The days of having a couple of strains in the market and praying you didn’t get stifled by your guy are gone. The loose-leaf market opened up due to legalization across several states in the US, leading to a boom in the number of strains available to consumers, with many different combinations catering to hyper-specific needs, ranging from dealing with several medical issues for which certain strains and concentrates tend to work very well, to just plain old sitting on a couch and getting stoned: there’s a strain for everyone, and there’s literally hundreds of them
Due to the sheer number of strains available, this article will cover some of the most well-liked and popular strains along with a couple of strains across the world that have achieved notoriety for.
What is a strain?
A strain is a variation of the cannabis plant. Similar to how fruits and vegetables have variations based on geography, climate, soil, and nutrients, loose leaf’s variations are also based on the same conditions which form a strain. There are tons of different strains in the world which are loosely categorized into two types: Indica and Sativa and a following third type, hybrids, which combines characteristics of both Indica and Sativa.
Indica is sometimes categorized as one of the oldest strains of cannabis found. Cultivated in the plateaus of northern India, most strains of loose leaf available are broadly (or closely) related to the Indica strain. Distinctive features include shorter plants and flowers, a shorter season for cultivation that’s suited for colder climates. Indica plants are known for their relaxing and sedative qualities that are great for a chill scene or for a good night of sleep.
Indica plants have shorter flowers and tend to make people take them more relaxed and calm, helping with sleep issues. Sativa tends to have longer flowers and leads to more activity, focus and energy
Sativa, on the other hand, is a strain of hemp that is found in Europe and eastern Europe. The Sativa plant is taller than an Indica plant and also takes longer to cultivate. It’s suited for warmer climates and are usually known for their rejuvenating and refreshing qualities. A Sativa strain can be used as a replacement for coffee, allowing you to be alert and focused.
Hybrids are a mix of the two strains, usually in varying quantities. Hybrids are usually somewhere in the middle in terms of effects and are cultivated for specific use cases. Most hybrids on the market tend to do well among casual and recreational smokers.
Are strains a relevant term?
There’s been discussion about whether strains continue to remain relevant as a term with the advent of compounds of loose leaf i.e THC and CBD, namely. While there’s some credibility to claims that it should be abandoned, researchers tested Indica and Sativa strains to see if they differed in THC and CBD levels and found nothing conclusive that would Indicate as much. In short, they do continue to be relevant, despite the misuse of the term in marketing and labeling when it comes to the sale of loose leaf in dispensaries.
Which strains should I buy?
- Idukki Gold
A legendary hybrid strain from India, Idukki Gold is a strain of legends, widely regarded as one of the best strains in Asia. Named after the district of Idukki in the state of Kerala in India, the gold was attributed to the strain due to it being a “gold mine” in terms of popularity and sales, giving many cultivators in the area (who failed in growing cardamom) significant wealth. Combining an Indica strain from India and a Sativa strain from the Netherlands, this strain was extremely popular back in the 60s till the 80s due to its potency and wonderful aroma.
Aside from being a fantastic strain, its legendary status is derived from its extinction: there were extensive police raids from both Kerala and the neighboring Tamil Nadu (Idukki sits on the border). Slowly but steadily, the Idukki Gold of the past vanished, replaced by a lower quality strain that sells under the same name.
- Pineapple Express
Popularized further by the movie with the same name, Pineapple Express is a hybrid strain that is an explosion of flavor. Mixing apple, pine, and pineapple, pineapple express leaves a pleasant aftertaste but even more of a pleasant high, with its mellow and subtle high bringing on the giggles least when you expect it.
It became so popular that a movie by the same name was released in 2008 that loosely revolves around the (then) rare strain of loose leaf.
A legendary Indica strain from Afghanistan, its lineage is largely unknown. What is known, however, is its potency as a relaxing and peaceful strain that’s extremely beneficial for pain relief and insomnia. It’s also used extensively by cultivators for resin production.
- Laughing Buddha
A world-renowned strain that was initially grown in the Netherlands, laughing buddha is a Sativa strain that will leave you in fits of laughter but also energized and giggly. It may have won the best strain in 2003 at the cannabis cup in the Netherlands, but its fruity flavors and strong, punchy aftertaste won the hearts of stoners and casual tokers alike.
- Mango Kush
Mango Kush is an Indica dominant hybrid strain that’s known for its strong mango flavor, high THC content and for its relaxing nature, increasing appetite and providing pain relief for headaches, joint pain and nausea. Mango Kush likely originated from the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan and often leaves users in a couch-lock, but euphoric and appreciating the smooth taste.
- Related: Mysore Mango
Mysore Mango is a strain grown in India in the city of Mysore in Karnataka, India. It reportedly gets its smell of mangoes due to it being grown under mango trees and is also known as one of the smoothest and flavor-rich strains in India.
- OG Kush
Easily one of the most popular strains one can find, OG Kush is an Indica dominant hybrid strain known for its strong aroma and spicy aftertaste. Cultivated in California, the origins of this strain are a mystery, with talk of it having its origins from Pakistan and Thailand. It’s an extremely potent strain that gives the users a Sativa like high despite being an Indica dominant strain. Loved by users and cultivators alike, this is THE strain to try out.
Ranging from mystical and extinct strains from the East to the craziest, award winning strains that sold movie tickets, we’ve got a strain for each one of your tokers and gigglers.
- White Widow
Recognized as one of the best (and cost-effective) strains in the Netherlands, White Widow is one of the best selling strains in the coffee shops in Holland but also famous in the dispensaries of California (and other states). Several cultivators have used this strain as a parent strain for other hybrids because of its high resin quantities (which have white buds!), balanced Indica-Sativa levels, and potent highs. If you’ve smoked a few strains, chance is that parts of this strain were in it.
- Blue Dream
A Sativa dominant hybrid, blue dream combines the potent blueberry Indica with an equally strong haze Sativa, blue dream is a popular strain in the west coast that gets the best of both worlds, relaxing you and energizing you at the same time. It has a strong, pungent aroma that taste distinctly like blueberries when lit and hits like a double sneak attack with an intermingling of sativa and indica, making you feel like you’re floating on air. Easiest recommendation on this list.
Netherlands has some of the best weed culture in the world, inspired and shared with love by the large network of coffee shops in the country that sell loose leaf.
For the giggles:
While these aren’t “bad” strains, their names bring a smile to the face in their ironic and funny nature. Take a look:
AK-47 gives a nice, mellow high, leaving you relaxed, while AC/DC is a CBD heavy strain that won’t get you high. The 9-Pound Hammer will leave you couch-locked and in a deep slumber if you smoke it at night and Amnesia will leave you euphoric and wanting more. These names are just absolutely hilarious.
That about sums up a brief list of strains that you should try out. While some of these strains aren’t available at dispensaries, you should definitely try them out should the opportunity arise! This list isn’t as comprehensive, but is a good list for beginners to go and try something new. Stay safe and hydrated and every strain will be tons of fun.