One of the most important topics among cannabis users today is the strain of the product itself. But what is a strain? Where did it come from? What do particular strains do? And where this all started might be confusing to you. HighHello wants you to be an informed consumer. This guide to cannabis strains will help you navigate the sometimes sticky world of weed.
Upon walking into a dispensary, you will no doubt be greeted by a budtender asking you, “which strain would you like?” But this can blindside most people if they are still determining what a strain is. The options are plentiful, and the lingo could be more straightforward. So, let’s go to the beginning, shall we?
A cannabis history lesson
It is believed that cannabis was born in central Asia. As time progressed and people started paying attention, the plant was taken out of its native Asia and traveled around the world. People that were intrigued with the plant re-planted it, re-cultivated it, and it morphed and adapted to new environments. These changes altered the physical and chemical characteristics of the plant. These landrace strains are the original strains of cannabis.
As time moved on, more people started experimenting with the plant. They began crossbreeding the strains combining female and male plants to create new varieties (strains) of the plant. Today, there are over 700 strains of the cannabis plant worldwide.
Unsurprisingly, most of these experiments and cross-cultivation were done behind closed doors due to prohibition. Today, there is more information, research, and scientific data on cannabis than ever. And yes, with the legalization of cannabis, you can expect more to come.
A view from the top: Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid.
No doubt you have heard the terms Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid. Most people associate Sativa strains with a cerebral high and Indica strains with a more mellow body high, assuming a Hybrid is a healthy mix of the two. But, the truth is, these terms only refer to the plant’s physical characteristics and molecular structure, not its effect on the body.
To simplify the strain game, consider Indica and Sativa as “parent” strains. From these two strains, all other strains have evolved. Most strains today are all hybrids in some way or the other, with a dominant strain leaning in one way or the other. Make sense?
The building blocks of a cannabis strain
Now that we have addressed the India and Sativa issue let’s talk about how they combine to make a particular strain. Three main variables go into a strain that makes it unique. This is called a strain “profile.”
Cannabinoids: There are over 100 individual cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. These cannabinoids connect with the body’s endocannabinoid system to provide a variety of cerebral and bodily effects such as elevated mood and pain relief. The concentrations of these cannabinoids are what give a strain its different characteristics.
For example, some strains are higher in THC and lower in CBD, resulting in a more intoxicating effect. Some strains have no CBD at all. Still, others formulated for more medical uses have higher CBD ratios. This reduces the psychoactive experience for the user while still capitalizing on the medical benefits THC can provide. The options seem endless regarding cannabis strains and how they work in the body.
Terpenes: If cannabinoids are the stars of this show, terpenes are the best supporting actors. Terpenes are molecules within the plant that contribute to its unique flavors and aromas. But that is certainly not the only thing they do. Terpenes work directly with cannabinoids to support their function in the body.
Yes, cannabinoids will work well on their own. But, when combined with terpenes, they work so much better, providing more satisfying results for the user. Terpenes can support pain relief, act as an anti-anxiety, and provide anti-inflammatory benefits when combined with cannabinoids.
There are over 200 terpenes found in the cannabis plant. The most popular are pinene, giving cannabis its forestry, earthy aroma, and limonene, with hints of citrus.
Environment: Cannabis is grown all over the world. With numerous environmental variables in place, such as climate, and soil nutrient composition, it makes sense that different environments generate different strains of cannabis.
Which strain is suitable for you?
When deciding upon which strain might be right for you, consider these things:
Do you have a preference for flavor? What about the aroma? Are there particular terpene profiles that provide medical benefits you wish to achieve? These are all things you will want to speak to your HighHello budtender about.
What are your goals?
What are you trying to achieve with a particular strain? While everyone responds to cannabis in their own way, cannabinoids and their companion terpenes all react differently, giving different strains distinct effects.
Suppose you are seeking a recreational experience where you will laugh until dawn. In that case, you might choose a strain high in THC and Sativa dominant. If you desire a daytime solution for pain relief, a Sativa dominant with low THC and high CBD might be just what the doctor orders for you. Need to sleep better at night? An Indica-dominant hybrid with the cannabinoid CBN could be a dream.
Choose your strength
Not all cannabis strains are created equally, as you now know. Some are stronger than others resulting in a very high experience. Other strains are more mellow and sedating. Some people wish to not feel the effects of THC at all. These are all options you now have with the multiple strains of cannabis currently available.
How is your cannabis grown?
Not everyone is concerned with where and how their cannabis is grown. But, if this is important to you, here are some questions to consider. Do you want cannabis that was grown in soil or hydroponically? Does it need to be organic? Do you prefer if it’s grown indoors or out? A little research will inform you of the benefits and drawbacks of each growing method so you can make an informed decision.
Medical benefits you wish to achieve.
Medical benefits are certainly something to consider. There are cannabis strains specifically cultivated to address medical issues from treating cancer to pain management to autism and anxiety. Speak with your physician and licensed medical marijuana professional about your symptoms and possible cannabis solutions.
What’s your budget?
As with almost any other product on the market today, there are different price points to consider. Do you want a Hyundai or a BMW? Both of those vehicles bring you to your desired destination safely. The difference is in the price. The same philosophy applies to cannabis strains as well.
Ask for the testing report
All cannabis purchased through a licensed dispensary has been tested by a lab. These tests determine exactly which cannabinoids are in the strain, the terpene profile, and if there are any pesticides in the plant which could be harmful. Suppose you want that extra layer of confidence in knowing your strain inside and out. In that case, a report is available for your consideration.
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