oregon marijuana
Opinion

Which Is Better – Indoor Marijuana Or Outdoor Marijuana?

oregon marijuana
(image via Oregon Herald)

Is Indoor Cannabis Really Better Than Sun Grown Cannabis?

It is harvest season all over the West Coast. October is called ‘Croptober’ by most marijuana enthusiasts because so many people are trimming and drying their outdoor gardens this month. From what I have seen on social media, it looks like the longer warmer weather has helped a lot of people’s crops. Brace yourselves West Coasters, the fall flood is beginning.

Supplies on the West Coast are surging, and all the while prices for bulk marijuana is dropping. How low will it go? It’s tough to say. The market place has changed so much on the West Coast recently, with more and more consumers purchasing their cannabis from storefronts instead of in the shadows. In years past outdoor marijuana went for rock bottom prices when the fall flood was in full force. I once saw a good pound of solid outdoor go for $600 in Oregon, and no, that’s not the same as brickweed off the West Coast, so save me your ‘I got a pound of dank for $100 in the Midwest bro!’

A friend asked me today why indoor marijuana is considered to be better than outdoor marijuana. She doesn’t consume cannabis, so she doesn’t know the nuances of being a consumer, but she always has fun questions that I love to answer. I have been asked that question before, and I always answer that question with a question. My answer is, ‘is indoor marijuana really better than sungrown marijuana?’

I would definitely say that the popular opinion is that indoor is indeed better than outdoor in general. I have always felt that’s in large part because of how indoor marijuana looks compared to sungrown. We are a very visual consumer society. Think about when you go to purchase produce. Do you ever get the weird looking produce? It’s perfectly fine produce, but for one reason or another it doesn’t look as ‘perfect’ as other produce items of the same variety.

Of course you don’t. You pick the bananas, apples, and peppers that look the most uniform, and the most like what you envision in your head to be what ‘the best’ looks like. I know I’m guilty of this. The irregular produce could be cheaper, and taste better, but more often than not people will pick what they think is the ‘prettiest’ fruits and vegetables. That’s why apple companies put a very thin layer of wax on some of their apples to make them shinier. Shinier apples usually equals more apples sold.

Marijuana is similar in that regard. People want to buy what’s ‘prettiest.’ They want the frostier looking buds that are free from larf (larf meaning airy, leafy, light nugs), and have that light green or deep purple coloring. Most outdoor that you will see looks kind of dark. ‘Most outdoor just always looks sadder and depressed compared to most indoor’ my uncle always says. When it’s in a jar or baggie, it doesn’t look as impressive as some indoor that has been grown in a controlled environment. Outdoor grows like of wild, whereas most indoor is grown fairly uniformly.

Another thing that turns people towards indoor compared to outdoor is smell. The first thing that I do when I get my hands on a bud is to give it a pinch to see what smell the nug emits. I like sweet smells, skunky smells, earthy smells, etc. But so much outdoor for one reason or another ends up smelling like nothing, or smelling like hay. This could be for a variety of reasons, and smell alone does not indicate potency. But it does translate to taste, and even though some strains just don’t smell that much no matter how you grow it, most consumers are going to pick something that smells a lot over something that doesn’t smell or smells like hay.

I think a large contributing factor to the perception that indoor is better than sungrown is that there is so much bad sungrown out there. You can tell that a bunch of novices decided to throw some seeds or clones outside, water and feed them every once in awhile, and now expect to push all of that larfy lameness onto consumers. If all things were equal, and there were as many outdoor growers as indoor growers, and both types of growers grew the same amount of plants, outdoor growers are going to harvest significantly more per plant, and all at one time, so it floods the marketplace. Now consider the fact that there are likely more outdoor growers than indoor growers (at least that’s been my experience) because the startup costs are so much lower. So it may not be that indoor is better than outdoor, it’s just there’s so much crappy outdoor out there that it affects the perception of consumers, at least in my opinion (as always, feel free to thrash me in the comments, I have thick skin.)

With that all being said, a truly savvy cannabis consumer will point out that while indoor often looks better than outdoor and/or smells better, that doesn’t mean that it’s actually better. Now that cannabis testing is becoming standard in a lot of states, people are finding out that the best sungrown marijuana has the same potency levels and terpene profiles as some of the best indoor grown marijuana. I have seen a lot of sungrown cannabis that I would actually prefer to indoor. When outdoor is good, it’s REALLY good in my opinion, and in the opinion of many other veteran consumers out West.

In my opinion, the when you compare the best indoor to the best sungrown, it’s a wash. Both are amazing, and both deserve a home in my lungs. I would like to point out that sungrown marijuana is often grown more organically than indoor, and takes less fertilizer. That indoor might look amazing, but it is so full of heavy metals from being pumped with fertilizer that I don’t want any part of it. The use of heavy metal fertilizers is something that the industry is going to have to address sooner than later, and it’s something that I think most consumers don’t even think about.

Sungrown marijuana also has a lower carbon footprint compared to indoor since it doesn’t require all of that electricity, which is another thing that consumers should keep in mind. We have to be good to mother earth if we intend to keep consuming her plants! What do TWB readers think? Have you ever consumed sungrown cannabis that was just as good as any indoor cannabis you have consumed? Growing cannabis in a controlled environment indoors definitely helps cannabis grow better, but if you live on the West Coast and have seen the true full potential of an outdoor plant, than you probably know what I’m talking about. And if not, the comments section is there for you to sound off. I’m off to finishing cleaning my bong, after which point I intend to fill it full of as much milky sungrown Oregon flower smoke as I can!

  • musicfan

    Yes. All 3: Outdoor, Greenhouse, and Indoor can be equally excellent with right strain/genetics matched with grower skill. And, you are likely correct about reasons for perceptions. I suspect prices also impact perception and indoor weed is usually more expensive (at least wholesale), so indoor weed must be better, eh? Ha-ha.

    Personally, I would like to see “sungrown” marketed in dispensaries as more sustainable or “greener”. Maybe we will in the future after feds end weed prohibition and the market gets more logical and transparent.

    • Closet Warrior

      I have smoked some outdoor that would space you out and literally make your face numb like a good line I cola cola. Meigs county Ohio, not that I condone that but I’m a little older and grew up during that era and we all make mistakes but I have smoked indoor that made feel like I was floating a foot above my seat or even get that sinking feeling on a super Cozy couch, liked it’s hugging you lol. Either way in my opinion- both are great if they are hearty strains and the grower knows a little bit what they’re doin then things usually turn out well. I’ve grown for 15 years or so and I know what I’m talking about. Ya heard.

  • beastiebloomz

    Growing medical for 8 years I would have to say indoor is king of quality.its the ability of controlling environmentals to near perfect levels including co2 that really makes it so much better then outdoor

    • Keith Mansur

      …so wrong…and your name…LOL

      • Anonymous

        But the taste an the high *HIGRADE* out door can not beat taste not beat period

  • roystr

    if it smells like “hay”,it does not indicate outdoors,it is an indication of bad drying/curing. theres more he got wrong,but to be honest,this page gets its “news” wrong quite a bit.

  • virtusvelox

    To me it’s the dynamics of the growth outdoors vs indoors. Light meter in hand, I noticed that in the shade of my tall plants it read 1000 watts and pegged out in direct. Chuckling I thought of the years I grew in shade and understood their lack of mass compared to outdoors.
    Indoors = timidity x shade
    Outdoors = Dinosaur huge magnificence
    Even allowing for the greatest growing season outdoors in the NW I’ve ever seen. I am looking at building a rain cover next year with light deprivation screens. My last remaining sativa, Critical x Jack, is killing me with how looonnnggg it is taking to amber up a bit. Hoping the new system will fool the long winded plant into a shorter season.
    God I am happy I grow medicine and am not concerned what is in the flower, this ‘plant’ is a real blessing.

  • jeffro

    This past summer in the PNW was awesome until October. Problem was its tough to get good air circulation and we lose temp at the same time. Seattle can get down into the fifties at night with rain, its a bud killer. Chances are very high for mold to set in. So I moved my 7 plants inside into what used to be my two full time garden rooms. It was just three weeks and I have a half pound of the best dope in the world. And my neighbors had no complaints cause the plants had not started to get that skunky yet.

    This is a great blog and your efforts are very appreciated, thanks

  • Ric Phiegh

    Yea, indoor on average looks and smells better. My thing is “How close can I get” to that.
    Indoor is irresponsibly unsustainable! And not just the massive amounts of electricity. The chemicals, and trash accumulated with indoors is horrendous. All this for a small fraction of an outdoor yield.
    Indoor is more of same shortsighted, greed driven, ignorant thinking that has brought our planet to this environmental crux! We all vote with the dollars we spend. Eventually conscious people will move away from the toxic stuff. Some day the west coast outdoor scene will supply the rest of the country. But for the now, the outdoor people are going to take a hit with low prices.
    Growing good product outdoors is labor intensive, this fact alone will keep most from being successful.
    .

    • danny

      Outdoors from the west coast does supply the country from Oct to April may lol