You wouldn’t walk into a wine shop and grab any bottle of wine thinking they were all the same. You want a wine with the flavor notes you prefer, the results you need, and the exact amount of sweetness you want. Just like that, you don’t want to walk into a cannabis store and grab the first flower you see. All of those buds may appear to be similar, but their effects can be very different depending on each strain. What exactly is a cannabis strain, and why is it significant? Here is a quick guide to get you off to a good start.
What is a cannabis strain?
A strain is a genetic variation of the cannabis plant that gives the buds their aromas, effects, and appearance. Consider tomato plants as a comparison; you can have plants that produce red, yellow, orange, and even purple tomatoes. Some tomatoes will be tiny like cherries, some will be giant, and some will be pear-shaped. Tomato plants may all be tomato plants, but the fruits they bear are quite different, and even the plants themselves can have their own unique characteristics. These variances are because of differences in the plant’s genetics, or the plant’s strain. Cannabis plants come in many strains, each with its own unique cannabinoid production, appearance, and effects.
Just like other plants, cannabis has been cross-pollinated, genetically evolved, and even precisely bred by botanists for specific reasons. Each end result gets a new strain name like Sour Diesel, Blueberry Kush, or God’s Gift because its genetics are different and its cannabinoid and terpene profile can be unique.
A Closer Look at Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid Strains of Marijuana
In the world of cannabis, you basically find three strain types: Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid strains. However, You do have to keep in mind that most strains have a diverse genetic background, and it can be really difficult to find a full Sativa or Indica strain. Instead, you will find that most strains are either Indica or Sativa dominant, which means the strain has more characteristics of one type or the other.
A Hybrid strain, which is obviously most prevalent, contains more balanced characteristics of both Indica or Sativa strains. Most Hybrids are created by crossing Indica-dominant and Sativa-dominant strains.
For many years, people used Indica and Sativa as a way to describe the specific effects of the strain. And, to some extent, those generalizations can be true. Therefore, we have provided some primarily experienced effects with each strain type below. Nevertheless, these experiences are not set in stone. Scientifically speaking, Sativa and Indica are used in reference to the physical traits of the plant.
Some people may use an Indica-dominant strain and be totally glued to the bed, but someone else may claim the exact same strain gave them a bit of energy. Part of this is simply due to how each individual processes cannabinoids in the plant. Further, part of the experience can be based on the specific genetics of the strain. What one grower deems Strawberry Cough, for example, may have slightly variant genetics than another grower’s strain by the same name. While efforts are taken to maintain continuity in the industry, you can always find slight variations.
Take a look at a few Indica and Sativa-dominant strains, a few hybrids, and what some people experience with each.
Primary Effects: Calming, Relaxing, Soothing
Primary Effects: Energizing, Uplifting, Creative
- Red Dragon
- Grape Diamonds
- Grease Monkey
- Original Glue
- Wedding Cake
Primary Effects: Balancing, Calm but Focused, or Relaxed and Alert
Choosing the Right Strains for You: Tips to Remember
Now that you have a bit of understanding of what a cannabis strain is and why it can be important to pick the right strain, how should you go about picking the best one for you? It comes down to personal preference. A few tips to remember when shopping for cannabis:
- Each strain can have characteristic flavor profiles and aromas due to terpenes
- Some strains can offer more uplifting effects, some will be more relaxing, and some offer a healthy balance
- Not every strain with the same name will deliver precisely the same effects with each use
- Do some research on each strain; Leafly gives a nice guide of many strains, and a bud-tender can always help
- Look at cannabinoid content in the strain you are considering—it does matter
Common Curiosities About Strains
What is the best cannabis strain?
“Best” can always be a matter of opinion with weed strains. Some people prefer a good couch-locked feeling while others prefer energy and focus. Each strain can yield its own unique effects, so finding the best can truly be a personal journey that has more to do with you and what you want to experience than the strain itself. If you are smoking purely for recreation, for pain relief, or something else, it is a good idea to get to know some noteworthy strains that offer aligning effects. Here are a few examples:
- Strains for Pain: Lilac Diesel, Harlequin, Jack Herer, and Agent Orange
- Strains for Sleep: Mandarin Zkittlez, Sugar Plum Sunset, 9 Pound Hammer, and Apex | Learn more
- Strains for Energy: Northern Lights, Green Crack, Red, Dragon, and Mandarin Cookies
What is the strongest strain of weed?
Cannabis strains can be dubbed as “strong” by users because they serve up some pretty impressive effects. Generally, people will refer to a strain as strong if it has a high THC content. However, the strength of the effects of a strain is not solely based on THC content. For example, if you find a strain like Cannatonic or Sour Widow, these strains can have high THC but also high CBD, which balances out the intoxicating effects of the THC. In general, Indica-dominant or hybrid plants tend to have higher amounts of CBD. Nevertheless, if you are looking for cannabis with the highest THC content, a few strains would be:
- Fire OG
- Bubba Kush
- Lemon Banana Sherbet
- Gorilla Glue
- Scout Breath
How many strains of weed are there?
Some experts have claimed that about 700 unique strains of cannabis exist, but that number is an ever-growing one. New strains are born every year as botanists experiment with crossing different strains and playing around with genetics in efforts to create even more noteworthy plant qualities.
What is a CBD strain?
In the most general terms, a CBD strain is a cannabis strain that contains higher concentrations of CBD (cannabidiol) than THC. However, the term can be a bit ambiguous, as many hemp producers also use the phrase CBD strain in reference to certain strains of hemp. While hemp is part of the cannabis family, they also contain only minuscule amounts of THC.
A CBD strain, legally speaking
In terms of legality, plants are referred to as “hemp” if they contain less than 0.3 percent THC. Hemp in itself is a cultivar of cannabis; it is just that the cannabinoid profiles are a lot different. So, if you are seeing “CBD flower” from a company that sells hemp, what you are getting is flower that is likely extremely low in THC and perfectly legal to buy and use pretty much nationwide.
Keep in mind that a lot of cannabis dispensaries refer to certain weed strains as “CBD strains” because they have higher concentrations of cannabidiol than usual. Most commercial cannabis available today has low concentrations of CBD, so the label is used to differentiate these strains from the rest of the cannabis in the shop. These strains, however, are also going to contain higher levels of THC in most cases. So be sure to ask about the full THC to CBD ratio to get a better understanding of what you’re looking at.
Products made using CBD strains
Hemp-derived CBD strains are in high demand because of their legal status. The plants and the products made from these plants are considered legal federally as long as they meet that less-than-0.3-percent threshold with THC. The high concentration of cannabidiol makes these plants ideal for extraction. The many forms of CBD oils, tinctures, edibles, and topicals are produced by extracting the valuable CBD from the plants. According to some sources, just one hemp plant yields about a pound of crude CBD oil.
Find Your Strain by Experimenting with Good Product
Eventually, all cannabis connoisseurs come across strains they prefer over others. Many even find that they prefer certain strains for some days and other strains for special occasions. In order to make your way to your preferences in the world of weed, be sure you always source products from a top-notch dispensary. You want reliable bud, grown by true professionals, so you know what you are getting with every purchase. Take a look at our menu at Silver Therapeutics and reach out to us if you need a bit of guidance to find your favorite cannabis strain.