Hand-Trimmed vs. Machine Trimmed Cannabis: What's Better

Hand-Trimmed vs. Machine Trimmed Cannabis: What's Better

Published on 5/19/21

As cannabis is legalized in more states and its popularity continues to grow in the US, people are beginning to realize on a larger scale that they can and should be picky with the cannabis they're consuming. The days of bud thick with seeds and stems are behind us, but that doesn't mean there are different standards within the cannabis industry for how your weed is trimmed. Many cultivators use hand-trimming techniques, but there are plenty of larger operations that have started to use the marijuana trimming machine for faster, more efficient production. We're here to answer a very important question: is hand-trimmed or machine-trimmed marijuana better?

What is Hand-Trimming?


Once marijuana has been grown, harvested and dried (although many people prefer to trim before the bud is dried), it can then be trimmed, the process of cutting off all unnecessary leaves and stems. Hand trimmed cannabis is, as the method suggests, trimmed by hand. The process of hand trimming cannabis flower requires pruning shears (ideally with a narrow cutting blade for getting into the smaller parts of the bud) that are used to cut away long leaves and stems down into an aesthetically pleasing shape. 

Hand trimming marijuana has been the standard since proper cultivation was introduced. While people have used marijuana for thousands of years, it wasn't until the 1970s that higher-end cannabis production began in the United States. Before then, most marijuana was imported from Mexico and was very low-quality by today's standards (very seed and stem heavy). 

The Pros & Cons of Using a Cannabis Hand Trimmer

While hand trimming cannabis is considered the better method by most, there are a few cons worth mentioning. Here's a list of reasons why hand-trimmed cannabis may or may not be the way to go:


  • Precision & Aesthetic Control
  • Allows for maximum bud size and value
  • Immediate Individual Quality Inspection
  • Inexpensive Start-Up Costs (all you need is a pair of sheers and some gloves)


  • Time Consuming Process with Low Yield Rates
  • Requires High Concentration and Skill
  • Both the Process and Cleanup are Messy

What is Machine Trimming?


Machine trimmed marijuana, on the other hand, is bud that has been trimmed using a cannabis trimming machine. Machine trimmers take the handwork out of trimming and exponentially speed up production. There are several different types of machine trimmers, ranging from the handheld automatic weed trimmer that speeds up the process for individual use to a large industrial-sized bowl and tabletop trimmers that can do the work of dozens of human workers.

The Pros & Cons of Using a Bud Trimming Machine

Like hand trimming, using a cannabis leaf trimmer has pros and cons. However, these pros and cons are almost completely flipped from hand trimming:


  • Higher Yield Rate
  • Minimized Human Oversight (Less Time Spent Trimming & Increased Efficiency)
  • Easier to Trim Both Wet and Dry Bud
  • Easy to Clean Up


  • High Initial Overhead Costs
  • Less Quality Control
  • Valuable Marijuana Frequently Lost to Over Trimming

Hand-Trimmed Cannabis Compared to Machine-Trimmed Cannabis


Comparing the two trimming methods comes down to one concept: quality of quantity. Hand trimmed cannabis is incredibly time-consuming and can be difficult for a larger operation to justify when only 1 or 2 pounds can be trimmed per person per day. On the other hand, hand trimming allows for precision and quality guarantee. When you hand trim, you can double-check the product, ensure it is shaped exactly how you want and guarantee no valuable weed is lost in the trimming process. Machine trimming is a completely different beast. The cannabis machine trimming cost can be tens of thousands of for an industrial-sized machine (which can be hard for smaller operations), but it pays for itself over time considering that some larger machines can trim dozens of pounds per hour. However, it's very difficult to guarantee quality when that much weed is being processed without direct human supervision.

The Verdict

If you're economically minded and prefer quantity over quality, then a bud trimmer machine is the way to go. However, if you're looking quality over quantity and if you're wanting the best smoking experience possible, we have to report that hand-trimmed marijuana is the best option. Not only does hand-trimmed marijuana have the benefit of individualized attention and precision that mass production can't replicate, but it also means that there's a good chance other aspects of the cultivation processes have also been fine-tuned and individualized. Hand trimming also provides more jobs for people within the cannabis industry, as opposed to a trim machine that can sometimes take away dozens of jobs from potential employees. When it comes to quality and better cannabis industry, craft cannabis will beat industrial operations almost every time.

We've given our opinion, but what do you think? Comment below and let us know if you're a grower or a user and how you prefer your cannabis trimmed.

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