Legalization has brought standardization to the marijuana market. Now, unlike ever before, you can know exactly what you’re getting when you buy, every time. Gone is the experience of paying for Maui Wowie, and being handed a bag of dirt weed instead. With modern technology and open markets, consumers can now expect a consistent, repeatable high from a standardized product subject to quality control.
In a market this diverse, choice can be overwhelming. Hybrid or Indica? Weed, wax, or shatter? Concentrates? Oils? Tinctures? CBD dominant? Or do you prefer more THC? With so many new and changing options, buying smart requires a more knowledge than ever before. Being able to buy precisely what we want means that we have to know precisely what we want. This short series of guides is going to teach you all that you need to know to make an informed decision.
When you peruse a dispensary menu, one of the first things you’ll notice is that strains are divided into three categories: Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid. These three categories describe the plants with different collections of traits and qualities. While there is still a lot of natural diversity, there are still a few general traits that you can expect these differing groups to have in common amongst themselves.
Cannabis Sativa is traditionally cultivated in Thailand, southern India, Jamaica and Mexico. Sativas flower between 60 to 90 days of growth, and when they’re potted, you can recognize them by their tall, thin proportions and their relatively low weight.
Sativas are known for their “heady” high. This is a category of marijuana favored by the active and artistic for its energetic, creative, and sometimes even psychedelic high. This weed’s effects are mostly mental, with users reporting that the strains do not put them to sleep as many heavier strains are wont to do.
Sativas tend to be beloved by the recreational crowd, rather than the medical. They are CBD dominant, which is why their high tends to be more of a cerebral high. A sativa high allows for clear thinking even on days full of activities.
Sativa dominant strains tend to have an earthy, pine-y taste, with a smell commonly described as “diesel” or “gasoline”. The uninitiated may be more familiar with the concept of marijuana which smells “hoppy” and “bright”.
Sativa buds should be:
Smell like diesel
Popular Sativa strains are
Cannabis Indica has its roots in the cool regions of the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush. Short, dense, and leafy, this hardier species was bred in extreme temperatures, but now performs it’s best indoors.
These plants grow to be short and dense. They top out at about 3 feet tall and yield a large amount of bud for their weight. Their leaves are bushy and thick with resin developed to deal with a rugged environment.
Indica is known for creating a heavy body high in users. This can improve perception of sight, sound, taste, and smell. It’s also the species most closely associated with hunger and sleepiness.
These strains are also known for pain relieving properties. All of these traits make Indicas ideal for medical usage. Those seeking a sleep or relaxation aid will find that this THC heavy variety serves them well.
Indica buds are:
Popular strains are:
Hybrids are the result of breeding indica and sativa. The genetic background of these plants varies widely and so do their properties. When dealing with Hybrids, it’s a good idea to research the particular strain you’re interested in.
Most of the new strains you see hyped in weed media are hybrids. These designer plants are bred with specific traits in mind. This allows for incredible precision, so with a little knowledge, you can get exactly the high that you’re looking for.
Hybrids are usually grown indoors using a hydroponic system. They are popular with both medical and recreational users and can skew THC dominant or CBD dominant, depending on their genetics. Hybrids are commonly used in edibles, tinctures, and extracts.
New hybrids are reaching incredible levels of quality, with some achieving THC levels of over 50%. The selection of hybrids is constantly growing as the market expands. Check pot awards notifications, as well as grower conferences and social media in order to stay up to date on the latest strains created by this burgeoning industry.
Hybrid buds vary a lot, but they are often:
Popular strains are
Knowing the difference between Sativa, Indica, and the hybrids in between them is the first step to smart purchasing decisions. This lays the groundwork, and is the largest factor in ensuring that you get the high you’re looking for.
On days when you have things to do, a diesel-y, high-energy sativa is exactly what you need. On slower days, or for pain relief, Indicas are a better bet. Picking the strain that’s right for you is the biggest step you can take towards ensuring that you have the day you’re planning to.
Hybrids are a wonderful way to stay on the cutting edge of weed culture. The slew of new hybrids increases every year. The variety adds insane new names and even wilder descriptions. Hybrids are common among extract users as well as those who prefer edibles.
Once you know what kind of strain you’re looking for, you need to further narrow your scope. This is when you need to decide whether you’re looking for something CBD Dominant or THC Dominant. In our next segment of this multi-part buyer’s guide, we’ll discuss what these chemicals do and why they’re an important consideration when you’re at the dispensary.