The legalization of marijuana in Canada has a lot of benefits for smokers, casual or otherwise. Weed wasn’t an option for Canadians who were paranoid about the law, and smokers who did get their hands on cannabis didn’t have much say in the matter. Did your hookup ever tell you whether you were smoking Girl Scout Cookie or Blue Dream? We didn’t think so.
Now that Canadians can buy weed, we all have more choices. You know how sometimes, weed can make you super paranoid, and other times, it can put you to sleep like a cuddly baby? Cannabis consumers now have a choice of what type of strains they want to enjoy.
The names “Funky Skunk” or “Strawberry Cough” don’t exactly reveal how you’re going to feel after a few puffs. Let’s break down the different types of weeds, how to find a strain and a way of consuming marijuana that best meets your needs.
Indica vs. Sativa vs. Hybrid
In general, different strains are separated into two (or three) categories. They indicate whether the strain will be an “upper” or a “downer.”
Sativa strains are the uppers. They generally give you a euphoric head high and keep you focused throughout the day. If you’re heading to a party, a puff of sativa will help you engage in conversation.
Indica will have you “in da couch.” They generally give users more of a body high that is great for chilling out or heading to bed. If you find that you are normally hyperactive or anxious during the day, your new favorite strain might be an indica.
Hybrids are a mix of both. This mix may be 50/50, 75/25, or some other combination of indica and sativa, depending on the strain.
Again, these are very general guidelines. For some people, the effects of indica and sativa are the complete opposite – be careful if you have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. Know what you are smoking, but keep your mind open to trying out new strains.
Quick tip: If you’re in a store and don’t know whether the strain in front of you is sativa or indica, look at the name. Haze? Sativa. Kush? Indica.
Different Levels of Cannabis Consumption
Many people who only smoked weed once at university are turned off by the “couchlock” high or paranoia. Luckily, consumers have more choices and more ways to purposefully experiment with and enjoy cannabis. Everyone from first-time smokers to experienced bong rippers can find strains that fit their ability to “handle” THC.
Not Into Getting High? Try CBD Products
When we say that cannabis offers a lot of different choices, we’re not kidding. Even if you don’t want to get high, you can still enjoy the calming, soothing, anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis consumption. All you have to do is look for products that don’t have THC.
How to Slowly Add THC To Your Cannabis Consumption
New cannabis consumers can “microdose” THC to help ease the transition from exclusively-CBD products to a mix of different strains. “Microdosing” can just be a puff of a strain with THC after consuming an edible or another product that just has CBD. Another way to introduce your body to THC is to consume strains with high amounts of CBD and low amounts of THC.
Harlequin and ACDC are two popular strains for consumers who want to ease their way into more traditional marijuana consumption. Harlequin is a 75/25 blend of sativa and indica. The high proportion of sativa will keep users alert and focused, with a little pep in their step. These happy feelings just don’t come with the traditional “head high” that they may normally experience from a strain with high amounts of THC.
ACDC contains a similar blend of sativa and indica, although it produces a more mellowing effect for users. It is a great option for users who are looking for pain relief and focus throughout the day.
For More Advanced Cannabis Consumers
If you have enjoyed the sweet taste of cannabis for many years before legalization, you probably want something a bit stronger than Harlequin. “Advanced” smokers can usually handle strains with at least 13% THC. Some of the strongest strains will clock in at 20-25%. (These will normally knock you on your butt, if that’s what you’re looking for.)
AA vs. AAA vs. AAAA
There are a lot of factors to juggle when you are choosing the right product for you. One harvest might be stronger than another, even if they are the same strain.
Want to know how strong your strain will be right away? Check out the grade of the product. Many cannabis products will be labeled as A, AA, AAA, or AAAA. A signifies the lowest tier with the least amount of trichomes. AAAA is top-shelf stuff and will usually have the highest concentration of THC to CBD for that particular strain. It is still important to check out the THC concentration and take it easy when you enjoy it for the first time. (Think about a house vodka compared to a top-shelf brand.)
If you are beginning your cannabis journey, start with a few different AA products and make your way up. The nice thing about AA products is that you can get them for a discounted price on the market.
What Influences Different Strains?
If AA is house liquor and AAAA is top-shelf, the different strains are like different types of alcohol. Some make you cry, some make you dance. Just like choosing whether you prefer whiskey or rum, it might take some experimentation to figure out what you like best.
Picking out strains with funny names is certainly more exciting than looking at how much THC or CBD is in the strain. But once you start to look at strains based on their name, don’t forget to see how potent the strain is. Even if a strain promises a euphoric, creative head high, your experience will be ruined by a strain that is way beyond your ability to handle THC.
(If you still want to go with the alcohol analogy, whiskey can make you dance, but different brands and distillers may produce a stronger or weaker drink.)
Try Out a Cannabis Wheel For Affect and Aroma
There are a lot of letters and strange names to remember when picking out the right strain of marijuana. As weed smokers…memory isn’t always our strong point. Luckily, cannabis connseuriors have devised a few different methods for picking out a weed strain that best suits your current conditions and what effects you want.
The most notable is the cannabis wheel. Cannabiscope has an online wheel that you can use to narrow down your strain choices based on effect (mental or physical) and aroma. Looking for a lovely creativity boost or to relieve nausea? You can get a few suggestions through Cannabiscope. Play around with it and report back to us, will you?
Another cannabis wheel is available on Leafly. This wheel gives you suggestions on what cannabinoids could treat different medical conditions. It gives you an appreciation for all of the conditions that cannabis products can treat, especially now that it is more accessible to Canadians.
Chemical Compound Basics
Leafly’s wheel is harder to follow than the one on Cannabiscope. Why? It suggests different combinations of cannabinoids rather than individual strains.
Once you start to explore the chemical makeup of cannabis, you’ll learn that there is so much more to choosing a strain than whether or not it is a sativa or indica. There is so much more to THC vs. CBD content; in fact, there are hundreds of chemical compounds and dozens of cannabinoid compounds that influence the different strains. When cannabis experts explain the difference between Jack Herer and White Widow, they wo
n’t just mention the different effects, or even the different aromas. They might mention Jack Herer’s high amount of Terpinolene (or Pinene) that gives it a woodsy flavor.
Cannabinoids and terpenoids are two different types of chemical compounds that you will hear a lot about when you are shopping for cannabis.
What Are Cannabinoids?
Here are some common cannabinoids that might pop up in your research:
You will also see different names of terpenes. Terpenes (also referred to as “terpenoids”) are oils, and the type of compound that produces different aromas or tastes. A woody or citrusy strain is made up by different terpenoids. When you shop for strains, you might see the names of these terpenes pop up:
Leafly has another cannabis wheel that can help you determine what terpenes have different effects and which strains boast strong concentrations of those terpenes. If, for example, you are looking for a sedating strain that has a slightly lavender aroma and treats insomnia, you might want to choose a strain that contains linalool. Lavender, Skywalker OG, or Pink Kush may be right up your alley.
Buying Online? Get a Variety Pack
We know that was a lot to take in. But as you start to absorb the science that influences strains and strength, don’t forget to experiment. Everyone reacts differently to different strains as they would to different types of alcohol or different medications. If something works for you, make a note of that and try other strains that have similar chemical makeups. If something doesn’t work for you, try, try again.
If you are lucky enough to have a retailer nearby with knowledgeable cannabis experts, you will have no problem diving into your specific needs and finding the best products for you. Unfortunately, since legalization is still new, a lot of Canadians don’t have easy access to brick-and-mortar locations. (Or, maybe you just prefer to shop online.)
If you don’t have the ability to smell or test out a strain in the store, you have two options. You could either chat with an associate online, or do some experimentation yourself. Consider grabbing a mix-and-match set of different strains. Keep track of the strains you try and go from there!
Talk to Your Doctor
Remember that you do not have to get your weed from a licensed retailer. If you truly want to treat your cannabis consumption like a medication, talk to your doctor about your specific condition. They might recommend specific types of cannabis or different ways to consume it. Patients with respiratory conditions, for example, may benefit from an edible or an oil instead of smoking cannabis and possibly invoking side effects.
If you are pregnant, have heart disease, or have experienced symptoms of psychotic mental disorders, you may be advised to stay away from marijuana and cannabis products. Heed that warning. As much as people can attest to the great side effects of cannabis, many others can attest to negative side effects.
Let’s Sum It Up
We covered a lot of ground for new cannabis consumers who have specific needs or don’t know where to start. Let’s go over the basics so you can enjoy a productive shopping trip and find your new favourite way to enjoy cannabis.
THC will get you high, CBD will not. Both are cannabinoids that can influence whether you simply get the calming effects of the product or start to feel a little loopy.
Know the tier you are buying. AA products will have a lower THC concentration than AAAA. This makes the product cheaper and it won’t hit you like a ton of bricks (if that’s what you are looking for.)
Indicas are more relaxing, sativas are uplifting. Generally speaking.
Each strain offers different effects and aromas. Cannabis wheels, experimentation, and a little research can help you figure out which strains work best for your needs and comfort level with cannabis.
Ease into it. You don’t have to dive in with strains that have 20% THC. Talk to your doctor about the best ways to consume cannabis and whether or not they can prescribe medicinal products that will treat specific conditions.
Enjoy the high!