As states have decriminalized marijuana and legalized both medicinal and recreational use over the last few years, cannabis use has exploded in popularity. In fact, by 2026 the worldwide cannabis industry is projected to be worth $90.4 billion!
If you’re one of the many people new to marijuana, the huge amount of options available can be a little overwhelming. It can be difficult to know what product to pick and whether it’ll be right for you.
To help, we’ve put together our complete guide to choosing marijuana strains, with all the information you need to know.
What Are Marijuana Strains?
Chances are you’ve read up a little on marijuana already if you’re thinking of trying it or looking for a better product for your needs. So you’ve probably already come across the terms Indica, Sativa, and hybrid.
These are the most common categories of marijuana strains on the market. Different strains have different effects when consumed. This is due to the different combinations of cannabinoids within them.
Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds within marijuana plants that react with our own body’s endocannabinoid system, giving us the “high” feeling when we use cannabis. Not all cannabinoids do this, but for most strains, the stronger the cannabinoid content, the stronger the effects.
Indica is a marijuana strain that is believed to have a relaxing effect. While Sativa has a more energizing and uplifting effect. A hybrid is a combination of an Indica and a Sativa strain.
While these are the main three categories of marijuana strains, there are hundreds of cannabis strains within each of these categories. There are an estimated 700 strains of marijuana within these categories, each with its own unique effects due to the different cannabinoid content.
It’s worth pointing out, due to the constant mixing of different plants, the main three categories have become a bit more blurred. For example, Sativa is more associated with the high sensation from THC, but Indica strains tend to actually have more THC content.
How to Pick a Marijuana Strain
If all the names mean very little in terms of effect, how do you go about choosing a marijuana strain?
Since legalization, cannabis companies have done very well at being quite uniform about what to call each strain. This makes it a lot easier for consumers to know the effects of different strains before they buy. A reputable company will have a description of the strain, alongside an overview of cannabinoid content.
There are also loads of helpful third-party sites where users can review different strains. They’ll list the common side effects so you can make a more informed choice about what strain you’d like to buy.
Chances are you’re wanting to use marijuana for a particular purpose. That could be to help you relax or sleep or it could be to deal with pain or mental health issues. Much of this will dictate the strain that is right for you.
The Right Strain for You
Think about the desired effects you’d like from your strain and pick a strain that best matches those. You don’t need to pay attention to Indica and Sativa and so on. Do your research on different strains for your unique purpose and go from there.
If you’re looking to use cannabis for medicinal purposes and don’t want any of the side effects from THC, there are many strains available with low THC content. Research CBG vs CBD vs CBC to see which could be right for you.
If your desired effects are as simple as smoking recreationally, have a little more fun with it. Think about the aroma and flavors you’d like, as well as the strength.
Whatever strain you pick, it’s super important you gauge your tolerance first. You can’t overdose on marijuana by any means, but going too hard too quickly is a surefire way to have a bad time.
Try a small dose first and wait around 15 minutes to see how you react. If you’re trying edibles, this will be more like half an hour to an hour depending on the strain.
To start you off with your research, we’ll take a look at some of the most popular strains available and their effects. Remember, not every strain will be the same strength, so you still need to check the details of the exact product you’re buying.
Ice Cream Cake
This is an Indica marijuana strain, derived from two other popular strains (Wedding Cake and Gelato). The strain has strong sedating and relaxation effects with a sweet vanilla aftertaste. It’s a popular choice for users with pain problems, sleep problems, or anxiety.
This strain is a potent hybrid of Indica and Sativa, with euphoric and relaxing effects. It has an earthy aroma and has won many awards, but may be too strong for some users.
Another hybrid strain, Wedding Cake is a tangy strain with euphoric effects. It has a very high THC content, so users with a low tolerance should try it in moderation.
Originating from Florida in the 90s, this retro hybrid strand has a strong skunk smell. It has relaxing effects and is strongly associated with increasing hunger too!
Sour Diesel is a Sativa marijuana strain that is very energizing. The name comes from the strong diesel aroma. This strain is popular with users with mental health issues such as depression and stress.
Girl Scout Cookies (GSC)
This hybrid strain is Indica dominant and known for producing euphoric effects, as well as the munchies. It has a high THC content of 19%, so newcomers should take it easy initially. GSC is popular with users with chronic pain and nausea.
Trial and Error
There are many marijuana strains available for you to pick from. The right one for you will depend on what your desired effects from using cannabis are. Do your research and buy from a reputable company to stay safe.
We have lots of helpful articles on all things marijuana on our blog, so be sure to take a look while you research.