Patients. Veterans. Potheads. Artists. Professionals. Senior citizens. Parents. Cannabis consumers exist in virtually every demographic. Just as individuals are unique from one to the next, so are the various strains of marijuana. This article is the second post in the series, The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Cannabis Strains. Keep reading for an introduction to choosing a cannabis strain.
Eeny. Meeny. Miny. Moe.
Choosing a cannabis strain is simple. First, start with the types of cannabis:
Sativa. Indica. Hybrid. Ruderalis.
Wait… Hold up. Ruderallis? Ok, you got me. Maybe it’s not so simple after all. Many professionals in the cannabis industry consider ruderalis another type of marijuana in addition to the well-known indica and sativa (and of course hybrids would be a combo of the two – or even all three!) Stay posted to the blog for our bombshell piece in this series that introduces ruderalis in more detail, the lesser-known type of cannabis.
If you want to learn more about the specific differences between the sativa and indica types of cannabis, check out the first article in this series that breaks it up (pun intended)…
First Stop: Selecting a Type of Cannabis
Phew – now that’s out of the way, you may be wondering, why does this matter? I came here to learn about choosing cannabis strains, not these broad classifications…
Here’s a paradox for you. It matters. And, it doesn’t.
Why Cannabis Types Matter
What I mean is that when selecting a cannabis strain for your intended purpose, you will find all 12,000 plus marijuana strains are considered either indica-dominant, sativa-dominant, hyvbrid, or ruderalis. As such, the first step to choosing a strain typically starts with narrowing down your list based on these classifications. Therefore, you need some basics on the “typical” attributes of these different types.
Why Cannabis Types Don’t Really Matter
Each strain was created to be special. Unique. Beautiful. Very much in the same way people are made (except for some obvious differences in the breeding process, but we’ll save that for another day).
Keeping this individuality in mind, various cannabinoid levels and terpene profiles exist in all the different strains. Even more profound is the fact that each person has a unique endocannabinoid system, and will respond uniquely to various strains. You might see two, three, four, maybe even 400 (depends on how much you dabble in the flavors) indica-dominant strains that vary in effects. Likewise, the same goes for the other types as well.
What I am getting at is do not limit yourself to these broad terms or hold them at too high (love that word) of esteem. You may very well find a lovely sativa strain that drifts you off on a fluffy cloud to dreamland even though indica has the rep for sleep-inducing effects or an inspiring strain of indica that strikes your soul and kicks your creativity into full effect to come up with your very best ideas when sativa has the rep for producing a head buzz.
Why? Again, back to the basics in our first post on understanding the differences between sativa and indica, years of crossing plants has resulted in a complex, mystifying, and wonderful world of weed in which truly all plants are hybrid to some degree at this point. They are termed as such for which type is dominant (i.e. sativa-dominant, indica-dominant).
There’s So Much More to a Strain Beyond THC
Another easy factor to become fixated on when choosing a cannabis strain is the level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Don’t get me wrong, THC is great. It’s beyond great. But it’s not the end-all factor when it comes to picking out your cannabis strain.
Regardless if the strain of weed is sativa or indica dominant, isolated THC is exactly the same compound. What’s known as the “entourage effect” is what makes every single plant unique. This is the combined effect of the entire profile of the plant which includes flavonoids, terpenes, and cannabinoids (which more than 100 have been identified).
Every one of these delicious, subtle, and strong unsaturated hydrocarbons influence the taste and smell of your weed. When it comes to producing effects, sativa and indica matter less and the terpenes take the wheel for acting as modulators and driving the benefits of each plant.
Getting Technical with Cannabis Strains
In the fun and exciting world of cannabis research, specific terms are used (often incorrectly), when referring to cannabis plants. One term you hear often is genotype.
What are Genotypes?
On the most basic level, genotype refers to the actual genetic makeup of a plant. It’s based purely on the chemical properties of the plants crossed to make a breed, and it’s not a concrete determination on how each plant presents itself. Therefore, genotypes are actually the various strains of marijuana.
Throwing in Phenotypes to Stir the Pot
Believe me. My goal here is not to make this even more confusing, but it’s important to mention the phenotypes.
What are Phenotypes?
Not only does one genotype, or strain of marijuana, differ from one to the next, but each plant belonging to the same strain will also produce variations.
Back to the whole human analogy, just as two people, each with their own specific genetic codes, can create infinite babies and every one (with the exception of identical twins) will be unique and different from the next – mating two cannabis plants, each with its own genetic blueprint will render its own adorable little pot babies – all different and beautiful. Beyond popping out of the oven unique, environmental conditions also shape the development of each plant as it matures, resulting in more differences in a single batch.
[Read Also: How and Why People Use Cannabis for Sleep]
Finally, Choosing a Cannabis Strain
Now, for the part you’ve all been waiting for: actually picking out the tasty cannabis you’re about to enjoy.
In total, you are facing 12,400 (and counting) options on the market. Obviously, you are going to find similarities in many of the strains, which will often (not always) ring true to their particular type (indica, sativa, ruderalis).
At the end of the day, experimentation is the only way to find exactly which strains work best to meet your desired effects. Take your time when choosing. Smell the different flowers (using caution with strains such as Cat Piss, of course) to see which one resonates well with you. Amazingly, the terpene profiles work in a matter where the ones that smell best to you often produce the desired benefits you’re looking for.
Collectively, They Are All One
It’s almost freaky how much the cannabis strains compare to the human race. For real. Just as people are all one, in one collective consciousness, the thousands of cannabis strains are one. From MK Ultra to Pineapple Express to Lemon Haze to Cat Piss and Super Cat Piss (don’t knock it till you try, cat-piss smelling weed is actually dank) – each belongs to one genus: Cannabis.
At the end of the day, you are getting a cannabis plant that is meant to be enjoyed and possesses amazing healing properties. Enjoy it. Have fun exploring your options. Stay tuned for the next post in this exciting series where we unveil the lesser-known ruderalis cannabis type.