Much like the discounted “ugly produce” found at the grocery store, shake weed can save you some money while still giving you what you set out to buy. It may not be glamorous, and some people downright refuse to use shake, but let’s not act like it won’t get the job done.

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What Is Shake?

Handling weed naturally causes bits and pieces to fall off which tend to stay at the bottom of the bag. All of the leftover scraps can make up shake weed, including trichomes which offer high potency.  It should not be confused with kief, which comes from tiny bits of trichomes and is much more potent.

Shake weed is essentially just leftover weed, and it doesn’t have to be considered bad as some cannabis enthusiasts (ahem...snobs) will try to tell you. In fact, you might even buy pre-rolls loaded with shake without realizing it. It’s not uncommon to use leftover bud to fill joints, because why waste perfectly good weed?

Man trimming marijuana leaves with scissors over bin iStock / BrindleBerry
Pre-rolls with shake help dispensaries cut back on wasted materials. In a perfect world, this would be no problem because the bits of bud that have fallen off should be just as good as the bud itself. Unfortunately, some dispensaries will still stuff the last of their materials into pre-rolls, even if it’s low quality and will end up just giving users a headache.

Shake doesn’t have a universal set of standards so it can mean different things to different people. Shake sometimes has stems, and small amounts don’t really cause any issues. But it can be unpleasant to get a discounted bag of shake and find out it’s merely a bag full of headaches and nasty taste because it’s mostly made up of stems.

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If that happens, you’re probably getting trim, which is basically the unwanted parts of the plant all in one place. That should not be confused with shake, nor should it ever be passed off as smoke-able. Unfortunately, some places try to pass trim off as shake.

If you get handed a bag with prominent leaves and stems under the guise of shake, shake your head “no” and find a new dispensary.

Why Would I Buy Shake Weed?

This may come as a surprise to some, but shake is not just some last-resort fix for moments of desperation. While scrounging up all you can scrape off the bottom of a bag could help you acquire shake, you can also get it at the dispensary and there are some good reasons to do so.

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You can use shake as you would any other flower, and it may even be a better choice for specific uses. It’s usually cheaper, which makes it great for any sort of cannabis-related venture you’re going on that requires large amounts but doesn’t rely on consistency.

An anonymous woman holding a marijuana joint up-close. iStock / HighGradeRoots
For example, if you’re making edibles, you can easily use shake to make cannabutter. It’s cost effective and will provide the same results as any other weed you use because it is the same stuff, just in smaller bits and often a compilation of different strains.

Shake is also a more cost-effective way to roll joints, spliffs, or blunts. If you’re buying shake from a trusted dispensary, you’re not going to get a bunch of stems or garbage weed. You’ll just get the leftover good stuff you were planning to roll up anyway - why not save a few bucks?

If you use shake, you won’t have to grind your weed either, saving time spent preparing in exchange for more time toking up. Shake also tends to be drier than other types of weed, though this has to do with how it is stored.

Who Shouldn't Use Shake?

Since shake is often a leftover mix of many strains, medical users who rely on specific effects from specific strains should avoid using shake. Or, ask the budtender if they have any shake that would fit your specific needs.

Marijuana shake iStock / Stefan Tomic
If you like knowing exactly what it is you’re getting, shake may be more stress than it’s worth. If you buy pre-rolls made from shake, depending on the source, you might end up with a pre-rolled joint filled with stems because how could you notice if it's already wrapped up?

If there are certain strains or types of cannabis that you do better with, shake may be more of a gamble than you’re willing to make. There’s really no guarantee that you’ll know exactly what you’re getting with shake, which can be fun for the go-with-the-flow type, but if you’re prone to negative side effects from some types of weed, you’ll probably want to make sure you know exactly what you’re consuming.