Know Your Weed! Complete Guide to Choose The Perfect Marijuana Strain for Your Lifestyle

Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid: Your Essential Guide to Marijuana Strains

January 16, 2024

Selecting the ideal marijuana strain can be daunting, especially when seeking specific effects or medicinal benefits. With a plethora of strains, each offering unique experiences, navigating this world can be overwhelming.

This guide aims to simplify your decision-making process, focusing on the feelings and effects different strains provide, rather than their growth or appearance characteristics.

Whether you're a seasoned user or new to marijuana, understanding that individual responses to each strain vary is crucial. This guide will help you in choosing a strain that aligns with your specific goals and preferences for marijuana use.

Cannabis Culture Revolution: From Casual to Connoisseur

Visiting a dispensary in areas where marijuana is legal reveals a vast array of strains, highlighting the evolution of cannabis culture. The traditional image of the laid-back stoner is fading, making way for a more discerning, sophisticated cannabis consumer.

This shift mirrors the way connoisseurs appreciate fine wines or craft beers, with each marijuana strain boasting its own history, cultivation method, aroma, taste, and unique effects. The categorization and understanding of cannabis have become increasingly intricate, reflecting its growing status as a nuanced and celebrated substance.

Unlocking the Secrets of Cannabis: Exploring Strains, THC, CBD, and Terpenes

Each cannabis strain is characterized by unique features, including its aroma, taste, and the effects it has on the brain and body. This diversity stems from the varying levels of THC and CBD, the primary active compounds in cannabis, and a wide range of terpenes present in each strain. THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is known for its psychoactive effects, offering a high and relieving symptoms like pain and nausea. CBD (cannabidiol), on the other hand, is non-intoxicating and known for alleviating anxiety, pain, inflammation, and various medical conditions.

Related article: THC and CBD, and the Entourage Effect!

Terpenes, aromatic compounds found in plants including cannabis, play a significant role in defining a strain's scent and flavor. They are secreted by the same glands that produce THC and CBD, contributing to the unique characteristics of each strain. Common terpenes in cannabis include myrcene, caryophyllene, limonene, and terpinolene. The interaction between terpenes and cannabinoids, known as the entourage effect, is crucial in shaping the effects of different cannabis strains.

Related article: What Are Terpenoids And What Do They Do?

Despite these differences, it's important to note that about 75% of marijuana strains have almost the same levels of THC and CBD, whether they are classified as sativa, indica, or hybrid. However, the minor cannabinoids and terpenes in these strains create varied effects. For instance, Blue Dream and Sour Diesel, both containing about 19% THC and very little CBD, offer different experiences due to their distinct terpene profiles. Blue Dream is dominant in myrcene and pinene, known for their relaxing and anti-inflammatory effects, while Sour Diesel is rich in caryophyllene and limonene, associated with energizing and uplifting effects.

When choosing a cannabis strain, it's more accurate to consider its chemical profile, including both cannabinoids and terpenes, rather than simply categorizing it as indica, sativa, or hybrid. Understanding these components and their interactions can guide you in selecting a strain that aligns with your desired effects and preferences. 

Breaking Down Cannabis Basics: Understanding Different Types and Strains for Everyday Users

Cannabis, commonly referred to as marijuana, includes several types, with Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis being the primary ones. However, in this discussion, we'll focus on the more popular ones found in stores and dispensaries: Sativa, Indica, and their hybrids.

Cannabis Sativa plants are typically tall, reaching up to 6 meters, with long, narrow leaves. They thrive in tropical climates with abundant sunshine. Sativas are known for their uplifting and energizing effects, often associated with a cerebral, psychoactive high that can enhance productivity and creativity.

Cannabis Indica, in contrast, is characterized by a shorter, bushier appearance, usually not exceeding 3-6 feet in height. Its leaves are broader and roundish, often exhibiting a bluish-green hue. Indica strains are reputed for their relaxing and calming effects, offering pain relief and aiding in sleep.

Hybrid cannabis strains combine elements of both Sativa and Indica. Their effects depend on the dominant strain, ranging from Sativa-dominant hybrids, which are more uplifting, to Indica-dominant hybrids known for relaxation. Balanced hybrids aim to offer a well-rounded experience, combining both relaxation and mental stimulation.

It's important to note that the distinction between Sativa and Indica in terms of their effects is not scientifically proven and is more of a cultural categorization. The real difference lies in their appearance and growth patterns. The effects of a cannabis strain are more accurately determined by its chemical profile, including cannabinoids like THC and CBD, and terpenes, which are aromatic compounds contributing to the strain's unique aroma and flavor. The combination of these factors, along with individual biology and tolerance, and the method of consumption, determines the effects experienced.

Indica, Sativa or Hybrid?

This is essentially Marijuana 101, basic stuff you should know. Understanding the nuances of Indica, Sativa, and hybrid strains is important to ensure a pleasurable experience when you're high. Remember, everyone reacts differently, but the effects mentioned below are commonly experienced by most people.

1. Cannabis Indica Strains: An Indica strain is akin to the type of cannabis that induces a relaxed bodily sensation, often referred to as "couch lock." It proves beneficial in alleviating conditions such as mild anxiety, insomnia, nausea, chronic pain, muscle spasms, and more. Additionally, it might even trigger cravings for snacks – don't hesitate to try drizzling Nutella over some popcorn the next time you enjoy Indica; trust me, it's a delightful combination!

Viewing Indica from a recreational perspective, it's all about unwinding and experiencing a profound sense of tranquility. On occasion, when you consume it, you might even encounter a tingling sensation throughout your body – commonly termed a "body high." Certain Indica strains can induce such deep relaxation that you might find yourself firmly seated on your couch, making it perfect for a cozy movie night or simply unwinding at home. Many individuals opt for Indica strains after a long day at work because they excel at dissipating stress, soothing bodily discomfort, and facilitating sound sleep.

From my personal experience, Indica strains have proven effective in managing my social anxiety, although they can occasionally lead to a racing mind as well. It significantly depends on the day, my pre-smoking mood, and the specific strain I choose to use.

In terms of flavor, Indica strains frequently boast a sweet or fruity taste. So, if you're not fond of bitter flavors, this might be an excellent choice for your palate.

Remember, these are some of the typical sensations you might experience when consuming Indica, but it can vary from person to person. To truly comprehend its effects, you need to give it a try yourself.

Our Favorite Indica Strains:

  • Hindu Kush: This variety offers a sweet and somewhat pine-like flavor. It excels at inducing a sense of bodily calmness and mental contentment.

  • Granddaddy Purple: Picture the taste of grapes combined with earthiness. This strain is perfect for experiencing dreaminess and total relaxation, making it ideal for a movie night.

  • 9lb Hammer: With an earthy flavor profile, this strain has a profoundly sedative effect, often likened to a strong "couch-lock" sensation. It's exceptionally relaxing.

2. Cannabis Sativa Strains: Sativa is a type of cannabis that delivers a high without making you feel overly lethargic or "couch-locked." It's particularly beneficial for managing conditions like chronic pain, nausea, or daytime fatigue.

When you partake in Sativa strains, you'll experience a sense of refreshment, upliftment, and heightened mental focus. It primarily affects your mind rather than your body. In my experience, Sativa has the remarkable ability to make you feel genuinely good, even when life's not going smoothly. It's the kind that induces laughter, which can be great in certain situations but not necessarily appropriate for others. For example, it's best not to indulge in it before attending a funeral (a story I could share another time).

Related article: 7 Tips For Your First Time Smoking Marijuana 

One noteworthy point is that Sativa strains might accelerate your thought processes, making you feel like your mind is racing and you're eager to share your thoughts with others. It's like a catalyst for engaging in profound conversations, especially with close acquaintances. Certain Sativa strains can be immensely helpful in reducing social anxiety, which is why I personally favor them.

However, it's essential to recognize that Sativa strains can also trigger anxiety in some individuals, as they may lead to overthinking negative thoughts. The fact is, everyone reacts differently to Sativa, so predicting its exact effects on you can be challenging.

Ultimately, it boils down to your individual disposition. Take your time and experiment with various Sativa strains to discover the one that suits you best.

Speaking of Sativa, it can also enhance your creativity and analytical abilities. You'll likely notice this, especially if you're involved in activities like writing, painting, or other artistic pursuits. Many artists, musicians, and thinkers swear by Sativa when they're facing creative blocks. In general, it intensifies your sensory experiences – colors become more vibrant, food tastes exceptionally delicious, movies seem funnier, and time may appear to slow down, which can be either intriguing or peculiar depending on your activities.

Regarding flavor, Sativa strains often exhibit an earthy or musky taste, reminiscent of pine.

Now, allow me to introduce you to a few of our favorite Sativa strains:

  • Sour Diesel: Despite its gasoline-like aroma, it actually induces relaxation and sparks your creative inspiration.

  • Trainwreck: With a lemony and earthy flavor, this strain delivers a robust impact both in your mind and body. A word of caution – avoid excessive consumption, as it can be quite potent and may lead to dizziness.

  • Maui Wowie: Imagine the delightful fusion of pineapple and sweetness. This strain will motivate you to embrace the outdoors and immerse yourself in nature.

    The Differences Between Indica and Sativa

    3. Cannabis Hybrid Strains: Hybrid strains are a fusion of Indica and Sativa characteristics. Some lean more towards Indica, others towards Sativa, and some strike a balance right in the middle. The world of Hybrid strains is ever-expanding, with experts continually blending different types to create new varieties.

    Hybrids can be categorized into three main types:

    1. Sativa-dominant Hybrids: These strains provide both a cerebral high and a pleasant body relaxation. They offer a combination of mental clarity and physical well-being.

    2. Even Hybrids: If you desire a harmonious blend of both mind and body highs, even Hybrids are an excellent choice. They strike a balance between the two.

    3. Indica-dominant Hybrids: These strains are ideal for alleviating pain throughout the body while inducing a calming head high. They are well-suited for winding down in the evening or addressing minor daytime discomfort.

    Once you determine your preferred cannabis type, you'll have a shorter list of strains to consider. It's akin to a process of elimination to discover the perfect fit for your preferences.

    Additionally, don't overlook the importance of checking the THC and CBD levels in each strain you try. Even strains within the same category can affect you differently based on their THC and CBD content.

    Now, allow me to introduce you to some of our favorite Hybrid strains:

    • Wedding Cake: Some users describe its flavor as reminiscent of sweet vanilla frosting. It delivers a delightful head high that fills you with happiness.

    • OG Kush: Known for its earthy and somewhat woody taste, OG Kush induces a cerebral high that can leave you feeling goofy and cheerful for an extended period.

    • White Widow: With a citrusy and earthy flavor profile, White Widow cultivates a sense of happiness and sociability. It makes you feel ready for engaging conversations and a good time. 

    THC and CBD Percentage Levels and the Entourage Effect

    Before delving further into this article, I highly recommend taking a look at our comprehensive piece on THC and CBD, as well as the concept of the Entourage Effect. Understanding how these two compounds interact with our nervous system is pivotal when selecting a strain.

    Comparing THC levels to CBD is akin to comparing apples to monkeys. When we mention "high THC percentage," it typically denotes anything above 20%, but in some instances, it can drop to under 1%. Conversely, a "high CBD percentage" generally ranges up to about 1% (sometimes slightly less, such as 0.6% or 0.5%), with a few exceptions.

    Now, here's a crucial point: even though CBD doesn't induce the psychedelic effects associated with THC, it holds significant importance. I used to believe that only high-THC products mattered, but I was completely mistaken!

    Despite not being as potent as THC, CBD possesses numerous beneficial properties on its own. However, when it collaborates with THC, it enhances your overall cannabis experience. CBD can instill that relaxed bodily sensation only when it interacts with THC. Therefore, the synergy between both THC and CBD is what generates the "body high."

    Experimenting with varying THC and CBD concentrations in products allows you to manage your body's tolerance more effectively. Essentially, it reduces the need for extended breaks from cannabis use. Moreover, it assists in determining which strains align best with your physical and mental well-being.

    The cannabis industry is witnessing a surge in research and the development of new products. It's growing at an astonishing rate, with novel marijuana varieties emerging almost daily. For instance, strains with exceptionally high CBD levels, reaching up to 7.5%, and extremely low THC (less than 0.6%), are being crafted. These strains cater to individuals seeking the benefits of marijuana without experiencing pronounced psychedelic effects, yet without the need for pure CBD either

    THC and CBD, and the Entourage Effect

    How to Buy Quality Marijuana

    Ensuring you acquire high-quality marijuana is of paramount importance for your safety. Here are some valuable tips to guide you:

    1. Visual Appearance: Look for buds that are meticulously trimmed by hand. Avoid loose, open, or airy buds. Check for vibrant green hues with assorted mixed colors; steer clear of brown, tan, yellow, red, or white buds. Buds that appear machine-chopped or poorly trimmed should be avoided.

    2. Aroma: Quality marijuana should possess a robust and pleasing aroma. Steer clear of weed that lacks scent or exudes a hay-like odor, as it may indicate weak potency or improper curing.

    3. Trichomes and Crystals: Premium buds exhibit visible trichomes and THC crystals, lending them a glistening allure. The presence of sparkly THC crystals on the buds is a telltale sign of quality.

    4. Density and Size: Densely packed, larger buds typically signify better quality. Avoid small, fluffy nugs, as they may have lower potency.

    5. Seed and Stem Content: Superior marijuana should contain minimal to no seeds.Excessive stems in buds contribute unnecessary weight and should be avoided.

    6. Moisture and Curing: Buds should strike a balance between not being overly wet or overly dry. Proper curing is crucial for preserving flavor and potency.

    7. Stickiness: Sticky buds often indicate higher THC content and superior quality. In fact, quality marijuana can be so adhesive that handling it can be a challenge.

    8. Hair and Pistil Colors: Different strains exhibit distinct characteristics; Sativa strains may appear fluffier with more prominent pistils, while Indica strains tend to be denser. Look for vibrant, colorful hairs (often orange) on the buds.

    9. Avoid Mold and Bugs: Exercise caution and stay clear of buds exhibiting signs of mold or pests, such as gray fuzziness or a powdery substance.

    10. Check for Reviews and Ratings: Utilize online platforms like iheartjane and leafly to research strains and dispensaries.User reviews can offer valuable insights into product quality.

    11. Know Your Supplier: Familiarize yourself with reputable farms or suppliers renowned for consistent quality.

    12. Consider Smell and Appearance: While dispensaries may emphasize THC%, CBD%, and strain type, using your senses to assess smell and appearance remains invaluable.

    13. Avoid Overly Compressed Buds: Opt for fluffy buds over overly compressed ones, as they suggest better handling and transportation practices.

    14. Be Cautious of Extremely Dry or Fragile Buds: Extremely desiccated buds with minimal odor may indicate inferior quality.

    15. Price Isn't the Sole Indicator: While higher prices can sometimes correlate with better quality, it's not an absolute rule. Rely on other quality indicators for a comprehensive assessment.

    Keep in mind that personal preferences can influence your definition of "good" or "bad" marijuana. Strive to strike a balance between various factors to make well-informed choices.

    That's all for now, folks. Venture out, explore, and discover your perfect strain while staying safe and enjoying your experience.

    Get Your Weekly Dose of Green

    Subscribe for Exclusive Cannabis News, Weekly Deals, and the Industry's Latest Tech and Innovations!