What does Marijuana Smell Like? (and how to get rid of it)

Last Updated on May 24, 2022 by Mark Conklin, RN, MHA

What does marijuana smell like? Marijuana has a distinct odor that’s easily recognized after smelling just once or twice. It’s often described as earthy and herbal with occasional hints of lemon, spice, and pine.

Although medicinal marijuana is legal in many states, federal laws prohibiting all forms of marijuana govern public perception. Consequently, the pungent perfume of this ancient plant continues to carry negative connotations and foster undue societal discernment for the 3.5 million patients who currently rely on medicinal marijuana to manage debilitating conditions.

It’s understandable that many of these individuals are searching for practical ways to mask marijuana odor to avoid unnecessary attention or judgment. In this article, we will cover the regular smell of marijuana and outline how to get rid of marijuana smells from your clothes and home.


What influences the smell of marijuana?

Marijuana is the dried leaves and flowers of the Cannabis sativa plant. Just like many other medicinal plants, marijuana produces pungent compounds called terpenes. These odoriferous chemicals serve the biological function of fending off predators and enticing insects for pollination and are behind the intoxicating aroma of marijuana.

Scientists have identified over 100 different terpenes in marijuana. However, different strains contain unique compositions of these terpenes resulting in slight variances between strains. For example, the terpene caryophyllene imparts a spicy, peppery scent reminiscent of cloves, while limonene carries a zesty citrus flavor.

The second-largest factor influencing marijuana odor is the age of the plant when harvested. Cannabis harvested earlier in its growth cycle has a milder scent and is usually less potent in THC content. On the other hand, flowers that are left to mature for longer before harvesting produces a more pungent and potent weed.


Why does marijuana smell like skunk?

Most marijuana strains contain liberal proportions of myrcene, a potent terpene that gives off that earthy musky scent that many people describe as “skunky”. Pinene is another abundant terpene in marijuana that imparts that familiar woodsy scent reminiscent of a forest of pine trees.


What does synthetic marijuana smell like?

Firstly, synthetic marijuana is often misleadingly used to describe synthetic cannabinoids. Synthetic cannabinoids are produced in a laboratory using artificial chemicals that are designed to imitate the effects of phytocannabinoids. Phytocannabinoids are biologically active compounds that naturally occur in the Cannabis sativa plant. When consumed, they interact with our endocannabinoid system to produce a diversity of effects within the human body and brain.

Delta-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the major psychoactive phytocannabinoid responsible for inducing the euphoric high we typically associate with marijuana. THC is also a natural analgesic, anti-nausea, and antiemetic with medicinal applications in AIDS patients and cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Pharmaceutical companies have formulated synthetic versions of THC (e.g. dronabinol and nabilone), which are approved by the FDA and prescribed by specialized physicians. These chemicals are not cannabinoids, but like THC, they interact with the endocannabinoid system and bind to the same cannabinoid receptors on the brain and other organs throughout the body.

Although these medications’ effects are similar to cannabis-derived THC, the drugs themselves bear no physical resemblance to marijuana. In fact, both dronabinol and nabilone are capsules with no apparent aroma. That’s because, unlike real marijuana—which contains some 483 organic compounds, including phytocannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, polyphenols, and more—these pharmaceuticals are pure concentrations of synthetic cannabinoids.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Research shows that synthetic cannabinoids affect the brain much more powerfully than marijuana creating unpredictable and, in some cases, life-threatening effects including nausea, anxiety, paranoia, brain swelling, seizures, hallucinations, aggression, heart palpitations, and chest pains.”

Synthetic cannabinoids should only be used under the guidance of a specialized marijuana physician trained in appropriate monitoring and assessment of patients.


How to not smell like marijuana?

If you prefer to smoke the whole natural flower instead of synthetic cannabinoids, then you’re probably well aware of marijuana’s pungent aroma. And while you may find it uniquely satisfying, the familiar scent can easily arouse unwanted suspicion and even land you in legal trouble depending on your state.

Firstly, here’s how to get rid of marijuana smell lingering in the air after smoking:



Try vaping as an alternative to smoking. Vaporizer pens gently heat the cannabis to a temperature just below its combustion point, releasing a mild vapor that can be inhaled. Just like when smoking, the vapor delivers cannabinoids directly to the brain within a matter of seconds, but without the smoke or lingering scent.


Smell-proof storage

The natural scent of cannabis is amplified when smoked due to the combustion of plant materials. But stored marijuana leaves still have the familiar earthy, earthy scent of weed. Storing your stash in an airtight container will help deter unsuspecting nostrils


Use well-ventilated location

Whenever possible, smoke outdoors so the smoke can quickly drift away instead of lingering around and penetrating your clothing. If this is not possible, opt for a well-ventilated location where the smoke can rapidly escape — such as, next to a window.

Clearing the air of marijuana smoke is one thing but removing traces from your body is another.


How to get the smell of marijuana off you after smoking?

Taking a shower and changing your clothes is the most obvious way to rid your body of unwanted odors. But it’s not always possible or convenient, especially when you’re out and about or at work. Make sure you have the following items handy to abolish any lingering smells and purify your hair, breath, body, and clothes.


Gum, mints, and mouthwash

Stinky breath is a tell-tale sign that you’ve just been puffing the dragon. It’s also an unpleasant smell that’s guaranteed to warrant some unsavory looks from strangers and even your best friends. Do yourself a favor and carry either some gum, mints, or mouthwash in your on-the-go kit.


Perfume, cologne, deodorant

Keeping any kind of body spray in your bag is pretty normal, but it’s essential for a regular cannabis user. Be sure to give your body a decent soaking after smoking and beware that if you smoked in the car with the windows down, then neither cologne nor body spray will mask the stench that has seeped into your clothing and hair.


Hand lotion and sanitizer

If you’ve just smoked flower, then we guarantee you, your fingers are smelly. Applying a perfumed hand lotion or hand sanitizer over your palms and across your fingertips can help neutralize any suspicious odors.


Wet wipes

Wiping over your face and hands with a wet wipe can help remove any lingering marijuana odor. It can also be an excellent alternative for a splash of water to freshen yourself after taking too much. Carrying an emergency packet of wet wipes whenever you’re smoking on-the-go.


Walk outdoors

Many medical marijuana users need regular doses throughout the day to provide sufficient relief for their condition. If you need to smoke between shifts or during your lunch break, allow time to take a walk outdoors and let the fresh air cleanse your hair and clothing.


How to get rid of marijuana smell in the house?

For many, the most convenient, pleasurable, and safe place to smoke cannabis is at home. After all, you can relax on your couch in complete privacy only a few steps away from your fridge and bed. But lingering smells can present a problem, especially when unexpected visitors drop by. Whether you want to keep your habit private or just want to be considerate of your neighbors, implementing these tips can keep your home smelling fresh and cannabis free.


Keep windows open

First of all, never smoke indoors without opening at least one window. You need to provide the smoke with an exit point. Otherwise, it will permeate your home and settle into your furniture. Likewise, if you’ve just received a call from your grandma who is five minutes away, immediately open every door and window to flush your home with fresh air.



Incense has been used for centuries at religious ceremonies and, more recently as a welcoming scent for yoga, meditation, and aromatherapy. It’s also very effective at masking the smell of weed. Incense contains an aromatic blend of spices, herbs, and resins that create a calming fragrance reminiscent of sandalwood and fresh magnolia. The fragrant smoke released from the burning incense sticks can also conceal any remaining cannabis smoke still lingering in the room.


Scented candles

If you don’t want an Eastern temple vibe in your home, scented candles offer an alternative with a more extensive range of fragrances from fresh and fruity to floral and vanilla. You can also try a pet odor exterminator candle if you need to disguise a particularly pungent strain.


Air fresheners

Air fresheners are a great option for when you need to leave home as unlike candles, there’s no risk of accidentally burning the house down. And these days there’s a wide variety of air fresheners. You can choose from simple spray bottles, diffusers, and air freshener bags to more advanced time-operated mist dispensers, electric fan air fresheners, and gravity cleaning systems. So, when you smoke in the morning, you can come home to a fresh, odor-free home.

THC physicians are here to help people in New York and Florida receive the medical treatment they need. If you have any questions about getting a marijuana card, please browse our how-to page for more information or contact us if there is anything we can answer for you!

Howard Seth Meiselman, DO

Medically reviewed by Howard Seth Meiselman, DO — Written by Mark Conklin 

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Mark Conklin, RN, MHA

Mark Conklin is the founder and CEO of Tierra Healthcare Concepts and is also part of the medical team. He has over 25 years of experience in the healthcare field working at the executive management level and as a medical professional. Education RN, BS Biology, and Master of Health Administration course curriculum.

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