Cannabis sativa has been with us since before people started writing. There is evidence of its use for food, fiber, and pharmaceutical benefits for eons. So, I am not sure I can name the most popular strains of, say, the years before Alexander the Great or the generations when it moved to Europe or the Renaissance or later. Shamans and wizards used it. Military combatants savored it. Musicians exploited it. And, students think they invented it.
Sativa strains have been treasured, cultivated, and promoted for their THC benefits, a psychoactive high empowering activity, creativity, and sociability. But recent years have seen selective breeding of high potency Sativas. The favorites Sativas can be regional because of cultivation and/or legalization, and many users have no access to some of the most memorable.
Dominant Sativas lack many of the healing properties attributed to the CBD percentage in cannabis Indica. Still, Sativa users claim relief from anorexia, anxiety, and depression.
Here’s a shot at the 10 most popular sativa strains (in alphabetical order):
1. Amnesia Haze: Any strain with “amnesia” in its name is a warning. The 22% to 24% THC comes from a mix of Cambodian, Hawaiian, Jamaican, and Thai Sativas with Haze and Afghani landrace.
An award-winning strain since its 2012 introduction, the Sativa-dominant Amnesia Haze attracts those suffering from anxiety, depression, and stress. It offers a tropical experience with a big lift and brain fog. Effects vary enough the novices may want to ease their way up to this hit.
2. Durban Poison: This landrace strain delivers a strong punch with uplifting euphoric energy. With a THC: CBD ratio of 24%: 1%, Durban Poison is an African Sativa that hits home hard. It’s not for first-time smokers because it can edge to paranoia.
Sweet, spicy, and savory, Durban Poison is an award-winner among veteran users. And, it reputedly relieves migraines, improves appetite, and reduces nausea. Chronic users will use it to “wake and bake” because they can convert its psychoactive influence into focused energy.
3. Ghost Train Haze: With its 25% to 27% THC, Ghost Train Haze offers an energetic and creative cerebral experience, a rush for bursts of creativity. Musicians love it, but if you are predisposed to anxiety or paranoia, you should try another strain.
High Times Magazine called it "Most Potent Strain on earth" in 2012. It might help reduce depression, but you should beware of the psychedelic trip that follows because it can aggravate anxiety. Starting small and light, you’ll enjoy the citrusy ride. If you giggle through the fun, you still want to ease yourself into heavier use.
4. Green Crack: This is a more balanced (65%: 35%) strain, a Sativa-dominant hybrid with 15% to 25% THC. It can knock you for a loop, but with enough Indica is presents a nicely balanced experience. Also known as “Green Cush,” it hits the brain for a mood lift and energy spark.
Bred through Skunk #1 genetics, Green Crack tastes of citrus groves and tropical flora. Medical properties appear to ease ADHA, anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, migraines, and PTSD.
5. Hawaiian Snow: Containing upwards of 24% THC, the Hawaiian Snow strain packs high energy. A fragrance of eucalyptus fills the room with a citrus incense. A ±100% Sativa, it was born by manipulating Hawaiian Haze, Neville’s Haze, and Pure Haze.
This award-winning strain is known for sending users into paralyzing giggles, a fun offset to anxiety and depression. It starts with a strong euphoria before slowly resolving into a spacey relaxing mode.
6. Jack Herer: Named for the legendary cannabis use advocate, Jack Herer is not the most potent Sativa. It balances as much as 24% THC with 1-2% CBD for a pleasant blissful euphoria.
Californians developed Jack Herer as a cross of Haze, Northern Lights #5, and Shiva Skunk for a soil and taste of spice, pine, and forest greens. The high experienced is energetic and bubbly with a happy energy that lets you go about chores and errands. Longtime users attribute therapeutic effects for ADHD, anxiety, bipolar disorder, migraine headaches, and PTSD.
7. Moby Dick: A 75% Sativa, Moby Dick packs a walloping 27% THC for a euphoric and mind-blowing high. They crossed Haze and White Widow for a potential couch strapped experience with the risk of paranoia.
But regular users enjoy a creative and upbeat euphoria, a relaxation that’s therapeutic for anxiety, depression, muscle spasms, and pain. The citrus aromas and earthy flavors will surely post your appetite for munchies.
8. Sour Diesel: Sour D has been with us for some time and is the parent of many hybrids. With its robust and pungent aroma, you can’t use this one discreetly. Its 26% THC is offset slightly by 2% CBD for a high-energy and effervescent cerebral hit.
The diesel fuel smoke and earthy flavor may give you away, but people are using it for a way to start their day. Smokers report help with anxiety, chronic pain, and depression. It’s not advised for insomnia or spasms related to epilepsy or MS.
9. Strawberry Cough: This favorite is flush with the smell of fresh strawberries. The hybrid is 80% Sativa and 22% to 26% THC. The trouble is that it will make you cough. A blend of the Erdbeer Sativa and an unknown Indica, it produces a relaxing cerebral high.
The fruity aroma (and the coughing) will give you away; otherwise, you might use it throughout the day without nodding off. Regular users treat anxiety, depression, and stress with Strawberry Cough.
10. Swazi Gold: Imported from Swaziland, this pure Sativa is a hardy strain producing huge yields popular with growers. Its 18% THC is the lowest on this list, but its hit is memorable. Citrusy, zesty, fruity, and earthy, Swazi Gold has a hint of licorice underneath.
You’ll feel this one in the forehead behind the eyes. It will lift you off your feet with an alert yet relaxing focus. It’s been used to help with appetite loss, chronic pain, and moderate depression.
The most popular of all time?
I can’t speak for what soldiers were using at Gettysburg or what Mozart may have tried. But considering they really didn’t start naming strains until the last 75 years or so, these high THC strains have proven popular — if not yet accessible to all.