1. Varieties, Varieties, Varieties!
A common question many people ask is, “Which type of cannabis strains should I buy?” The current marijuana market is filled with a bewildering array of choices, which often leaves the consumer feeling lost, confused, and at the very least, frustrated. Indeed, the sheer number of marijuana strains and the types of marijuana can be intimidating!
2. The Major Types of Marijuana
- There are two, major marijuana strains: C. sativa and C.indica
- There is a third strain, C.ruderalis. However, ruderalis contains only trace amounts of THC (the primary active ingredient in marijuana) and generally holds an unpleasant taste. As a result, ruderalis is largely utilized for industrial purposes.
3. The “Big Boys” of Cannabis Strains
Let’s compare indica and sativa:
- High in CBD/CBN, low in THC
- Wide leaves; a short, dense-looking plant
- Produces a relaxing, body-calming sensation
- High in THC, low in CBD/CBN
- Thin, narrow leaves
- Produces an uplifting, cerebral sensation
4. What’s in a Name?
When it comes to cannabis strains, there remains an ongoing debate (even among scientists) about the exact qualities of sativa and indica.
- Interpretations can be highly subjective. Names for new marijuana strains are frequently chosen to reflect taste, color, and smell.
- The scientific community largely categorizes cannabis strains by THC and CBD levels.
- Even Uncle Sam has weighed-in on the issue of categorizing types of marijuana.
5. It’s a Matter of Personal Preference
Consider a number of personal preferences regarding marijuana strains:
- The “percent of base.” In other words, what is the percent (or ratio) of a cannabis strains’ genetic make-up? (For example: Is the marijuana strain 100% indica? 60% indica/40% sativa?).
- Taste. Is it “Skunky?” Spicy? Woody?
6. What to Look For
Despite the huge variety of marijuana strains, the consumer can follow certain general guidelines when making a purchase. Here is what to look for:
- Avoid stems and seeds
- The more crystals in the marijuana, the higher the quality
- Cannabis should not be overly dry or brittle
- Strength of odor: The more “ammonia-” or “mold-like” the smell (“dank”), the better!
- Color: Generally, hints of orange, red, and purple are good, but green (dark or light) is paramount. Depending upon the strain, avoid brown cannabis.
- Beware of excessive leaves
- A general rule: The more tiny hairs on the edges of the cannabis, the better.
- When breaking-up marijuana, the tackier or stickier the feeling, the higher the quality.
- One final comment: None of the above guidelines is foolproof. Sometimes you will only know the quality of your marijuana by actually smoking it!
7. Popular Types of Marijuana
Some of the more popular marijuana strains include the following:
- White Widow
- Big Bud
- Northern Lights
- Big Bud
- Purple Haze
- Remember: Like wines, all cannabis strains possess their own unique character!
Medicinal Types of Marijuana
A major consideration when selecting cannabis strains is any possible medicinal consequence.
*Remember: Recreational use does not necessarily translate into medicinal effect.
*A short note on chemical make-up:
- a) Marijuana contains 84 known cannabinoids, but virtually all cannabis strains contain two, main types: THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol).
- b) THC makes up most of the active ingredient in marijuana.
- c) A potent cannabis strain, for example, might contain 15-19% THC, but less than 1%
- d) While the CBD is not psychoactive in itself, it does facilitate the medicinal benefits of
*One concern regarding medicinal cannabis is allowing the consumer to benefit from the cannabis without incurring a strong psychoactive effect. There exist some varieties of cannabis strains with high levels of CBD.
Medical Uses of Sativa and Indica
Let us take a closer look at the medicinal uses of the two, major cannabis strains:
- Reduces anxiety and depression
- Relieves muscle tension
- May treat migraines
- Can help alleviate depression
- Has been known to reduce chronic pain.
- Known to relieve nausea that may result from chemotherapy and HIV/AIDS medications.
- Can be stimulating and uplifting, increasing focus, wakefulness, and creativity.
- Because sativa can produce a sense of energy and euphoria, it is best used during the day.
- Reduces pain and seizures
- Can promote a heavier, deeper sleep
- Produces a weightier ‘sedating’ effect
- Reduces muscle spasms
- May alleviate the tremors associated with Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis
- Helps ease the effects of arthritis and rheumatic stiffness
- Alleviates insomnia
One special note: Selecting marijuana strains for medicinal use ought to be considered carefully and in consultation with a medical professional.
8. Buyer Beware
Finally, a few words of caution:
*Cannabis strains are often labeled or marketed based on highly-subjective effects.
*Frequently, sellers will select names simply for the goal of market differentiation rather than for any innate, qualitative attribute of the marijuana strain.
*Disreputable sellers may falsely claim their product to be of a certain strain to enhance sales or company reputation.
A Final Note
As a cannabis consumer, you will often learn from experience and by conducting your own research. Through the process of trial and error, combined with a genuine sense of curiosity, you can gradually master the art — and science — of finding the best marijuana strains.