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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.

Acapulco Gold

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

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

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.

Sour Diesel

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

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

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.

Afghan Kush

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Pineapple Express

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

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.

Volcano Vaporizer

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.

Palm Mincer

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.

The Best Marijuana Strains for the Beginner Smoker

Wednesday July 29, 2015

W ith increased access to good, often-legal marijuana options, many people are considering taking a toke – either for their first time, or after many years of not using weed at all. While this is a great thing for the industry overall, it does present all newcomers with a few challenges.

If you’ve never smoked or if you did so recently, the number of options available can be a bit overwhelming. So exactly what strains should you be trying and how should you be consuming them?

How to get the best experience from your first time:

As a beginner, it’s important to understand some of the basics of marijuana.

First, the main components that you will see emphasized within a description of a marijuana strain is THC and CBD content. Both are present, but each have been either increased or decreased through selective breeding to get the desired amount in each strain. Generally speaking, the higher the THC content in the strain, the more psychoactive properties will be present to impact your brain and get you ‘high’. CBD’s are another cannabinoid known to counter the psychoactive effects of THC and offer many pain relieving properties but won’t actually get you stoned.

Indicas and sativas are two other distinctions you should be aware of: Indicas will relax your body but possibly keep you on the couch for a while. Sativa strains are more likely to energize you, but can come with an increase in paranoia and anxiety. Having said this, there are also many hybrids that attempt to get the best of both in one strain, which allows for a more balanced high.

When you start looking for a strain to try for the first time, check out ones with a lower THC content and work your way up. This way, you’ll be able to gage what you can handle, starting with a body high and moving into a more intense head high with strains with a higher THC content. Whatever strain you try, make sure that you start slow!

Strain Recommendations:

Plushberry

Plushberry is an 80% Indica strain that brings about a wonderful feeling of relaxation for both the mind and body. Like most Indicas, this strain is potent but doesn’t bring about too heavy of a sedation which makes it a great choice for the beginner who wants to take it slow and hang out. As the name suggests, the strain has a nice berry odor.

Jack Herer

This strain originated from the Netherlands and is a 55% sativa hybrid. It’s considered a high-quality strain that promotes clear-headedness and feelings of happiness, creativity and increased energy — all with a great earthy, pine-scent. Simply put, this strain will give any beginner a positive experience after just one toke!

Harlequin

Harlequin is one of the more interesting new strains on the scene. Although it is 75% sativa dominated which could make for a more intense energetic experience, it is also high in CBD, which balances everything out. This means a user will be able to relax and alleviate pain without too much sedation — a great option for someone new to marijuana. Note that this strain can taste differently depending on the batch.

Hindu Kush

Hindu Kush is a classic strain of cannabis that people have been enjoying for years. And there’s a reason for its popularity — it’s 100% Indica, which means it’ll relax you to the core and can help many with health issues like nausea and anxiety. With a strong, earthy smell, it’s worth trying for any cannabis user, especially those with health issues. Note that this is a more powerful strain, so don’t go overboard.

If you are worried about the paranoia-inducing effects of cannabis, ACDC might be of interest to you. This CBD-rich strain won’t produce any psychotropic effects, only a relaxed body sensation and great pain management especially for those experiencing epilepsy, anxiety and pain management. For those wanting a true body high over a head high, check this one out.

How to consume marijuana for beginners:

So you chose a strain that you feel comfortable with, but now how do you smoke it? There are many options (we’ve listed three below), each with its own advantages and disadvantages and differences in the actual high, so it’s important to take notes and find the method that you favor the most.

Bong/Joint

You can smoke it in a pipe, bong or from a joint, which are typically the faster and cheaper way to get high. Smoking effects are often intense and can come on quickly, taking only 10 to 20 minutes to reach its full effect. Note that this method is harder on your lungs compared to the other options out there.

Vaporizer

One can also vaporize, which requires more of an investment for the actual contraption. The advantages of a vaporizer are that it only burns the THC, not the plant matter, making usage less of a health concern compared to using a bong or pipe. A high from a vaporizer tends to be shorter and less intense.

Edibles

Eating edibles is a popular option, but keep in mind that it can take up to 2 hours before full effects are felt, even when consuming smaller doses (5-10 mg). As a result, many first-timers can find themselves in quite the predicament because they eat too many within a small period of time as they don’t feel the effects right away. Just remember: You can always eat more, so take it slow.

If you've never smoked marijuana or if you're still new to the scene, the number of options available can be a bit overwhelming.