8 Best Cannabis Strains for Beginners

With all the fancy names, levels of potency, and different ways to consume cannabis, the land of green can be a bit overwhelming to newcomers. 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. And like music, fashion, and food, everyone and their neighbor has different preferences when it comes to cannabis. Keeping that in mind, we compiled a list of what we think are the eight best cannabis strains for beginners.

Harlequin Strain

5/5

Pennywise Strain

4/5

Cannatonic Strain

4/5

Jack Herer Strain

4/5

Blue Dream Strain

4/5

Sour Tsunami Strain

4/5

White Widow Strain

3/5

Northern Lights Strain

3/5

Types of Cannabis Strains

While there are reportedly at least 779 cannabis strains, they are usually organized into three categories: sativa, indica, and hybrids. Even though growers regularly experiment with crossbreeding to create new distinctive products, keeping the categories simplified is an effective way to help consumers identify the types of cannabis that will give them the experience they are seeking.

Sativa
  • Plants have long, thin leaves
  • Known for producing cerebral highs
  • Reported effects of feeling energetic and focused
Indica
  • Plants have wide, short leaves
  • Known for producing body highs
  • Reported effects of increased appetite and muscle relaxation
Hybrid
  • Hybrids will manifest different traits based on their genes
  • Known for producing a combination of cerebral and body highs
  • Reported effects of a head rush and feelings of mild sedation

1. Harlequin

Harlequin Strain

Strain: Sativa
THC Content: 3-6%
CBD Content: 7-10%
Reported Effects: Relaxed, Focused, Energetic
5/5
Expert Review

Pros & Cons

Pros:
  • Mellow, functional high
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Smooth smoke and fruity flavor
Cons:
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry eyes

This sativa-dominant strain is primarily known for having very high levels of CBD (cannabidiol), making it popular among newbies as one of the best cannabis strains for beginners. CBD and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are the two most well-known and studied cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant. THC is known for its psychoactive properties, while CBD serves as a therapeutic compound that balances THC’s effects.

With higher CBD concentrations than THC, users have reported that Harlequin produces mild psychoactive effects for an uplifting and functional high. This strain is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties that help alleviate the aches associated with joint pain and stiffness, in addition to calming effects that support the relief of depression and anxiety.

2. Pennywise

Pennywise Strain

Strain: Indica
THC Content: 6-8%
CBD Content: 6-8%
Reported Effects: Relaxed, Sleepy, Euphoric
4/5
Expert Review

Pros & Cons

Pros:
  • 1:1 ratio of THC and CBD
  • Relaxing high with mental clarity
  • Fast acting
Cons:
  • Harsh smoke
  • Burnout

If you are familiar with Stephen King’s thriller IT, the name of this strain might ignite some terrifying memories of the infamous killer clown. Not to worry, the Pennywise strain is more like the fun-loving clowns you see at the circus that don’t eat children.

This indica has a 1:1 ratio of CBD and THC, so the psychoactive effects are said to be milder and more relaxing. Pennywise is known for igniting creativity and allowing users to stay alert, while the therapeutic properties can help relieve muscle tension and stress. Users have reported that energy levels tend to dip near the end of the high, which may result in couchlock or drifting off into restful slumber.

3. Cannatonic

Cannatonic Strain

Strain: Hybrid: 50/50
THC Content: 3-7%
CBD Content: 6-10%
Reported Effects: Pain Relief, Relaxed, Sleepy
4/5
Expert Review

Pros & Cons

Pros:
  • Balanced ratio of indica and sativa
  • Pain relieving properties
  • Stimulates focus
Cons:
  • Can cause headaches
  • Short-lived effects

As one of the premier medical cannabis strains, Cannatonic is a 50/50 hybrid best known for its pain-relief and anti-anxiety properties. Given its relatively high CBD content, Cannatonic is often used to treat muscle spasms, anxiety, migraines, and stress. A cross between MK Ultra and G13 Haze cannabis strains, Cannatonic tends to produce a relatively short-lived, mellow high followed by a warm, numbing sensation that spreads throughout the body. This is the best cannabis strain for a beginner looking for a subtle introduction to the medicinal world of cannabis.

4. Jack Herer

Jack Herer Strain

Strain: Sativa
THC Content: 15-19%
CBD Content: <1%
Reported Effects: Energetic, Creative, Euphoric
4/5
Expert Review

Pros & Cons

Pros:
  • Stimulates energy and creativity
  • Uplifting high without paranoia
  • Fast acting
Cons:
  • Dry mouth
  • Lingering floral scent

Jack Herer has quickly become a classic in the world of cannabis. This sativa strain has a high concentration of THC with less than 1% of CBD. It is known for producing very uplifting cerebral highs without the paranoia that comes with some sativa strains higher in THC.

Derived from crossing a Haze hybrid with a Northern Lights #5 and Shiva Skunk, Jack Herer is said to act quickly and is accompanied by an initial head rush that users find noticeably energizing. As time progresses, users report feeling alert, more creative, and experiencing a sense of relaxation without feeling immobilized. Considering Jack Herer stimulates the mind, it is typically consumed during the day and not often recommended for those who have insomnia.

5. Blue Dream

Blue Dream Strain

Strain: Hybrid: Sativa-Dominant
THC Content: 16-20%
CBD Content: <1%
Reported Effects: Creative, Relaxed, Pain Relief
4/5
Expert Review

Pros & Cons

Pros:
  • Fast acting
  • Calm high without sedative effects
  • Numbing sensation for pain relief
Cons:
  • Can amplify anxiety
  • Dry mouth

A potent cross between Blueberry and Haze, Blue Dream is a sativa-dominant hybrid that reportedly offers full-body relaxation with gentle notes of cerebral stimulation. With a relatively high THC range between 16-20%, Blue Dream is best known for an immediate uplifting head high that leaves users feeling focused and energetic. As the high builds, users have claimed to experience a numbing sensation that travels throughout the body, relieving pain and creating a calming effect without feeling sedated. Being a stimulant at its core with effects that kick in almost immediately, Blue Haze may not be one of the best cannabis strains for beginners who suffer from anxiety disorders.

6. Sour Tsunami 

Sour Tsunami Strain

Strain: Hybrid: Sativa-Dominant
THC Content: <1%
CBD Content: 11-13%
Reported Effects: Relaxed, Pain Relief, Happy
4/5
Expert Review

Pros & Cons

Pros:
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Soothes chronic pain
  • CBD-rich strain
Cons:
  • Dry mouth
  • Strong, distinctive odor

Sour Tsunami is a well-balanced hybrid that is 60% sativa and 40% indica. A CBD-rich strain, this sativa-dominant hybrid is said to be effective at treating pain and inflammation without producing the high linked with THC.

A cross between Sour Diesel and NYC Diesel, Lawrence Ringo of Southern Humbolt Seed Collective bred this strain to treat his back pain, which he says disappeared after 15 minutes of consuming Sour Tsunami. Users looking for a psychoactive experience might want to pass on this one. This hybrid is one of the best cannabis strains for beginners seeking natural treatments for pain, stress, and anxiety.

7. White Widow

White Widow Strain

Strain: Hybrid: Sativa-Dominant
THC Content: 14-18%
CBD Content: <1%
Reported Effects: Relaxed, Pain Relief, Happy
3/5
Expert Review

Pros & Cons

Pros:
  • Elevated mood and energy
  • Fast acting
  • Consistent high
Cons:
  • Can cause paranoia
  • Strong odor when smoked
  • Burnout

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 that is said to give consumers quick-acting cerebral effects. Users describe an uplift in mood and energy that can be applied to mundane tasks like housework or more complex problem-solving activities.

The THC concentration is significantly higher than its levels of CBD, producing psychoactive effects that can stimulate creativity but may also veer into paranoia. White Widow is one of the best cannabis strains for beginners looking for an energetic, introspective high that sits somewhere between relaxed and hyper-aware.

8. Northern Lights

Northern Lights Strain

Strain: Indica
THC Content: 14-18%
CBD Content: <1%
Reported Effects: Pain Relief, Sleepy, Euphoric
3/5
Expert Review

Pros & Cons

Pros:
  • Helps with insomnia
  • Appetite inducing
  • One of the purest indica strains
Cons:
  • Paranoia is a common side effect
  • Heavily sedative
  • Can cause dizziness

This strain is one of the most popular indicas of all time among growers, medical patients, and consumers. The psychoactive effects of Northern Lights are known to settle in throughout the body, relaxing every muscle. Users report that the calm state of mind complements the intense body high, delivering relief from their chronic pain, stress, and sleeplessness. It’s one of the purest indicas around, making it a heavily sedative strain and is often recommended for evening use.

A Buyers Guide for Cannabis Newbies

Before you embark on your half-baked adventures, it’s important to review the legislation on cannabis use in your state. Currently, the medical use of cannabis (with a doctor’s recommendation) is legal in 34 states, and recreational use has been legalized in 11 states.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming of all things cannabis, some tips in choosing the best cannabis strain for a beginner:

Decide Desired Effects

As you can see from our list of strains above, cannabis has a range of medicinal and recreational uses, but some strains are better for certain conditions than others. Do you need help sleeping? Are you suffering from chronic pain? Maybe you want to make movies a more cinematic experience. Knowing the desired effects you would like to experience from cannabis will help narrow down the list of choices.

The rule of thumb is to start low and slow. Starting with a lower potency and smaller dosage will allow you to gauge the experience and know if the cannabis you chose is right for you.

Find a Reputable Provider

Whether you are getting your cannabis online or from a local dispensary, you should feel confident that it’s coming from a trustworthy provider. When buying in person, the staff at a dispensary should be able to provide detailed product information, such as sourcing, cannabinoid concentrations, reported effects, and recommended dosage. This same information should be easily accessible when purchasing your product online.

A key indicator of a reputable provider is the amount of educational material they have available. Companies that stand behind the quality of their products tend to have more information available to help users have the best experience.

Pick Your Method of Consumption

The strain is only half the story; how you choose to consume your cannabis is the next level of the overall experience. There is no right or wrong way to enjoy your herb, but there are nuances to each method that should be considered. The most common methods of consuming cannabis are smoking, edibles, topicals, extracts, and drops.

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