Beginner’s Guide to Marijuana Strains
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Cannabis use is on the rise in the United States. A 2018 study notes that, while cannabis use among teens has decreased, American adults are increasingly using cannabis on the daily.
According to Forbes, the global cannabis industry is estimated to be worth $7.7 billion. It’s projected to hit $31.4 billion by 2021.
The industry is booming in part because cannabis can be a versatile form of medication. A number of research studies have found that cannabis has the potential to help with a variety of medical conditions, including anxiety, chronic pain, and epilepsy.
But, as any recreational or medical marijuana user can tell you, not all cannabis is created equal. Different strains of cannabis produce different effects, and thus can be used for different reasons.
If marijuana is legal in your state and you’re looking to try it, but not sure which strains best suit your needs, we’ve got you covered. Check out our guide to marijuana strains below.
If you’ve read a little about marijuana, or if you enter most dispensaries, you might see the words indica, sativa, and hybrid. Generally, most people divide marijuana into these three categories.
Indica, which originates from the Hindu Kush mountains of India, is believed to have a relaxing effect on the user. Sativa has a more energizing effect, while hybrid is a combination of the two.
Many industry experts, however, are reconsidering the indica, sativa and hybrid categories. According to Amos Elberg, head of data science at Confident Cannabis, these terms are more or less meaningless.
“We see samples of all cannabis products tested through our partner labs, and when we look at all the data, particularly of the chemical makeup of flower, we see no identifiable characteristics that are consistent with indica, sativa, or hybrid,” he explains.
“Essentially people are using these terms as catchalls for effect, but they’re not all consistent with those effects. Some indica makes some people wired, not couch-locked, for instance.”
In other words, people shouldn’t be alarmed if a reportedly energizing sativa strain has more of a mellowing effect, or if an indica strain makes them feel more bubbly and excitable.
Beyond indica, sativa, and hybrid, dispensaries might divide the types of cannabis they have into strains. Strains are essentially different breeds of cannabis, and they’re bred to have specific effects on the user.
But if the terms indica, sativa, and hybrid are essentially useless categorizations, are strain names also meaningless?
Not exactly, says Elberg.
“Not all seeds that are sold under the same name are genetically identical, or even necessarily related. Some producers may choose to create a strain name essentially as a branding exercise, or to identify their product with an existing name because they believe the product matches characteristics the market expects from product sold under that name,” Elberg explains.
There are, however, still consistencies among product sold under specific strain names, Elberg adds.
“In general, for the less common names, product sold by different vendors tends to be pretty consistent,” he notes. “For the most common strain names, however, a wider variety of different products are sold.”
If you purchase product from a quality source, the strains should be more or less consistent. Bear in mind, however, that every person reacts differently to cannabis.
The strain you choose depends on what effect you desire. As mentioned earlier, cannabis has a range of medical uses, but some strains are better for certain conditions than others.
It’s also worth researching the potential adverse effects of the strain. Many of the more common strains, which you can find below, list dry mouth, dry eyes, and dizziness as possible side effects. Marijuana also has the potential to interact with medications you might be taking. Do not operate machinery when using marijuana.
According to user reviews on Leafly, here’s what people might expect from a few of the most popular marijuana strains.
Originating from Acapulco, Mexico, Acapulco Gold is a well-known and highly praised strain of cannabis. It’s noted for its euphoria-inducing, energizing effects. It’s said to reduce fatigue, stress, pain, and even nausea.
Blue Dream is relaxing and soothing, but it isn’t a total sedative. This makes it perfect for easing pain, cramps, or inflammation for when you can’t afford to fall asleep. Plus, it’s said to lift your mood and give you a feeling of euphoria.
Purple Kush is great for inducing a state of bliss so that you feel relaxed, happy, and sleepy. It’s often used for reducing pain and muscle spasms. Its sedating effects means it can be used to reduce insomnia.
A highly energizing, mood-lifting strain, Sour Diesel is great for giving you a burst of productive energy. It also has notable destressing and pain-relieving effects.
Bubba Kush is a relaxing, sleep-inducing strain. It’s perfect for helping you fight insomnia and get some shut-eye. It also offers pain-reducing, stress-relieving results.
Granddaddy Purple is another highly relaxing strain. It’s often praised for its insomnia-fighting and stress-reducing results. Users also note that it can make you feel euphoria and increase hunger, which is great if you’re experiencing a lack of appetite.
Originating from the Hindu Kush mountains near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, Afghan Kush is super relaxing and sleep-inducing. This, too, can help you feel hungry if you’re experiencing a lack of appetite, and can relieve pain.
LA Confidential is another relaxing and sleep-inducing strain that is often used to soothe insomnia. It’s also said to have noticeable anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing effects, which makes it a favorite among people with chronic pain.
Maui Wowie can help you feel super relaxed, yet energetic and creative. It reduces fatigue, too, making it great for days when you need to be productive.
Golden Goat is notable for making users feel euphoric and creative. It’s also great for reducing fatigue and stress while lifting your mood.
Northern Lights is another relaxing, sleep-inducing strain. It’s also known for its mood-lifting effects, and it can be used to relieve insomnia, pain, stress, and depression.
White Widow improves your mood, gives you energy, and relaxes you all at once. It’s said to help reduce pain and stress, as well as feelings of depression. If you’re feeling fatigued, White Widow might help you stay energized and alert.
Super Silver Haze
Another energizing strain, Super Silver Haze is said to produce feelings of euphoria, relieves pain and nausea, and lifts your mood. This makes it excellent for stress relief.
Made famous by the 2008 eponymous movie, Pineapple Express has a pineapple-like scent. It’s relaxing and mood lifting, but is also said to give you an energetic buzz. This is the sort of strain that could be great for productivity.
Fruity Pebbles OG, or FPOG, is associated with inducing euphoria and relaxation, which could make it great for stress relief. It often makes users feel giggly, helps reduce nausea, and increases appetite.
If marijuana is legal in your state and you’re interested in trying — or even growing — different types of cannabis strains, there are a number of products that can make your life a little easier.
Some people might prefer inhaling cannabis over smoking it through a pipe, bong, or joint. This desktop vaporizer heats up cannabis and expels the vapor into a balloon. The person then inhales the air from the balloon.
The vaporizer can be used with dried herbs or liquid concentrates, and can be purchased here.
Magical Butter Kit
Cannabutter — or cannabis-infused butter — is the basis of many edibles. Unfortunately, making cannabutter can be a lengthy and labor-intensive process.
This butter kit, however, makes it easy to infuse herbs into butter. It has its own heating unit and thermostat, which ensures that the product and butter are at the ideal temperature throughout the process.
tCheck Dosage Checker
The tCheck Dosage Checker tests the strength of cannabis-infused liquids — like alcohol-based tinctures. It can also test cannabis-infused olive oil, ghee (clarified butter), and coconut butter, which will help you determine how strong your edibles are before you indulge.
Unfortunately, it only checks liquids, not dried herb.
Grinding up cannabis can be time-consuming, so the Palm Mincer can be quite useful. It fits perfectly into your palm, and it can be used to chop up cannabis quickly and efficiently. What’s more it’s dishwasher safe, so it’s easy to clean off the sticky cannabis resin. You can buy it I here.
Harvest Starter Kit
If you want to start growing your own cannabis, this convenient starter kit contains everything you need to harvest it.
The grow kit includes a trimming tray, a microscope for examining the buds to determine whether they’re ready for harvest, three types of pruning shears, a disinfecting spray for your tools, a drying rack, and gloves.
Note: Even if marijuana is legal in your state, it continues to be illegal under federal law.
Sian Ferguson is a freelance writer and journalist based in Grahamstown, South Africa. Her writing covers issues relating to social justice and health. You can reach out to her on Twitter.
Last medically reviewed on September 26, 2018
Not all cannabis is created equal. Different strains of cannabis produce different effects, and thus can be used for different reasons. If marijuana is legal in your state and you’re looking to try it, but not sure which strains best suit your needs, we’ve got you covered with this beginner’s guide.
12 of the most popular strains on Weedmaps
When it comes to cannabis, “what’s the best weed?” is one of the most asked questions of all time. Truth is there is no answer because weed is such an individualistic experience. Whatever cannabis strains make your body feel great may make someone else’s head hurt; just like whatever cannabis strains make you feel sleepy could make someone else feel energized.
Though the best weed will forever be subjective, the popularity of weed strains is answerable through data and cultural impact. Here are the 12 most popular cannabis strains on the Weedmaps Strains platform, our database of strain information, including genetics and growing conditions, top reported effects and flavors, and retailers carrying strains near you.
Did your favorite make the list?
OG Kush is the world-famous California legend that was first propagated in Florida but popularized in Los Angeles. It has a complex mix of sour, skunky and citrus aromas and flavors, thanks to its myrcene, limonene and caryophyllene terpenes. While its flavors are well-known, the effects are what really made OG Kush famous.
OG Kush is the original hybrid with potent, heavy and long-lasting effects that leave you super stoned, yet not exactly stuck on the couch. Many of the strains we love today come from OG Kush, whether they be crosses or phenotypes, including Kosher Kush, Triangle Kush and SFV OG.
Recently, Seth Rogen confirmed the strain Pineapple Express didn’t exist until they made the movie, so there’s your chicken and egg.
There are plenty of strains with all kinds of genetics being sold as Pineapple Express these days. The most-known variation is from G13 Labs, who crossed Trainwreck and Hawaiian to produce a cannabis cultivar with citrus and tropical flavors, backed by a Kushy earthiness (you can thank Trainwreck for that one).
The high gets you high and a little in your head, but overall you’re just stoned and happy.
AK-47 is one of those super popular strains that people don’t know too much information about, other than the buds are usually dense and flooded with orange hairs. The lineage is thought to be a mix of Colombian, Mexican, Thai and Afghani genetics. One of those under-the-radar popular strains, you know?
Regardless of where and how we got AK-47, the high is well-known for being strong, long-lasting, and mentally stimulating.
Blue Dream is the single most well-known cannabis strain in the world. So much so that there are various genetics and strains that claim to be the real BD. With that in mind, the majority of us know Blue Dream as a cross between a Haze and a Blueberry.
The lovers of Blue Dream champion its sweet flavor and mood-boosting effects that make it the perfect example of a feel-good cannabis strain. It’s reported mood-boosting and head effects are so widespread they have made their way into the mainstream.
Gelato came out of nowhere and set the game ablaze years ago. It’s the most viewed strain on Weedmaps Strains. Californians especially love it. Named after the dessert, this strain has a variety of flavors. Some cultivars are grapey and gassy; some are berry and earthy; some are just straight-up sweet and floral.
Regardless of how your Gelato smells, those potent effects are coming through and fast. Most people reserve Gelato for the latter parts of the day due to its ability to couch-lock you for a few hours.
While there’s no doubting the popularity of Green Crack, it may come as a surprise that it’s the second most viewed strain on Weedmaps Strains.
Green Crack is one of those cultivars that people always suggest for daytime consumption because of its cerebral effects. It usually hits you with an “Oh, HELLO, yup, I’m up” kind of high. The buds are pretty with light green and orange colors and the aroma is usually sour and citrusy.
Purple Haze is one of the strains that people who don’t even smoke know about, largely thanks to the namesake song and 60s psychedelic culture.
Thankfully, it’s such a great bud that it deserves to be celebrated for its influence in weed culture.
The high is potently relaxing, exactly like the experience people attribute to any substance with this name — thanks to Jimi Hendrix.
Sour Diesel, also known as Sour D, Sour Dies or East Coast Sour Diesel, is another strain that has surpassed cannabis culture and is now known in general pop culture. The name comes from its sour and citrus flavor. The diesel kicks in on the aroma when you squeeze the buds, but overall this strain is more lemony and earthy than gassy.
Sour Diesel lineage is thought to be Chemdog 91 and Skunk, though there are now so many Sour Diesel strains on the market that there’s truly no telling if what you’re buying is the true Sour.
Effects-wise, people seek out Sour Diesel to help propel them through the day. Many say it’s energIzing and focusing, others say it’s calming and euphoric.
Wedding Cake is one of the more popular strains of the new age. Thank Seed Junky for that.
Wedding Cake is named for having a sweet and dough-like flavor and thick smoke. It coats your mouth, leaving a lasting aftertaste that hits exactly like a slice of vanilla-flavored cake. Though the aroma holds strong, the flavor falls through with more earthy and floral notes than sweet icing when you smoke it.
Wedding Cake is a high THC strain with content usually averaging around 20 percent or better. Effects come on slow, starting in the head before gradually hitting the body with a floaty feeling. Wedding Cake is the definition of being on Cloud 9.
Another in the line of sweet, cookie-focused strains is Biscotti, the third most viewed strain in our lineup. Biscotti is a Cookies cross of GSC, Gelato #25 and South Florida OG with a sweet and buttery aroma.
Truthfully, Biscotti looks and smells great, but the effects are a little middle of the road. You’ll be stoned, but it’ll be mostly in the head, which isn’t what you’d expect from a brand that’s known for producing heavy hitters like Runtz and Gary Payton.
Kush Mints is fairly new to the world of strains, and because of that, there isn’t much information about it. All that’s known is that it was bred by Seed Junky, who gave us Wedding Cake, so you already know it’s some fire.
Kush Mints is said to have a strong minty flavor and produces relaxed and calming effects.
Forbidden Fruit is one of the tastiest strains out there. It has a mix of tropical, berry, fruity and slightly gassy flavors. It almost like pouring out the blue bag of Skittles into a rolling paper and lighting up. No, better yet, it’s like smoking a glass of Berry Medley V8 Splash.
Forbidden Fruit was bred by crossing Tangie and Cherry Pie, and if you can find it as a concentrate, definitely snatch it up for one of the most terpene-forward weed experiences possible. Cannabis flavors get no better than this.
Find hundreds of strains and where to buy them on Weedmaps Strains.
Though the best weed will forever be subjective, the popularity of weed strains is answerable through data and cultural impact.