There are hundreds of cannabis strains in existence, with new genetics coming out every day as growing and cultivation advances. Strain names are useful for Licensed Producers to name their products, but strain names give very little indication of the resulting effect. Instead, it’s the THC and CBD content along with the terpene profile that helps the user understand the differences between each strain. For more information on choosing strains and the effects of strains check out Leafly’s new Cannabis Guide.

Understanding Differences in Strains

At it’s very basic (and we mean basic), cannabis strains can be broken up into four main strains:

Indica strains of cannabis produce sedative effects, making these strains ideal for bringing on relaxation and calmness. Some say that a heavy indica will bring on the feeling of “couch lock”, so these types of strains are better for a night in at home.

Sativa strains are known for their energetic, cerebral effects, often providing a euphoric feeling. Sativa strains are excellent for social gatherings, to induce creativity, or to help with productivity with a burst of energy.

Hybrids are the best of both worlds. Indica-dominant strains may have a cross between an indica and a sativa strain, but its growth pattern and end user effects lean more to that of an indica. Indica-dominant strains are known for a “body buzz” or “body high”. Sativa-dominant strains are a cross between sativa and indica strains, but may provide that energetic effect, followed by a mellowing out and calmness.

Cannabis ruderalis is a lesser-known type of cannabis and less common to find in cannabis stores. Ruderalis are favored by growers for their “autoflowering”, going into the flowering stage 21-30 days after planting regardless of light cycle. Cannabis ruderalis produces lower levels of THC but its growing patterns make it attractive to growers.

While the indica/sativa split is a basic way to tell the difference between strains, it’s the terpene content that truly makes all the difference.