How to Choose a Strain

When faced with the dizzying array of marijuana strains in today’s dispensaries, it can be hard to know where to start.

There are so many factors that go into choosing the right strain: Do you want a sativa, an indica, or a hybrid? Do you want something with a strong flavor, or do you prefer something milder? What do you want your smoke sesh to accomplish? Are you looking for pain relief or something more recreational?

Whew, that’s enough to make anyone’s head spin — but don’t worry! We’ve put together this section of Cannabis University to help you choose the perfect marijuana strain every time.

Of course, if you’d prefer to dive straight in and see everything we have to offer, you can start by checking out the entire Maggie’s Farm strain list. But for everyone else, here’s how to start narrowing down your selection:

Marijuana leaf in sunlight

What Do You Want to Accomplish?

First things first. We need to figure out what you’re hoping to get out of your weed.

Very broadly speaking, marijuana effects can be broken into two categories: Stimulating and Relaxing. Many different factors determine what effects you’ll get from a given strain — including subspecies (sativa/indica/hybrid), cannabinoids (THC/CBD/etc.), terpenes, and your unique physiology — and it’s impossible to fully disentangle the complex chemistry that produces that high.

Some strains are powerful examples of one extreme, some start with one and finish on the other, and some paradoxically flirt with both at once. The only surefire way to know how a strain will affect you is to try it yourself, but there are several rules of thumb you can use to zero in on the type of strain you’re looking for.

A group of friends enjoying the outdoors

Stimulating

If you’re looking for a jolt of energy, pay special attention to sativas and sativa-dominant hybrids. High THC can be a decent indicator of potency, but it’s far more important to consider a strain’s terpenes. Look for a-Pinene and Limonene for physical energy, or b-Pinene and b-Caryophyllene for mental invigoration.

Popular examples of stimulating strains include Electric Lemon, Green Crack, and Aloha Limone.

Relaxing, listening to music on headphones

Relaxing

If calm and comfort are what you’re looking for, indicas and indica-dominant hybrids are likely your best bet. There’s a reason CBD has become a popular shorthand for curative cannabis, but terpene profiles are just as important for getting the relief you’re looking for. Keep an eye out for Camphene and Linalool to help relieve anxiety and stress, or choose Myrcene, Terpinolene, and a-Terpineol for soothing body highs and pain relief.

Popular examples of relaxing strains include GSC, Happy Camper, and Brightberry Cookies.

Medical Uses

It’s a well-known fact that’s being bolstered by new research every single day: Cannabis is a medical miracle. But just as two people can experience completely different highs from the same strain, there’s no one-size-fits-all medical marijuana advice.

Turn to our section on Terpenes to sort by potential benefits like anti-inflammatory, pain relief, anti-anxiety, etc.

You can also check up on the current state of medical marijuana research by reviewing these resources compiled by NORML.

What’s Your Tolerance?

Some strains are straight-up too intense for novice users. If you’ve never smoked before (or it’s been a while since your last toke), we strongly recommend easing into the high life with a more mellow strain.

A handful of popular strains that get the job done without overwhelming the senses include Orange Cookie Kush, StrawNana Magic, and Lemonberry Crush.

Marijuana bud with lemon and coffee beans

Is Taste a Factor?

For the true cannabis connoisseur, no discussion of strains is complete without considering aroma and flavor. The unique skunky undertones of marijuana can be an acquired taste for some, but once it clicks, there’s no turning back.

Each Maggie’s Farm strain includes a handcrafted description of its taste and smell, but you can filter even more precisely by determining which terpenes you like best. Do you want a dark, earthy flavor reminiscent of the woods after a rainstorm? Then look for strains high in a-Pinene and Humulene. How about something more floral and bright, like swimming in a field of potpourri? Start with Linalool and Terpinolene.

But at the end of the day, the nose knows best, so ask your budtender for a whiff of whatever strain you’ve got your eye on.

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