With the legalization of marijuana expanding across North America, a public market has blossomed giving consumers access to a plethora of cannabis strains. Cannabis users have traditionally been at the mercy of their dealer’s stash, but no more! Dispensaries are opening up throughout the continent at a breakthrough pace, each trying to capitalize on the newly opened market.
The rapid appearance of dispensaries has provided a level of availability and variety of cannabis the public has never known before. This is beneficial to consumers in terms of safety, supply, alternate product availability, and the creation of market competition. The variety of products available is arguably the largest gain for consumers, especially when considering medicinal users. Access to a wide selection of strains leaves medicinal cannabis users more likely to procure the bud best suited to treat their symptoms.
With selection, though, comes decision. For the casual smoker or the novice to recreational or medicinal marijuana, the choice of strain can be intimidating. Let’s break down some bud basics to help educate you on navigating strains.
Cannabis can be separated into two main subspecies- sativa and indica. This is likely the most important distinction when choosing your strain, as the two provide somewhat opposing results. There are also a wide range of hybrids available, made through the breeding of parent plants from the contrasting subspecies, and we will touch on those as well.
Sativa strains are commonly recommended for daytime use as they are known for being uplifting and motivating. Sativas provide an energetic mental high and because of this, the sativa subspecies is known for helping treat mental issues such as anxiety and depression. Another upside of sativas is that they are also known for fostering creativity. If you’re looking to be uplifted, creative, or for help with anxiety or depression, a pure sativa strain may give you the desired effects.
Indica strains contrastingly provide a relaxing body high, often recommended for night time use. The term “in-da-couch” is a familiar play on ‘indica’, coined for the subspecies’ ability to relax consumers to the point where moving requires significant effort. The body high from indica strains benefits users by bringing relief from pain, inflammation, and insomnia. Indica strains may be beneficial to you if you are looking to be relaxed, need help sleeping, or are suffering from pain or inflammation. Indicas are also known for being appetite stimulants and helping to combat nausea.
Hybrids, as mentioned above, are bred from both the indica and sativa subspecies and so will have properties from both of these groups. While it is impossible to predict the exact properties a strain will possess, the most illuminating fact for consumers when it comes to considering purchasing hybrids is the ratio. Hybrids are most often labelled with a ratio to let cannabis users known which subspecies is more dominant. For example, 80/20 XX Sativa, this would be strain XX which is a sativa-dominant hybrid with approximately 20% of its effects being indica related properties.
The advantage of hybrids is that they can provide the best of both worlds. If you need pain relief during the day but don’t want the lethargic properties of a pure indica, certain hybrids may be able to provide this for you. Someone with anxiety may find relief through a sativa strain during the day, but need an indica dominant hybrid to help them sleep. Finding the right hybrid to suit your needs may be a little more challenging. Speaking with dispensary staff can be helpful, they can recommend products that have worked for other cannabis users in treating similar symptoms.
Ultimately though, we are all unique individuals with specific needs and symptoms. Similarly, our experience with each strain is also singular, and relief and efficacy will vary from person to person. It is likely that you will need to experiment with a variety of strains before finding out what works best for you. Luckily, trial and error is an enjoyable process in the world of cannabis.