Ask a Stoner: Why Do Skunks and Weed Smell the Same?

Dear Stoner: Why does weed smell like a skunk? Do the two share a similar chemical that makes them smell the same?

Dear Schnoz: Of all the things that people love to say weed smells like — fruit, pine trees, rubber tires and (especially now) baked goods — “skunk” has to be the most prevalent. Non-tokers always ask if there's a skunk around when I have nugs in my pocket, and parents never seem to get mad after smelling blueberries or Girl Scout Cookies in their teenager's bedroom.
Although cannabis and a skunk's defensive spray don't contain the same chemicals, we can spot the similar compounds that cause our noses to connect the two. Skunks' bodies produce forms of organic sulfur called thiols, which mix together to form the potent, musky scent so many of us have failed to wash out of clothes or dog hair. Cannabis doesn't have thiols, but it does contain terpenes, the aromatic plant compounds responsible for all of pot's different strain flavors. Myrcene, a common cannabis terpene also found in hops and mangoes, can smell so similar to a Pepé Le Pew love trail that one of the most coveted weed strains is simply called “Skunk.”

While not all strains with myrcene smell like skunks, it's a common trait — and one that stoners have grown to love.

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Herbert Fuego is the resident stoner at Westword, ready to answer all your marijuana questions.
Contact: Herbert Fuego