Cannabis Trimming: The What, Why, and How

Cannabis trimming is the process of removing the fan leaves and sugar leaves so that you are left with the exposed cannabis flower. The reason we zero in on the flower is that this part of the plant contains, by far, the highest concentration of cannabinoids like THC and CBD. It’s the most valuable part of the plant, and the most desirable. Today, most quality cannabis is sold as dried, trimmed flower.


But let’s take a step back. The trimming process wasn’t always as common as it is today. You might have heard the term “Mexican brick weed” before. That’s what your parents would have been smoking. In the 1970s, most cannabis consumed in North America was imported from South America. It would have been a ground-up mixture of leaves, stems, flowers, and random plant pieces, all compressed into a “brick.” Not much of the mixture included the female flowers that we’re used to seeing in dispensaries.

When you hear about today’s cannabis being much stronger than cannabis in the 70s, that is absolutely true, but also consider that the cannabis back then wasn’t exclusively flower, like it generally is today.

Since then, things have changed in a big way. There was a boom in the quality of cannabis in the 1980s thanks to hydroponic systems becoming more common in the US. Tastes changed, and people were more interested in consuming the higher-grade, domestically-produced cannabis, compared to the South American low-grade product. Growers were able to get a much higher price for the high-potency flower, and trimming became much more common, with the leaves being discarded as waste. By 2010, this was the standard.

We are currently in the midst of the second shift in cannabis trimming. The traditional trimming method was by hand, using shears. As cultivators have grown in scale, while at the same time cannabis prices have fallen (mostly due to legalization and normalization), hand trimming is no longer financially feasible for most operations. Today, the vast majority of Canadian Licensed Producers use automated cannabis trimming machines. (And of course, the best of them use Mobius Trimmer M108s.) Consumer tastes have changed too, with all but a small niche of cannabis users preferring a sterile, low-touch manufacturing process to the traditional, more expensive alternative: having their product excessively handled.

Never Miss a Blog Post