In this age of dispensaries and online buying, weed smokers are exposed to a much wider variety of strains than ever before. This diversity of options can be bewildering: which strain to smoke?
That depends on what you’re in for! People turn to cannabis for a variety of motivations—some are looking for better sleep, others for help with medical issues, others for a party-enhancer. Picking the right strain is crucial to getting what you’re looking for out of this versatile plant.
Without further ado, here is our official guide to picking the strain that’s right for you.
What is a marijuana strain?
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 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.
What are the side effects of smoking weed?
Different strains of marijuana can have different amounts of THC, and depending on who is distributing the weed, there’s always a risk of other chemicals or drugs lacing it. Marijuana provided by medicinal dispensaries is generally considered safe. Side effects can occur at any time, although some side effects are dose dependent, as mentioned below.
Some side effects of weed can include:
- dry mouth
- dry eyes
- increased appetite (commonly called “the munchies”)
- dissociation or altered state
- altered sense of time
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- high blood pressure
- impaired memory
In very high doses, weed can also cause hallucinations, delusions, or psychosis. This is rare, though, and not the norm. Some experts believe that people who experience psychosis from marijuana may already be at risk for psychosis.
In some people with bipolar disorder, weed might worsen manic states. Frequent use of marijuana might increase depression symptoms and the risk of depression. If you have a mental health condition, this is something to consider and perhaps speak with your doctor or therapist about.
If you take any medications, either prescription or over-the-counter, it’s worth checking to see if there are any possible interactions. Weed can increase the effects of alcohol, negatively interact with blood clotting medications, and increase the risk of mania in people who take SSRI antidepressants. Talk with your doctor about the medications and supplements you are taking, and whether there are any known adverse interactions with weed.
Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid: Understanding the Three Major Strains of Weed
As mentioned above, there are primarily three strains of cannabis and each one has a distinct set of properties and characteristics of its own. Let us take a detailed look at all three of them individually to understand them better:
What is the Indica Strain of Cannabis?
Generally found in the South and Central Asian regions such as India, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey, this is the kind of cannabis that was once popular in the Hindu Kush mountain ranges. The plants in this strain of cannabis are shorter compared to Sativa plants and have a thick and bushy growth. When you compare them with the Sativa strain of cannabis plants, these plants usually grow faster and produce a higher yield as well. This is the kind of weed which will help you kick back and relax, thanks to having more CBD content than THC. It has a number of medicinal benefits as well, such as pain relief and anxiety relief.
What is the Sativa Strain of Cannabis?
The Sativa strain of Cannabis is commonly found in regions which have long and sunny days such as West Asia, Central America and Africa. This is quite different compared to the Indica strains as the THC component here is much higher compared to CBD and this is the kind of weed which will help you get ‘high’ and boosts creativity levels. When you compare them with the Indica plants which are short and bushy, the Sativa plants tend to grow very tall – as tall as 12ft sometimes. They have thinner leaves in comparison and take a longer time to grow than the Indica strain.