Types of Cannabis Weed and Strains
Did you know that there are over 700 different categorized strains of cannabis? That includes full Indica and Sativa strains and a growing list of new hybrids developed yearly. If it is the first time you have visited a dispensary, you may be overwhelmed by the number of available strains.
The most common questions patients with a medical card ask center around choosing the right kinds of cannabis. If you are not experienced, that long list of available strains at the dispensary can be pretty intimidating. What is the difference between Sativa and Indica strains? What are terpenes, and why do they matter?
If you want to learn more about cannabis strains and feel a little shy to ask those questions at a dispensary, here is a great primer to help you learn about different types of medical cannabis you could explore. Whether you are interested in Indica Sativa or hybrid strains.
The Difference Between Recreational and Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
Patients often ask if there is a difference between going to a recreational (adult-use) dispensary and a medical marijuana treatment center (MMTC) or medical dispensary. After all, they both sell various cannabis products that can be used for medicinal purposes.
Recently, one of our team members was traveling out of state. And she visited a recreational dispensary for the first time. As a Florida resident and medical card holder, she hadn’t experienced what it was like to walk into a recreational dispensary or prepared for the differences.
While there are exceptions, recreational cannabis dispensaries focus on potency and terpenes. You may find a staff member or budtender who has some knowledge about types of strains for medicinal use. But if you are visiting a recreational dispensary, you may see less one-on-one time and suggestions about medical songs.
Patients may get the best service when they choose a local medical dispensary. In states where vertical integration is required, dispensaries are responsible for cultivating, processing, and manufacturing all cannabis products. That means a higher level of quality assurance and peace of mind for patients.
Cannabis Sativa vs. Indica
While there are many different strains of cannabis, they are categorized in three ways; Sativa, Indica, or Hybrid. Cannabis Sativa tends to have more uplifting and energizing effects, while Indica strains lean more toward sedating and less cerebral psychoactive experiences.
Indica bud looks different from the Sativa flower. For example, a flower from an Indica strain is more likely to be wide, bulky, or heavy. Whereas the Sativa flower is usually longer in appearance and somewhat cylinder shaped. And hybrid strains produce a flower that is in between, inheriting appearance, flavor, scent, and psychoactive properties from their “parent” plants.
Understanding how Indica and Sativa strains affect you is crucial. Learning about ratios (hybrid strains) is essential because that will help you choose the suitable strains with the highest potential to help with your symptoms.
The Origin of Indica and Sativa Cannabis Strains
Humans have been referring to the difference between cannabis Indica and popular Sativa strains for more than three-hundred (300) years. A Swedish botanist named Carl Linnaeus was the first one to identify the psychoactive properties of cannabis Sativa in the mid-18th century.
About fifty years later, a French biologist named Jean-Baptiste Lamark wrote about the differences between cannabis plants. And labeled some strains he encountered in India as cannabis Indica. Lamark also drew the differences between the Indica dark green leaves and the light and narrow Sativa leaves of the cannabis plants he encountered.
A third category, called cannabis ruderalis, was identified by a Russian botanist named Dmitrij Janischewsky. The botanist noted that ruderalis plants auto-flowered upon maturity, around 20-40 days. Whereas both Sativa and Indica strains of cannabis were finicky about when they bloomed and were subject to specific needs for light and darkness to create flowers.
Today there have been so many variations, and hybrids of cannabis developed that it is actually hard to find an original strain. The OG of strains is referred to as landrace. It is a collection of very few cannabis strains that have remained unaltered genetically over the years.
There are many people who are dedicated to locating and preserving the original landrace cannabis genetics. And landrace cannabis includes rare marijuana strains that are difficult to find.
What Can Indica Strains Feel Like?
One of the most common descriptions of Indica strains is “in-da-couch,” which is a good description of how you might feel with a 100% Indica dominant strain. Indica strains vary in terms of levels of THC, but they characteristically cause things to slow down. Mentally and physically.
People who prefer Indica typically use them in the evening. Indica cannabis can have different effects, including drowsiness, reduced pain, and anti-anxiety. It can be a strange sensation to forget what you were worrying about altogether. You may even try to remember what was stressing you out, but recall can be a little more complicated, depending on the potency of the Indica strain you have taken.
One of the side-effects that can happen (if you take a higher potency Indica) is couch time. You may end up sitting (or sleeping) on the couch and not doing much else. This is also why Indica’s are favored for insomnia and chronic pain patients. It may help you relax and get a good night of sleep.
How Could You Feel After Taking Sativa Cannabis?
Sativa strains are very popular with people who like to feel energetic and cheerful. Many patients with depression may also experience anhedonia, the inability to feel joy or pleasure, even when doing activities they love.
Taking a 100% Sativa strain can provide an emotional pick-me-up. You may experience other side-effects like “the giggles” or a smile you can’t seem to wipe off your face. Some Sativa cannabis strains can also make you feel very creative or ambitious. Sitting still may not be an option; you may feel like being active and doing something fun or social.
On the downside, some Sativa weed strains can make you feel very cerebral. Which means your brain may feel a little overactive for your liking. You can find yourself meditative, asking yourself about the meaning of life. The answer (of course) is 42, but it may take some time to get there.
People who have social anxiety may also enjoy Sativa weed strains. Many Sativa strains can suppress feelings of anxiety and increase social enjoyment. You may find yourself having some great conversations and being a little more outgoing than usual.
What Are Hybrid Strains of Cannabis?
It is easier to find hybrid cannabis strains than to see a full Indica or Sativa strain, depending on where you live. And that is because many patients prefer a combination of Sativa and Indica for medicinal use.
The psychoactive effects you experience from either Sativa or Indica cannabis strains are not guaranteed. Many factors can alter the results, from terpene content to your age, prescription medications, and more. Some people also claim that certain strains have more or less pronounced psychoactive effects, depending on the day and their physical or emotional state.
Hybrid strains of cannabis can help address medical conditions by providing a combination of psychoactive effects representing the best of both Indica and Sativa plants. One example is choosing an Indica-dominant hybrid that may be effective at pain relief, with a 60/40 ratio to Sativa. It could assist with pain symptoms but reduce the typical drowsiness patients experience with 100% Indica.
One of the mysteries of cannabis is the entourage effect. That is understanding how different cannabinoids work together with terpenes and even flavonoids in cannabis. And why two people using the same strain from the same cannabis plant may experience different effects.
How to Choose a Medical Marijuana Strain
New research is underway to understand why certain strains of cannabis provide varied psychoactive effects. But the best way to choose a strain of medical marijuana is to start researching online.
There are many resources to choose from, which can give you a profile of different strains. The websites below will provide accurate information about THC content and common psychoactive and physiological effects common with the strain.
While you are researching your ideal strains, check out the terpene content, as well as cannabidiol (CBD) and other secondary cannabinoids like cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabinol (CBN). That way, you can be prepared to visit your local medical dispensary with a list of strains you may like to try.
Patients using medical cannabis should be prepared to try different cannabis strains. And understand that you may want to purchase products made from different cannabis plants, depending on your symptoms and wellness goals.
Most Popular Marijuana Strains
The cannabis industry is full of expert cultivators who work hard to breed positive medicinal traits in each crop. Cannabis is a complex plant, and the strain names often reveal the specific strain’s lineage. Or essentially, some of the characteristics or chemical compounds that may be found in the medical cannabis you buy.
Cannabis farmers or producers are likely to focus on strains that are popular with either recreational (adult-use) or medical marijuana patients. Across the board, however, are common strains that are perennial favorites and easy to find at your local dispensary.
Some of the most popular marijuana strains in the United States include:
- 18% THC average.
- Hybrid 70% Sativa and 30% Indica.
- It may cause cerebral stimulation and full-body relief (relaxation).
- Smells and tastes like sweet berries.
- Patients may choose to help with symptoms of depression, nausea, and chronic pain.
- 19% THC average.
- It tastes and smells sweet and earthy, with sandalwood tones.
- Psychoactive and physical effects may include relief from stress, pain, and anxiety.
- 21% THC average.
- Hybrid 60% Sativa and 40% Indica.
- It may cause euphoria and help with focus, creativity, and energy.
- This strain is said to taste similar to citrus.
- 22% THC average.
- 2% CBD and 4% CBN.
- 90% Sativa and 10% Indica.
- It may stimulate feelings of euphoria, happiness, and energy.
- Sour Diesel can taste or smell like diesel fuel citrus and skunk.
Super Silver Haze
- 20% THC average.
- Hybrid 80% Sativa and 20% Indica.
- It may promote energy and creativity and stimulate appetite while reducing nausea.
- Patient reviews state it may taste and smell like spice, skunk, and citrus.
- 23% THC average.
- Hybrid 55% Sativa and 45% Indica.
- Psychoactive and physiological effects can include
- It may taste like sour citrus or forest wood with hints of pine.
If you cannot find some of the strains you are looking for, don’t hesitate to talk to your local medical marijuana treatment center (MMTC) or dispensary. Many strains can be similar, and while they may not carry the one you are looking for, they could recommend something close to it.
Keep a Log Book of the Medical Cannabis Strains You Try
This can be the best homework assignment ever; keeping track of the strains of medical cannabis, you try. But it has a very practical purpose. Assume that your favorite strain(s) may sometimes be unavailable. Keeping a list of alternate strains can help you find the next best thing.
Also, record the strain names or a particular strain you did not enjoy. Maybe it gave you dry eyes or mouth (cotton mouth). Perhaps a specific strain of medical cannabis makes you feel too cerebral when you would rather not have those deep thoughts.
Not everyone likes the “munchies,” and you may want to avoid strains that stimulate appetite. Make a list, so you know what strains to avoid in the future. This can also help you if you are traveling to another state and can’t find the marijuana strains you normally use at a recreational or medical dispensary.
Can a Marijuana Doctor Provide Strain Recommendations?
At DocMJ, our physicians support the patient’s right to explore alternative medicine. Because our physicians see patients weekly for initial and follow-up appointments, they know about different cannabis strains. And they can provide some useful guidance as you explore medical marijuana strains to help with symptom management.
If you want to apply for your Florida medical card, visit our website. We have twenty-five clinic locations, including DocMJ’s location in Clearwater, where you can consult with one of our physicians. Use our online resources to determine if you have a qualifying health condition in Texas, Ohio, or Florida. And let DocMJ help you take the next step to get your medical card.
I am a Chief Marketing Officer at DocMJ, a leading provider of medical cannabis health services to qualified patients. I have over 20 years of experience in healthcare marketing and communications, with a proven track record of delivering impactful and compliant campaigns that educate, inform, and empower patients to make better choices for their health and wellness.