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Cannabis industry information for businesses including tips, news, and advice for dispensaries.

Why Are Hand-Trimmed Cannabis Buds Better Than Buds Trimmed by a Machine?

This article is sponsored by NorCal Trimmers, the first and most reputable cannabis trimming company in California. Follow NorCal Trimmers on Instagram to see their hand trimming in action.


As the medical and recreational cannabis industry continues to grow rapidly, we’re very fortunate to witness the changes firsthand. We have seen things originate from a clandestine network in the shadows and progress into a legitimate industry with established standards. These standards are the guidelines on everything from how dispensaries are being run to the quality of the cannabis you’re acquiring.

One way of measuring the quality of what you partake in is determining how well your cannabis was trimmed. Medical marijuana needs to be properly cultivated, manicured, and processed before consumption. If those steps have been followed, they should serve as a good indication that the buds are being held to high expectations. But is there a difference between buds that have been hand-trimmed versus buds that were trimmed by a machine? The answer is absolutely. Here are three reasons why you should rage against the machine (so to speak).

1. Machine-Trimmed Flowers Can Affect Yield, Potency, and Flavor

Leafly cannabis buds

Many growers and mass processors of cannabis have chosen to take shortcuts in order to meet the increasing demand for their product. The biggest shortcut that’s being implemented is the use of a trimming machine. Cannabis connoisseurs can simply look at a handful of nugs and immediately tell whether they were trimmed using a machine or by hand. But how is that possible?

The answer is simple: Machine-trimmed flowers almost always end up looking the same, typically taking the form of a small pine tree. The end result is terrible not only for the yield, but more importantly, for potency and flavor. Machines shave too much off of each nug because they treat them all as one standard size and shape. Unfortunately, this method also shreds away the much needed trichomes which contain many of the properties for which the plant is initially being cultivated.

Although they all classify as cannabis, each strain is inherently different in size, shape, and structure. Trimming machines are unable to assess these differences between each strain. More importantly, these machines can’t distinguish which nugs are coated in crystallized resin. In essence, machines are taking away all the love and hard work that the growers put into their individual strains, as well as curbing the effects for which the plants were originally grown.

2. Professional Trimmers Know How to Properly Handle Cannabis Buds With Care

Leafly cannabis bud being trimmed

There are thousands of types of cannabis strains, from Sour Diesel to Purple Kush to Trainwreck, just to name a few. Each is different in appearance, density, and shape, as well as provides completely different effects. In order to ensure each strain stays true to its origins, they must all be treated with individual attention and care. Cannabis does not need the rumbling of motors and buzzing of moving blades; instead, it requires the skillful eye and steady hands of a trained professional.

In order to successfully process thousands of individual nugs by hand, there is a certain level of training, focus, and experience that must come into play to ensure the adequate handling and processing of cannabis. Professional trimmers must know how to hold the nug itself as to keep the integrity of the shape and not agitate the crystallized resin. They must also be able to immediately assess how much pressure to apply to the nug with their shears.

Most importantly, a true professional trimmer will know what to trim and what not to trim. Different strains will excrete their THC-filled natural resin in various sections of the cannabis plant across different densities. Only the trained eye of a professional will be able to know how to properly trim the flowers in order to yield the best possible product.

3. The Hand-Trimmed Process Creates Jobs and Standardization Without Compromising Quality

Cannabis trimming tray

With the increased automation of the marijuana industry, it’s imperative that we as consumers hold our growers and manufacturers to a higher standard. Being able to tell how well a nug is trimmed is the fastest way to help assess the quality of your cannabis.

Trimming is slowly becoming the face of change in the medical marijuana industry, with trimming companies creating jobs, providing honest work, and offering training as well as education to help make more informed patients. Professionally trained trimmers are raising the bar and setting new standards to make sure cannabis is treated with proper care and that patients and consumers alike are getting the most out of every single nug.

A hand-trimmed nug is the essence of care and appreciation for an industry that cannot forget where it came from or who it’s serving, regardless of how it far it has evolved. As the cannabis industry continues to make waves at an unprecedented rate, it’s crucial for us to preserve the processes that treat the plants with the respect and care they deserve.