3 Things to Consider to Pick the Perfect Strain

I’ll never forget my first dispensary visit; it was being a kid in a candy store. There were rows upon rows of glass jars filled with dried flower. The choice was almost overwhelming, but in an exciting way. Since Canada legalized cannabis last year consumers have had access to more strain choices than ever before. So how are you picking your weed? I bet most of you are picking what to buy based on name alone. But what’s in a name? Does a (cannabis) flower by any other name smell just as sweet? Essentially, choosing the right strain is all about what kind of effects a person is looking for, not just the clever stain names.

Any cannabis consumer, medical and recreational alike, knows that not all weed is created equal. Different strains of cannabis produce different effects, flavors, smells, and ultimately, different experiences. Your ideal strain can be as unique and ever-changing that you are, the perfect match changing with your moods or the weather. There are even fun, personality-style quizzes, like this popular one on Buzzfeed, to help you decide what to pick up at your local dispensary. Here are three important things to look for when choosing the right marijuana strain for you.

Indica, Sativa, Hybrids – Oh My!

The easiest place to start when choosing a strain is to pick between an indica, sativa, or hybrid classification. The species breakdown isn’t enough to determine the full effects of each strain but it’s a great place to start. It is also most readily available information and is generally consistent across licensed producers. Indica and sativa got their names from the physical appearance of the plant. Indica is short and stocky with bushy leaves, while sativa is taller with slim, finger-like leaves.

Cannabis retail stores also use this classification to indicate the strain’s effects. Sativa strains are often associated with more of a ‘head high’ and are considered daytime-use cannabis. They have an energizing effect, stimulating creativity and movement. Indica strains are more of a mellow experience and associated with a more calming, sedating effect. Typically, sativa strains are higher in THC and indica ones are higher in CBD content. Hybrid plants are created by breeding indica and sativa strains together. Hybrids can be indica dominant or sativa dominant and blend the benefits of both strains.

Cannabinoid Content

Cannabinoids are basically what makes marijuana medicine as they are able to directly interact with our bodies endocannabinoid system. There are over one hundred known cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, the two most commonly known are THC and CBD. Scientists are still trying to figure out how many cannabinoids there are in total and what they do. THC appears to play a key role in managing pain and insomnia, while CBD works as an anti-inflammatory and has a calming effect. The major cannabinoid acids include CBG, THC, CBD,CBC, CBGV, THCV, CBDV, and CBCV.

Predominantly THC is the cannabinoid that will affect how high you get but it’s not the only important one. The other cannabinoids work together in what’s called the ‘entourage effect’ which is the theory that multiple cannabinoids work best together. Their beneficial effects are amplified when other cannabinoids are present. A diverse cannabinoid content will create more robust euphoric effects in recreational users. Medical patients also benefit from multiple cannabinoids in treatment as cannabinoids have a bevy of therapeutic effects.

Terpene Profiles

Terpenes are aromatherapy, they are found in all plants not just cannabis. These aromatic oils not only give cannabis strains their unique scent profile but also have their own set of benefits. Some promote relaxation and stress-relief, while others promote focus and acuity. Consumers are primarily focused on THC percentages and neglect terpene profiles but are a huge component of a strain’s experience and effects.

Terpenes can contribute to strain names, for example the strain Blueberry Cheesecake has distinctive terpene notes of berry and cheese. The increasing interest in terpenes is adding a great depth to the horticultural art and connoisseurship of cannabis. In the same way that people become connoisseurs of fine wine or gourmet cuisine, people are becoming “cannasseurs” of weed as well.

To find your perfect strain takes experimentation with different breeds, cannabinoid content, and terpene profiles to know what works best for you. When choosing which strain is best, remember it’s about more than just the name of the product, so ask your budtender about cannabinoid content and terpene profiles. Keep in mind the kind of experience you want to have, your THC tolerance, and consumption methods to ensure an awesome experience.