If you visit Philly for a hoagie or cheesesteak, you won’t find any two people agreeing on the “best” sandwich or restaurant. In Chicago, it’s the best deep-dish pizza. New Orleans has its po-boys. And, every town in Texas has the “best” barbecue. It’s tough when people confuse taste with opinion.
Trying to figure out how to buy cannabis can be tough, too, especially for newcomers. Some of the challenge has to do with the cannabis strains you have experienced. It has to do with the proliferation of newly bred strains. And, much as to do with accessibility thanks to new legal markets
Cannabis strains feed different experiences!
Legal cannabis belongs to Indica, sativa, or hybrid strains of the botanical family Cannabaceae. It is a relative of Hemp distinguished from hemp by its THC (∆9 - Tetrahydrocannabinol) content.
• While THC (C21H30O2) is only one of the 113 cannabinoids found in cannabis, it triggers psychoactive events from mild euphoria to near schizophrenic results. It has a stronger presence in sativa strains and sativa-dominant hybrids.
In general, the higher percentage of the THC in the content, the stronger the psychoactive high. (We say “in general” because potency is also a function of the ratio between THC and CBD.) A moderate THC content if 17% to 20% should provide the mellow trippy buzz most people want.
• CBD (Cannabidiol) has the same chemical formula (C21H30O2) as THC, but they differ in chemical structure. CBD has the sedating experiences and multiple health benefits many cannabis users seek. It rarely tests over 15% in Indica strains and Indica-dominant hybrids.
The higher the CBD content of a strain, the more likely it is to sedate you. But it also has research-proven benefits to reduce pain, inflammation, and spasticity. In a well-balanced hybrid, the CBD content will offset some of the psychoactive impacts of the THC.
• Other relevant cannabinoids include:
- Cannabigerol (CBG): Forbes says, “CBG is the precursor from which all other cannabinoids are synthesized, which is why it’s often referred to as the “mother” or “stem cell” of cannabinoids. This unique property imbues CBG with enormous therapeutic promise, making it a subject of great interest for researchers and consumers alike.
- Cannabichromene (CBC): CBC has a different mechanism of action than THC or CBD, but it does enhance the THC impact.
- Cannabinol (CBN): When THC oxidizes, it produces CBN, a psychoactive booster. While it occurs in small percentages in cannabis, it may have a larger presence in cannabis-based edibles, topicals, and sprays.
Different strains produce different results!
Cannabis strains high in THC include the following:
- Gorilla Glue 4 owes its origin to breeding Chem Sister, Sour Dubb, and Chocolate Diesel. It’s a perfectly balanced hybrid, but it has tested as high as 30% THC. It will make you socially pleasant and energetic on its way to a calm and mellow high.
- Girl Scout Cookies offer a lot more than its sweet cookie aroma and taste. A legendary strain, it came from mating Durban Poison and OG Kush. With THC coming in at 25% to 28%, it will provide an award-winning recreational high. But just as many customers want its exceptional pain relief and anti-emetic properties.
- Bruce Banner clocks in at 29% THC for a hulking strong high. Parented by Strawberry Diesel and OG Kush, Bruce Banner begins with a potent brain buzz before settling into a calming effect. The calm is energized and focused enough for work and daytime use.
Cannabis strains high in CBD include:
- Charlotte’s Web is renowned throughout the cannabis world for its medical benefits. But those medical properties should not reduce the individual experience. With less than 0.05% THC, it offers benefits to those with PTSD, mood swings, epilepsy, Dravet’s syndrome and other forms of spasticity. Colorado Pot Guide calls Charlotte’s Web, “The Strain That's Saving Lives.”
- AC/DC has just enough THC to keep it outside the Industrial Hemp species. CBD settles around 20% with a low THC count to kill pain, improve appetite, and minimize anxiety. A balanced hybrid, it owes its breeding to Ruderalis and Catatonic.
- Pennywise is a moderately priced flower that crosses Harlequin with Jack the Ripper for another high CBD hybrid. The one-to-one CBD: THC ratio will leave you happily calm. Users report some disorientation as its high hits, but the 11% CBD will let you work with clarity and creativity and total body relaxation.
What else do you need to know?
If you are in the market for cannabis strains to smoke, you’ll also look for flavor and aroma. There are no general rules or simple recommendations. But consumers often favor strains with fruit and tropical scents and tastes.
And, here’s where some research will help. If you are a novice or veteran customer, you can explore any number of strains online. You can then compare them with strains being offered at your local dispensary.
You should read the packaging in detail and seek the advice of your budtender. Your friends may be ready with all sorts of advice, but you must take the initiative to learn more and make up your own mind.