Why Do Certain Weed Strains Smell Like Cheese?

Why Do Certain Weed Strains Smell Like Cheese?

Published on 1/15/22

The human brain is not as capable of creativity as we might think. Since its primary purpose is to be able to find food in the wild, it creates a lot of shortcuts to get there. The reason that so many things "taste like chicken" is because our brains have long since identified chicken as good food to eat, so anything similar should be on the menu. The same is true of smells: smell is the sense most connected to a memory (think about the smell of grilling hamburgers or a pine forest), and some smells are close enough that our brain crosses the wire and calls it a good day. The smells of some cannabis strains, for example, are curiously close to the smells of cheese. Why does my weed smell like cheese? The simple answer is that it's not as far from cheese as you may think.

Main Character


When you smoke marijuana, the chemicals that interact with your brain are called cannabinoids, including THC and CBD. This particular substance not only gets you baked, but it builds brain bridges through your mind's neural pathways. These crossed pathways mean that we may associate one thing with the other in unusual ways. If the association is smell, then sometimes a very similar scent can trigger a reaction, such as recognizing that something smells off. This is particularly common with some weed smell reactions due to a simple chemical called terpenes.

Terpene Time

There are many types of terpenes, with many individual effects on the body. The caryophyllene terpene makes us sedate, calm and fights feelings of anxiety. Marijuana isn't the only flower that makes terpenes, and the calming effect of the lavender plant is in part due to its terpene production. 200 terpenes exist that cling to cannabis buds and help us feel its magic.

Cannabis terpenes can influence body functions from the physical to the psychological. Many terpenes affect our sense of smell, making us think of a type of food, flower or experience. Some weed strains possess particular acids, such as the octanoic acid, that will negatively affect predators (like insects) but aren't capable of damaging humans who are giant in comparison. These acids exist in other materials, including dairy products, which is why the smell link of terpenes cheese and other flavors exist. Weed smells like cheese, not because both are produced by cows, but because both have a similar molecular buildup that hits our senses. These terpenes are valuable for more than smell, as some have therapeutic properties while others enhance the feeling of a good high.

Chemistry and Cannabis


Just as there's not one kind of cannabis or one kind of terpene, there's also not one kind of cheese. Though you may associate the word with one type of cheese, from brie to Kraft singles, different cheeses have flavors that are quite diverse. As such, some strains may smell or taste like different kinds of cheese; imagine a Sour Deisel as being close to a more sour cheese such as parmesan. Sweeter flavors, such as the fruit flavors of Berry White, may seem to be a terpenes cheese cannabis link with sweeter cheeses for desserts. 

Things that also smell like cheese, including but not limited to wax and gym socks, will also have the same chemical compositions as some terpenes. But why is it that some smells related to cheese, which we can eat, are related to things that we clearly can't eat? The answer is that because cheese isn't a prey animal or an edible plant, it's still hard for our brains to process it. We smell the fat within cheese, but also the acids and bacteria produced by the cheese maturing process. This is confusing, especially at first, but we quickly move on once we find that it is tasty and full of good calories.

Cannabis may not always smell the best, but the cheese smell is a harmless byproduct. It may even make the flavor of cannabis seem better if it has a recognizable taste. You may find more hidden behind each puff when the taste surprises you with a new flavor based on a similar food you've smelled and tasted before.

Do you have any experience with funny-smelling cannabis? How has your sense of smell or taste affected your preference of strains? Let us know in the comments below!

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