There is no official guidebook for choosing cannabis. Some people go back to the same strain, time and time again, without branching out to different varieties. Other people may take advantage of the opportunity to experiment with varying potency levels and strains of cannabis. If you can’t seem to find your groove in the cannabis world, you may need to step back and rethink your cannabis shopping routine.
You need to answer a few key questions before beginning your search for the perfect marijuana strain. There are also some facts about the different strains of cannabis that you may not already know. With so much variety in the marijuana market, it may seem easier to return to using the same thing every time. Before you rebuy your favourite cannabis strain, consider what you’re hoping to achieve, how strong you want your cannabis to be, and whether indica or sativa is right for you. You may end up landing on an entirely new and different cannabis strain you never knew existed.
What Are You Hoping to Achieve?
The first thing you need to decide before beginning your search for a new or different marijuana strain is what you’re hoping to achieve. If you’re looking for a hard-hitting, potent strain of cannabis or something just to take the edge off, you’ll want to pay close attention to the THC concentration level. THC concentration ranges from 10% in some cannabis flowers to 30% in some of the more potent cannabis strains.
If you’re looking for cannabis flowers with certain aromas or flavours, you’ll want to focus more on the terpene content in each cannabis product. Whether you end up choosing THC edibles, THC oil, or cannabis flower, the terpenes have a significant impact on the tastes and smell you’ll experience.
Choosing Your Marijuana Potency
Cannabis can come in many different potency levels. Marijuana strains with lower-level THC concentration are best for people who are just starting with cannabis products. If you have a little more experience with cannabis and different strains, you can choose a cannabis-based product with a higher THC concentration. But what is considered low or high concentration?
About 50 years ago, the answer to that question was much different than today. In the 1970s, the average THC concentration in cannabis flower was 1.5%. By the 1990s, THC concentration was a little more potent, reaching about 4.0%. Today, it’s normal to find cannabis strains with 20% THC concentration and higher. The highest you’ll likely find in a dispensary is about 32%.
The standard cannabis potency didn’t change quickly. As more people learned how to grow and harvest cannabis, it became easier to use selective breeding. Many growers who later became cannabis product manufacturers learned how to perfect their growing techniques to step up the intensity in their homegrown strains.
If you’re looking for a cannabis strain on the higher end of the concentration spectrum, try a product like Grease Monkey. This indica-dominant hybrid strain of cannabis can reach up to 27% THC concentration. This cannabis flower is a perfect example of what can happen when growers take part in crossbreeding. Grease Monkey cannabis is the result of crossbreeding Gorilla Glue cannabis and Cookies and Cream. Both of those strains come packed with THC content, so combining them gives you an even more potent strain of cannabis.
Some cannabis flower strains can vary in THC concentration depending on how growers plant it and how they extract the THC from the cannabis plant. Cannabis strains like the sativa-dominant Lemon Pound Cake can range in potency from 12%, which is very low for today’s standards, up to 25%, which is on the higher end. When you’re shopping for different strains of cannabis flowers, make sure you pay close attention to the labels and check the THC concentration. Products you buy in one dispensary or online shop may be quite different when you buy them elsewhere.
Here’s a pro tip to keep in mind when you’re trying new types of cannabis. Some studies show CBD cannabinoids, the second most abundant compound in cannabis, may help lessen the effects of THC. If you try a cannabis strain that’s too potent, some people suggest using a little CBD oil or taking a CBD edible to reduce the THC effects. Taking CBD to reduce the high may or may not work for you, but it’s worth a shot if you find yourself in this situation.
Indica or Sativa Marijuana Strains
Dispensaries and online cannabis retailers often separate the different cannabis strains into three distinct categories: indica, sativa, or hybrid. When you’re shopping for new cannabis strains, don’t forget, there aren’t many pure indica strains or sativa strains anymore. The few pure indica and sativa cannabis strains remaining are difficult to find and more expensive than hybrid strains of cannabis. Almost every cannabis product you buy will be a hybrid strain of marijuana. You can find indica-dominant strains, sativa-dominant strains, and cannabis-derived from equal amounts of indica genetics and sativa genetics.
There’s something interesting about these designations. These titles have sparked a heated debate over whether defining cannabis as indica and sativa makes sense in the modern marijuana market. Although many people believe there’s a significant difference between the effects of indica-dominant cannabis and sativa-dominant cannabis, there isn’t much science to prove that theory.
This marijuana theory dates back to the 18th century. A biologist named Jean Baptiste Lamarck decided to separate cannabis into two species, which we refer to as cannabis indica and cannabis sativa. Depending on where the cannabis was growing, it would adopt specific distinct characteristics that would alter its effects and appearance. Short plants with broad leaves became known as indica cannabis strains. Taller plants with narrow leaves became sativa. indica strains, which supposedly help you relax and sleep. Sativa strains allegedly give you energy and boost your mood. These category designations were the product of one man’s opinion, and during the late 1960s and early 1970s, we saw a re-emergence of these terms. Now, we can’t seem to get away from these designations, even if science says we should.
On one side of the debate, some people stand by these designations. They believe that indica strains and sativa strains lead to different experiences for the mind and body. On the scientific side of the debate, they argue the cannabinoids, terpenes, trichomes, and flavonoids in each cannabis plant make the experience different. Don’t focus so much on the indica versus sativa strain designations. Instead, try to identify which products work best for you and what type of terpenes and trichomes they contain. That will help you seek other similar cannabis products such as cannabis edibles, THC oil, or different strains of marijuana flower that feature the same compounds.
The Importance of Terpenes
Even the most experienced cannabis connoisseurs may not understand what terpenes are or the vital role they play in the makeup of cannabis plants. Terpenes are chemical compounds commonly found in plants such as hemp plants and cannabis plants. They give these plants their unique fragrances, aromas, and flavours. They also help protect cannabis and hemp from bugs and pests.
The average cannabis plant has more than 120 different terpenes. They live inside the tiny glittery hairs, called trichomes on the outside of the cannabis bud. These tiny compounds are also believed to be the component in the cannabis plant responsible for producing specific effects. They’re likely more responsible for how a specific strain of cannabis makes you feel than the plant’s indica or sativa designation.
Some cannabis strains under the Indica category may make you feel calm and relaxed. Indica may have nothing to do with the experience, but that particular strain of cannabis may be full of terpenes producing a calming effect.
Some retailers and cannabis product companies include the full terpene profile of every cannabis strain with their product information. Knowing which terpenes exist in each cannabis strain helps separate the products you like from the rest of the cannabis strains. Once you choose a few that work well for you, compare their terpene profiles to see which ones seem to be consistently present in the strains you choose. Many cannabis concentrates such as wax, shatter, and sauce may include information about their terpenes and cannabinoids. You may not find many edibles with terpene profiles because there’s almost no way to know which terpenes are in most cannabis-infused edibles. That’s because most cannabis and hemp-infused edibles use a mix of many cannabis strains. That would make it nearly impossible to list every cannabinoid and terpene in the cannabis or CBD-infused edibles.
Here’s a look at some of the most common terpenes in common cannabis strains.
Myrcene is the most common terpene in cannabis strains. Myrcene doesn’t exist only in cannabis plants or hemp plants. This terpene also forms inside fruits and herbs such as mangoes, basil, and thyme.
Another common terpene that you may already know about is limonene. You usually find this terpene is in citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, and limes. It’s also common in strains of cannabis that people describe as energizing and mood-boosting.
Several popular cannabis strains feature the pinene terpene. This compound is known for its pine tree aromas and its intense flavours. Pinene lives inside many herbs, including basil, dill, and rosemary, which all send out powerful aromas. One thing you may not know is there are two types of pinene terpenes. One is alpha-pinene, and the other is beta-pinene. They both produce different flavours and aromas, so look closely at the label if it lists this terpene.
The last on the list of most common terpenes in today’s cannabis flowers is caryophyllene. This terpene features an intense aroma similar to pepper. This spicy compound is responsible for giving many strains of cannabis that pungent black pepper kick. You can smell and taste the spicy notes in this terpene. It’s one compound that you either love or hate. Some strains of cannabis plants have an abundance of caryophyllene, and they are much more potent than strains without this terpene.
There are many more terpenes than the ones listed above. These four compounds are primary terpenes and typically dominate the other, lesser-known terpenes in some strains of cannabis.
Why You Should Try Different Marijuana Strains
You’ll never know the effects a specific strain of cannabis may have on you until you try that strain. Everyone reacts differently to these substances, so what works for one person may not work for you. Some types of cannabis work better with specific devices. Each strain of cannabis has its unique compound profile, made up of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. These compounds produce specific effects, and those effects change as you increase or decrease the potency of each one.
Even if you know the full terpene and cannabinoid profile of a strain of cannabis, you won’t know for sure if the chemical balance is right for you until you use it at least once. Trying different cannabis strains and THC-infused products also help eliminate chemical profiles that don’t work for you.
There are a few rules to live by when you’re shopping for or using cannabis products. Start low and take it slow. Choosing a lower dose than you want is better than picking a cannabis strain with a higher THC concentration. You can always increase your consumption of the lower dose cannabis product until you reach your desired goal. Trying different strains of marijuana is also helpful in weeding out the types of cannabis that induce side effects. Possible reactions to marijuana include dry mouth, dry eyes, dizziness, and nausea.
If you’re already taking any prescribed pharmaceuticals, make sure you consult your doctor before using THC-based products or even CBD. Although research is slim, a few studies show there’s a potential for severe adverse reactions when THC compounds or CBD compounds mix with certain medications. Getting that extra advice before jumping into the world of THC can help you avoid having an awful cannabis experience.