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Marijuana and Cannabis Strains

Cannabis sativa, indica, and ruderalis are the three main species in the cannabis family. Our favourite strains all come from these, so what is the difference?

If you like good whiskey, you know that you are not going to walk into a store and pick up the first bottle you see. You look for a certain smoothness, taste, and smell. Some whiskeys may even offer a different effect. You become so accustomed to this taste that anything else tastes like piss in comparison. Once you have found your brand of choice, it's hard to deviate from this.

This is much the same for those who smoke weed, whether it be recreational or medicinal. There are so many varieties of strains available that there is something for every type of smoker.

Whether you’re a lazy couch loafer who smokes to chill out or a hard worker who wants a bit more energy. There’s a strain to delight every one of our senses. If you’re a long-time smoker, you know how the wrong strain can affect you. Dizziness, anxiety, and paranoia can consume our senses. All the stuff you don’t want. We all know how it feels when you smoke a joint with weird Uncle Frank. He buys his stuff on a street corner and it comes wrapped in newspaper.

So how do you get a strain that makes you feel like the silver surfer and not the couch surfer? There are three main strains of cannabis. Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis.

The difference between Cannabis Sativa, Indica, and Ruderalis

When you buy your favourite strain, it's likely a hybrid of Indica and Sativa. If it’s an auto-flowering seed, then it's been cross-bred with Ruderalis, which I’ll explain down below. There is a long-held belief in the stoner community that Sativa and Indica bring on different highs.

Sativa stimulates more of an active high. One that makes you want to bounce off the walls and socialise. Indica is supposed to be more of an introspective high. Making you reflect on the important questions in life, like "if you smoke weed on a boat, does that make it seaweed?" This is also notorious for giving people that couch-locked feeling. As though you can’t get off your couch no matter how hard you try.

While there may be some truth behind this, recent research shows otherwise. Cannabis is a complex plant with more compounds than just THC and CBD. These compounds have opposing effects, so knowing what causes a more energetic high is a little tricky.

In my personal experience, Sativa strains make me feel extroverted and talkative, while Indica makes me want to eat and relax. The key to understanding what gives you a more energetic or relaxed high is in the combination of THC and CBD. Trying out different strains is the best way to find out what works for you.

Cannabis Sativa

Cannabis sativa grows in hot, dry climates with more exposure to the sun. It grows tall and thin with finger-like leaves. The leaf of the Sativa plant is often what you see in cannabis branding. It looks much prettier than the broader leaves of the Indica plant. Sativa takes longer to mature, but it can grow taller than 12 feet high. It's not the best plant to grow if you have nosy neighbours. You can expect higher THC levels and lower CBD from a Sativa-dominant strain.

It's supposed to produce a "mind high" that makes you feel productive and creative. This might make it better for daytime use, but as we mentioned before, there might be more to these compounds than what we currently know. Some popular Sativa-dominant strains include Maui Wowie, Durban Poison, and Strawberry cough.

Cannabis Indica

Cannabis Indica grows in harsher, drier environments than Cannabis sativa. Its natural habitat is the dry mountains of Pakistan, India, Turkey, and Afghanistan. The plant itself is much bushier, with broader stems and leaves. They don’t get quite as tall as Sativa plants, but bush out more and grow faster. They also have a greater bud density per plant. The CBD content in Indica is often higher with a good amount of THC too, depending on the type.

It is speculated that Indica strains produce a much more relaxing high, with an increase in appetite and a reduction in pain. It also helps you sleep, so stay away from any vehicles. It's better taken at night, when you can sit on your couch and ponder the meaning of life. Some of the best Indica-dominant strains are Northern Lights, Gorilla Glue, and OG Kush.

Cannabis Ruderalis

Sativa and Indica are famous for their psychoactive properties, and a hybrid of these is usually what you find in smoke shops. Ruderalis is an auto-flowering variant of the cannabis plant that doesn’t contain much THC and has tiny amounts of CBD. It is because of this that Ruderalis has slipped into the background. It's like the black sheep of a successful family, but that doesn’t mean it's useless.

Ruderalis has been cross-bred with Indica and Sativa to create auto-flowering strains. Auto-flowering plants offer faster returns and are easier to grow. They flower with age, hence the name "auto-flowering." Indica and Sativa flower due to changes in their light cycle, so they tend to be more light sensitive.

What is a hybrid cannabis plant?

The cultivation of marijuana has become an art form. Growers now breed different strains to get the best of both worlds. Cross-breeding Indica, Sativa, and Ruderalis strains has given rise to hybrid plants. This means strains can be bred with specific amounts of THC and CBD levels. Over 700 strains of cannabis now exist, meaning everyone should be able to find the right one. Each strain will have its own characteristic tastes, aromas, and flavours.

The effects of these strains will also vary. Some may turn you into an energised creative, while others may keep you glued to YouTube videos for hours. Hybrid strains can also strike the perfect balance between these effects.

There are countless medicinal benefits that have grown from the influx of unique strains. Certain strains are being used to treat the harmful effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. They offer relief from nausea and pain, and help bring sleep to the worst insomniacs.

What is the best marijuana strain?

Since weed acts on everyone in different ways, it's hard to pin down which is the absolute best. You have to find what works for you, but there are some top recommendations.

Pineapple Express, made famous by the movie of the same name, brings intense energising effects and a stimulating mental high. Sour Diesel can lift your mood and give you a burst of productive energy. If you want something more relaxing, Bubba Kush will cradle you to the couch. It's a relaxing strain that can help to relieve pain and induce sleep. Those with no appetite can benefit from Afghan Kush. It's perfect if you are suffering from cancer treatments.

The future of cannabis strains

In the 1980's, the average THC content in marijuana was 2 to 2.5%. The strains created today have up to 30 percent THC, with CBD levels going up to 20 percent. Botanists are always mixing up new combinations to create the ultimate strains. There are no signs that the cannabis industry will slow down any time soon. As legislation eases around the world, more strains will come into existence.

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