Best Strains of All Time
A strain of cannabis, as in all other plants, is a genetic variation within plant cultivars and the offspring descending from them. A strain can be either pure, meaning its genetics all come from the same source, or a hybrid, meaning it contains genetics from multiple origins. However, these days, purebred (heirloom) strains are rare and not as potent as their modern varieties.
Strains of cannabis in the medical and recreational marketplaces are most commonly classified as either sativa, indica, or a hybrid of the two. However, an additional category, ruderalis, also exists and is used in the breeding of auto flowering varieties.
Differences among cannabis strains include differences in growing requirements and growth features, such as length of flowering cycle, qualities of appearance, aroma, and flavor and their physical and psychological effects.
Why Are Cannabis Genetics Important?
Breeding aside, knowing your cannabis genetics is essential for receiving a consistent and reliable experience out of it. By knowing what strain you are smoking, vaping, or ingesting, you should have a good idea of what to expect from the effects.
The following list of strains reveals some of the most popular weed strains around, including information about their genetic lineage, effects, and qualities.
In cannabis street culture, the term “kush” is the slang equivalent of high-quality buds. However, it is actually a separate strain line that gave birth to countless hybrids. It got its name from the Hindu Kush mountain range of India that stretches for 500 miles from Afghanistan to Pakistan, from which it originates. The extreme weather conditions in this region have given the strain a dense protective coating of resinous trichomes revered around the world for the hash it produces. The Kush plant grows deep green leaves and densely knotted deep green buds with purplish tones and orange, rust, or bronze-colored hairs.
Kush gives off a subtle herbal, spicy, and sandalwood scent, often along with a hint of diesel gas. Its predominant flavors are citrusy and tart. Kush contains 15% to 19% THC and less than 1% CBD, producing deep relaxation and intense euphoria, often coupled with alternating bouts of near-uncontrollable laughter and deep inward reflection. Therapeutic users may find Kush helps relieve stress, nausea, pain, and sleeplessness.
Kush is one of the most popular weed strains and is mentioned in thousands of song lyrics, including tracks by Snoop Dogg, Nikki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Dr. Dre, Flo Rida, and Cypress Hill. Kush is the source of over 100 Kush-based weed strains including OG Kush, Candy Kush, Purple Kush, and Pineapple Kush.
Northern Lights is a mostly indica (90/10) strain descended from Thai and Afghani cannabis strains. According to rumor, Northern Lights first emerged around the Seattle, Washington area, where it was bred on an island by a breeder known only as “The Indian”. He also allegedly gave it its name, presumably after the astronomical phenomenon. Later, it was supposedly discovered in Seattle by Nevil Schoenmakers, the founder of The Seed Bank of Holland, the world’s first seed bank, who brought it to Holland to propagate in 1985.
Northern Lights is a mold and disease-resistant strain that boasts broad, dark leaves. It contains between 14% and 19% THC and less than 1% CBD. It is known for resinous, crystal-covered buds that emit pungent, sweet, and spicy scents. Its predominant flavors are piney, sweet and spicy. The reported psychological effects of Northern Lights are mainly physical, producing immense relaxation of both the muscles and the mind, as well as a profound euphoria. Therapeutic users tout Northern Lights for its mellowing, pain-relieving, and sleep and appetite-inducing effects. Anecdotally some users say it helps them relieve anxiety, depression, headaches, migraines, stress, and PTSD.
There are five common variants of Northern Lights, the most popular weed strain of which is Northern Lights #5, it is a three-time winner of the Cannabis Cup. Unsurprisingly, Northern Lights is also a key constituent of many popular hybrid strains, like Big Bud, G-13, Haze, Skunk #1, Swazi, and Hash Plant.
Northern Lights was once referred to in an episode of TV’s “The Office,” by the legendary Creed Bratton.
Haze is a sativa-dominant strain that emerged in the 60s and 70s out of Santa Rosa, California, where a group known as The Haze Brothers developed it from genetics collected from Thailand, Mexico, and Columbia. It is believed to be the crossbreed of four different sativa cannabis strains, resulting in a powerful creative, uplifting and energetic effect, far more cerebral than physical. Haze has since spawned innumerable hybrid strains like Purple Haze (a la the legendary Jimi Hendrix song) Super Silver Haze, Blueberry Haze, and Ghost Train Haze.
Haze is distinguished by an olive-green tone to the buds with a coating of orange hairs that make it seem fluffy. Haze is 80% sativa and 20% indica and contains between 14% and 22% THC and less than 1% CBD. It has a spicy, earthy, sweet, and almost roasted-marshmallowy scent. The aroma can also have a slight hint of lemon or orange, and the flavor is citrusy, sweet, and spicy.
Haze is potent and fast-acting, making it a suitable choice for getting that extra burst of energy and focus needed to finish out the day or take on a major task. Mood-enhancing effects have been reported as well, leading to a more positive and optimistic perspective on everyday social interactions. Some users report finding Haze beneficial for ADD/ADHD, chronic pain, fatigue, migraines, stress, PTSD, nausea, appetite loss, depression, and arthritis.
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Also known as Sour Deez and Sour D, Sour Diesel was developed in the 90s when a New York breeder known as AJ (a more family-friendly abbreviation of A-hole Joe). According to the legend, he accidentally pollinated a female Chemdawg 91 with a male Super Skunk he obtained in Amsterdam. The strain grows in dense, tight, lightly-green buds coated in orange hairs. It contains between 16% and 20% THC and less than 1% CBD and is a 90% sativa, 10% indica strain.
It gives off a strong pungent aroma evocative of diesel gasoline, which is apt for the name, but not necessarily the reason for it. As cannabis legend has it, Sour Diesel got its name for the way it soured relationships in the underground New York cannabis marketplace as it hopped between various growers and dispensaries.
Sour Diesel’s other dominant aromas are dank and sweet. Its primary flavors are spicy, skunky and candy. Sour Diesel is fast-acting and produces an energetic, refreshing and uplifting dreamy and cerebral effect that lasts a long while. It is, therefore, an ideal strain for first thing in the morning to start your day with a spring in your step. For the artistically inclined, Sour Diesel is often cited as a source of massive creative inspiration and touted by many to be one of the best strains of all time.
Some medical marijuana users report Sour Diesel helps relieve anxiety, depression, stress and chronic pain and fatigue as well as migraines and headaches, PTSD, appetite loss, and nausea.
Girl Scout Cookies
No one knows exactly how Girl Scout Cookies was bred. The most prevalent theory is that it is a hybrid of Durban Poison and OG Kush that originated in 2011-2012 in San Francisco, California. Then again, the strain’s original breeder Jigga, claims that he deliberately spread fake rumors to throw copycats off the scent.
Northern California group Cookie Fam, developed several phenotypes of the strain, like Platinum GSC, Forum Cut, and Thin Mint, that display some slight differences in qualities and effects. Generally, however, Girl Scout Cookies and its various phenotypes all grow green twisting calyxes covered in orange hairs, framed in purple leaves.
Its aroma is sweet and nutty, while its taste will remind you of cookies (the trait that gave the strain its name). It produces extreme relaxation and both highly euphoric and cerebral effects.
The THC content in this strain is high, ranging from 16% to 28%, making it one of the most potent weed strains around. Moreover, the high is also one of the longest-lasting, making it one of the most popular weed strains going. All this has led to Girl Scout Cookies winning many Cannabis Cup awards. Girl Scout Cookies is 60% indica, 40% sativa with less than 1% CBD.
For medicinal marijuana users, Girl Scout Cookies may help with severe nausea, chronic pain, loss of appetite, ADD/ADHD, depression, anxiety, migraines, insomnia, and bipolar disorder.
Girl Scout Cookies was the first marijuana strain to become an Instagram famous back in the early ‘10s. After joining Wiz Khalifah’s label, rapper Berner and head of the Cookie Fam company further popularized the strain through his songs and proprietary brand of streetwear.