Complete Beginner Guide to Cannabis Strains

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Once you are introduced to your first cannabis puff, you may be surprised how much is involved. If you want the recreational benefits or medical benefits — or a bit of both, there’s a lot to learn.

The information has become more important for several reasons. First, the massive marketing effort launched by hemp-based products will distract you from the cannabis-based products you want to explore. Second, progressive legalization offers a variety of strains with quality standards you’ll never find on the street. And, third, cannabis strains have increased in strength, so you should be sure you know what you are looking for.

The Hemp issue:

Cannabaceae is a botany class including Cannabis India, Cannabis Sativa, and Cannabis Ruderalis. Hemp is a form of Cannabis Sativa grown since antiquity for fiber and food. As an agricultural resource, it is grown by an increasing number of farms throughout the northern hemisphere.

The hemp fiber gives strength to rope, character to carpets, and fabrics for everyday wear and high fashion. It remains an easily grown and sustainable agrarian resource. But it also has medical benefits because of its minimal trace of the psychoactive THC (Δ⁹-tetrahydrocannabinol) and a large dose of calming CBD (cannabidiol).

Because it is not listed as a risk by the FDA, hemp is easily available in all states and online. While there are fewer restrictions on research, claims to hemp’s medical benefits are largely anecdotal, so the FDA has taken an interest in increasing claims to hemp’s efficacy.

The problem facing beginners is that hemp producers and distributors have hit the media with enough coverage to confuse beginners.

Cannabis sativa

Cannabis sativa is an annual herbaceous flowering plant providing industrial fiber, seeds, oil, food, recreation, spiritual moods, and medicine. Male plants die after pollination, and female plants produce flowers and benefits.

Sativa grows tall with long branches and narrow-blade leave making it difficult to raise. Sativa takes as much as six months to flower, and that slow growth produces a larger yield with lower THC than Indica. 

Sativa strains work quickly with an energetic, stimulating, and uplifting buzz. reputed to improve creativity, cannabis sativa has attracted artists, musicians, and writers. At the very least, it will improve your experience with art, movies, and music.

Sativa strains will increase focus and increase appetite. Other effects also serve medical issues by reducing or eliminating anxiety, depression, migraines, muscular cramps, nausea, pain, and spasticity. It is also known to counter the influence of THC, so stains with a balanced ratio can provide the best of effects.

Cannabis Indica

Cannabis Indica originated in the Hindu Kush mountains of the Asian subcontinent including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and surrounding regions. Inaccurately labeled as Indian, it spread throughout the Mid-East and Europe and regions along the Spice and Silk Roads.

The short stocky Indica plant has wide-bladed leaves. The shorter height means an eight to twelve-week growth before flowering, smaller yields, and higher THC potency. But its denser CBD count can leave users with the body stone.

It treats many of the same medical conditions as the Sativa, but it is well known for its anti-spasmatic properties treating pediatric epilepsy, involuntary muscle contractions, and chronic pain from autoimmune disorders. 

Cannabis Ruderalis

Cannabis Ruderalis is the poor cousin to the Sativa and Indica. But it does survive in the harshest natural and man-made environments. Its durability intrigues breeders and growers who have sought to introduce its strengths into other lines.

The ruderalis’ DNA produces a thick fiber-dense plant. It flowers automatically in 21 to 30 days bred as a hybrid with Sativa and Indica to produce plants with strength and early dependable harvest.

So, what are you looking for?

Beginners can expect some negative side effects on their first use just as you might expect from your first cigarette. There might be something rough in your throat and nose, you may cough, and you might experience some lightheadedness or nausea. But you’ll stick with it to enjoy the benefits.

Ask your friends and the dispensary’s budtenders for advice, and they’ll recommend some of the following:

  • Mango is a long time popular Indica producing relaxed, happy, and sleepy results. There’s enough THC to notice the effects but not enough to concern you. You’ll feel a euphoric hit, you’ll laugh a lot, and you’ll enjoy your friends immensely. Try this after dinner for pick up, and you’ll be ready for a deep sleep at bedtime.
  • Chernobyl has enough THC to bother a newcomer, so you want to use this lightly and slowly until you are comfortable. But you should enjoy dreamy head highs leaving you focused and creative.
  • Harlequin makes everyone’s lists for early use. This one’s high in CBD and low in THC, so the cerebral effects are minimal while the medical benefits are optimized. You should enjoy the calming effects and pain relief.
  • AC/DC is another classic with a name that belies its properties. This is not a heavy metal experience. Rather, it produces a calming sedation close to couch lock.
  • Jack Herer is named for a renowned early cannabis activist. It’s a bit higher in THC content and impact with a moderate psychic buzz that won’t push you to the edge of anxiety or paranoia. Jack Here has been a go-to option for regular users for a long time.
  • Plushberry is another moderate THC strain to ease you into a higher THC experience without hitting beginners too hard too early.
  • Hindu Kush is as close as you can get to the ancient strains. More powerful than the other strains listed so far, it’s also relaxing enough that it won’t freak a beginner out.
  • Blue Dream is a beautiful plant crossing Blueberry Indica and Sativa Haze for a balanced cerebral excitement and full-body relaxation. The sweet berry taste and aroma along with its medical benefits have made it a most popular strain across the U.S.
  • White Widow has been recommended for decades for its smooth experience. It’ll make you hungry after a totally relaxing reaction.

Don’t limit yourself

This short list covers the classics and without diminishing them at all, there are other options. Each of the strains listed has new relatives. Breeders are developing new strains and variations on these classics to provide first time users and veterans with choices they will appreciate.