The Top 5 Cannabis Strains and Their Uses
February 9, 2023
Whether it’s edibles, oils, or flower, cannabis can be used and consumed in a variety of forms, and most people tend to have their favorites. However, in addition to varying in type, cannabis also varies by strain, and figuring out the right one for you can seem a little daunting, especially if you are new to medical or recreational marijuana products.
The main types of cannabis are typically categorized by their characteristics and the distinct effects they produce. Knowing your goals and getting some advice from the cannabis experts can help you to find the best strain and dosage. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
How Cannabinoids and Terpenes Create Your Cannabis Experience
Before you can decide on the right cannabis strain(s) for your goals, you’ll need to understand what makes cannabis work the way it does: terpenes and cannabinoids.
Lots of plants (and some animals) contain terpenes. These are chemicals that living things produce that create the scents and even tastes of their constituent parts (like leaves). Terpenes are what make pine trees smell crisp and what make animals like the swallowtail butterfly deter predators with a pungent smell.
It might come as no surprise, then, that Terpenes are also behind the smell and taste of cannabis. Different varieties of cannabis contain different terpenes, which means that you will encounter a different sensory experience based on the type you choose. This is important when choosing a variety of cannabis to smoke or to make edibles with. Terpenes also affect what the cannabis does to your body mentally and physiologically, so one variety might produce feelings of relaxation while another elicits joy.
Cannabinoids are the chemicals in marijuana that produce bodily sensations. They might make you feel like you’re floating or just very relaxed. Alternatively, some types can make you feel inspired and energized. You might have heard of THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is one of the main cannabinoids in marijuana and is responsible for the “high.” However, not all types of cannabis produce a “high,” and choosing a strain with the cannabinoids that elicit the effects you want is a big part of finding the right fit for you. CBD, or cannabidiol, for example, is another primary cannabinoid in marijuana but does not produce the same effect, so strains higher in CBD content won’t have the psychoactive element.
So if cannabinoids and terpenes are different between types of marijuana, how do you know what to look for? You can start by focusing on the strains. This term refers to the “kinds” of cannabis that you can choose, and you can think of strains the same way that you think of dog breeds–they’re all dogs, but they certainly look and behave differently!
There are hundreds of strains of marijuana; some databases dedicated to tracking them all have thousands registered. However, there are primarily three main or “parent” strains from which all others are developed, and a fourth is used in certain circumstances. If you know what these parent strains do, you’ll have a better idea of what a specific type of cannabis will do.
Ruderalis is the cannabis strain that you won’t usually find on the market. Why is it even counted, then? Well, This is because it’s used as a parent from which other types of marijuana are created. People like to use ruderalis for this purpose because it grows quickly and is easy to manage and breed with other types. Ruderalis itself doesn’t have much THC content, though, so dispensaries usually won’t carry it on its own.
When people consume marijuana for medical purposes, what they’re usually consuming is indica cannabis. This strain tends to induce feelings of relaxation and comfort, which is why people turn to it for relieving pain, improving sleep, or managing anxiety. Indica is also easier to cultivate because it’s a short and bushy plant that doesn’t take up too much space. Indica has more CBD than THC, which is why it’s not as psychoactive as other strains.
Sativa is the strain of cannabis that produces feelings of euphoria, inspiration, and creativity. Many people choose sativa to help cope with stress or for recreation because of the pleasant feelings it produces. It can be more difficult to cultivate sativa, because it’s quite tall, with adult plants reaching upwards of 20 feet. Sativa plants have more THC than CBD, creating the altered states most associated with cannabis consumption.
Hybrids are by far the most common strains on the market. People who want both the euphoric effects of sativa and the calming effects of indica can try hybrid products, which are a cross of the two species. Exactly what kind of response you’d like will determine whether you lean more heavily toward a sativa-derived hybrid or an indica-based one.
Top 5 Cannabis Strains
Okay, so you’ve picked a strain—indica, sativa, or hybrid—that sounds appealing to you. Now what?
Next, you can dive into the individual types of cannabis available for sale at your nearest dispensary. Every dispensary will be unique in what it offers, and you might find something you like that’s exclusive to your area or a certain online source. However, there are a couple of well-known types of cannabis that you can find almost anywhere, and those are always a good place to start.
This type of marijuana is so ubiquitous you might have heard all marijuana simply referred to as “kush.” Kush is a hybrid strain known for its distinctive smell. It leans heavier toward indica, which means that you can expect relaxation and even sleepiness, whether you’re going for the original Kush or some of its offshoots, like purple kush or Bubba kush, named in homage to its creator, Matt “Bubba” Berger.
If kush is your cannabis of choice, you’ll want to plan for an easy day. Don’t commit to operating heavy machinery (like your car) or making big, elaborate plans. It’s best enjoyed low-key with movies or even to help you cope with travel-related anxiety.
Those looking for a more sativa-dominant experience can enjoy the classic Blue Dream, which is a cross between Super Silver Haze and Blueberry. The higher sativa content means you can count on feeling some bodily changes that most people describe as uplifting or being full of energy. Its indica hybridization, though, still offers some sedative properties.
This makes Blue Dream a great choice for those who want to tackle the day without being in pain. Blue Dream can help you relax and take the edge off pain or discomfort while giving you a little extra boost of energy to get going. This energy and slight body change can also be great for engaging activities, like going to a concert.
A common concern people have when they’re trying to pick the right cannabis strain is how it’s going to affect other people or how noticeable it will be. Wedding Cake–also sometimes called Pink Cookies–produces a dainty and discreet vanilla scent that’s perfect for social settings where you want to stay subtle. Wedding Cake also offers a relaxing experience bordering on pleasantly neutral. (In other words, it can help take the tension out of your shoulders without knocking you out into a blanket fort on the couch.)
Wedding Cake is ideal for stressful holidays with family or nosey in-laws, or for events like its namesake, so you can get the most out of the moment without making a scene or smelling like smoke.
In today’s cannabis market, the majority of strains are going to be hybrids bred to produce specific results. However, you can still find gems like Granddaddy Purp, a pure indica that’s fully immobilizing. It’s the type of cannabis that will make you want to curl up in bed and get the most restful sleep of your life—and sometimes, that’s just what you need.
The physical high that results from Granddaddy Purp is more intense than other varieties, but it can be a powerful tool in the fight against stress and insomnia. Enjoy a movie or sleep off that stomach bug with the restful qualities of Granddaddy Purp, but avoid consuming it before doing anything you wouldn’t want to fall asleep in the middle of.
This sativa-dominant hybrid feels tropical and a little citrusy. It’s associated with creativity and energy without the interference of full-body changes, depending on dosage. That means you can still go about your day, just with a little extra pep in your step.
Pineapple Express is ideal for those who are on the go. If you’re visiting a new city and have 30 things to see in the next three hours, Pineapple Express can give you the jump you need to do it all. If you suffer from insomnia or panic, however, you might find that the buzzy energy isn’t the right fit for you.
Find Your Perfect Cannabis Strain at Freedom Road
The right cannabis strain for you will depend on your own, unique situation. A great way to get started is to ask yourself some guiding questions:
- What’s your goal? Do you want to relax, feel energized, or something else?
- What’s your plan? Are you hoping to experiment in the privacy of your home or in public?
- When will you consume it? Do you only have time before bed, when energizing strains might be counterproductive?
- Who will be there? Are you wanting to hang out with friends and benefit from being extra chatty, or do you want to be left alone?
In our commitment to cannabis education, Freedom Road goes beyond basic categorization with carefully curated strains and products developed to deliver the clearest path to your desired outcomes. We know the scientific name of plant doesn’t always indicate its benefits and effects, so we make it easy for you to choose your mood with these proprietary collections:
- Energize (Sativa), for a little extra boost to help fuel your day
- Focus (Sativa Hybrid), to keep both your mind and your body motivated
- Relief (Hybrid), to lessen the impact of your aches and pains
- Relax (Indica Hybrid), our lightest-potency flower to help you end those long days on a relaxing note
- Sleep (Indica), for restful nights and better mornings
Whether you’re an experienced cannabis connoisseur or just curious, the experts at Freedom Road can help find your perfect fit. Freedom Road is a licensed, full-service dispensary and grow-house, and our cannabis pros are here to guide you on your journey to better health. Visit our online store or at one of our three locations in Trinidad, Colorado, and Oklahoma City to find out more.