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How to Choose Your New Favorite Cannabis Strains

Not all strains are created equal, and everyone reacts a bit differently — so, when it’s time to make your next cannabis purchase, our expert guide is here to help.

When you’re shopping for cannabis, it can be tough to know exactly what to buy when the options are so endless.

Between flower and concentrates alone, there’s a constant push of new strains and genetics on dispensary shelves. Additionally, if you love a specific strain from a specific brand, it’s not always guaranteed to be available the next time you’re ready to buy. As a result, you need to know what to look if you’re hoping to identifying your next favorite.

Our guide is here to help you learn how to pick the very best cannabis strains for you.

Understanding the relationships between strains and consumers

The first thing to know in shopping for cannabis strains is that the relationship between cannabis strains and consumers is individualistic in nature. For instance, if you smoke some Jack Herer and it makes you feel energized, someone else could smoke it and feel anywhere from relaxed to drowsy.

That situation applies across the board — a strain that makes you feel anxious might make your best friend feel calm and comfortable. Every human being has an endocannabinoid system that processes cannabis compounds to give us the highs we feel after consumption. They are based on our physical makeup, as you and me and every one of us are built differently.

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Finding the best cannabis strains for you

There’s a lot of different factors that go into finding some good weed in those colorful bags at your local dispensary. For the most part, it all comes down to two words: quality and consistency. However, the learning curve in finding both can be pretty steep for the average person that may only smoke here and there. There are just so many different names, companies, brands, and it takes time to learn and try a wide range of them so you can be a pro shopper. 

In finding your next favorite cannabis strains, start by getting familiar with four things:

  • Breeders
  • Growers
  • Genetics
  • Terpene profiles

Learning cannabis breeders

Breeders are the creators of strains. They do so by using male cannabis plants to pollinate female cannabis plants. 

The first cannabis ever found grew in the wild. These are called landrace strains, with a few key examples including Afghan strains, Acapulco Gold, and Hindu Kush. Breeders are the individuals that took these strains and crossed them to create the super-wide range of hybrids that we see on offer today. When breeders find a quality they like in a strain, they try to mix it with others that have specific qualities in order to give the world a new and unique blend.

Breeding is about much more than just crossing strains, however — it takes time to engineer perfection. So, when it’s time to find a breeder, you typically want to look for those that have the expertise to bring out the potential in the specific traits and properties (that is, genetics) you love.

Some examples of well-known breeders include Seed Junky Genetics, Compound Genetics, Cannarado Genetics, Exotic Genetix, and Archive Seed Bank. 

Learning cannabis growers

Growers, sometimes called cultivators, are the ones that bring your favorite cannabis strains to life. Sometimes, growers produce weed for brands they themselves own; other times, growers produce weed on a contract basis for other brands. The goal for you as a shopper is to find growers that you can really trust to release good product to the masses on the most consistent basis.

When you find a product you like, whoever grew it is usually on the packaging as “Cultivated By,” “Grown By,” etc. Once you identify a cannabis grower that you rock with, check out their other work, too. Chances are they’ll have produced a few other cannabis strains you’ll enjoy.

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Learning cannabis genetics

The most important component in choosing your new favorite strains is learning cannabis genetics, as they directly influence smell, taste, and feel. Genetics are a good way of predicting a strain’s potential characteristics — as well as how your body might react to a certain product.

For example, my body doesn’t respond well to Jack Herer strains. Jack Herer is a cannabis hybrid made up of Northern Lights No. 5, Shiva Skunk, and a Haze hybrid. It smells and tastes lemony, piney, and earthy. Enthusiasts tend to love Jack for being generally energizing, uplifting, and great for daytime productivity, but for me, the story is a bit different. Jack makes me feel a little anxious and overactive in my thoughts, so I choose to stay away from strains that have Jack Herer in their lineage, as well as strains that have a similar terpene profile.

Learning your cannabis terpene profiles

Cannabis terpenes are aromatic compounds that give cannabis plants their aroma and flavor profile. Examples of specific cannabis terps include limonene, pinene, caryophyllene, and myrcene. Each has its own respective therapeutic effects. 

Studies suggest terpenes work in conjunction with a plant’s cannabinoid and flavonoid profiles to produce the complete experience we feel when consuming cannabis. Because of this, it is believed that terpene profiles are the main guide to follow in understanding the specific effects of certain strains. For example, limonene is considered uplifting, while linalool is considered relaxing.

Since Jack Herer has a trademark lemony-piney profile to it, I stay away from cannabis strains that share those properties, even if they’re genetically related to Jack. On the other hand, the Zkittlez strain (and anything crossed with it) is an immediate hit for me. Zkittlez, a cross of Grape Ape, Grapefruit, and an as-yet-unknown strain, smells like fruity candy, and most strains crossed with it carry that same type of flavor. This range of strains featuring that fruity, candy-like smell and taste always make me feel relaxed, chill, and able to manage my approximately 1000 m.p.h. speed of thought with supreme ease.

So, when choosing your favorite cannabis strains, in addition to who bred it, who grew it, and the genetic lineage, you most definitely don’t want to ignore what’s right in front of your face — how a strain smells and tastes.

Now get out there and burn some buds.

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