Legal weed is shaking things up in the world of doja. Everyone is trying to get in on the game—and almost anyone can. But with so much competition in the market, it can be hard for consumers to know how to find that good. We are here to help.
This guide to the best marijuana strains right now will explain what to look for when shopping for quality dank, what the difference is between a sativa, an indica, and a hybrid, how to tell if, instead of smoking on that herb, you are actually smoking mold or fungus, and much more. For all of the bud enthusiasts out there, here is your guide to spotting all of the cannabis strains that you should know about before buying that next bag of kush.
Sativas are known for motivating and getting you moving around versus vegging out on the couch. The leaves of a sativa are thin and spread apart. They have a higher level of THC and lower levels of CBD (the chemical that’s believed to aid pain relief and anxiety). Creativity flourishes when smoking a sativa and treating depression is a major reason for its use among medical patients. Sativa strains are likely to get you talking, thinking, and philosophizing. To remember that sativas are typically elevating in their effects keep this phrase in mind, “Sunny Sativa.”
Indicas have a higher CBD content and are noted for their calming effects. The leaves are also wider and much closer together than a sativa plant. When you are buying an indica bud you want it to be dense—that’s how you will know just how much of an indica it really is. The more compact the bud, the more indica properties it has. Indicas are helpful with pain relief, insomnia, and eliminating anxiety. It has been known to produce a heavy and relaxing body high. This can be great for muscle tension in athletes or as a way to unwind after a long workday.
Trouble remembering whether an indica is uplifting or couch-locking? Think of it this way: Indica = In Da Couch.
Hybrids are the cherry on top of the cannabis sundae. They can be the perfect combination of energizing and relaxing, depending on the ratio of sativa to indica. Hybrids are created with the intention of maintaining the best qualities from both the sativa and indica parent plant, which often results in super-potent (and super popular) strains.
THC for short, this is the naturally occurring chemical in marijuana which gives you the feeling of being high. THC talks to your brain and signals it to release dopamine (the hormone and neurotransmitter that works with the pleasure and reward hubs.) It’s thought to have been meant as a defense mechanism for the cannabis plant, intended to ward off herbivores and keep the flowers safe. (That sure backfired.)
Those sugary looking crystals all over your weed—those are trichomes. That’s where the THC is hanging out, in the trichomes, all over the stems and leaves. Up close they look like tiny mushrooms and can be a few different colors. The best scenario is for them to be milky or amber in color when you consume them. Milky trichomes will give you more of cerebral high and amber colored ones will be more relaxing. If they are clear they aren’t going to be anywhere near as potent.
If you bend a stem and it snaps, you’re good to go. Otherwise, the marijuana is too wet and you really shouldn’t smoke it yet. If you are offered pot that is wet and has been in a sealed bag there might even be mold on it. Conversely, the herb that crumbles when you break it up, like powder, is far too dry and will be severe on your throat. Try putting a few leaves of lettuce with your dry nugs as it’s a safe way to add moisture back into them. Be your own advocate and snap a bud before you buy.
If taking a whiff of your cannabis reminds you of a freshly cut lawn, then your weed has not been cured properly. The curing process happens after initial drying and can take weeks. During this time chlorophyll breaks down and the plant turns non-active THC into a potent and very active compound. Because it takes a little extra time, some growers rush the process so be warned: rushing the curing process greatly compromises the power of your pot.
Top Shelf vs. Regs
By now we should all be smoking on some good Mary Jane and leaving the brick packed schwag for the birds. You won’t be getting a dime bag of top-shelf marijuana anytime soon, but you do get what you pay for, don’t you? Top shelf cannabis is going to be truckloads higher in THC, taste better, and produce a very different high than if you’re smoking some reggie. When selecting herb, treat yourself. Let the jokers keep their nickel sacks.
Take a few seconds before you roll up that joint and make sure your green is looking right. This is more prevalent on the black market, no doubt, but mold on marijuana can be spotted on buds bought from dispensaries also. Mold is gross, it’s not going to get you high, and it’s certainly not what you’re paying for. Even worse—it’s dangerous. You can get a lung infection from smoking mold. Scan your nugs cautiously before light that blunt.
If nutrients haven’t been properly flushed from the plant during cultivation, chances are high that burning it will cause sparks to fly, and not in a good way. Sure it seems like a novel effect—it’s July 4th and 4/20 all mixed into one. Yippee!—but a badly flushed product will taste bad, smell off, and it’s not a good buy. Unfortunately, there is not much of a way to identify this issue until you’re smoking it.
Want to make sure you’re getting the best marijuana and don’t mind maybe looking a little pretentious while doing it? Get yourself a magnifier. From 60x – 100x you can easily see the color of the trichomes you’re getting, and do a quick check to make sure there is no hidden mold lurking around your potential buds. It’s worth it if you have a few options to choose from. There are several magnifying lenses on the market for under $25. If you shop at a dispensary in Denver, you are likely to see a large magnifier over the counter. If so, use it!
This indica is strong and best used in the evening. Tahoe OG is known for its quick-hitting and substantial body effects so it’s wise to reserve it for nights in rather than when you want to party. If you suffer from an inability to shut your brain off at night and/or need help with insomnia, this strain is going to be one of your best bets.
Girl Scout Cookies
This hybrid strain is incredibly potent and carries sweet, grapey flavors. It has won several Cannabis Cup awards and possesses the ability to wipe out any level of smoker. GSC will aid your appetite, and provide very effective pain relief. Want to test your weed smoking prowess? Try some Girl Scout Cookies.
Famous breeder DJ Short cultivated this indica-dominant strain which tastes great and is excellent for anxiety. Blueberry has superior potency so a little can go a long way. If you overdo it, don’t be surprised if you find yourself passed out before 10 p.m. If you hit some Blueberry and you don’t get the sensation of a mouthful of fruity goodness, you do not have the best version of this strain.
If you’ve got some worthy Golden Goat in your pipe, it is going to hit you hard. Its intoxicating effects are very powerful. Smokers of Golden Goat sometimes report mild paranoia as a side effect, but most experience a fairly optimistic frame of mind with limited negative properties. It will get your heart racing, so take it easy with this sativa if you’re trying it for the first time.
Names aren’t the most important trait when shopping strains, but a good one doesn’t hurt. Alaskan Thunderfuck is bound to be picked up, regardless of what it looks like because the name is just so damn good. Hailing from, well, Alaska, this sativa has hints of pine and lemon and produces a thought-provoking high. It is also sometimes called Matanuska Thunderfuck, which is a reference to the valley where it was born.
Like the secret government experiments, it’s name after, once you know about this indica it will change your life. MK Ultra is a go-to trifecta for many medical patients. It helps with anxiety, appetite, and insomnia. Laugh, eat, and then hit the sheets. It’s a great evening sesh smoke and a must have for any stash.
Trainwreck is a fairly infamous strain of marijuana. Everyone has heard of it. “Euphoria” is how many smokers describe the feeling they get from Trainwreck, and medical patients insist it helps them with anxiety and even PTSD. With notes of lemon flitting around in the background, Trainwreck is, hands down, one of the most effective hybrids on the market today.
The best Strawberry Cough is going to make you move. Laundry to do, errands to run, need to get things done? Strawberry Cough is the fruity and smooth smoke that can help. Definitely, try and keep this sativa to daytime use as it can keep you up late into the night if you consume too close to bedtime.
Bruce Banner #3
Named after the Hulk’s alter ego, Bruce Banner #3 is also an unsuspecting rival. Sure, it looks like regular pot, but it is so powerful that someone always ends up yelling “Hulk SMASH” when this hybrid gets sparked at parties. Part fruit and part spice, this bud has an amazing, tasty flavor profile. Experiences tend to begin fairly intense before mellowing out into tranquil goodness.
This guy is packing some crazy heat. It can have a THC content up to 20%. Banana Kush is calming, soothing, and beloved by PTSD patients. It’s also a fairly productive high and is useful if you prefer an indica but still need to get things done. It gets bonus points for being sweet and delicious.
A sativa, Triple D is great for both daytime and nighttime—depending on how much of it you smoke. If you have real responsibilities or need to operate heavy machinery, day tokes should be kept light because it will create a bit of an, erm, hilarious confusion, even for those with a high tolerance. Diesel in the name should tip you off that it smells (and tastes) a little bit like gas.
Granddaddy Purple is the brainchild of activist Ken Estes. It’s a great indica for pain and also well liked for its ability to knock out those with even the worst insomnia. GDP has flecks of purple throughout the buds and has some grape taste to it as well. This is a definite couch-lock strain. Good luck keeping those eyes open.
Like your ultimate celebrity crush, Blue Dream can do no wrong. It looks sweet and tastes even sweeter. If you’re a light user of the ganja, Blue Dream is a great strain to smoke on lightly. If you’re a daily smoker, a Blue Dream blunt will definitely get you stoned too. This sativa-dominant hybrid invites a calming and sometimes thoughtful high. It’s a perfect match for all levels.
Jack Flash is a must-have hybrid that tastes a little spicy and a little fruity. It’s a one-hitter-quitter that produces a motivating social high not matched by many others. It provides lots of focus, lots of energy, and it’s great for those with anxiety or depression. It creates a pleasant body high sensation as well. To quote Mick Jagger, “it’s a gas gas gas.”
Durban Poison is special, in part, because it is one of the few remaining pure sativas out there. Being a pure sativa means more THC and very little CBD, so the body effects of an indica are not typically going to be present. However, that doesn’t take away from its potency. Durban Poison has South African roots and is well respected for its heady lift.