No matter if you’re a veteran roaster or a newbie, there’s one thing we can agree on: cannabis has gotten complicated. Like, really complicated. In addition to the age-old indica vs. sativa question, there’s the matter of cannabinoid and terpene profiles, potency, and not least format: do you plan to actually smoke your cannabis or vape it, or eat it or even drink it?
So let’s pull back from the abyss for a moment and start with one of the simplest—but most important—questions about bud: how to choose a cannabis strain. Even if you’re an old pro, we’re pretty sure you’ll find some useful and actionable information here.
How to Choose a Cannabis Strain: Indica vs. Sativa
This is one of the oldest ways to classify cannabis, dating back to the 1700s (really!) when European botanists first differentiated wild cannabis and hemp varieties. These days, we know that the sativa / indica divide comes down to any given plant’s myrcene content. Although some feel it’s an outdated and imprecise distinction, we still find it’s a useful way to help people understand any given strain’s effects. In a nutshell:
- Sativa: Associated with energizing, “buzzy” cerebral effects and stimulation
- Indica: Associated with relaxing, heavy body-centered effects
How to Choose a Cannabis Strain: Cannabinoid Ratio
You’re probably familiar with the terms “THC” and “CBD.” They’re the two most prevalent cannabinoids, or “active ingredients” in cannabis, and the ratio between them has a great deal to do with determining any given strain’s effects on our bodies and our minds.
Let’s start with THC. Although—technically speaking—other cannabinoids are psychoactive, THC is the only cannabinoid that gets us “high.” But it’s doing much more than that. THC helps us manage pain and insomnia and can help soothe nausea and diminished appetite.
Even if it only imparts a very mild and relaxing psychoactivity, CBD is believed to have some beneficial effects, though the science is still out.
What does this mean for you? In short: The more THC, the more psychoactivity. If you find being high distracting, disorienting or otherwise inconvenient for personal or professional reasons, there are plenty of strains offering little to no THC. Though, the two work best together.
How to Choose a Cannabis Strain: Terpene Profiles
Don’t think we’d leave these guys out! We’ve written on the topic of terpenes before, and we will again. They’re the fragrant natural oils that give specific strains (and countless other natural products) their distinctive flavors and aromas. But they contribute a great deal more.
There are over 200 in the cannabis plant, so we can’t describe them all here. (What’s more, so far as we know, no strain contains only one or even a few terpenes). That said, many strains are now classified by their dominant terpenes. This can go a long way towards predicting any given strain’s effects. We strongly recommend you visit our primer on terpenes to get an idea of what these incredible natural compounds may do for our bodies and our minds.
Of course, it’s impossible to know everything about the topic of choosing a cannabis strain. But that’s why our budtenders are here; they’re friendly, knowledgeable and ready to help guide you towards the best strains for your particular needs. Find your nearest dispensary below to get started!