With pot use becoming more and more acceptable, the number of people using is increasing with it. That’s leading to a learning curve as new users are confronted with the array of choices available to them.

Kush or Diesel? Northern Lights or Pineapple Express? Before you can choose, you need to know what you’re looking for. Are you heading out to a social environment and hope to loosen up? Or are you more interested in pain relief and the health benefits that marijuana offers?

Keep reading to learn more about what each different strain of cannabis offers, how to recognize them, and what they can do for you.

What Is Cannabis?

Before going deeper, it’s important to understand the unique qualities that have made cannabis so desirable. 

Despite having a history that stretches back as far as humans have recorded, most people still have a simplistic understanding of it. Most people recognize that smoking pot will get them “high” but know little of the whys or hows.

Cannabis contains several cannabinoids. These are chemical clusters that interact with receptors inside of the brain. Different cannabinoids cause different reactions.

The primary two are THC and CBD. 


Tetrahydrocannabinol is the best-known cannabinoid. It’s a psychoactive agent best known for causing the high associated with smoking pot.

It’s the reason pot use is associated with increased creativity as well as increased appetite. But it’s also recognized as causing cognitive impairment, and decreased motor skills.


Cannabidiol is the second-best understood cannabinoid. Whereas THC is known for its intoxicating effects, CBD is being celebrated for its medicinal properties. It doesn’t cause a high the same way THC does and can actually counteract the effects of THC on the brain.

It’s important to recognize that cannabis comes with both THC and CBD (as well as many other cannabinoids). It’s the balance of these compounds that influence the different strains.


Now, while the levels of cannabinoids will influence the properties of the plant, it’s actually the terpenes that define the strain. Terpenes are the oils of the plant. Research on these compounds is still in its early stages. However, it seems that they are as important as cannabinoids in causing the effects of the plant.

Terpenes are also what cause the plants to have their specific aroma. 

Indica and Sativa

There are many different types of pot. The two main strains they fall under are Indica and Sativa. Each represents a different cannabinoid balance.


Know for typically having higher CBD levels, indica is the most common strain. That’s thanks to its ease of harvest. Indica produces more flowers over a shorter cycle than sativa. That’s made it more attractive to growers.


Though indica has been the dominant product available, interest is growing in sativa. Less bountiful then indica, it offers a clearer more energetic high. That’s due to the higher levels of CBD, which stimulates the mind more than the body.

How to Recognize the Strains

Indica plants are shorter and squatter than sativa plants. The leaves are broad and thick. They also carry a pungent skunky aroma.

Sativa plants are taller and leaner, with thin, pointy leaves. They carry a sweeter smell, sometimes even fruity. 

The Different Effects

Because indica has higher CBD levels, it has a greater effect on the body. It’s often used as a sleep aid or to relieve anxiety. Since indica use leads to an increase in appetite it can also be used to treat nausea.

Sativa has been found to have many medicinal properties. This makes it an attractive option for people seeking medical relief. It has a far greater effect on the mind than on the body. This can help ease anxiety and depression, as well as other mental health concerns.

It also increases focus and clarity and can even increase serotonin levels. This makes it far more appealing for daytime use.


Though indica and sativa represent the primary strains of marijuana, there are many different hybrids available as well. Like with any other crop, crossbreeding the different strains leads to new, different strains.

How this effects the strains THC and CBD content depends on what plants were crossbred. Instead, hybrids are better known for how they’re grown and cultivated.

This also means that the physical attributes of hybrids can vary depending on their composition. Higher THC levels will lead to plants resembling a sativa, whereas CBD-dominant hybrids will closer resemble an indica.

The promise of hybrids is that they can lead to tailor-made strains. These could offer the user only the benefits they’re looking for without any negative side-effects. For example, this could include the relaxing properties of an indica with the mental clarity of a sativa.

Choosing the Right Strain for You

What is the right strain for you? Having the above details gives you the information to make an informed choice. It all depends on the type of activity you’re looking to enhance.

Just remember that not every strain is equal. Afghani and Northern Lights are both indica-dominant strains. They do have different properties. It’s the same with Jack Herer and Green Crack. Each has a different percentage of THC and CBD, leading to different highs.

Be mindful, too, of the negative effects. If you’re a naturally anxious and high-energy person, certain sativas could be too much for you. It’s best to consult with a professional when selecting your strain.

Strain of Cannabis: Final Thoughts

It’s a brave new world for cannabis. The old biases are falling to the wayside as more information and a better understanding of pot’s effects are known.

That’s why it’s essential to have a solid grasp of what each strain of cannabis is. It allows you to make the right choice and enjoy responsibly.

For more cannabis information, visit our blog. There are a number of articles to help you understand the choices available to you.

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