There are nearly 800 recognized strains of cannabis. If you’re having a hard time figuring out where to start, that’s understandable. The world of cannabis can feel overwhelming for a newcomer searching for the perfect strain.
Although there’s technically a lot to learn, you don’t need to become a master of cannabis to understand how to find strains that will work for you. All you really need to know is what you want your experience to be like.
Once you have a general idea of what you want your cannabis to do for you, you can find strains based on their effects.
What is a Cannabis Strain?
Strains, also known as chemovars, are cannabis plants cultivated to create a specific profile of properties. Only a few differences are visible to the eye. Some may be more purple or more orange. Otherwise, they’re nearly impossible to tell apart on sight or through tests of the plant’s genetics.
The Difference Between Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid Strains
You’re going to get a different answer to this question from everyone you ask. The most commonly accepted answer is that indica produces sedating effects, sativa has energizing effects, and hybrids offer some balance of the two. This is the rule of thumb that cannabis users follow when shopping for strains, and according to the effects that users report, it seems to be accurate.
There’s only one problem. Scientifically speaking, there shouldn’t be a difference between indica, sativa, or hybrid cannabis. These plants haven’t been observed to produce different effects in a clinical setting.
Still, it’s also worth noting that there isn’t a wealth of research into the effects of sativa versus indica strains using whole cannabis. Maybe there’s something to the theory, maybe there isn’t.
Indica, sativa, and hybrid cannabis are all scientifically referred to their leaf types and the way they grow. Indica plants are short, squat, and bushy with broad, flat leaves. Indica is also called broad-leaf type cannabis. Sativa plants are very tall and wispy with thin, narrow leaves.
They’re also called narrow leaf type cannabis. Hybrids are cannabis plants with one indica parent and one sativa parent.
What Produces The Effects of Each Strain?
People choose strains based on the way they want to feel. While strains definitely have commonalities, with a significant amount of people reporting they experience the same effects when using a particular strain, every strain is different.
The source of these commonalities isn’t really understood. Leading cannabis researcher, Dr. Ethan Russo, suggests that something called The Entourage Effect is at play. Each strain is different because all of its cannabinoids and terpenes work together to create a unique profile that interacts with the body in a unique way.
At the moment, Dr. Russo’s work is the most compelling evidence we have of cannabinoid and terpene synergy. Reading reviews of cannabis strains and looking for common threads and widely reported effects can steer you in the right direction, but it’s important to remember that there’s no surefire way to know how a strain will make you feel until you’ve tried it.
Think of it as a fun experiment. You get to try several new strains of cannabis until you find your personal holy grail.
Work From Your List of Desired Effects
It’s best to match your strain with some kind of intention. “High” is too vague. Any strain of cannabis will get you high. This is where specifics matter.
- Do you intend to use cannabis throughout the day?
- While you’re working on creative projects?
- To help improve your mindset or reduce stress?
- To help you get to sleep at night?
You might be interested in several potential benefits that directly negate each other. The strain you use for sleep won’t be the strain you use to boost your mental energy. In that case, you’ll be searching for two completely different strains.
Once you have an idea of what you want your cannabis to do, you can search for strains that produce those effects. Better still, if you have a very knowledgeable budtender at your local dispensary, you can ask for opinions and recommendations in person.
Smell Your Cannabis
Have you ever smelled a certain food and decided you didn’t like it without trying it? On the other side of the same coin, have you ever smelled something and decided you needed to eat it immediately?
Cookies and brussels sprouts aside, your senses are communicating with your brain. They’re detecting the properties of the food in question and prompting your brain to make a judgment.
This same process can be used to help you discover cannabis strains that may work for you. Based on how a strain smells, most people know if it’s something they’re willing to try.
Some strains have broadly appealing smells. Bright and citrusy limonene terpene smells tend to draw people in. Some strains (like Wedding Cake and Ice Cream Cake) have a scent profile reminiscent of vanilla. Many people find these strains agreeable.
The crowd also feels like those lemony smells smell like house cleaners, and the vanilla notes smell sickly sweet. You won’t know until you smell it for yourself.
Certain smells are a little more polarizing. GMO is a strain that many people say smells like garlic, mushrooms, and onions. That’s what GMO stands for. Some strains smell like gas (like Motorbreath and Sour Diesel) and strains with high ammonia notes (like Cheetah Piss) that remind people how a dirty cat litter box smells.
Some think these strains are revolting, while others receive a different message from their olfactory system. Even if a particular strain of cannabis smells like something that would ordinarily be off-putting, some people take a whiff and get a green light from their brain that the strain contains something beneficial or enjoyable.
Once you’ve chosen a few strains to try, you need to keep them organized. Put them in your Stori pods and label the color-coded lids with the strain information. You’ll always know which strain you’re trying, and every strain will stay fresh until you’ve had a chance to evaluate their effects and the way they work for you.
It may be more cost-effective to purchase single pre-rolls of the strains you want to try. You won’t have any leftovers if you decide that a particular strain isn’t for you. You can put your pre-rolls in your Stori tubes and record the same information.
Evaluate Your Experiences
Use the Stori app to record the strains you purchased and how much you’ve purchased them for. You can include ratings, reviews, and notes of each strain every time you try that strain. When you have enough information compiled, you can go through your notes and use the process of elimination to narrow your strains down to a smaller pool.
You can also determine if your strains are coming up short. If nothing is hitting the mark, you can search for similar strains that produce slightly different effects or are stronger in their delivery.
It’s All Up To You
While many cannabis users are quick to recommend their favorite strains to their friends and family, there’s always a chance that your opinion will be the exact opposite of theirs. Cannabis may not affect you the same way it affects other people. Sample for yourself and learn.
Stori makes it easier to keep yourself organized while you sample various strains. The child-resistant Stori case is designed to store your cannabis in optimal conditions. You wouldn’t put your wine in a plastic bag in the back of your sock drawer, right? Your cannabis doesn’t belong there, either.