Love it or hate it, marijuana’s scent is distinct and becoming commonplace now that a majority of the states in America have legalized the substance. But what is it that gives marijuana that unique smell?
Scientists have long assumed that the odor comes from a terpene, a naturally occurring chemical compound found in numerous types of plants. Although each cannabis strain’s unique scent profile does come from a terpene, its generalized skunky odor doesn’t. Terpenes in cannabis also determine the drug’s medicinal properties and psychoactivity.
According to New Scientist, “Two independent research groups recently discovered a different type of chemical playing the starring role in marijuana’s distinctly skunky scent – volatile sulphur compounds known as thiols that contain a molecule called 3-methylbut-2-en-1-yl (321MBT).”
It turns out that the same 321MBT molecule is responsible for the skunky smell that occurs in beer bottles after it has been exposed to sunlight for too long.
It is believed there are likely more cannabis scent-related molecules out there that scientists have not yet identified.