How many people do you know who tried cannabis before, had a bad experience, and swore never to try it again? Maybe this experience even describes you. But don’t worry, this experience is actually pretty common. Many novice users’ first experience with cannabis wasn’t exactly pleasant because they tried the wrong strain or cannabis product. Maybe it was a super stoney indica-dominant strain that made them self-conscious and anxious and locked to the couch. Or they had an edible with far more THC than any new user could tolerate.
Choosing the right strain (or wrong strain) can make the difference between loving or hating cannabis. To help new cannabis users achieve the best experience possible, we’ve put together this list of recommendations of the best cannabis strains for beginners.
If there’s one word of advice to follow above all else, beginners should start with strains high in CBD. You’ve heard of THC. THC is what gets you “high.” CBD counteracts or neutralizes the effects of THC. (See graph below for a comparison of THC/CBD content in several of the strains we recommend.)
Best Cannabis Strains for Beginners: CBD-Dominant
THC: 4% – 7%
CBD: 8% – 16%
Thanks to its therapeutic versatility and mild psychotropic effects, Harlequin has long been one of the most popular high-CBD strains. It first became popular well before the recent waves of CBD-dominant strains like Charlotte’s Web and ACDC.
Harlequin is the offspring of several iconic landrace strains, including Swiss and Thai landraces and Colombian Gold. Landrace strains are rare, purebred strains grown in their natural environment. Having won numerous awards, including multiple Cannabis Cup awards for CBD, Harlequin is a great choice for those new to cannabis or who are sensitive to THC.
Why is Harlequin a Great Strain for Beginners?
Despite being a sativa-dominant, the CBD content neutralizes any sort of intense head high you’d expect from a sativa. The CBD to THC ratio is usually around 5:2. That means you should feel relaxed, sociable, and clear-headed.
- Mood and energy boost
Best Strains for Beginners: CBD-Dominant Strain Recommendations
- Ringo’s Gift
Best Cannabis Strains for Beginners: Balanced CBD/THC Ratio
THC: 8% – 15%
It’s not hard finding cannabis products with an evenly balanced ratio of THC and CBD. You can find plenty of 1:1 tinctures, capsules, edibles, etc. However, it’s a different story when it comes to strains. Pennywise, a cross between Jack the Ripper and Harlequin, is one of the few strains with a near-perfect balance of THC and CBD. It’s about as close to 1:1 as you can get.
- Elevated Mood
Why is Pennywise a Great Strain for Beginners?
As a 1:1 strain, Pennywise will produce very mild psychotropic effects. You’ll likely feel a little bit high, but the CBD keeps it mellow. Likewise, you’ll feel the indica influence in that your high will be more physical, but you’ll also feel clear-headed and mildly euphoric.
Best Strains for Beginners: Balanced CBD/THC Strain Recommendations
- Sweet and Sour Widow
- Stephen Hawking Kush
- Sour Tsunami
Best Cannabis Strains for Beginners: THC-Dominant
THC: 15% – 23%
CBD: Less than .5%
Sativa-dominant Jack Herer may be more famous than the cannabis activist, author, and hero it was named for. Boasting impressive genetics of a Haze hybrid with Northern Lights #5 and Shiva Skunk, Jack Herer is popular among cannabis newbies and seasoned vets.
With THC content that regularly clocks in around 25 percent and very little CBD (<0.2%), you might expect Jack Herer to be too intense—or worse, anxiety and paranoia-inducing. Curiously, most people not only tolerate Jack Herer really well, but they also claim it produces a high that is clear-headed, creative, blissful, and pleasantly cerebral.
The pleasant high likely has to do with other cannabinoids and terpenes that are prominent in Jack Herer. Lab tests regularly identify more than 1% CBG-A (a precursor to the three major cannabinoids, THCA, CBDA, and CBCA, and impressive levels of terpenes like terpinolene, humulene, and caryophyllene.
Why is Jack Herer a Great Strain for Beginners?
Jack is great for beginners for two reasons:
- Unlike some higher THC strains, top-shelf Jack Herer’s consistent cannabinoid and terpene profile makes users feel happy, sociable, and creative. Likewise, few users report undesirable side-effects like anxiety or mild paranoia (like overthinking everything).
- Being named after one of the most important cannabis activists of our time, enjoying Jack will hopefully provide new cannabis consumers with the inspiration to learn more about the history of cannabis advocacy. Without Jack Herer, you probably wouldn’t be getting high. Well, at least not legally!
Bonus THC-Dominant Strain Recommendations: More of the Best Strains for Beginners
- Acapulco Gold
- Blue Dream
- Durban Poison
- Maui Waui
Final Words of Advice
Now you’ve got plenty of strains to try. Beyond picking the right strain, here are a few tips to remember:
- Don’t start with a high-THC or THC-dominant strain. Your first experience should be with a low-THC, high-CBD strain or a balanced CBD/THC strain.
- Start low, go slow. When you smoke or vape cannabis the effects are near-instantaneous. Take just a single puff or two first to see how you feel. You can titrate up from there. If your first experience is with an edible, start low—very low! You shouldn’t consume more than 5 mg (10 mg tops!) the first time you try edibles.
- CBD is your friend. If you feel too much of the effects of THC you can counter those effects with CBD. CBD neutralizes the sometimes undesirable effects of THC (like anxiety and paranoia) while lessening the psychoactive effects of THC.
You can find many of the strains mentioned in this article at your local Have a Heart dispensary. Visit our Dispensary Locator to find a location near you. If we don’t have one yet, stay tuned! We’re adding new stores monthly.