How to Choose the Right Cannabis Strain for Your Needs

You might think that just choosing a sativa or indica or hybrid is the way to go. There is a lot more to using cannabis than just picking a general type. Strains have varying concentrations of cannabinoids and terpenes. The terpene and cannabinoid combinations also vary. This is why effects, flavors and aromas all vary.

We’ll help you understand how to choose the right strain and why strain selection is so important.

Your Individual Needs

Your reasons for using cannabis are first on the list. Create a list of the reasons why you use cannabis. Then, search for strains that explain their benefits for those needs.

Sure, the name of a cannabis strain might make it sound like it’s a ton of fun, and it might be – but if it isn’t serving a needed purpose in your body, is it really worth it? Even if you are a recreational user – the last thing you might want is to feel paranoid or fall asleep while visiting with friends. Strain selection isn’t just for medicinal users.

Cannabinoid Profile

There are dozens of cannabinoids. The ones that get the most attention, of course, are THC and CBD. Don’t forget about CBG, CBC, CBDA, CBN, THCA, THCV, CBDV and the increasing list of other beneficial cannabinoids. Each one plays a role in cannabis.

Sure, THC induces a high. But, it also serves medicinal purposes. Your body has an endocannabinoid system, also called the ECS. This system works with your central and peripheral nervous systems to help regulate function of most major functions in your body. Some of those functions include memory, appetite, perception of pain and mood. The ECS also plays a role in sleep, cognitive sharpness, digestion and even fertility.

Your body produces a number of endocannabinoids itself, but it can’t always produce enough of what your body needs. This is why you might need a little outside help from cannabis. If you are aware of the endocannabinoids your body makes itself, you’ll be in a better position to know what your body needs by your symptoms or troubles. This will also help you choose the right cannabis strain for your specific needs.


We can’t forget about terpenes. They are also very important. Their main job may be to give plants, including cannabis, their flavors and aromas but they also have accepted and recognized therapeutic benefit.

The most common terpenes found in cannabis are:

  • Alpha pinene
  • Beta caryophyllene
  • Humulene
  • Limonene
  • Linalool
  • Nerolidol
  • Terpineol

Terpenes are found in all living plants, herbs, spices, trees and other shrubs. They are in food items you might consume every day. For instance, black pepper is a source of beta caryophyllene and citrus fruits are sources of limonene.

It’s important to know what each terpene does. Next week we’ll get into the properties of each of the major terpenes so you won’t be left out in the dark.

Cannabis strains that smell like pine likely have more alpha pinene.

Research Strain Attributes

It’s beyond important to know what a strain might help with. There are sources, like Leafly, where you can search a strain’s name and see if there is information available about it. You should know that there are plenty of strains that don’t have any information available. It’s likely because they are new hybrids or could be a strain that already exists but could just be named something else to make it sound unique.

When you find information about a strain you might be interested in, look at its potential effects. You can determine from here whether or not those are affects you want to experience. Next, check for the medicinal benefits of the strain. Even if your specific symptom or reason isn’t on that list, if there is something that is close, that strain might still benefit you.

Don’t forget to look at the potential negative effects. Someone that experiences anxiety, PTSD or has bouts with paranoia would not want to purchase a strain that would produce those effects. Someone with frequent migraines, headaches, mobility issues or pain wouldn’t want something that produces headaches or dizziness. Dry mouth and dry eyes are pretty common and almost just come with the territory.

Don’t Take Anyone’s Word For It

While some people don’t pay much attention to anything other than price, THC percentage and a name (which is absolutely fine), others worry more about, “Will this strain help me?” What works for someone else might not work for you. Your experience is likely to be much different than theirs.

Now, we’re not saying that you shouldn’t ask what someone else experienced with a  strain; we’re just saying that you might not have the same experience. Asking what your budtender thought of the strain is helpful because you can at least get a sense of how the strain reacted in their body. Again, that doesn’t mean you’ll have the same experience.

If you’ve never heard of a strain, haven’t tried it or aren’t sure of its lineage it might be a better idea to find something you are familiar with. Arizona doesn’t have cannabis tasting rooms or anything of the sort yet, so you won’t know what to expect from some strains until you try them.

A Few Final Tips

Before we go, let us just suggest that you take the few extra minutes to find information about a strain or ask questions. Like we said, whether you are a recreational or medicinal cannabis user – you’re using it for a reason. It’s important that you have the experience or achieve the level of relief that you expect. Even if you’re familiar with one part of a strain’s lineage, the effects can be entirely different depending on what other strain/s it’s crossed with.

If you have questions about choosing the right strains or need suggestions, please don’t be afraid to ask us. We’ll help you the best that we can.


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