One of the most common decisions made by cannabis consumers, beginners and experts alike, is choosing a strain for the product they wish to purchase. With thousands of strains on the market, and many of them with creative, but not always descriptive names, it’s not always a simple decision. Strains can be roughly groups into three categories – indica, sativa, and hybrid, but within each of those groupings are still a long list of choices that can be overwhelming or confusing. In this article, we’ll learn more about how to choose a strain when shopping for a cannabis product.

The primary active ingredient in medical and recreational marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol, also commonly known as THC. THC is produced by two species (or subspecies) of the cannabis plant – Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. There are other cannabis species (such as Cannabis ruderalis) that produce low levels of THC, as well as industrial hemp, grown for either CBD production or for its fibers.

In general, Cannabis sativa plants grow tall and long and are known for producing cerebral effects (sometimes called “head high”), and Cannabis indica plants tend to be short and stocky and are known for producing relaxing effects (sometimes called “body high”). Hybrid strains are made by combining the genetics from sativa and indica strains and creating a new strain that could have effects from either parent, or a combination of effect. However, these traditional classifications can be an oversimplification of the effects of various strains and we need to dig deeper to understand the source of these effects.

Besides THC, there are hundreds of other active ingredients in cannabis that have an effect on the human body, called cannabinoids. One of the most commonly known is cannabidiol (known as CBD), but there is also CBN, CBG, CBC, CBV, THCV, delta-8 THC, delta-10 THC, and more. Many of these cannabinoids bind to receptors in the body and are known to have various therapeutic, psychoactive, and anti-inflammatory effects. In addition, cannabis strains have flavorful compounds known as terpenes that are primarily responsible for providing an aroma and taste to the strain. This aroma can sometimes serve as a defense mechanism for a plant, deterring plant-eating animals or attracting predators of plant-eating insects. In addition to cannabinoids and terpenes, there are other phenolic compounds that are also produced by cannabis plants. Cannabinoids, terpenes, and other phenolic compounds are all absorbed together by the body when consuming a cannabis product, and these chemicals can work together along with THC to have various effects on the body and mind. This is sometimes called the “entourage effect,” and it’s what makes one strain different from another – each strain has varying levels of cannabinoids and terpenoids, and those combinations product varying effects when consumed.

The potency, cannabinoid profile, and terpene profile of a strain comes from its genetic material, which is inherited from its parents. However, just as human siblings (that are not twins) are not identical even though they share the same genetic material (or genotype), strains that are produced from seeds from the same parents, while similar, are not exactly alike. These variations are called phenotypes and this explains why two products that both use the same strain name may be similar, but have variations in taste, aroma, and therapeutic effects.

Master growers are skilled in cultivating multiple phenotypes from genetic material, and then selecting and cloning the desired characteristics from specific plants. This takes a tremendous amount of experience and skill, and this can produce a huge difference in quality and characteristics between one brand and another, even if they started with the same seeds. The genetics, along with the environment, nutrients, and care provided to the plant, result in the production of a batch of cannabis products with a unique combination of cannabinoids, terpenes, and phenolic compounds that go into the final product.

Discovering and trying new strains can be an agonizing decision at first, but remember that every batch is unique, and part of the enjoyment in consuming cannabis products is in exploration and learning. Experiment with different strains and brands until you find something that you like, but always keep an open mind to new batches and strains that come out all the time. Blaze Delivery carefully selects strains from brands that provide high potency, a flavorful profile, and strong genetics to ensure that you have access to a wide array of products that could be a good fit for you.

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