Why Does Cannabis Smell Skunky? - Wild Leaf

Why Does Cannabis Smell Skunky?

Have you ever wondered why the smell of cannabis has that signature "skunky" smell? Well, so has most of the world until recently!

The scientists focused on cannabis have been studying terpenes and terpenoids for such a long time, which is why the difference between "Gelato" and "Diesel" strains (along with those newer strains with much longer names) doesn't only lie in a preferred effect. Now, what is a terpene? Terpenes are found in most plants and give each of them a distinguishable smell, even though the term isn't used in everyday talk unless we're talking about weed. In the smoking community, we see terpenes as the chemical (or the hydrocarbon if you're looking to add to your vocabulary) which gives cannabis the floral, citrusy, peppery, or pine aromas that we know and love.

But on top of that, cannabis contains molecules called Volatile Sulfur Compounds (or VSCs). VSCs are "important contributors to the flavors and off-flavors of many foods". They are found in plants like garlic, nuts, hops, and potato products to name a few. The punchline here is that VSCs are also found in a skunk's defensive spray (scientifically n-butyl mercaptan, again, for the vocab readers). So, yes, cannabis does smell "skunky", even on a molecular level!