One of the first things new patients usually comment on when visiting Dockside Cooperative is the large variety of medicines to choose from. On days like today, there are more than 30 strains of flowers on the shelves. Sometimes it can be tough to choose the right strain.
The first thing to keep in mind when choosing the right strain for yourself is that cannabis is a natural medicine and as such does not produce standardized results for everyone. In other words, it tends to affect everyone a little differently. That being said, there are some general guidelines in terms of effects that can be helpful.
The flowers offered at most access points in the US at this time are of the species cannabis sativa, cannabis indica or a hybrid of these 2 species. (Please note that almost all modern ‘sativas’ and ‘indicas’ are hybrids to some extent these days due to breeding.) Many people find it useful to understand the differences between the effects of different strains in terms of how much they conform to the effects typical of each species.
Cannabis Sativa Leaf
In general sativas tend to be more uplifting – providing energy, some euphoria and often mental stimulation. Sativas are frequently described as ‘cerebral’ or as having a ‘head’ effect. Most people use sativas during the day as they can be quite invigorating. Some patients even prefer to use sativas before hitting the gym. They can sometimes trigger anxiety in certain patients so it’s wise to be cautious when trying sativa strains for the first time. Popular sativas include Sour Diesel, Jack Herer, Super Lemon Haze, Green Crack and White Cap.
Cannabis Indica Leaf
Indicas, on the other hand, tend to be more sedating and relaxing. They can be great for pain relief and for stress relief. Indicas are frequently described as having more of a physical ‘body’ effect. Many people find they are best used in the evening as they sometimes cause drowsiness. Some heavier indicas can trigger paranoia, so again use caution when trying new strains for the first time. Popular indicas include LA Confidential, Blueberry, Granddaddy Purple, Crimea Blue and Romulan.
Hybrids tend to incorporate the best of both worlds, inducing effects in both body and head. Some hybrids lean more towards sativan or indican effects, while others are balanced evenly. Hybrids that tend to feel more one way or the other are referred to as either sativa dominant or indica dominant. Popular hybrids include Girl Scout Cookies, Blue Dream, Cactus, Agent Orange, Twilight and Ambrosia.
The effects described above are typical of plants that contain a fair amount of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC that have been smoked or vaporized. Most of the standard strains found in access points at this time contain at least 8% THC, but many can be much higher. Many people believe that choosing strains with a high percentage of THC will have the greatest effect. While this is true in many cases, the cannabinoid profile of a strain along with its terpeneprofile make it a little more difficult to predict how a potent a strain will be. It’s a good idea to experiment a bit and see what works for you, regardless of what test results say.
Lately there has been much attention being given to specially developed strains of cannabis that are low in THC and high in cannabidiol (CBD). These strains are very different from standard strains in that they are not intoxicating, but provide relief from pain, anxiety and depression. It seems to be irrelevant as to whether a strain is an indica or a sativa if there is little to no THC since there isn’t much psychoactive effect. Popular strains that are not intoxicating include The Remedy, Harlequin, Shark, ACDC and Sour Tsunami #3.
Some high CBD strains are also high in THC. These combine the pain-relieving effects of CBD with the intoxicating effects of THC. The strains will conform to traditional expectations of sativas or indicas. One such strain is Cannatonic, which provides excellent pain relief along with the relaxing qualities of a typical indica.
The most important factor in deciding which strain is right for you is how it affects you personally. Regardless of the expectations we might have of a strain, it really comes down to whether or not it works for you. We recommend trying a small amount (1 gram is a good start) and trying it at least three times. Naturally if you have an adverse reaction, discontinue using that strain immediately.
If you are interested in sampling several strains, ask about Dockside‘s sample packs which contain 8 varieties of pre-selected strains (1 gram of each), available in indica, sativa or half indica/sativa.
For a more in depth explanation of indica vs sativa, check out this excellent article from Berkeley Patients Care Collective:
This article from Sensi Seeds is another great read on the subject: