So the federal government in Canada is announcing its plans in the next 2 weeks for the legalization of recreational cannabis and here, in British Columbia, dispensaries have been serving communities for the last few years making access to cannabis easier, more widespread and less hush hush. Gone are the days where buying on the black market meant the consumer often had no idea what strain they were using or what effects it likely had. There was either good weed or bad weed. The cannabis consumer now has more control than ever about which strains they choose to use depending on their reasons for using cannabis.
If I mention using medicinal marijuana to people who I feel may benefit from it I often hear ‘Well, I would but it makes me anxious’ or ‘I need to be productive during the day so I can’t use it’. My response here is: you haven’t found the right strain for you. There are approximately 780 known cannabis strains in the world right now with new strains being created (and disappearing) all the time, each with differing effects on the body and mind. So how do you go about finding the strain for you? Well, let’s start with the basics…
Indica v. Sativa
There are 2 species of the cannabis plant: Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa (well there are actually three, but for the purposes of this article we are just going to discuss the two major species available to us). They originate from different places, C. indica coming from Central Asia whereas C.sativa has been traced back to many areas near to the equator. They look different, with the Indica plant being shorter and bushier, usually growing to around 2-5 feet, making it suitable for indoor growing and has large, wide leaflets. Sativa plants are taller and thinner, often reaching heights of 6-10 feet with thinner leaflets. Their effects on the body and mind also differ:
Most cannabis strains today are not strictly Sativa or Indica but are a hybrid of the two and are either Sativa dominant or Indica dominant and can provide a great balance of the differing effects of the two species. Sativa or Sativa dominant strains are generally daytime friendly and can allow you to be creative, focused and energized. Indica or Indica dominant strains are generally not for those who wish to be productive but are super helpful for those who need help with relaxing, easing stress and sleeping.
THC v. CBD
Another factor that you should consider when choosing a cannabis strain are cannabinoids. Cannabis contains at least 85 different types of cannabinoids, THC and CBD being the most common. When consumed THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) binds to receptors in the brain and is strongly psychoactive, many specific strains are bred to contain high THC levels and it can be helpful for pain, nausea, and sleep. However, in some users’ high THC levels can promote anxiety and paranoia. CBD (Cannabidiol) on the other hand binds to receptors throughout the body, is non-psychoactive and has a calming effect, making it useful for anxiety and sleep issues as well as chronic pain, inflammation, and epilepsy. So, for a cannabis user who doesn’t want to get high but finds they benefit from its pain-relieving effects, a high CBD strain would probably be a good choice.
When choosing a cannabis strain we need to consider whether it is Sativa or Indica and the Cannabinoid ratios. Generally speaking, medical users will find they benefit most from high CBD Sativa Strain for daytime use or an Indica dominant strain for evening or nighttime use. Some examples of high CBD strains are Charlotte’s Web and Harlequin. Websites such as Leafly and Medical Jane offer specific strain information including genetics, medicinal effects, user reviews, as well as positive and negative effects of the strain so you can research before you buy. You can also talk to the staff in your local dispensary who should be able to point you in the right direction when it comes to choosing the right strain for you. Tell me in the comments how you found the perfect strain for your needs!