Know your weed

by Kayla Johnson

With the rise in medical marijuana legalization, the number of strains available has skyrocketed.  Some of them have been around for a long time while others are brand new and, while it is great for patients to have so many options, it can be a bit overwhelming if you are new to cannabis.  It is not unusual for patients beginning their cannabis journey to not quite know what they are looking at, much less what they need for their medical conditions.  There is a mountain of information to sift through regarding each strain but despite how it may seem at first, do not worry.  There IS a method to the madness and all of it can be broken down relatively simply.  Each cannabis strain has certain benefits and effects but all strains can be organized into one of three categories.  They are Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid.  Each type or category of cannabis is beneficial for certain medical conditions and, often times, certain strains have multiple benefits.  Once you know the basics of what each type does and/or how it will affect you, you will be better prepared when the time comes to purchase your first dosage of medical marijuana.

We will begin with the Indica strain.  Indica dominant strains are known for being quite relaxing, making them especially useful in the evening or night as a sleep aid.  It has a tendency to give patients a “couch lock” sensation, especially in the beginning, due to these relaxing qualities.  If you suffer from severe nausea or have little to no appetite, Indica is the strain for you.  It is excellent for patients undergoing chemotherapy.  It can also boost a person’s appetite, giving patients “the munchies.”  Indica dominant strains are also great for general pain relief and anxiety.  Two of the most well known strains that are Indica dominant are Granddaddy Purple and Northern Lights, both of which are extremely common in other states with legalized MMJ.  

Sativa dominant strains are virtually the polar opposite of Indica.  A common effect of Sativa is that it is energizing, making it known as the strain that fuels creativity.  Since these strains lack the intense relaxation effects of Indica, they are more often recommended for daytime use.  Many Sativa strains can help increase alertness and focus, while keeping a clear head.  They can be especially useful for people suffering from chronic pain who need relief without having the tired or groggy feeling.  The energizing boost can also wash away mental fatigue.  With the uplifting effects, sativa strains are usually recommended for depression and social anxiety.  It should also be noted that for patients with less experience with cannabis, sativa-dominant strains can cause paranoia so please take caution in the beginning with dosage amounts.  Sour Diesel and Lemon Haze are two of the most common sativa strains on the market today.  They are definitely worth considering if this if the type of cannabis for you.

Lastly, are the hybrid strains.  As you might expect, a hybrid is just that: a hybrid of both Sativa and Indica.  For many patients, the hybrid strains are considered the best of both strain worlds.  Some hybrids will lean more towards the effects of Indica while still retaining some of the benefits of Sativa strain, or vice versa.  Since it’s a blend of the two main categories, hybrids tend to give patients a more balanced overall sensation, rather than having to pick solely between Indica and Sativa.  Hybrids give you more flexibility while still packing the punch of benefits that patients are seeking.  Popular hybrid strains include Blue Dream and White Widow.    

Finding the right strain for you may take some trial and error due to the seemingly endless choices.  There are also other considerations.  For example, a good number of today’s modern strains are hybrid, but due to cross breeding, many strains may show characteristics of both Indica and Sativa even though they are not technically hybrids.  It can be confusing at times.  Also, not all Sativa dominant strains are energizing and not all Indica strains are sedating.  If you are unsure about your first strain purchase or want to know more about what’s available at your local dispensary, always take a moment to talk to someone who works there about the options available for you.  A good dispensary employee should be able to guide you in the right direction.  Having said that, though, do not be afraid of experimenting. Cannabis affects each person differently and the only way to know how it will benefit you is to try a small amount and go from there.  It’s important to explore your options, but it’s equally important that you have some basic information to guide you in this process.  In a nutshell, think of it this way, Indica is on one end of the spectrum and typically has more relaxing qualities while Sativa is on the other end and is considered the more energizing strain.  The hybrids fall somewhere in the middle.  Happy exploring!  

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