Weed Grading System Defined – AA Grade Strains to AAAA Weed CanadaTrue quads - LA Chocolate strain from Nature's Fire


Weed Grading System Defined – AA Grade Strains to AAAA Weed Canada

Including a brief history in Canada, AA - AAAA weed defined, and true quads defined, with a weed grade chart.

The Weed Grading System Canada

The weed grading system in Canada is subjective depending on where you buy your weed. Traditionally, the old school brick & mortar dispensaries and online dispensaries in Canada use the AA to AAAA weed grading system, while some use the Low Grade, Mid Grade and High Grade (Top Shelf) cannabis grading system.

Alternatively, our new legalized cannabis stores don’t use these systems at all, they are supplied by Canada’s licensed growers who grade their weed by its THC and CBD potency, based on official lab tests. This results in higher prices for flower depending on its THC and/or CBD content. This isn’t a good system in my book coming from a consumer’s perspective. What about bud structure? What about that dank aroma? What about bag appeal? What about the quality of the trim? I can go on about the quality of weed coming out of Canada’s licensed growers/producers, but that’s a topic for another day.

One thing remains a constant.

Whether you’re a seasoned recreational weed smoker, a chronic stoner, a medical marijuana user, or if you’re new to the wonderful world of cannabis, one thing remains a constant – we all learn to judge the quality of our weed and in many cases make up our own weed terminology.

This article will breakdown much of the common weed terminology from; what are singles A weed?, what are dubs, what are Trips?, what are Quads?, what are True Quads? what is Schwag or Dirt Weed?  to AA grade strains, weed grades AAA, mid grade weed, AAAA weed Canada, 5A weed, premium weed, and more.

I will also define the most commonly used AA to AAAA weed grading system in Canada in detail with a weed grade chart for quick reference. Plus, I reached out to Nature’s Fire who in my opinion have some of the best True Quads online. I asked them to define what a true AAAA Quad looks like and how they review weed.

cannabis-in-canada-graphic-458x167Weed Grading History in Canada

The 80s

In the 1980s the A-AAA weed grading system started to take shape in Canada to profile and describe cannabis flowers. The terms “Singles” (A), “Dubs” (AA), and “Trips” (AAA) became common, with Singles being poor low quality weed, while the Trips rating represented the best quality weed available at the time.

The 90s

In the 1990s, all sorts of new strains with exciting variations and hybrids started to emerge and the weed grading system evolved to suit. With so many new strains on the market, variations were added to the existing rating system to help better describe the next generation of weed on the market. New ratings were starting to be used such as, Low Dub (-AA), lower range flower on the AA grade scale, and High Trips (AAA+) , highest rating used for unforgettable triple AAA cannabis. All of a sudden people starting caring less about how stoned they got, but the overall experience became more important, like appearance, aroma (general aesthetics), and how the flower smoked.

The 2000s and beyond

The new millennium put forth the term “Quads” or AAAA grade cannabis. There were simply just too many strains available with an underrated Trips (AAA) grade rating. A new cannabis grade was needed to help identify this premium weed, and “Quads” or AAAA weed Canada was born.

Today in Canada, the A to AAAA+ weed grading system is most commonly used with the general public and medical marijuana dispensaries. Although there is no standard marijuana rating system in Canada, I strongly feel that the A-AAAA+ system should made official. Afterall, everyone is used to it, and it makes the most sense. I think if we had a set of official guidelines published by the Canadian government, then when you visit one of our new retail cannabis stores on the hunt for killer AAAA bud, all you’ll have to do is ask for “Quads”or AAAA quality, and that’s what you would get, no surprises. Who has been let down or surprised by the weed quality coming out of the our new cannabis retail stores? If you ask me, it’s embarrassing, Canada has a reputation to live up to.

Weed Grade Chart

The weed grade chart below points out the main differences in the weed grading system for AA to AAAA+ cannabis. It’s a great way to compare Trips vs Quads.

AA GRADE - AKA "Dubs" or "Budget Buds", lowest grade found in market, poor bud structure, low cost.
AAA GRADE - AKA "Trips", good quality weed, but with poorer bud density, & aesthetics than AAAA grade.
AAAA GRADE - AKA "Quads" or "Premium Weed", highest ranking in all categories, pungent, dank, the best.
AAAA+ GRADE - AKA "5A" or "High Quads", contains spectacular attributes beyond AAAA.

Weed Grading System – AA Grade Strains to AAAA Weed Canada

A Grade Cannabis (Singles)


A Grade Weed @greenrushdaily

It’s hard to find A grade cannabis in Canada from dispensaries and cannabis stores, but I thought I would talk about it anyways for comparison purposes. A grade cannabis, or “singles” as it’s sometimes referred to is low quality weed that still has some bud structure to it, with unwanted stems present and loose discolored buds. It’s not shake or trim, but some dispensaries may classify shake or trim as A grade weed. A grade weed quality is bottom of the barrel when it comes to weed in Canada, it’s also called dirt weed, ditch weed, or schwag depending on where you live.

A grade cannabis does have some uses though. For one thing, it’s much much cheaper to buy, while being somewhat effective when smoked or vaped in higher quantities, but watch out for headaches and dizziness. It can also be used for making concentrates and edibles, so A grade weed provides value if that is your intention for it.

AA Grade Cannabis (Dubs)

AA Cannabis @ Haute Health

AA grade strains or “dubs”, or budget buds is more or less the lowest grade and rating of cannabis you will find from dispensaries in Canada. These buds obviously can’t be compared to AAA or AAAA buds when it comes to appearance and effectiveness (THC level), but they still have their place and will get you stoned. AA grade strains or buds generally has some brown or other off-color appearances. Also, as a general rule of thumb, the lower the grade quality, the darker the ash you will get when smoked.

AA grade cannabis appeals to the budget minded crowd and to those looking to make their own edibles and concentrates. With AA cannabis, you generally get what you pay for, but sometimes you will find a diamond in the rough and get your hands on some decent AA flower. Haute Health online dispensary is a good example of this and have some good quality AA grade cannabis.

AAA Grade Cannabis (Trips)

AAA Cannabis “Trips”

Back in the day, weed grades AAA was the best, and the highest you can go. This mid grade weed level AAA Cannabis or “Trips” is still high quality potent weed with respectable THC levels. But, nowadays growing techniques and cultivators have improved on everything and bumped up weed into a higher class and rating, entering into the premium weed class, or AAAA grade cannabis.

Trips quality weed has many of the same qualities as Quads, there is some room for less bud density, and a little more discoloration can sometimes be expected, and the trim might not be as high-end as Quads.

AAA grade cannabis is common and easy to find in Canada, plus it’s friendlier on the pocket book. The Canna Society online dispensary has lots of good examples of AAA grade cannabis with fantastic prices.

AAAA Grade Cannabis (Quads) & Beyond


AAAA Grade Cannabis – Death Bubba Strain from Speed Greens

AAAA Weed Canada or “Quads” is premium weed, or top-shelf weed that is more or less considered to be the best. AAAA grade cannabis will rank high in all criteria including THC/CBD content, aesthetics, bud size, trichome, and terpenoid content. AAAA Grade weed is also highly pungent, and dank, you’ll get a strong aroma and taste from this kind of cannabis with a nice smooth clean burning smoke.

This AAAA premium weed costs more than AAA weed because of it’s better aesthetics, and higher potency due to the increased levels of THC and or CBD and higher terpenoid content. You can find some fantastic AAAA weed in Canada online at Speed Greens, Green Society, and at The Grow House.

What is AAAA+ Grade Cannabis?

AKA 5A weed, or AAAAA weed. This quality of cannabis is loosely defined and it can have several names; AAAA+, AAAA++, high quads, or true quads. These terms are mostly used by brick & mortar and online dispensaries in Canada, and are considered to be the most potent, and highest quality strains available in the market. In my experience,  AAAA+ or 5A grade cannabis simply means that the flower is AAAA quality but with spectacular attributes that can’t be ignored or overlooked.

What are True Quads?

As mentioned earlier, I reached out to the owner of Nature’s Fire about how they review their weed and how they classify True Quads. Here is their description:

True Quads – When looking for True Quads cannabis, one of the first things we look for here at Nature’s Fire is a proper cure. Curing is essential to creating an optimal experience for the user. Without a proper cure, Terps will not be presented as they should be to the palate, and often times less than desirable contaminants can be left behind.

The second thing is the bud structure, and trich coverage. We like to closely inspect with a 60x jewellers loupe to ensure that the trichs have proper heads, and are not any more than 25% amber throughout the sample. Using the jewellers loupe also allows us to inspect for any mildew or other contaminants that may be present.

Lastly, we look at the trim job, no one likes a hairy lady, and we’re no exception here at DHO. We like to see a few sugar leaves leftover, but there shouldn’t be any burnt or excess leaves on a True Quad sample.

All in all, we look for a well cured, tasty and potent smoke. When the ash is white, all is right!


Now that you have a better idea of what the weed grading system is that’s mainly used in Canada, you will be able to make better informed decisions when you get your next stash. Who knows, you may just save some money as well and not pay for AAAA quality, when your being sold AAA quality cannabis.

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section below, and I will do my best to help.

The Chronic Beaver

The Chronic Beaver's Cannabis in CanadaCheck out my Weed Measurements Guide and get a handle on all the slang.



  • comment-avatar
    Karen Lafortune 4 months ago

    I need some expert advice. I have chronic pain issues and want to make my own CBD oil with the highest level of CBD and most effective ratio of THC to CBD. Can you help me?

    • comment-avatar

      Hi Karen, thanks for the inquiry. Unfortunately, I am not an expert when it comes to making CBD or THC oils, so my advice won’t help you much. There are lots of resources online that can help you, maybe try Googling it.


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