How to find the right strain for you

With hundreds of new cannabis strains being created every year, it can be challenging to figure out which one best fits your needs.

Jan 16, 2018
Cannatonic Weed; Cannatonic Cannabis Strain; Cannatonic Sativa Marijuana Strain

Which strain of cannabis is right for you?

With hundreds of new cannabis strains being created every year, there’s an explosion of creativity in the weed world. While that’s a good thing—we love options!—it can also be confusing or even intimidating for the cannabis user who wants to find the strain that best matches their needs.

So how do you find your way through this sticky green forest? Sharpen your mental machete, and let’s start chopping.

First of all, decide if you want an Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid.

The first step to choosing a cannabis strain is differentiating between indicas, sativas, and hybrids.

In general terms, indicas are known for producing body highs, “couch lock” or calming and relaxing effects. They tend to be high in myrcene, a terpene which seems to potentiate the sleepy effect. Sativa strains, on the other hand, produce more cerebral head-centered highs and are associated with creativity, physical activity, and mental stimulation.

Hybrids, conveniently and logically enough, combine in various ratios the attributes of indica and sativa strains. They are created to retain certain desired characteristics from both indicas and sativas. Many cannabis aficionados find a well-balanced hybrid hits the spot.

It’s helpful to think of cannabis strains as existing on a spectrum. The pure indicas are on one end, the 50-50 hybrids are in the middle, and the sativas are at the other end.

If you’re not sure where to begin, just start sampling.

Are you looking for medicinal or recreational effects?

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DENVER, CO – JANUARY 1: Loki (no last name given) tells Jess Vanderpool that he is looking for a really stinky strain of marijuana at Denver Kush Club in Denver, Colorado on January 1, 2014. The first legal sales of marijuana in the world took place in Colorado on Wednesday morning. (Photo by Seth McConnell/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

The second thing to decide is if your primary reason for using cannabis is medicine or fun. If your sole intention is to get high that may well lead you to a different strain than you’d choose to control pain or anxiety, for instance.

If you use marijuana recreationally and just want to get high, you can take a couple of different paths toward finding your ideal strain. One way, at least in legal states, is to shop by THC potency. Most green states require lab tests for potency on legal weed. These lab numbers are helpful in finding weed that is strong, but they aren’t the be-all and end-all of cannabis quality. There are other factors, such as terpenes, that can affect the high. And oftentimes, budtenders won’t talk about terpenes as much as they should. (More information on how to figure them out for yourself below.)

A second method for figuring out the best strain for you is to compare notes with your fellow smokers. Find out which strains get your friends the highest; this can give you ideas of which strains to try next. Also, it may sound obvious, but if you’re not in a legal state, inquire with the person you’re buying from about the weed. Do they know the strain? Did they get it from a legal state? Sometimes the best way to go, if possible, is to get your bud right from the source or to even grow your own once you find that perfect strain.

Patients who want medicinal relief and who aren’t really looking to get stoned often prefer strains high in cannabidiol (CBD). CBD, unlike THC, isn’t psychoactive, but is said to be useful in controlling inflammation, anxiety, and seizures, among other medical conditions. Many medical users, however, require high THC strains as well. Some medical conditions only respond to high doses of THC.

If you’re not in a legal state, you can still read up on which strains are likely to address your symptoms most effectively. You can even test your weed at home to figure out its breakdown of THC, CBD and other cannabinoids. The true test of each strain, of course, occurs only when you try it. There are lots of variations between patients, which means that the same strain which works for someone else with your condition might not work as well for you.

The Importance of Terpenes

TrichnomesCannabis Can you eat raw weed?
Photo by TorriPhoto/Getty Images

If your sole criterion is the lab test available at a dispensary, you might just be deciding based on what the budtender says and THC potency. That’s when the importance of taste and smell come into play. The terpenes and flavonoids in cannabis are an important part of the experience and, according to emerging science, can potentiate the effects.

While the strict rules at legal pot shops often mean you can’t smell the product before buying, the trial-and-error process of trying strains, one (or a few) per visit to the pot shop, can be fun. When you discover a strain that both hits the spot mentally AND tastes just right, you just may have found the perfect strain for you.

Jan 16, 2018