Understanding Leafly’s New Cannabis Guide

A much-appreciated change has happened in the cannabis world: Leafly has updated its website to integrate their new “Leafly Cannabis Guide.” [1] Up until now, Leafly categorized different chemovars by Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid. While doing this made it easy for consumers to understand the general similarities between certain strains, it left out a lot of other important aspects of the cannabis plant.


Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid?

The terms “indica,” “sativa,” and “hybrid” are used when identifying physical traits of Cannabis sativa, and Cannabis indica plants. Specifically, “hybrid” is a genetic cross between the two. [A] Since they have specific physical traits – sativas being tall and thin, indicas being short and bushy – they were assumed to result in certain effects. This, however, is an incorrect assumption, because strain-specific effects come from the plants overall chemical components and not its physical features.

Thanks to two different studies, one done in 2015 and one in 2017, we know that it is difficult to find a true sativa or indica cannabis plant. [2][3] Throughout the years, there have been countless amounts of genetic cross breeding done, which has even resulted in some strains thought to be one type turning out to be the other after genetic analysis. 

The strain-specific effects depend on a lot of different things: the intake method you chose, your age, tolerance, and the plants chemical make-up. For this reason, Leafly updated the way they present strains` to consumers.


Leafly’s New System

While change can be overwhelming and sometimes make things more difficult to understand, Leaflys Cannabis Guide is simple. It uses shapes and colors to differentiate between the main parts of the plant that create specific effects. [4]

  • Shapes
      • Diamonds represent THC, the cannabinoid that causes psychoactivity, and the longer the diamond is the higher the THC content is. 
      • Circles represent CBD. This cannabinoid is known for its therapeutic effects without causing a high. The bigger the circle, the more CBD is present.
  • Colors:
      • Purple is used for the terpene Linalool. This terpene is also found in lavender and is known for its relaxing effects. [5]
      • Navy represents the most common terpene, Myrcene. This is an herbal terpene found in mango and thyme that promotes calming effects. [6]
      • Green is for Pinene, which is found in herbs such as rosemary and basil. It is the most common terpene in the natural world and is used for pain, inflammation, and anxiety. [7]
      • Light Green represents the terpene Humulene. This terpene, formerly classified as a-caryophyllene, is hoppy and woody smelling and can be used for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. [8]
      • Pink is used for the peppery terpene Caryophyllene. It is the only terpene to also act as a cannabinoid because it can activate the endocannabinoid system to provide anti-inflammatory effects. Its ability to combine to the CB2 receptors means it can cause anti-inflammatory effects without causing any euphoria. [9]
      • Yellow represents Limonene, the citrusy terpene that is thought to help with stress relief. It has antifungal and antibacterial properties and helps improve the absorption of other terpenes and chemicals. [10]
      • Red is the color used for the terpene Ocimene. This terpene can be found in herbs such as mint and parsley and is thought to have both anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties. [11]
      • Orange is used to represent Terpinolene. This terpene is being researched for its antibacterial and antifungal qualities, as well as how it affects heart health. [12]

Each Leafly flower shows the three most abundant terpenes in the strain. Each terpene can lead to different experiences on their own, as well as when combined with other terpenes at different ratios so it is important to pay attention to the proprietary ones when deciding which strain to try. If the flower is new in the system, it might not have any colors. This Is because there has not been enough data collected to establish a terpene profile, only a cannabinoid one.


Exploring New Strains

It is important to explore new strains because each one affects an individual differently. The experience can be unique each time even for the same person. The new Guide makes it easier for consumers to find strains that have similar (or different) chemical compositions, taking away from the guessing game used when identifying them as indicas, sativas, and hybrids. 

By combining Leafly’s Cannabis Guide along with the expert knowledge from the state-certified physicians at DocMJ, it is becoming easier and easier to personalize cannabis medicine to fit the individuals’ needs. If you are curious to see if medical cannabis is a good option for you, take our fast and easy online pre-qualifying survey.  


[1] https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/leaflys-new-marijuana-strain-flower-system#reimagine

[2] https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-54564-6_4

[3] https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0133292

[4] https://www.leafly.com/info/cannabis-guide


[5] https://www.leafly.com/news/science-tech/linalool-cannabis-terpene-benefits

[6] https://www.leafly.com/news/science-tech/myrcene-terpene

[7] https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/what-is-pinene-and-what-are-the-benefits-of-this-cannabis-terpene

[8] https://www.leafly.com/news/science-tech/humulene-terpene

[9] https://www.leafly.com/news/science-tech/caryophyllene-terpene

[10] https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/what-is-limonene-and-what-are-the-benefits-of-this-cannabis-terpe

[11] https://www.leafly.com/news/science-tech/benefits-of-ocimene-terpene

[12] https://www.leafly.com/news/strains-products/least-common-terpene-terpinolene-effects

[13] https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/factors-that-affect-your-cannabis-high


[15] https://www.cannabisbusinesstimes.com/article/leafly-cannabis-guide-indica-sativa-hybrid-terpenes-cannabinoids/