The Introductory Guide to Cannabis Strains


Cannabis is much more complex than just a weed. There’s plenty of misunderstanding when it comes to cannabis strains, but it’s not difficult. Grasp these fundamentals and you’ll feel the effects — literally!

Mar 29, 2015

Cannabis is much more complex than just a weed. There’s plenty of misunderstanding when it comes to cannabis strains, but it’s not difficult. And, the more you understand the more enjoyable your smoke will be.

What’s The Difference Between Strains?

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Generally speaking indica marijuana types have a sleepy, pain relieving, sedative, and time-slowing effect.

These cannabis plants are often short, squat and bushy. Their marijuana buds are fatter and produce large amounts of THC resin.

More indica marijuana is available now because indica marijuana plants are presumed to be easier to grow, have a heftier yield, and finish much faster than sativa cannabis strains.

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The sativa cannabis plant is responsible for an uplifting, soaring, spacey, giggly, appetite-inducing marijuana high. Sativa is also a great ganja for relieving clinical depression.

The sativa marijuana plant is often vine-like and grows very tall, lanky and nearly twice the size of a typical indica cannabis plant. Another perceived problem is sativa produces light fluffy marijuana buds and these strains take many additional weeks to finish flowering than indica. Sometimes almost twice as long!

Back in the hippie era, tasty sativa weed was plentiful in America and the majority of America’s weed supply came from tropical South American countries where sativas grew in plenty and law enforcement was lax.

These strains had names like Columbia Gold, Panama Red, and Acapulco Gold. The war in Vietnam also created many opportunities to smuggle in another sativa strain, Thai Stick.

Recent efforts to cater to select cannabis enthusiasts’ desires for a tasty toke and balanced high has created numerous hybrids that offer both the uplifting, spacey cerebral stimulation, while also delivering strong physical effects.

What Is a Marijuana Strain?

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Cannabis plants have distinct characteristics that can be expressed based on a number of factors. These unique characteristics create a marijuana strain.

Natural techniques have allowed cannabis breeders to create different types of marijuana based on a variety of desires (e.g. short, tall, fast, slow) and then final consumable results (e.g. sleepy, speedy).

An easy Seed Finder search turns up eight different types of OG Kush being offered by cannabis seed breeders. At the very least a dispensary could offer eight different types of OG Kush that were grown from seeds from reputable seed breeders. Crazy, right? It wasn’t always this way.

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Cannabis breeding has grown dramatically in the last few years because marketing has created some strains that are said to be worth millions. Charlotte’s Web has garnered plenty of praise for its ability to reduce seizures without making patients feel the typical, cerebral high.

Cannabis consumers need to educate themselves about marijuana strains. There are numerous marijuana review sites and people documenting their tokes on Tumblr and YouTube.

What Strain Is Right For Me?

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Well that depends on what you like. Do you want to stay on the couch or get up and go? Maybe you want both. There’s nothing wrong with variety – after all it’s the spice of life.

Some love soaring, uplifting sativa strains because they relieve mental ailments, like depression. These people relish in the the ‘get-up and go’ while other people become anxious and/or stressed by sativas; the soaring effect is too much for them.

Many also use cannabis for pain management and require strong sedative cannabis strains. Often these strains are pure indicas and will have many people glued to their couch for hours.

Sedate cannabis strains are not the best choices for socializing because everyone is either snoozing or slack-jawed. On the other hand, an uplifting, talkative strain would be great for social occasions, but not before bed.

Finding what strain is right for you truly depends on the person’s individual taste. Unless that person is a medical marijuana patient; a person using cannabis for medical reasons will need to speak with a professional on figuring out what strain is right for them.

What Are The Benefits of Sativa?

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Uplifting, happy, trippy, dancing, get up ‘n’ go, and positive thinking are some of the words associated with sativa. From a wee disheartened to full on depressed, sativas’ positive effects are going to make the moodiest person a bit uplifted.

It’s the get-stuff-done of cannabis and destroys the marijuana myth that people who smoke weed are lazy. After a sativa bong rip you may not be able to sit still.

Some sativas are like drinking a Redbull or a cup of coffee – they come on strong and send you straight into space. The soaring effect can freak some people out and cause stress and heart racing, especially folks who are not used to sativas.

What Are The Benefits of Indica?

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Having access to different strains is really helpful when it comes to medicating and enjoying cannabis like wine or craft beer. An enthusiast might want to enjoy a sativa for their morning session because it’s going to get their day going. After a bong rip of a sativa they’re prepared for whatever the day has in store for them.

Then that same enthusiast comes home after their hard day of doing whatever it is they do and they want to sink into their couch, relieve some stress, and maybe take a nap. Toking the same strain with its uplifting, soaring effects isn’t going to be beneficial for that situation. In this case, they’ll want to grab an indica.

Having a variety of different strains available to toke from allows an enthusiasts to inhale for the situation. Do they want to unwind, run around all day, are they seeking a specific taste — there are plenty of reasons to have a variety of pot on hand.

Aside from the effects, flavor plays an important role as a reason for keeping a variety of strains in your stash.

What Are The Different Tastes?

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Astute cannabis enthusiasts often talk about marijuana flavor and how different marijuana strains possess unique flavors and aromas. Some marijuana strains have a dull funky flavor, while others are yummy and candied. NYC Diesel is known for its unique metallic tinge, while Skunk’s reputation for dank is well-established. Marijuana flavor is as important as both the grow yield and strain effects.

Cannabis Cups, Tokers Bowls and other cannabis judging competitions are based not only on the marijuana’s high but also flavor. When choosing seeds for your own grow, consider both the effects and flavor. Do your research (either online — or if you’re fortunate enough — taste-test) to find the breed you want to grow.

Many ganja growers seek marijuana seeds that they’ll want to toke all the time, since they’ll be producing a lot of bud of this one strain. They purchase and swap marijuana seeds until the cannabis strain that strikes their fancy is found.

Why Do Different Strains Have Unique Tastes?

The different tastes of certain strains of cannabis are a product of controlled breeding programs. Marijuana breeders will select their best-tasting marijuana plant and breed it with their heaviest yielding strain, hoping to create an offspring that will taste great and produce a lot of bud. These marijuana breeding programs have created cannabis plants that taste dramatically different from one another.

Sativa marijuana seeds are often considered more tasty than their indica counterparts. This is because indica cannabis seeds were originally produced mostly for the effects and high yield, not flavor.

What Are The Different Cannabinoid Profiles?

Tetrahydrocannibinol (THC)

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The most common cannabinoid people can identify is Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. There’s plenty more to pot than THC, but because it got all the hype for its influence over the cerebral stimulation — the most well-known aspect of the marijuana high — it’s the cannabinoid everyone knows.

THC is the most commonly tested profile in pot because people associate this percentage with potency. Cannabis lab tested at 18% THC is, in theory, less potent than cannabis tested at 25% THC.

Because of prohibition, research has been limited and forced to solely focus on THC for its effects that pay-off big in the media and with business. It’s the most bang for their buck: there is funding if results can report cannabis potency levels, which THC has come to indicate.

However, there is much more to marijuana than THC!

Cannabidiol (CBD)

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CBD is starting to get a lot of attention because it’s the opposite of THC and doesn’t get you high. Until recently researchers overlooked all cannabinoids but THC, but then CBD began making a name for itself.

People who want to experience the medical effects of marijuana, but not the side effects of getting stoned, prefer strains high in CBD.

Fascinatingly, CBD will make you less high because it inhibits THC from hitting your brain. Smoke a regular THC joint and then smoke a CBD joint immediately and it’ll stop you from getting stoned.

Parents like CBD marijuana for their children with medicinal need since they won’t experience the trippy effects of pot.

Again, there’s more to cannabis than just CBD.


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Not limited to just marijuana, terpenes are found in plants. When you smell marijuana, grass or flowers, the aroma you smell is actually the plant’s terpenes. They do play a role in how we interact with marijuana, but very little research has been done to date.

However, we do know the cannabis plant has a remarkable 100+ terpenes. These range from petrol, citrus, berry, skunk, cheese– the list goes on.

Aromatherapy plays a tremendous role in people’s lives and this gives us insight into how terpenes in cannabis are interacting with our bodies. Strong smelling cannabis may have a much stronger effect on you than odorless weed. These aromas are helping the cannabinoids interact with your system – like the smell is priming your body for pot. Certain flavors/smells have even been linked to certain cannabinoids yielding specific effects; for example, cherry-flavored strains have been linked to high CBD content and strong sedation.

Cannabis is much more complex than people often give it credit for. Prohibition has hampered many intriguing areas of study that would help us understand this powerful, curative plant. This is only the tip of the iceberg!

Mar 29, 2015