There are so many ways to consume marijuana these days, but inhaling cannabis flower remains to be the most popular way to medicate. Whether you are a medical or recreational consumer, the benefits of smoking flower can’t be denied: it’s convenient, they come in so many delicious flavors, it provides the benefits of whole-plant flower and all its compounds, and the onset is practically immediate.
The good news is that there is also lots more information out there that can help you choose the best strain. In the past, one would simply go with THC levels, or sativa vs. indica. Those are still important, but there is a smarter way to shop for cannabis flower strains today.
THC and CBD Content
More people are choosing high CBD strains for many reasons: it minimizes the anxiety that occurs with some when consuming high THC strains, CBD can help relax, and it isn’t psychoactive. Given that THC and CBD are the two active and dominant chemicals in the cannabis plant, they will both have different effects which is why it’s important to understand how each of them will affect you.
Generally speaking, you can go by with a few simple rules to remember: the higher the THC content (over 18%), the more psychoactive effects you will feel. On the other hand, the higher the CBD content, the more relaxed and calm you will feel. Many indica strains have a higher CBD content since it’s suitable for helping you to relax. Some consumers prefer a balanced effect and seek out strains with identical or nearly identical THC and CBD ratios.
Some cannabis growers provide third-party laboratory tests or a Certificate of Analysis (COA) to verify the cannabinoid content in cannabis plants.
Terpenes are natural compounds found in plants, not just marijuana. They are responsible for the strain’s unique aroma and flavors; these compounds are what can help you differentiate one strain from another through taste or smell.
Aside from taste and smell, terpenes also contribute to the strain’s effects. Because of the entourage effect, terpenes also work with other cannabinoids that are present in the marijuana plant to produce certain effects. There are over several hundred known terpenes in marijuana though more may be discovered by researchers over time.
There are many ways to determine which terpenes are present in cannabis flowers. When shopping at a licensed dispensary, many recognized cultivators and laboratories provide a Certificate of Analysis or information on the terpene profile of the plant. Some of the most common terpenes found in marijuana flowers include limonene, caryophyllene, pinene, linalool, nerol, myrcene, terpineols, humulene, and many more.
Another way to gauge the dominant terpenes in cannabis flower is to smell it. Some strains smell skunky, woody, sweet, fruity, or even citrusy. It’s best to research each of the varying terpenes that are found in strains to have an idea of how they can affect you.
Are you trying to medicate for a certain condition, or do you want to unwind after a day of work? Are you looking to socialize with friends or do you merely want a strain to help you sleep peacefully at night?
Some types of cannabis flower go well with specific scenarios. For example, sativa and hybrid strains are excellent for socializing, while indicas and high CBD strains will help you relax and fall asleep faster. If you already have experience with paranoia or anxiety with high THC strains, you’re better off with strains that are around 10% THC to ensure a pleasant experience.
On the other hand, there are also those that smoke flower with the sole intention of getting really high. In this case, opt for high THC and low to no CBD strains. There are literally at least a few strains for everyone, but being clear and specific about what you want out of the strain will help you efficiently narrow down your choices.
More cannabis strains are being sold in dispensaries with third-party laboratory testing. For those who are new to the world of marijuana, relying on laboratory testing is the most efficient way to understand the effects and cannabinoid content of any strain you are interested in buying.
Buying cannabis strains that have undergone lab testing will also help in terms of your own overall health and safety. This is especially crucial for medical cannabis patients because laboratory tests tell you if the strain contains any harmful contaminants such as fungicides, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals which can worsen existing health problems.
Other important details you can get from a laboratory test includes:
- Brand (who grew the cannabis)
- Type of cannabis (sativa, indica, or hybrid)
- Cannabinoid content
- Harvest date, batch name
- State law compliance
Don’t underestimate the value of a cannabis strain just because it’s priced lower than others. In fact, buying while it’s on sale is a good opportunity to experiment with a new strain while saving a few dollars.
In the same breath, just because a strain is rare or expensive doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s of better quality. It’s more important to choose weed strains based on its effects, aromas, and flavors that you enjoy.
Investing a little more time into researching various cannabis strains can pay off once you find that strain that ticks all the boxes. A little trial and error can’t hurt anyone — and it might even be fun!