jars of marijuana buds

Choosing Marijuana Strains - Find Your Perfect Match

By CLOVR Cannabis

July 29 2020

cannabis 101

Most of us remember the days of purchasing marijuana before the days of medical legalization. Sometimes the stuff you got would be delightful, other times it was either too racy or too sleepy for your taste, and sometimes it was more seeds than smokable weed. Choosing marijuana strains wasn’t even thinkable back in those days.

Today’s flower shopping experience is something else entirely, and we couldn’t be happier. Choosing marijuana strains is easy-peasy these days and seems to be new one with every dispensary visit. While this new found freedom is a thing of beauty, it can be hard picking out the perfect strain. Having a favorite strain is like having a best friend that makes an already great time that much better. We can’t choose the perfect strain for you, but we can give you a few pointers to let the strain choose you, or at least narrow down the options.

four glass jars with marijuana buds

What are marijuana strains?

Cannabis strains are genetic variants of Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica. These strains are the descendants of landrace strains that are native to various regions of the planet. There are three general subgroups of marijuana strains: indicas, sativas, and hybrids. Indica strains are typically used for pain relief, insomnia, anxiety, and appetite stimulation. Sativa strains are much more uplifting and energizing. These strains are good for daytime productivity. Hybrids can be anywhere in between indicas and sativas. Most strains found in dispensaries are technically hybrids that lean more heavily to one side of the cannabis spectrum.

indica and sativa buds compared on a simple chart

What makes a marijuana strain feel different?

If you’ve been to a dispensary or have spent any time reading about marijuana on the internet then you’ve probably come across the word “terpenes”. People are going crazy for these little guys, and for good reason. Terpenes play a crucial role in the smell, taste, and experience of each individual strain. Put simply, terpenes are the aromatics of the cannabis plant, but their job is far much more complex than aromatics. They are oils that give cannabis its flavor and aroma, but they actually modulate the effects of THC. Two strains may have the same cannabinoid structure but will have different terpenes and therefore will produce completely different experiences when consumed. These beautiful oils have medicinal and psychoactive properties as well. Terpenes are the reason that indicas are sedative and sativas are uplifting.

The next time you’re in the dispensary, take a moment to really smell the different strains. Think about what each one smells like to you. Pay attention to what these scents make you think of. Take note of how the strain makes you feel. Terpenes are present in every single plant on earth, so if you smell something like a specific fruit, then chances are that the fruit you think of fruit has some of the same terpenes.

Myrcene is the most abundant terpene in all cannabis. It is found in hops and mangoes. Myrcene is known for feelings of euphoria. Sativa strains usually have strong notes of citrus. This is because of the terpene limonene which is also found in lemons and limes.

Limonene is famous for providing the uplifted feeling of sativas. Indicas often smell like pine or lavender. Pinene is found in pine which is known for having a relaxing effect. Lavender is well known for its sedative properties, so it makes sense that linalool would be sedative as well.

Knowing a little bit about what different terpenes do and how they smell will come in handy when picking out a strain, but it isn’t completely necessary.

marijuana leaf with lemon, pine, berries and buds representing different limonenes

Choosing marijuana strains 

Now that you know about what makes a strain and how they can differ, we can get to the fun part! Earlier I mentioned that the perfect strain chooses you, and it’s actually kind of true. Since everybody is different and everybody has different chemical needs, people’s reactions to a strain can drastically differ.

Since terpenes are responsible for the nuanced effects of a particular strain, they can tell us a lot about how a strain is going to feel before we smoke it. They react to our bodies when we smell and inhale them. When you smell a strain of marijuana, you will smell more than the notes of lemon or hops, your body is actually reacting to the strain in front of you. You will form conscious and even subconscious opinions about what you’re smelling.

That reaction will tell you more than even the most knowledgeable budtender possibly could. The visceral reaction to how a strain smells is our body chemistry and natural poison defense in practice. If you begin to salivate or can’t help but go back for another smell of the sweet sweet goodness in front of you, that’s your body’s way of telling you that it needs what that strain is offering.

On the other hand, if you smell a jar of weed and your first response is to push the jar away from your face, that is your body’s first defense against poison. While the strain isn’t at all poisonous, your body doesn’t want any of it. It’s the same thing that happens when we smell sour milk, we push it away when we smell it to prevent us from getting sick.

A strain that smells rotten to one person will smell like a bouquet of flowers to someone else. The human body knows what it wants.

The bottom line

The beauty of the modern cannabis industry is that the choices are virtually endless. While it can be intimidating, it is a freedom that can lead to great things. While your scenes will tell you what strains feel the best, the best way to find a perfect strain is to smoke or vape multiple different strains.

Since our bodies are always changing, our favorite strains will change as well. It helps to know if you’re looking for something mellow or if you would rather have something more uplifting, but it isn’t always necessary.

Sometimes the most enjoyable dispensary shopping experiences happen when we see where the wind and our noses take us.