Everything we know about Cannabis flower categorization is wrong, and how changing science can help you find the best Cannabis for you
For years Cannabis was broken down into three major categories– Sativa, Indica, or Hybrid. The categories were based on the structure of the plant itself, and it was believed that Sativa and Indica offered distinctly different effects on the user. This, including different Cannabis varieties or “strains,” was long considered the gold standard for Cannabis categorization. However, with increasing research, we have discovered that it’s a bit more complicated than that. Read on to learn more about how science can help you find the perfect Cannabis strain
Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrids – What’s the difference between these Cannabis Strains?
The cannabis labels “Indica” and “Sativa” are actually botanical taxonomy terms, used to differentiate the plant structures. Sativa tends to be taller and thinner, with fewer flowers, while Indica Cannabis plants are bushier and often have larger buds. Hybrids are a combination of the two, usually either “Indica” or “Sativa” dominant. For years the cannabis market, both legal and illegal, has worked under the impression that these three categories offer different experiences or “highs” to the user.
The prevailing belief is that Sativas offered a more energizing “head-high,” and that Sativa strains of Cannabis were good for helping with anxiety, as well as assisting with creative thinking.
On the other hand, Indicas were believed to be a more sedating strain of Cannabis, useful for relaxation, alleviating depression, and pain relief. Hybrids of the two offer the best of both worlds, and are usually described as “Sativa-dominant” or “Indica-dominant.”
But times are changing, and with legalization comes a much-needed wave of scientific research. Many major dispensaries and growers have decided to stop using the “Cultivar” or Indica/Sativa/Hybrid model in favor of more descriptive, scientifically based categories based on the chemical structure of the plant and the effects it has on the user.
Want to find your perfect Cannabis Strain? It’s all about Chemistry
To learn more about Cannabis strains beyond the Cultivar Sativa and Indica, you need to first know about the neuroactive chemicals found in Cannabis. These chemical compounds are naturally occurring in Cannabis, and are responsible for producing the pleasant and mind-altering effects sought by Cannabis users for centuries.
While scientists have not fully cracked the code on exactly how cannabinoids affect the brain, they have identified the two major players: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). THC is the main psychoactive element of cannabis and is credited with its mind-altering effects. CBD does not have mind-altering effects, and does not cause the user to feel “high.” This makes CBD very useful, as CBD offers a variety of medical uses in treating pain, anxiety, and insomnia.
Other cannabinoids found in cannabis include CBN (Cannabinol) which has been shown to help treat neurological conditions such as epilepsy and muscle spasms. THCa (Tetrahydrocannabinol acid) is molecularly similar to THC but has no psychoactive effects. Potential benefits of THCa include inflammation reduction. Finally, CBG (Cannabigerol) is a cannabinoid that has been useful in treating anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder. Keep in mind that research is still pending on many of these claims, as science is still evolving in this field.
Cannabinoids are not the only naturally occurring chemical compound found in Cannabis. Recent research has discovered that terpenes have just as much to do with the effect on the user as Cannabinoids.
Terpenes are not just found in cannabis. These chemical compounds affect our sense of smell and can be found in flowers, essential oils, and spices. Some common terpenes found in cannabis include Bisabolol, which smells floral and may have inflammation-reducing and anti-microbial effects. Myrcene is considered the most common terpene in cannabis. Myrcene has an earthy, herbal smell and is credited with reducing anxiety and promoting body relaxation.
The terpene Pinene is credited with giving Cannabis its distinctive pine aroma. Studies show it may boost memory, assist in pain relief and help with some of the negative effects of Cannabis such as nausea. Lemony-smelling cannabis is likely high in Limonene, a terpene that is said to boost moods and reduce stress. Another distinctive smelling terpene is Eucalyptol which smells, you guessed it, like eucalyptus! In Cannabis this terpene is crisp and refreshing while boasting antibacterial properties.
New Cannabis Classifications
Since the cultivar Sativa/Indica/Hybrid method of classification has been cast aside, dispensaries and users are looking for a new way to classify cannabis to find the best strain for every use. They are also leaning away from the word “Strain” due to its unfortunate connections with viruses and bacteria. Instead, many scientists and cannabis professionals use the term chemovars– short for chemical varieties.
The Cultivar Method AKA Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid
The Cultivar Method of cannabis classification is what we have previously discussed as being the Indica/Sativa/Hybrid model of classification. This was used by Cannabis breeders to easily distinguish plants through cycles of crossbreeding. However, the cultivar method is quickly falling out of favor among breeders, dispensaries, and users because it does not take into account the difference in chemical compounds between the plants. In addition, Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica are only two of over seven hundred different cultivars of Cannabis.
To accurately find the best strain for each user, a more accurate classification method must be used. This is where the Chemovar approach to classification comes in.
Chemovar Cannabis Classifications
Chemovar stands for chemical varieties and promises to offer better Cannabis through scientific study. By separating Cannabis by chemical composition, as opposed to Cultivar methods and cannabinoid content. This means that in addition to THC and CBD percentages, terpenes can also be identified. This allows breeders and growers to tailor-make cannabis chemovars for medicinal and recreational purposes.
Type I, Type II, Type III Cannabis Classifications
Instead of Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid, Chemovar uses the following three phenotype classifications for Cannabis: Type I, Type II, and Type III. Type I Cannabis chemovars are THC predominant, Type II Cannabis chemovars are equal parts THC and CBD, and Type III Cannabis is CBD prominent.
This classification method allows users to find the type of chemovar to best meet their needs, whether it be pain relief or overall relaxation. It is also useful to breeders who are looking to create chemovar Cannabis for CBD production.
How to find the best Cannabis strain for you?
Strain, chemovar, whatever you want to call it– how do you find the best Cannabis for you? Well, that depends largely on what you are looking for. Read on to learn about what to consider in your hunt for the perfect cannabis.
What Cannabis experience do you want to achieve?
Are you looking to Cannabis to improve the quality of your sleep, or to enjoy a movie? Do you want something to help with pain and inflammation or something to help you enjoy a long hike in the woods? By narrowing down the experience you want, you can better find a variety of Cannabis to suit you. Talk to the dispensary employees about what kind of experience you are looking for and see what they recommend.
When it comes to THC, more is not better
When people have an unpleasant experience with Cannabis, it is most often because they consumed too much too soon. This is especially true of edible users who impatiently eat more without waiting for the effects to kick in. For the best cannabis experience be honest with the dispensary employees about your tolerance and what you are looking for, and don’t be tempted by sky-high THC percentages.
This advice goes for first-timers as well as regular users, as the terpenes and other chemical compounds found in the strain will have more of an effect on the user than THC levels alone. All of these chemical compounds working together is called “the entourage effect” and it is what gives every strain or chemovar its unique impact.
Chose a consumption method
Cannabis consumption is not new, and because of that, there are many different ways to enjoy it. Many users choose to smoke cannabis flower either rolled in paper or out of a glass pipe. This allows the chemicals to reach your blood within minutes of consumption. However, smoking may irritate the lungs and airways.
Modern users enjoy vaporizers, which are machines that heat the cannabis or cannabis extract to just below combustion, causing the cannabinoids and terpenes to be “boiled” out of the Cannabis in a steam that can be easily inhaled. Many users find this gentler than smoking, and since no combustion is taking place there are less of harmful components found in smoke, such as tar. Vaping has also been proven to be more effective, releasing more THC and Terpenes than smoking alone.
Those looking for a less irritating method should consider edibles. However, it should be noted that edibles are often much stronger than smoking or vaping and take longer to kick in. First-time users should be cautious to wait for results before taking more.
When in doubt, consult your doctor
Cannabis may be natural, but it is still a drug that can cause intense effects on the user. Consider your medical history before trying cannabis, including any possible interactions with medication you are taking or medical conditions you may have.
Best Cannabis Cultivars (Strains)
Looking for the best Cannabis strain of 2022? Well, look no further!
Best Cannabis flower for Pain
Did you know that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that over 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain? Finding the right Cannabis strain or chemovar can help! Here are our top three Cannabis strains for pain:
Blue Dream is one of the most popular Cannabis strains in the world, and for good reason. In Cultivar terms, Blue Dream is a Sativa-dominant hybrid strain. Medicinal users report that Blue Dream lessens chronic pain, as well as symptoms of depression and nausea. With a delicious berry flavor from terpenes and a low THC level, Blue dream is a good choice for almost any cannabis user.
Turbo Diesel has an interesting terpene profile, with heavy aromas of spice, lemon, pine, and skunk. This hybrid is often used for pain relief as well as anxiety relief, as users say it delivers a mellowing full-body buzz.
Do-Si-Dos (Dosidos) is an Indica strain that is named after its deep purple coloring. Users report a truly sedative high and is very useful for medical cannabis consumers who are looking to treat pain, as well as insomnia and stress. The terpene profile of Do-Si-Dos is predominantly Myrcene, as well as Pinene and Caryophyllene, which gives a peppery flavor and is thought to relieve anxiety and pain.
Best Cannabis flower for Anxiety
Those suffering from anxiety and related disorders will have no trouble finding Cannabis strains to help them! Here are our top three.
Runtz is a Cannabis strain with a rich young history. Because of the rising popularity of this cannabis strain, it’s no surprise Runtz was named Leafly Strain of the Year in 2020. Growers say this strain has resin-drenched buds that range in color from rich purple to lime green. Runtz is celebrated for its creamy smoke that is smooth and welcoming. This strain of cannabis produces euphoric highs and uplifting effects that are known to be long-lasting.
Watermelon Zkittlez also known as “Watermelon Skittles,” is an Indica-dominant hybrid cannabis strain made by a cross of the hugely popular Zkittlez and Watermelon. It offers a wonderful fruity aroma and flavor profile that is mouthwateringly scrumptious. Its high may set in quickly, delivering a powerful, head-rushing euphoria. With its heavy effects, Watermelon Zkittlez is best reserved for the end of the day.
Don’t let the silly name fool you– this Sativa-dominant Cannabis strain can give serious anxiety relief. With a relatively low THC count (22%), Tangie is a good choice for veteran users and newbies alike. This “daytime strain” is used by medical marijuana users to combat fatigue, anxiety, and depression
Whether you want to call them Cannabis Strains or Cannabis Chemovars, the right one for you is out there. With a little research, you can find the perfect Cannabis flower for your needs here!