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Cannabis Strains for Beginners

While it might be easy to assume that “cannabis” refers to only a single plant, the reality is that there are actually numerous different types—or strains—of cannabis, each with their own unique traits and characteristics.

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The cannabis family is typically broken down into three categories: sativa, indica, and hybrid. While decades of interbreeding have erased many of the differences between these categories, organizing cannabis strains according to sativa, indica, and hybrid is a good way to help consumers select the strain for them.

With that in mind, here are the general differences between sativas, indicas, and hybrids.


Sativa Indica Hybrid
Plants have long, thin leaves, take longer to grow, and require more light. Plants have wide, short leaves. As a cross between sativa and indica strains, hybrid strains will manifest different traits based on their genes.
Sativa buds are long and loosely packed. Indica buds are densely-packed. In general, a hybrid will lean more toward the sativa or indica side, and will show more of those characteristics.
Sativa strains are known for producing cerebral highs, as opposed to body highs. Indica strains are known for producing body highs, as opposed to cerebral highs. As a result of breeding and cultivation practices, most strains on the market today are hybrid.
Sativa strains tend to be energizing and can help you focus. Indica strains tend to increase appetite, relax your muscles, and you’re your brain.
Sativas are typically recommended for daytime use, and may be especially helpful for anxiety and depression. Indicas are often recommended for nighttime use.

Each of these main categories—sativa, indica, hybrid—contains hundreds of specific strains. Interestingly, the number of cannabis strains in existence is constantly growing. That’s because cannabis growers, whether commercial or private, regularly experiment with crossbreeding in an attempt to target specific characteristics and create new distinctive products.

Finding the Strain That’s Right for You


This sativa-dominant strain is primarily known for having very high levels of CBD (cannabidiol). CBD is one of the main chemicals produced by the cannabis plant, and unlike its counterpart THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD does not have any psychoactive effects. Instead, CBD is credited with providing many of cannabis’ therapeutic and medicinal effects.

Harlequin is a descendant of Colombian Gold, a well-known indica strain from Nepal, as well as other Thai and Swiss landrace strains. In general, this is a great strain for anxiety and depression, as will provide calming effects without altering your mental state too much.


Pennywise is an indica-dominant hybrid that is the result of crossing CBD-heavy Harlequin with energizing sativa Jack the Ripper. Like Harlequin, Pennywise is relatively high in CBD, which means its effects will be more noticeable on the therapeutic front than the psychoactive front. All in all, Pennywise is known for producing relaxing and uplifting effects.

Jack Herer

Jack Herer has quickly become a classic in the world of cannabis. Derived from crossing Haze—a staple sativa strain that has been used to create numerous hybrids—with well-known indicas Northern Lights #5 and Shiva Skunk, Jack Herer is low in CBD and is known for producing very uplifting cerebral highs without the paranoia that comes with some types of sativa strains.

White Widow

White Widow was first created by growers in the Netherlands, who combined a sativa strain from Brazil with a heavy indica from India. The result is a hybrid that leans slightly more on the sativa side, giving consumers an uplifting boost of energy and positive feelings. As such, White Widow is often used in social settings and can help people feel more outgoing, talkative, and less inhibited. Additionally, White Widow is also good for increasing appetite.


Cannatonic is a hybrid strain that is best known for its pain-relief and anti-anxiety properties. It also tends to produce mellow highs that leave people feeling calm and relaxed. This strain is the offspring of indica MK Ultra and hybrid G13 Haze. Given its relatively high CBD levels and relatively low THC levels, Cannatonic can be an excellent option for people who are new to cannabis or for those with low THC tolerance.

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