The testing technology is improving, and the seed-to-sale mandates are making things more transparent. So, you can’t be sure of the potency of strains 10 years ago (except according to user reports). But testing and disclosure have improved in importance and technique.
Now that we know more, we can shop better for quality and price. Potency does not mean the same to all people. Hundreds of thousands of consumers want to avoid the strongest strains, but they always serve a niche market of chronic users. And, these strains will become ancestors for newly developed future strains.
This article purposely skirts the trending strains and opts for listing very potent strains that also have increased availability and appeal. So, I’m listing things in the reverse building to acknowledged tops in THC potency but balancing that with flavors and reputed medical benefits.
10 most popular cannabis strains this year:
1. Tropicana Cookies won the First Place for Sativa at Uruguay’s Copa Cannabis 2019. Oni Seed bred Girl Scout Cookies with Tangle for a 17% THC Sativa-dominant treat. Its sweet orange flavors make it an excellent option for first-time users.
Tropicana Cookies produces a long-lasting cerebral high with good energy and focus. The low CBD content explains its merely moderate medical benefits. Bur the flavor will win you over.
2. Amnesia Haze makes everyone’s contemporary favorites’ lists. Originating in Southeast Asian landrace strains, it has some Jamaican Haze and Afghani-Hawaiian thrown in for a high-potency experience. From 1st Place Sativa in High Times Cannabis Cup 2004) to 1st Place again in 2012, it also took awards in Netherlands competitions several times in recent years.
With THC pushing 19%, you can expect a quick-hitting electric brain buzz with high energy and alertness that tapers into a lengthy calm. A strong lemon smell and taste, it is tasty enough to medicate mental and physical ailments.
3. AK-47 doesn’t deserve its threatening name. It’s a blend of Columbian, Mexican, Thai, and Afghani landrace strains for a hybrid with 14-18% THC, more relaxing and mellow than you might expect.
AK-47 is sativa-dominant, but it scores well in a variety of competitions. It boasts multiple awards, including High Times 3rd Place Hybrid (2011), HT 2nd Place Sativa (1999), HT 2nd Place Indica (2003), and 1st Place Sativa (2010) at the Treating Yourself Expo. Can it be sativa and Indica, too? It remains sativa-dominant, but some individual plants skew to Indica.
4. Zkittlez was First Place winner at Emerald Cup California (2016), Cannabis Cup San Francisco (2015), and Cannabis Cup Michigan (2015). This one is Indica-dominant with a moderate 15% THC.
Rich and varied candy flavors attract old and new cannabis users. The citrus and tropical flavors come from ancestors including Grape Ape and Grapefruit. And, a low 15% THC still leaves you happy, focused, and relaxed for hours.
5. Laughing Buddha took the High Times Cannabis Cup sativa award in 2003. Barney’s Farm created this hybrid from Thai and Jamaican strains to hints of exotic spices. With THC testing between 18% and 22%, it also shows as 1.5% CBD, a very potent but balance strain.
Aptly named, Laughing Buddha is the perfect choice for a social circle. It leaves everyone happy and, yes, laughing. It delivers a sustained concentration and focus in those who can restrain their giggles.
6. Chocolope does not produce a pretty flower. But its flavor and potent effects earned the Hydro Highlife Cup (2008), Outdoor Spannabis (2011), High Times’ Sativa Cannabis Cup (2010), and “Strain of the Year” by High Times themselves in 2007. The super sweet chocolate comes from OG Chocolate and Cannalope Haze.
With popularity dating to the 1980s, Chocolope, with its THC content reaching 23% remains a favorite dessert of millions. The high will certainly get your mind off anxiety, depressions, pain, and stress. The effect lasts for hours sustaining a creative and energetic motivational experience. It might keep you up at night, but you can start in the morning and use it all day.
7. A-Dub owes its flavor, fragrance, and potency to genes crossed and mixed from Sour Diesel, OG Kush, and Chemdawg. It ranked first in Denver’s High Times 2016 Cannabis Cup with THC at 28.78%. With ancestors like these, it’s not the lightest taste or aroma.
High Times also listed it as #2 among the world’s strongest strains in 2014. So, keep the teenagers away from this one; it’s no strain to start a habit with. On the other hand, the fast and powerful buzz will make you forget your troubles.
8. Acapulco Gold from Barney’s Farm took the 2020 High Times Cannabis Cup for best sativa. With a high-impact 23% THC, Acapulco Gold is among veteran users’ top choices. A great way to start your day, this favorite strain is so uplifting and relaxing, it will chase away any lingering stress or depression.
The strain dates to the 1960s and made the CannaConnection Hall of Fame because of brain and body experience. It works for repeated use during the day for an uplifted focus, but it also calms the body with a continuing relaxation without sedation.
9. Gelonade comes from Connected Cannabis Co. and, after winning 2018 Amsterdam’s High Times First Place Sativa, it has taken California by storm. It is touted as “gelato in a bong,” but some may not be fond of the syrupy sweet flavors.
However, the nearly 20% THC will get and hold your attention. They crossed Lemon Tree with Gelato #41 to produce this experience. The lemony and creamy flavors appeal to novice users but give it 10 minutes and you’ll feel relaxed, uplifted, and creative at the same time.
10. Godfather OG still claims the record for potency with its alleged 34%+ THC. (It tests more reliably around a still powerful 32.03%.) Developed from Granddaddy Purps, Cherry Pie, and OG Kush, this Indica-heavy hybrid is a SoCal Cannabis Cup award-winner (2016). Most users admit being left immobilized for hours.
Wherever the THC clocks in, this is not a strain for first-time users. It may be relaxing and sedating to regular users, but it is likely to hit newcomers with a dizzy confusion approaching paranoia.
The big bang in 2020
Godfather OG and A-Dub deserve their recognition for high THC scores. But Chocolope, Laughing Buddha, and Gelonade may be the more enjoyable try, something that will bring you back for more.