level of weed used to be considered the highest level of cannabis out there. But that was when it was primarily made in people’s homes. Now, commercial growers have improved the average quality of cannabis, boosting the ratings above AAA. But, AAA is still a solid cannabis plant, and many consider it a middle-of-the-road option. This particular rating will often include buds that are not quite as dense and an aroma that isn’t quite as strong as its higher-ranked counterparts. It is among some of the most common options out there and is a more affordable option, great for budget-minded customers who still want a high-quality bud.
  • AA. Also called “dubs,” AA weed is still an okay option and something online retailers and dispensaries will sell. AA cannabis will still give users a nice buzz, but the smell, texture, and taste won’t be as strong as higher-ranked cannabis. For many dispensaries, this is the lowest grade of cannabis that you will want to sell in your store. It is often budget-priced and a good option for beginners. Some stores may also price cannabis nearing the end of its shelf life in the AA tier price range to get it off the shelf.
  • A. You will not want to sell A-grade cannabis to your customers. A is considered to be the lowest grade, the bottom of the barrel stuff. You probably won’t get a whole bud with A weed, but rather, pieces of trim or stems that are leftover.

Rating and Pricing

As you can probably guess, weed with a high rating will likely cost more than that with a low rating. The pricing tiers you use at your dispensary should be tied to, and even based on, the rating of the cannabis buds you are selling. 

Let’s look at the breakdown of pricing and rating:

  • AAAAA cannabis is the top tier and, thus, will be the most expensive. It’s not uncommon for people not to afford this level of weed, but many cannabis enthusiasts find the price tag well worth it for the experience of getting such a high-quality bud.
  • AAAA cannabis is still top-tier and will be expensive. But, it will not be as pricey as a 5-A product.
  • AAA is middle-of-the-road in quality and price. It isn’t expensive, but it isn’t cheap either.
  • AA is often called “budget weed” and will be the most wallet-friendly option out there.
  • A is the cheapest, but again, you should not plan to carry this low-grade weed in your dispensary as it generally refers to homemade products and trimmings (and who wants to be known for selling low-quality products).

Products That Don’t Have Ratings

Products That Don’t Have Ratings

There are thousands of different cannabis products on the market today. And the number of products out there is only continuing to grow. Though cannabis buds have ratings to indicate their quality, not all cannabis products will have a rating to help you determine the price you should charge for it.

Cannabis products that won’t have a rating listed with them will include:

  • Cannabis oils
  • Weed edibles
  • CBD oil
  • Cannabis capsules

Cannabis accessories also won’t have a rating (obviously). Things such as rolling papers, dab tools, grinders, bongs, even clothing made from cannabis products such as hemp won’t be part of the rating system. 

You’ll need to determine their quality based on the materials used, their look, the reviews, and the reputation of the company selling them. This can help you choose the price you should charge for them.

Keep in mind that when it comes to cannabis accessories, many customers subscribe to the adage, “you get what you pay for.” Rolling papers that are priced too low, for example, might be seen as thin and cheap, resulting in a poor user experience. 

Instead, when selling cannabis accessories, you will want to make sure the price covers the quality of the product and the time that manufacturers put into making it. 

Rating Tiers and Pricing: A Summary

The rating listed for cannabis can provide dispensaries some guidelines to help them price their products appropriately. It can also help consumers feel confident they are getting a quality bud from your store. Though the rating system is not a standardized, regulated system, most dispensaries follow the A-rating system to indicate the quality of the weed and help determine the price they will charge. 

These ratings, ranging from A at the lowest quality and AAAAA at the highest, are based not on the particular strain and the effects it offers. These ratings are instead based on the care given to the plant and how well it is grown. 

The higher the rating, the higher the price, and often the higher the demand and lower the supply. If you cater to more budget-minded customers, you may want to stick to AA or AAA cannabis at your store. If you have a higher-end aesthetic at your store, having AAAAA and AAAA will help you stand out.

Though ratings help determine the quality of the plant, advise your customers not to base their purchase solely on the rating. There are other factors they will want to take into consideration when selecting a strain to purchase, such as:

  • Its THC and CBD content
  • Whether or not you like the flavor the strain offers
  • The effects it offers users

Finally, though cannabis flowers will have ratings, not all cannabis products do; oils, edibles, and cannabis accessories such as rolling trays, will not. Instead, the price you charge for these should be based on their quality and the company’s reputation. 

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