What Is Marijuana Shake?

Sophia Delphi May 09, 2022 - 6 min read
Fact Checked
Weed shake and broken up marijuana on the table

If you’ve ever brought home a fresh Christmas tree, you know the first thing that has to be done before you can hang the ornaments, lights, and tree topper.

You have to sweep up all of the pine needles that have fallen off of the tree while you were bringing it into the house.

That’s the easiest way to understand weed shake. Shake is the stuff that falls off cannabis buds and into the bottom of a baggie or stash jar.

There’s one big difference, however, between Christmas tree needles and shake.

Once you’ve swept up the needles, you simply throw them away. But shake is still valuable.

Here’s a deeper dive into exactly what shake is — and what you can do with it.

Why Does Shake Accumulate?

It’s exciting to see a top-shelf weed. Your pulse quickens as you begin to anticipate its taste, its pungent aroma, and the satisfying experience it will produce.

The glistening trichomes [1] and deep-green, tightly packed buds don’t stay that way forever, though. The weed becomes more brittle as it dries out, causing the flower to “loosen up” and begin falling apart.

When some of the herb is removed for use or the pot is transported in a baggie or container, the jostling and shaking will accelerate the process and more leftover plant material will fall to the bottom of the bag.

There’s no way to prevent it from happening. “Shake” will always be a byproduct of storing cannabis. High-end weed that’s used quickly won’t leave as much behind, while a large stash of mids is likely to create a bounty of shake at the bottom of the jar.

What’s in the shake? It will usually be a combination of crushed flower, pieces of tiny leaves called calyxes [2], and perhaps some kief and larger sugar leaves. There may also be some stems or seeds in the mix.

There’s good news, though. The leftover flower, kief, sugar leaves, and calyxes all contain THC, other cannabinoids, and terpenes — which means shake shouldn’t automatically be tossed into the trash like Christmas tree needles.

What Can You Do With Shake?

Let’s get an important fact out of the way first: shake will always be lower-potency than the nugs it came from because the “best stuff” will remain undisturbed on the bud.

Even so, you can still simply load a bowl with shake and fire it up. The quality of the high will vary; the leftovers from primo bud will be more enjoyable to smoke than shake that accumulates at the bottom of a baggie filled with schwag. Just be sure to remove any stems or seeds first.

You can also vape your shake. That will at least make it taste a little better since you’re not burning it. It will also optimize the amount of THC you receive.

A terrific way to use shake is to make edibles with it. If you usually bake with flower, though, you may need to use more shake because of its lower THC content. And don’t forget to decarb the shake before cooking with it. The cannabinoids won’t be activated until you heat them properly; without decarbing, you’ll just be putting non-psychoactive plant material into your brownies.

(Decarbing is easy. Just put small pieces of shake onto a baking sheet lined with crumpled tin foil, cover with another piece of foil and bake for 30-45 minutes at 225°-230°. When it’s golden brown, the THC has been activated.)

There are other options for your shake. You can mix decarbed shake with grain alcohol and store it for three weeks to make weed tincture, or you can combine decarbed shake with essential oils to create your very own skin treatment for topical application.

As you can see, shake doesn’t necessarily deserve its sometimes-shaky reputation. In fact, you may have already enjoyed shake without even realizing it.

How Much Does Shake Cost?

Why would anyone buy shake instead of a more potent flower?

Quite simply, it’s a lot cheaper than primo weed. Those on a tight budget, or those planning to make edibles or tinctures, will find that their dollar goes a lot further when using shake instead of high-end bud.

Not all dealers or dispensaries sell shake these days, but many still do. It can be a great deal, too. If you’re lucky, you may find an ounce of shake for as little as 50 bucks, compared to the $200-$300 (or more) you’ll probably have to pay for a zip of top-shelf weed.

Why You’ve Probably Bought Shake Already

You’re likely to find a better shake at a dispensary but don’t mistake it for high-quality flower. Even if it’s clean and contains a decent amount of trichomes, it’s still probably a mix of shake from a number of different strains. You won’t really know what to expect from it until you’ve smoked it.

To be honest, it’s possible you already have smoked it. When you purchase pre-rolls at a dispensary, guess what’s in them? That’s right, it’s usually shake.

That explains why the joints that many people buy for party favors can have such uneven quality. They’re normally rolled from a mix of shake the dispensary collects from all of its bud. It’s a great way for the store to maximize the value of the cannabis it purchases, but it probably contains an accumulation of leftovers from indicas, sativas, and hybrids of widely-different quality.

One caution about purchasing shake: it’s not the best choice for medical marijuana patients. When you depend on cannabis for relief, you’re in search of predictable relief. Regularly buying a high-quality strain that does the job is a much smarter approach than digging into a weed grab bag.

If you patronize a reputable dispensary that sells shake, their budtenders will probably be able to tell you whether it comes from a single strain or specific varieties of plants — or if you’re simply choosing “door number 1,” hoping it’s hiding a car instead of a carton of toilet paper.

What Is Shake: FAQ

Q: Is shake the same thing as trim?
A: There’s a big difference. Trim, the stuff that’s trimmed off of a plant after harvesting is more likely than shake to contain leaves, stems, and seeds. It’s less likely to contain large amounts of plant parts with trichomes (like crushed flower and calyxes), so it’s also less likely to contain enough THC to get you properly stoned. Trim is better known for giving users headaches when they try to smoke it.

Q: Are there things to look for when buying shake?
A: There shouldn’t be stems and seeds, first of all. There should be more flower pieces than leaves. And it should still be somewhat moist; shake tends to dry out quickly and become unusable.