What’s that? Your guide to popular cannabis strains and active compounds

Whether you’re a first-timer or looking to try something new, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the abundance of cannabis options available in Colorado’s recreational dispensaries. There are thousands of strains, each with different effects and flavor profiles, and the selection of edibles and topicals seems like it’s always growing. But don’t fret: Armed with some knowledge and a willingness to ask your budtender for advice, you’ll find your perfect product(s) in no time.

Indica vs Sativa

You’ve probably heard that cannabis strains can be grouped into three main categories — Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid. Technically, these classifications are based on the plant’s structure and where it thrives rather than the amount of THC or other cannabinoids it contains, but each group has a reputation for producing a distinct effect.

Sativa varieties tend to be sought out for their energizing and uplifting qualities. Lots of folks look for these strains when they’ll be consuming during the daytime or headed to a party. Indica strains, however, are known for producing a more mellow high — Indica, it’s said, will put you “in da couch.” Hybrids tend to fall somewhere in between.


Which brings us to the next selection criteria: cannabinoids, or the active compounds in cannabis. Weed, it turns out, has hundreds of active compounds, and they all affect the body differently. The two most common — and what most products have the highest concentrations of — are THC and CBD.

THC produces cannabis’ telltale euphoria, while CBD has some relaxing and anti-inflammatory benefits but won’t get you high. Fortunately, products at your dispensary come in a wide range of formulations and they’ll all be clearly labeled. So whether you’re looking for flower or edibles, you’ll be able to find something with the THC-to-CBD ratio that you prefer.


When you’re choosing your favorite variety, don’t forget to consider the whole experience. Terpenes, the essential oils in the cannabis plant, give different strains their unique scent and flavor. Strains high in linalool will give off a citrusy scent while those with lots of A-Pinene will be slightly woody.

Asking questions

Finally, keep in mind that everybody’s body responds differently to cannabis, and there are very few absolutes. You know yourself best, so when it comes to choosing a new-to-you strain, your most important resource will be your budtender. They know the products they sell, and can help you sift through your options. Just fill them in on your preferences — What kind of effects are you looking for? Are there scents or flavors that you find appealing or ones you would prefer to avoid?

Take your time and you’ll find the right strain (or strains) for you.

USA Today


    What’s that? Your guide to popular cannabis strains and active compounds
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