Guide: Buying Budget Hemp Flowers – Smalls, Shake, or Mids?

Smokable hemp flower is one of the fastest growing markets in the U.S. at this moment in time. While for centuries, hemp has been used for textiles, rope, and a food source, it’s now in demand for its cannabinoid content. Buying budget hemp flowers – a guide:

But as hemp cannot have more than 0.3% THC by law – THC is the cannabinoid that gets you high – it’s hemp’s unlimited concentrations of CBD that is behind the surge in popularity. As the word spreads and more people give smoking high-CBD hemp a go, and since hemp became federally legal thanks to the 2018 farm bill, more and more farmers have started producing the product. And that means the variety on offer has increased tenfold. 

There’s now farms and vendors selling a huge range of hemp flowers, all varying in quality. Some sell it by the gram for as much as $10 and some sell it by the ounce for little as $25 (in fact, several of the deals we had on the CBD Flowers Weekly newsletter, offered ounces of top-shelf hemp flowers for prices you can’t find anywhere else!). Many companies even list budget options such as smalls, shake or mids?

But is it worth buying the cheap stuff? And what should you consider when looking for a deal on hemp flower?

This article will explain everything you need to know about buying budget hemp flowers.  

Terminology explained

Smalls – This is small buds and crumbs. Usually, this is the last of a batch. It is generally the stuff that falls to the bottom and is the last to be sold. Often, it is still a high-quality strain, just not as aesthetically pleasing than larger buds. Also referred to as “popcorn nugs”.

Shake – Similar to smalls. Generally the left-over small buds, crumbs and trim. Again, quality can be good depending on the original product. 

Mids – This is mid-grade flower. Usually sold in whole-buds, just a lower quality than premium strains. CBD content may still be high, but appearance and smell/taste may be lacking. 

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Premium vs budget hemp flowers

On one end of the scale, you have small-batch, indoor-grown hemp flower on sale for as much as $10 or more per gram. On the other end, outdoor-grown flower available in bulk for as little as $30 for an ounce. 

So what’s the difference in quality? 

  • Looks

As you would expect, cheaper hemp flower is generally going to be less attractive than the more expensive stuff. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s no good. In fact, quite often budget hemp flowers are still very good quality. 

  • CBD levels

Perhaps most importantly, budget hemp flowers still have a high concentration of CBD – most commonly 15% and up. That’s going to be about the same (maybe slightly less) than premium hemp bud. 

  • Taste and smell

Granted, indoor-grown premium hemp flower is going to have a stronger terpene profile and a more pronounced aroma. This also means it’s going to taste better. Terpenes can also alter the effects of CBD and other cannabinoids, for example making it more uplifting/sedating. This is probably the biggest difference between budget strains and premium strains. 

  • Price

It you are on a budget, you can’t go wrong with some lower grade hemp flower with a high CBD content. You’ll still get similarly powerful effects, the bud will just have less bag appeal and a subdued taste and smell. 

  • Size

Lots of companies sell ‘smalls’ or ‘shake’, which is basically the bottom-of-bag crumbs and leftovers. These are still often high-quality flowers, just much smaller. In fact, shake can be much better value than whole buds as you get less stalk and it’s sold cheap. 

What to consider when buying budget hemp flower

If you are looking to buy some budget hemp flower, there are a few things to consider. 

1. Make sure you are buying from a reputable, well-established vendor with good reviews. If possible, buying from an actual farm is best. This way you can get all your questions answered.

2. Make sure the product has a good amount of CBD. There is no reason why a budget hemp strain should have less than 15% CBD. 

3. Know what to expect. If you are buying ‘smalls’ or shake, don’t expect big buds.If you are buying ‘mid-grade’ (mids) or ‘budget’ strains, don’t expect stinky, beautiful buds.     

2019 harvest

This year’s harvest is going to be the biggest yet. Well, it’s not surprising considering hemp was only federally legalized in 2018 and smokable hemp flower has only caught on in the last year or so. 

With the influx of new products (including some new strains) coming to the market, it means that there will be plenty of options for every price range.

As well as new outdoor crops, some vendors will still have some stock from 2018 available. No doubt this will be made available at very low prices. Therefore, keep an eye out for new hemp flower deals and new budget options.  


Buying budget hemp flower doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck with a vastly inferior product. In fact, often times it’s just the appearance of the bud that is lacking. CBD content, effects, and terpene content can still be very good. 

If you are on a budget, opting for ‘smalls’ or ‘shake’ makes good sense. It is much better value for money and often the difference in quality between budget and premium strains is not massive.  

So long as you ask the vendor questions about the product and you know what to expect, you can’t go wrong buying budget hemp flower.  

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