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Just as we have different marijuana strains categories like strains for sleep, more potent strains, and others, we also have different types of cannabis depending on cultivation technique. However, one type of cannabis that’s drawing attention is PGR weed — and for all the wrong reasons. 

PGR stands for Plant Growth Regulator(s). It is a controversial practice that has raised concerns among stakeholders in the cannabis industry, including consumers and growers.

Let’s delve into the world of PGR weed as we answer the important question: “What is PGR weed?” We’ll also discuss PGR weed vs. natural weed, how to identify PGR weed, and the potential risks associated with its consumption. 

What is PGR Weed?

The first question anyone seeking information will ask is, “What is PGR weed?” So here goes!

PGR weed is cannabis treated with synthetic growth hormones to enhance its growth and appearance. 

Plant Growth Regulators are chemicals used in agriculture to manipulate plant growth and development; they stimulate the appearance of plants to make them appear attractive.

The use of PGRs in weed cultivation is controversial and generally frowned upon in the cannabis community because it is often associated with low-quality or poorly grown cannabis and can have negative health consequences. 

Understanding Plant Growth Regulators

Plant growth regulators are not new in the agriculture industry. 

Companies use PGRs to control plant growth and influence plant appearance. 

PGRs influence when fruits ripen and the width and shape of the plant’s roots, leaves, and stems.

Using PGRs results in bigger and more colorful plants, but this does not mean the plants are of higher quality. In fact, PGRs have been linked to adverse health issues.

When it comes to cannabis, PGRs may be used to make buds bigger, look thicker, and denser than those grown without PGR, which leads to increased weight and density. 

The use of PGRs benefits growers who charge a higher amount for their weed because it looks bigger and visually appealing, but not all weed that glitters is good weed.

PGR weed may look nice, but it doesn’t have a higher potency; in fact, the chemicals in PGR weed may decrease the effects of THC and CBD. 

Also, PGR weed does not have the usual amount of cannabinoids, terpenes, and trichomes as natural weed; it’s missing all the ingredients that make great weed.

But not all thick weed is PGR weed, so what should you look out for? 

How to Identify PGR Weed

We’ve answered the question, what is PGR weed? The next thing you need to understand is how to identify PGR weed. 

Unwitting customers may buy PGR weed because it looks bigger, but they are unlikely to get value for money.

If discussing PGR weed vs. natural weed doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, you may end up with a shiny, low-quality, and detrimental product. 

So, here’s how to identify PGR weed. 

PGR weed

Look for Dense Buds

The Buds on PGR weed appear fat and plump but don’t let the appearance fool you: it’s only skin-deep. 

Those fat buds don’t mean more value for your money because the chemicals have severely depleted the natural qualities of the weed. 

Little-to-No Crystals

When discussing PGR weed vs. natural weed, one significant difference is the lack of trichomes. You must have noticed the white, crystal-like stuff on weed; they’re called trichomes. 

PGR in weed restricts the development of trichomes, so you can identify them at first sight by the lack of crystals. 

Instead, you’ll see an abundance of little brown or red hairs that you won’t find on natural weed. 

No Aroma & Chemical-Like Taste

As we’ve mentioned, PGR in weed depletes the cannabinoids, terpenes, and trichomes, leaving behind low-quality stuff without the rich aroma and taste of natural weed. 

If it doesn’t smell right or taste right, it’s likely PGR weed.

The smell test is one way to tell the difference when faced with the PGR weed vs. natural weed conundrum because natural weed is fragrant and aromatic, but PGR weed has little scents. 

Wet, Sponge-Like Texture

Several factors influence the texture of natural weed, but it generally has a dry, crisp, and slightly crisp texture; it breaks apart easily without crumbling.

The outer surface of natural weed feels slightly sticky due to the presence of trichomes. 

By contrast, PGR weed feels damp and wet with a sponge-like texture

What Synthetics Are Used to Create PGR Weed?

You may wonder, what is in PGR weed? PGR weed can come in different types because growers use different chemicals. 

The most popular ones are Daminozide, Chlormequat Chloride, and Paclobutrazol


This PGR, also called Alar, regulates plant growth and maximizes bud size by slowing leaf and stem growth. 

The Environmental Protection Agency banned EPA from food use in 1989 because of its link to cancer

Chlormequat Chloride

This chemical inhibits growth in some areas of the plant, causing it to have a uniform and sturdy appearance. It also induces flowering.

PGR weed

Chlormequat Chloride is  harmful if swallowed and can damage the skin

Also, it can enter the human nervous system via the skin and cause eye irritation. 


This chemical is responsible for plant growth; it is also used to promote flowering and prevent fungus-related diseases. 

Using this PGR in weed is particularly toxic because it converts to a carcinogen called nitrosamine when you smoke it. Paclobutrazol is banned in California and other states. 

Is PGR Weed Safe?

It’s not unusual for growers to experiment by crossing different weed strains or testing growing techniques; most importantly, all experimentation must be safe. 

However, given the dangers of PGR in weed, you now know it’s unsafe.

Can PGR weed kill you? Cancer can certainly kill you, and PGR in weed can cause cancer. That’s why there’s so much concern for consumer safety regarding the use of PGR in weed.

We care about your safety; that’s why we encourage you to practice safe consumption, adhere to the laws that guide weed consumption where you live, and buy weed from only licensed dispensaries. 

Is PGR Weed Legal in the US?

As we’ve mentioned, some of these PGRs are banned in the US, but that has not stopped black market operators from using them

You may even find PGRs in the fertilizer you buy for home cultivation, so you must read the label before you buy it and use it to grow weed.

A lot of things are illegal in the US, but unwitting buyers can still fall prey to those who sell them; that’s why it’s important to know the telltale signs of PGR in weed to avoid it. 

The Best Way to Avoid PGR Weed? Get an MMJ Card!

Is PGR weed bad for you? Well, now that you understand the risks of PGR in weed, it’s obviously not recommended for human consumption, but growers who place profits over your health still use them to grow weed.

Again, PGR weed is mostly sold on the black market, where unscrupulous growers and sellers don’t care much for your health and safety. 

On the other hand, regulated weed has been through rigorous testing and has been certified safe for human consumption.

The best way to access safe weed is to get an MMJ card. With an MMJ card, you can buy lab-certified weed from licensed dispensaries without risking exploitation at the detriment of your health.

If you’d like to get an MMJ card, Elevate Holistics is your best bet! We’re a telemedicine company that specializes in helping people get their MMJ cards and unlock the benefits of legal weed. 

Our process is completely online, so you can do it from the comfort of your home. We’re your gateway to safe, legal cannabis. Click here or the link below to book a call and begin to enjoy wellness.

Get legal, high-quality weed -- at low prices.

Having a medical card means lower prices, better weed, and no more PGR. Get your MMJ card 100% online with Elevate Holistics today.

Get Your MMJ Card Right From Home

Elevate Holistics’ process is quick, affordable, and done entirely online. It’s never been so easy.

About the author

Ally Hilbert is the Content and SEO Manager here at Elevate Holistics, working to publish and run Elevate’s blogs and landing pages, as well as conduct keyword research, competitor analysis, and more. After having brain surgery at the age of 17, Ally became fascinated with medical cannabis and its benefits, and, at 18, had her first CBD-related piece published. Today, she’s been writing about cannabis for the past six years, and simply can’t think of a better company to get to do it for. When she’s not writing or editing, Ally’s side-by-side with her pup Sadie in Seattle.
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