Illegal Australian weed tends to be produced domestically using two main growing methods known as hydro or bush weed . You’ve probably heard both of these terms before, but what exactly is the difference between the two? We’ve put together a list of the five main differences.
1. Hydro is grown indoors, bush is grown outdoors
Hydro is cannabis which is grown indoors using a hydroponic system that involves round the clock electric lighting, as well as pumping water and nutrient-rich solutions into the cannabis plant. While it is typically without soil this is not always the case.
Bush weed is cannabis grown outdoors.
Despite differences in growing technique, both hydro and bush weed cost the same at around $20 per gram. Both typically use the same seed stock, with a range of pesticides, and fertilisers used to promote cannabis plant growth and prevent insect damage. Therefore, any weed sold on the street claiming to be organic bush should be met with a healthy level of scepticism.
2. Hydro is more commonly used than bush weed
In Australia, hydro is the most widely used form of cannabis. This could be for a number of reasons, for example hydroponic systems could be considered easier to hide from police as they are indoors. For more information, see our research paper: tackling cannabis markets in residential settings.
Hydro cannabis is shielded from extreme weather events throughout the seasons, and plants can be grown the whole year round, with 24-hour exposure to light. This results in a much higher yield, which could explain why there is so much more of it about.,
3. Users say hydro and bush have completely different textures
According to a study conducted by NCPIC and the Australian Institute of Criminology, people interviewed generally believe indoor hydroponic marijuana is stickier, denser, more compact and contains more crystals , than cannabis which is grown outdoors. Crystals are the resinous trichomes usually found on the flowering head and surrounding leaves of the cannabis plant, which contain high levels of cannabinoids.
In contrast, bush weed is believed to be drier and fluffier in texture than hydro. As set out below, this is not supported by potency studies of cannabis of known provenance.
4. Most people believe hydro has a more powerful smell than bush
The same NCPIC study also found 74 per cent of those interviewed believe hydro has a more distinct odour than bush. People often describe the smell as stronger, more pungent with sometimes more of a chemical smell, but this is all subjective and likely to be influenced by marketing and expectations.
5. People believe hydro gives a much stronger high than bush weed
While reports from cannabis users responding to surveys find most believe hydro is more potent that bush weed, this is not supported by scientific analysis. While it is a pretty common perception, it s at odds with a study conducted in 2013 which compared the strength of cannabis grown indoors and outdoors. The study actually couldn t find any significant difference in THC levels of 26 difference samples from crops seized by NSW police across the state.
For more information about cannabis and potency, check out our factsheet.
Cannabis is produced, distributed and consumed in many different ways around the world. As is often the case, there is a lot of room for more research around the differences between hydro and bush weed in Australia and overseas.
Both hydro and bush weed can have a negative impact on your health. Use from a young age particularly, has been linked with mental health issues, and smoking anything is bad for your lungs. So remember, just because someone says their weed is grown outdoors or under strictly controlled conditions, doesn’t necessarily mean it is better for you