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Our beginner’s guide to the different strains of weed covers everything you wanted to know about the thousands of cultivars available.

From the high-energy sativas to the couch-locking indicas and the complexities of each strain, we give you a rundown of it all.

Cannabis use and sales are rapidly increasing among medicinal and recreational users.

What Is a Cannabis Strain?

If you know anything about marijuana, you’re probably familiar with the wide range of strain types available at dispensaries. Dispensaries may divide strains by indica, sativa, and hybrid, as well as quality, such as top-shelf, reserve, exclusive, and other categories.

A strain is defined as a group of offspring that are descended from a modified plant.

Cannabis users can also use the terms cannabis variety, cannabis selection, or cannabis cultivar to describe strains.

Below, we’ll describe the generalized differences between sativa, indica, and hybrid strains.

In reality, however, these classifications don’t tell you how your body will react with the strain. Effects are impacted by the chemical profile, growing conditions, and the individual person.

Cannabis strains, in general, originated in Central Asia and made their way across the world over thousands of years, adapting to different environments.


Sativa strains originated from North Africa and Asia. For the most part, sativa strains provide users with a burst of energy, creativity, and stress relief. Sativa strains can stave off symptoms of anxiety, depression, fatigue, and pain.


Indica strains originated in the Hindu Kush mountains of India. Generally, indica strains are known for their calming and sedating effects on the user. Indica strains can relieve symptoms associated with pain, inflammation, and sleep disorders.


Most strains available are hybrid strains featuring genetics and effects from indica and sativa strains. Dispensaries will market them as sativa-dominant or indica-dominant, depending on the lineage and genetic traits that are expressed.

Hybrid strains can be everything from energizing and uplifting to relaxing and sedating depending on the marijuana strain’s parents. Check out our blog post on the most popular hybrid strains.

Low-THC, High-CBD Cannabis Strains

Most weed strains are bred to produce a high concentration of the intoxicating THC compound, also known as tetrahydrocannabinol. THC elicits psychedelic, euphoric, and relaxing effects. It’s the compound that gets you high.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is present in trace amounts, less than one percent in many cases. Some strains of marijuana, however, are bred to contain a higher-than-average amount of CBD. Hemp strains, in particular, contain CBD-rich buds and buds with under 0.3 percent THC.

CBD is known to have anti-anxiety characteristics, the perfect complement to the paranoia-inducing THC. Some cannabis strains contain a balanced concentration of THC and CBD, while others don’t have any THC at all.

CBD-dominant strains of weed can be found in licensed dispensaries. Check out the following popular and easy-to-find CBD-rich cannabis strains, as well as our blog post on high CBD marijuana strains:

  • Harlequin
  • Sour Tsunami
  • Pennywise
  • ACDC
  • Ringo’s Gift
  • Cannatonic
  • Harle-Tsu
  • Canna-Tsu

What are Cannabis Strains Used For?

Cannabis strains can be sold for medicinal or recreational purposes depending on state and local laws. Recreational marijuana users purchase cannabis strains primarily for stress relief, pleasure, creativity, and many more wellness benefits.

Medicinal users use cannabis strains to relieve their symptoms such as pain, inflammation, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and a number of other medical conditions. States vary in the types of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana treatment.

Cannabis contains an array of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other essential oils that can benefit the human body. In terms of cannabinoids, THC and CBD are the major active compounds known for their intoxicating and clear-headed effects, respectively.

Generally, cannabis strains contain a majority THC concentration, while some strains have various ratios of CBD and THC. Minor cannabinoids such as CBC, CBG, THCV, and others can be found in trace amounts and are believed to have medical benefits.

How to Choose a Marijuana Strain?

Now that you know the difference between strain categories, you can make a more informed purchasing decision based on your unique needs. Ultimately, you must try different strains and see how they affect you to determine which ones you like.

For instance, some sativa strains, known for their stimulating effects, can cause calming and couch-locking effects in some users. Some indica strains may make some users feel productive and ready for any adventure instead of sleepy.

Choosing a marijuana strain depends on what effects you’re looking for. For medical users, some strains may work better than others. Users should also look up the potential adverse side effects such as dry mouth, red eyes, and dizziness to get a complete picture of the strain’s effects.

When choosing between marijuana strains, start off with the lowest dose possible to gauge its effects and gradually increase your dose to your desired experience while reducing the adverse effects.

Even strains of cannabis with the same name can come with varying THC concentrations. Always check your strain’s lab testing results to know how much THC your buds have. The terpene profile of a strain can also significantly affect your experience.

What Does A Strain Name Mean?

Strain names are helpful to tell between the types available and their effects. Strains such as Afghani or Hindu Kush have their place of origin in the name, like many other landrace strains. Some strains like Gelato, GSC, or Tangie are named after their distinct aromas.

Other strains are named after the effects they elicit like the couch-locking effects of Original Glue or the powerful effects of 9lb Hammer. Ask a budtender for a strain recommendation based on your desired effects and aroma and flavor preference.

Even strains with the same name vary in terms of effects, aroma, and flavor depending on the growing and harvesting techniques used. For example, one Pineapple Express strain may express higher cannabinoid and terpene levels compared to one from another grower.

Popular Cannabis Strains

With thousands of strains available, it can be difficult to know where to start. Popular and best-selling cannabis strains are great because users can easily find strain reviews from users who have tried the strain. Keep in mind, effects vary by user.

OG Kush

Since the 1990s, OG Kush has brought users the nuanced effects of its Hindu Kush parent with a complex blend of skunk, spice, and diesel aromas. OG Kush has reached legendary status and has created famous strains like GSC and Headband.

Feelings: Happy, Relaxed, Uplifted, Euphoric, Hungry

Medical Uses: Stress, Anxiety, Pain, Depression, Insomnia

Pineapple Express

Pineapple Express crosses Hawaiian and Trainwreck strains to produce a robust strain with pine, mango, and other woody notes. Keep in mind, many breeders have different versions of Pineapple Express, so be careful.

Feelings: Happy, Uplifted, Euphoric, Energetic, Relaxed

Medical Uses: Stress, Depression, Pain, Anxiety, Fatigue

AK-47 Strain

AK-47 combines a host of landrace strains including Afghani, Colombian, Thai, and Mexican strains. A mix of these classic strains produces a floral and pine-scented strain that elicits a rousing cerebral high.

Feelings: Happy, Relaxed, Euphoric, Uplifted

Medical Uses: Stress, Anxiety, Pain, Depression, Insomnia

Blue Dream Strain

Enter into a hazy wonderland with the sativa-dominant Blue Dream. A cross between Blueberry and Haze strains, Blue Dream weed strain can help you relax and give you the right amount of euphoria without being overwhelming.

Feelings: Euphoric, Happy, Uplifted, Relaxed, Creative

Medical Uses: Stress, Depression, Anxiety, Pain, Insomnia

Gelato Strain

Gelato is one of the best-smelling hybrid strains around. From the minds of the Cookie Fam in the Bay Area, Gelato has a distinct dessert and fruity aroma. Experience a floating and cerebral buzz that can last for hours.

Feelings: Relaxed, Happy, Uplifted, Euphoric, Creative

Medical Uses: Stress, Depression, Anxiety, Pain, Insomnia

Green Crack Strain

Green Crack strain is known for its high-energy effects that can be enjoyed at any time of the day. Experience mood boost along with improved concentration to help you complete your tasks. It’s citrus and fruity flavor remind users of a ripe mango.

Feelings: Happy, Energetic, Euphoric, Uplifted, Focused

Medical Uses: Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Pain, Fatigue

Purple Haze Strain

Purple Haze is perfect for anyone looking for a psychedelic experience. Purple Haze can make users feel euphoric and worry-free. This classic strain can help artists think outside the box or provide after-work tension relief.

Feelings: Happy, Uplifted, Euphoric, Creative, Relaxed

Medical Uses: Stress, Depression, Anxiety, Pain, Fatigue

Sour Diesel Strain

Sour Diesel weed strain has an unmistakable aroma of fuel, citrus, and spice. This sativa-dominant strain can get your motor running and keep it going for hours on end. Experience a rise in energy and a dream-like haze with Sour D.

Feelings: Happy, Euphoric, Uplifted, Energetic, Creative

Medical Uses: Stress, Depression, Pain, Anxiety, Fatigue

Wedding Cake Strain

Wedding Cake strain is an indica-dominant strain that can leave you feeling relaxed and content. Just watch out for its sky-high THC concentration. Wedding Cake has an earthy and herbal aroma, as well as tangy and spicy flavors

Feelings: Happy, Relaxed, Uplifted, Euphoric, Hungry

Medical Uses: Depression, Stress, Anxiety, Pain, Insomnia

Biscotti Strain

Another classic hit from the Cookies Fam crew, Biscotti strain is a cross between Gelato #25 and South Florida OG strains. Biscotti has a remarkable aroma consisting of cookie and diesel notes. Feel a weightless and ecstatic feeling with Biscotti.

Feelings: Relaxed, Uplifted, Happy, Euphoric, Giggly

Medical Uses: Anxiety, Pain, Depression, Stress, Insomnia

Kush Mints Strain

Kush Mints is a Seed Junky Genetics cross between Bubba Kush and Animal Mints. Enjoy this balanced strain for its calming effects. High doses can lull you into a pleasant slumber if that’s what you’re looking for.

Feelings: Energetic, Relaxed, Hungry, Euphoric, Uplifted

Medical Uses: Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia, Pain

Forbidden Fruit Strain

Cherry Pie and Tangie genetics come together to form this delectable strain. Its bright violet-hued exterior and vibrant orange pistils make these buds a sight to behold. Forbidden Fruit has sweet, fruity, and candy-like flavors.

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Makes $24.50 @ THC +

Feelings: Relaxed, Happy, Euphoric, Sleepy, Uplifted

Medical Uses: Stress, Pain, Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia

How to Enjoy Your Cannabis Strains

If you’re able to purchase cannabis strains from a licensed dispensary, there are many different ways to enjoy your weed. Smoke it, vaporize it, eat it, or make your own concentrates. The possibilities are nearly limitless.


A cannabis grinder is an essential tool you need for your pot strains. Sure, you can use your fingers to break apart your buds, but a grinder can speed up the process and you can also collect the separated kief (trichomes) on the bottom compartment for later use.

Pipe or Bong

Glass pipes and bongs are one of the most traditional consumption devices. Just break apart your strain into pebble-like pieces and pack your pipe or bong’s bowl piece with a small or large dose. Light it all up and inhale. It’s as easy as that.


Portable and desktop vaporizers avoid combusting your weed. Instead, these devices heat up the weed just enough to vaporize and produce a cannabinoid and terpene-rich vapor. Vaporizers can work with dry herb and concentrates.

Decarb Machine

Cannabis strains can also be cooked with. Users can decarboxylate, or activate, the strains in an oven, stove, or crockpot, but decarb machines like the LEVO make the process easier and fool-proof. You can even infuse your weed into powerful cannabis topicals.

Online Cannabis Certification

Are you ready to learn more about the world’s fastest-growing industry? Cannabis strains are the backbone of the edibles, concentrate, topicals, and flower market.

Enroll in CTU’s online cannabis college to get your online cannabis certification to propel you into a career in the industry.

Cannabis education can teach you how to safely use marijuana strains for recreational and medicinal use, as well as how to find a job in a dispensary, cultivation facility, or any other cannabis company.

Gavin Kushman. Cannabis strain writer in a cannabis garden
Gavin Kushman

Gavin is a worldly adventurer and cannabis connoisseur, embarking on journeys that take him to the far corners of the globe to explore and document the varied effects, flavors, and histories of both renowned and lesser-known strains. From the misty high-altitude farms of the Hindu Kush highlands to the vibrant cannabis cafes of Amsterdam, Gavin's quest for knowledge spans continents. A recognized authority in the cannabis industry, he frequently lends his expertise to leading publications such as Cannabis Training University, where his captivating blog articles chronicle his unique experiences with different cannabis strains.

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