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legal indoor cannabis vs outdoor. What’s the best one?

Aug 27, 2021 | Health and Wellness, Products and News

We created this guide to help you differentiate the numerous varieties of legal cannabis available on the italian market, online and offline (specialized stores, tobacco shops, growshop etc.).

Let’s consider first that each strain of legal cannabis has peculiar characteristics and it grows differently, depending on the techniques that each grower prefers. However, there are common features to all light cannabis strains that can be used as reference to better identify the small variations, often a little subtle, between outdoor or indoor legal cannabis. Legal cannabis has a very wide family of plants: not all the distinctive factors that we are going to present in this article will apply to every type of light cannabis because each strain is somehow “unique”.

Let’s start with a little basic exercise to “calibrate” your ability on a visual level.

Can you tell which one of these two buds comes from indoor legal cannabis and which from outdoor growing?

test legal cannabis indoor vs outdoor

If you think the light cannabis bud “A” is the one grown indoor, you guessed right!

Very well, we may now proceed with the analysis of the main factors that helpdistinguish quality buds of legal cannabis, grown indoor.

How to differentiate the indoor legal cannabis flowers from the outdoor grown ones?

It’s important to note that the buds, the flowers of light cannabis, can be grown the right or the wrong way, regardless of the fact that they come from an indoor or outdoor growing. Light cannabis buds wrongly grown indoor can resemble buds grown outdoor. But there are some standard signs that reveal if it is an indoor or outdoor grown product.

Then if you want to learn to recognize quality indoor legal cannabis, sit tight and enjoy our complete guide to indoor light cannabis.


The size of the light cannabis flowers is almost always a visual indicator to determine whether it’s grown indoor or outdoor. One of the best ways to differentiate the flowers of legal cannabis is checking the stem. Outdoor grown buds will have a significantly thicker stem compared to the indoor grown ones. The latter will generally be smaller and denser than the bigger, puffy ones of the outdoor grown plants.

Trichomes density

The trichomes density is another clear visual sign that helps you distinguish indoor growing from outdoor growing. The indoor buds are way thicker. Since they grow closer to the light and in a controlled environment, usually indoor legal cannabis buds present an excellent concentration of trichomes.

So, when analysing an indoor bud that has been perfectly cultivated, all you can see is the shining crystals and very few vegetable residue (leaves and sprigs). The outdoor buds, on the other hand, are generally bigger and less dense, so that is impossible for the trichomes to cover the entire top of the bud.

trichomes density on the flower of indoor light cannabis

Abundant shining trichomes on indoor legal cannabis bud – Strawberry CBD strain by Canapa Light Blue

Besides, the outdoor grown plants are exposed to atmospheric conditions (rain, wind, frost etc) that can damage the trichomes. Therefore the concentration of trichomes is scarcer on the outdoor grown buds compared to the indoor light cannabis ones.


One of the most important indicator that differentiate legal cannabis grown under the sun and the light cannabis grown indoor is the color.

Outdoor grown plants tend to be darker. Outdoor buds tend to be darker and can become brown when improperly treated, while indoor buds have a bright shiny green color.

difference of color between light indoor cannabis buds vs outdoor

Another sign is the color at the base of the flowers. Often outdoor buds have a light brown color that surrounds the stem below the bud too (sometimes it is mould). Usually, in outdoor plants the bracts too (the small leaves at the end of the stem) are light brown. Legal indoor cannabis buds instead have a bright green color most of the times.


There’s another popular myth about outdoor cannabis being less strong than indoor cannabis. In short, it’s not true! The leading californian experts of growing have debunked the myth. In the last few years tests have been conducted on two clones derived from the same parent plant, one was cultivated outdoor while the other has been grown indoor. This experiment was conducted on many cannabis strains and each time the test results were similar.

This means that, with an equal dedication, CBD, THC, CBG etc, depend more on the care given to the plants rather than on the indoor/outdoor environment. This shows that indoor growing is no guarantee of a premium product with a top quality content of CBD. The ability of the grower is fundamental.


A similar experiment has been conducted on terpenes. Terpenes are volatile compounds responsible for the typical aroma of each legal cannabis strain.

In this case, the results are very similar to those of the cannabinoids. Since it is exposed to the sun light, the plant grown outdoor will naturally have a higher percentage of terpenes. Being volatile compounds, terpenes easily evaporate when not properly protected and dried. Indoor growers pay particular attention to the final stages of drying and seasoning, since they produce less, and their product is subject to a higher control during the drying process.

Outdoor growers, compared to indoor growers, often overlook the drying process, because of the quantity produced. That is why outdoor legal cannabis contains way less terpenes and the consumer receives a final product that is deficient and unsatisfactory in both quality and quantity.

Tan and appereance of the flowers

Traditionally, outdoor growers spend less time in tanning the final product. That is mainly due to the amount of light cannabis buds they harvest.

Outdoor growers may have to tan 5, 10, even 20 Kg of legal cannabis for each strain they grow, while indoor growers usually process 1 to 5 Kg per strain. Perfectly tanning big amount of outdoor light cannabis takes weeks and it can even require a full time team working on it. Therefore the final result of the tanning process is often rushed and less accurate. Also because outdoor plants usually have more leaves and big, airy buds.

So it is usually possible to identify indoor and outdoor legal cannabis by observing the tanning process outcome.

Canapa light blue about us

Legal cannabis, indoor vs outdoor: what is the safest one?

When not properly handled, light cannabis products may carry dangerous fungal or bacterial pathogens. A study conducted in 2019 in Canada found this kind of pathogens on 90% of the tested samples.

Pathogens and health risks

The most common pathogens on cannabis are:

  • Escherichia Coli (bacterium)
  • Pseudomonas (bacterium)
  • Aspergillus (black mould)
  • Botrytis cinerea (grey mould)
  • Fusarium oxysporum (aka tomato fungus)

In some cases and in high concentration, these pathogens may cause serious damages. Especially in those people that have a weak immune system. That’s why indoor and outdoor legal cannabis growers work to eliminate pathogens and other harmful substances. And to do so, some companies, like us at Canapa Light Blue, choose to grow their crops in sterile white rooms.

indoor growing room canapa light blue

One of the growing white rooms with its air filtration system, used by Canapa Light Blue

Why growing legal cannabis indoor

Indoor cannabis growers can control the temperature, humidity, intensity of light and levels of CO2 of the room to get the absolute best growth and conditions. Operating a controlled “white room”, improves quality and quantity of the harvests. It drastically reduces the chances of parasites, fungus or bacteria to get to the plants. Indoor cannabis growers can prevent cross-pollination and gene mutation among plants, successfully maintaining the strains consistency, getting stronger plants than those grown outdoor.

Indoor growing areas for legal cannabis

Various combinations of humidity, temperature and light can help accelerate the growth of both legal cannabis and parasites. For example when the humidity rises above 80%, there’s a risk of infections derived from fungus, bacteria or virus. When the humidity gets below 70%, the light cannabis plants might suffer a photosynthetic loss.

But even in case of an ideal humidity, cannabis products that were cultivated outdoor probably won’t be able to pass the microbiological screening, since they lack the controlled environment and thorough harvest and drying process.

Indoor legal cannabis without pesticides

While outdoor growers can’t do much other than treating their plants with pesticides and phytochemicals, indoor growers can benefit from technology to get the desired results.

An indoor growing room can measure and control the quality of the air it contains, through controlled air pressure and special filters. This technology is already used by the aerospace and pharma industries. They can guarantee the regulatory compliance and therefore the quality of the product. Usually the rooms are built to protect the plants and the workers from chemical substances or harmful conditions, but also to keep the product sterile and uncontaminated.


We can finally say that legal cannabis buds grown indoor are generally top quality and safer compared to the buds grown outdoor. Choosing light cannabis grown indoor not only means getting the best product available on the market. But first and foremost getting a safe product that won’t damage our health or the environment with harmful pesticides or chemical and synthetic substances.

For this reason, all our products come from indoor grown plants of legal cannabis, cultivated in controlled environments, with organic fertilizers, with no synthetic substances.

Visit our shop to check out our great selection of indoor light cannabis strains. We assure the best deal for the best quality!


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