Cannabis has been legal in Canada since 2018. This has led to an influx in use by adults, who according to Statistics Canada, spent $908 million on non-medical cannabis during the first year of legalization. The number of Canadians choosing to shop in-store, rather than online for their cannabis products also continues to grow.

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has also seen a spike in cannabis purchases and consumption as buyers stock up on their favorite brands and types. The cannabis industry continues to develop new strains for users with the most common being Sativa, Indica and Hybrid.

But what strain is the most effective for users? Every user is looking for a different effect. Some people are looking for something to help with pain, while others may be looking for a mellowing effect during stressful times.

It’s important to understand the effects of each strain in order to maximize the positive effects and at the same time avoid any possible side effects.

When you go into your local cannabis store, you may find an overwhelming assortment of products to choose from, but don’t let these varieties scare you. Of these, you will find there are three common types of cannabis products:

  • Indica: Offers a relaxing and sedating effect.
  • Sativa: Provides a boost to energy and mood.
  • Hybrid: Offers an equal taste of indica and sativa, giving the user a feeling of balance.

Based on the desired effect you are seeking, you can make a more informed choice when it comes to which strain of cannabis is right for you.

Sativa

What is Sativa?

Sativa cannabis comes from a tall, thin-leafed plant native to southeast Asia. It offers a fruity, suite smell, unlike indicas which are more earthy and musky. Users looking for a ‘pick me up’ will find Sativa to be more helpful as it offers a therapeutical cannabinoid compounds including THC and CBD.

How Will It Help?

The energizing effects of Sativa have been used in the treatment of many common health issues including Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), depression and anxiety. Offering a feeling of positivity and renewal, many users find it is a great alternative or pairing to traditional medical treatment to relieve the symptoms of these disorders.

Many people also prefer it as a treatment choice because there is no risk of addiction. According to Medical News Today, 25 percent of people who took part in an online discussion threat reported having positive effects from the use of Sativa Cannabis in managing the symptoms of ADHD. Additional research found that the THC found within Sativa was found to boost short-term dopamine levels.

Due to the energy-boosting effects of Sativa, it is recommended to take this train of cannabis during the day.

Types of Sativa Cannabis

  • Tangie – Improves focus and creativity. May also cause paranoia. Excellent treatment option for depression, loss of appetite or anxiety.
  • Candyland – Can create focus and positivity. Users may also experience paranoia. Great for the treatment of depression, loss of appetite or anxiety.
  • Lemon G – Used for the treatment of depression, arthritis and pain. Offers a relaxation experience while providing energy and mind-boosting creativity.
  • Sour Diesel – One of the most popular versions Sativa, giving the user a more focused and creative drive. Great for the treatment of depression, loss of appetite or pain.
  • White Buffalo – Offers a happy, euphoric experience. Gives the user focus, while creating a relaxed feeling. Known for the positive treatment of depression, PTSD and anxiety.

Indica

What is Indica?

Indica cannabis is probably the type most people are familiar with, known for having a short, bushy plant with wider leaves. These plants grow at both a faster speed and offer a higher yield than sativa varieties. These plants originated in the middle-east region including Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Turkey.

Indica has higher levels of CBD and lower levels of THC providing a more relaxing effect on the body.

How Does It Help?

Indica strains of cannabis are now considered a trusted treatment for stress and anxiety. C

The use of cannabis in the treatment of pain and stress continues to grow. According to the US National Library of Medicine & National Institutes of Health, the most common uses for cannabis were:

  • 65% pain management
  • 48% treatment of diseases such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis
  • 47% relief from anxiety, stress and depression

BD and THC are known to stimulate the production of neurotransmitters which then offers a calming effect by releasing serotonin. Anandamide is also created which helps reduce stress and anxiety levels.

It also offers a soothing effect on the stomach and is recommended for nausea and to increase appetite. This is also where you get the analogy of developing ‘the munchies’ when using cannabis.

People who experience high levels of anxiety, sleep disorders or other conditions that involve feeling anxious or stressed, may find this type of cannabis a soothing alternative to traditional medical relaxants or sleeping pills which can become addictive over time.

It is also recommended in the treatment of many other common disorders including:

  • Agoraphobia – the feeling of trapped, helpless, scared
  • Social anxiety – the fear of being in public situations, public speaking or other social settings
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – a mental disorder resulting from a traumatic event that involved a real or possible threat of injury or death.

Due to the calming and relaxing effects of Indica, it is recommended to take this strain of cannabis at night.

Types of Indica Cannabis

  • Maple Leaf – Creates the feeling of relation and boosts creativity. Great for the treatment of depression, anxiety and insomnia.
  • Aurora – Offers the feeling of relaxation and sleepiness. Used for the treatment of depression, anxiety and arthritis.
  • South Indian – Creates a feeling of euphoria, happiness and sleepiness. Known for the positive treatment of depression, arthritis and insomnia.
  • North Indian – Helps with sleep and mood. May cause hunger. Excellent treatment for depression, insomnia or migraines.

Hybrid

What Is Hybrid Cannabis?

Hybrids offer a balance for those who want to experience the positive effects of cannabis in a more moderate way.

How Does It Help?

This type of cannabis is often recommended for beginners due to the less severe results of intake. They are also a great option for patients who are taking them for medical reasons or in conjunction with medical treatment, so as not to outweigh or mitigate the effects of traditional medicine.

Hybrid strains of cannabis can also be dominant in either Indica or Sativa depending on the desired effect. For example Indica dominant strains are better for pain management, while Sativa dominant strains are better for mood elevation.

Hybrids are a great treatment option for those with serious medical conditions and older adults. These may include the treatment of:

  • Fibromyalgia – chronic, widespread pain that many include sleep and memory issues
  • Anxiety – high levels of stress which can result in panic attacks
  • Depression – deep feelings of sadness
  • Menstrual Cramps – pain associated with menstruation
  • Migraine – severe headaches
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) – the loss of neurons which control muscles leading to loss of use and loss of speech.
  • PTSD – a mental disorder resulting from a traumatic event that involved a real or possible threat of injury or death

Types of Hybrid Cannabis

  • Larry Bird Kush – Offers a feeling of relaxation and happiness. Great for the treatment of depression, loss of appetite or pain.
  • White Widow – Gives the feeling of relaxation and creativity. Good treatment option for depression, loss of appetite or anxiety.
  • AK-47 – Creates the feeling of relaxation. May cause dry eyes or cottonmouth. Excellent for the treatment of depression, anxiety and insomnia.

Cannabinoids

Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds found within cannabis. The two most common are Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and (CBD) Cannabidiol.

THC

THC creates the psychoactive effect on users which alters the mind relieving symptoms of pain and nausea. It can be used to treat many health conditions including:

  • Glaucoma
  • Insomnia
  • Low Appetite
  • Nausea

CBD

CBD is the thought to counteract THC through the relief of anxiety, pain and inflammation. It is used in the treatment of more serious health conditions including:

  • Seizures
  • Mental Disorders
  • Migraine
  • PTSD
  • Anxiety

Though both carry side effects, only THC is known to have long-term negative psychiatric effects and more serious user side effects including increased heart rate, memory loss and anxiety. Discuss the effects of the individual strain choices choosing between Sativa or Indica strains as the levels between each type of cannabis will be different.

Terpenes

Cannabis is known for having its own strong and unique scent. Terpenes are what give cannabis it’s unique flavor and aromas. These are the fragrant oils found in plants such as fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs. It’s believed some terpenes such as lavender can have an added “entourage” effect when using cannabis providing additional benefits.

The most common types of terpenes are:

  • Myrcene – Derived from mangoes, hops, thyme, lemongrass and cloves. Earthy, fruity, musky aroma. Known for producing a calming effect.
  • Pinene – Derived from coniferous trees such as pine, fir and spruce. Fresh, pine scent.
  • Limonene – Derived from citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, limes and grapefruit. Believed to have a calming effect.
  • Linalool – Derived from lavender, mint and cinnamon. Traditionally used in perfumes and soaps. Known for a calming effect.
  • Beta-Caryophyllene – Derived from cannabis compounds and can be found in foods such as black pepper. It is also used in perfumes and skincare products.

Though little firm evidence is available on the effects of Terpenes and cannabis consumption, trials in both humans and mice are producing limited positive results.

Which Option is Best?

When choosing a strain of cannabis, it is important to do your research and talk to qualified cannabis or medical professionals who can provide you with valuable suggestions on which type of cannabis is right for you. Whether for medical or recreational, the best experience can be achieved when you consider the effect you want to experience.

Your own personal health experience can help determine which type of cannabis is right for you no matter how you intend to use it.

Ask yourself 5 questions:

  1. Is this for medical or recreational purposes? Each type of cannabis strain has a different effect. If you are looking to treat a serious illness, you want to be sure you don’t pick just any strain. This could have serious adverse effects on your treatment.
  2. Am I susceptible to anxiety? If you are, you may want a strain with higher CBD content.
  3. Am I experienced? If you are new to cannabis, you want to be sure to go with a strain that will not have an alarming or unwanted effect. Start with a hybrid first to discover how your body and mind reacts. Then try something new based on these results.
  4. When will I be taking cannabis? If you are taking cannabis to help with sleep, then you want to choose a strain that creates a relaxed, sleepy result you get from most Indica strains. If you need energy and alertness for work or social activities, go with a Sativa strain.
  5. Am I using it occasionally or frequently? The frequency of use can also play a major role in how cannabis affects your body and day-to-day life. You need to be alert when it matters most, so make sure you are using cannabis responsibly and with the guidance of a professional.

So, which is right for you?

Remember to understand that each strain of cannabis is different and each brand will have a different experience. Understand that cannabis can have negative as well as positive effects. Paranoia, hunger, red eyes and sleepiness are just some of the side effects you can experience.

There are hundreds of options available to users as the cannabis industry continues to grow and innovate. Take the time to learn about the particular type you want to try whether it’s White Widow which will relax you or Maple Leaf which will give you energy.

Take the time to understand your level of tolerance and work with your dispensary consultant to find the right choice for you.

Cannabis is receiving greater understanding by both medical professionals and society. More and more countries are legalizing cannabis based on ongoing research into the positive effects it can have on users.

Many drug plans now cover medical cannabis use, so use this opportunity to ensure the kind you choose is good quality and safe.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, do your research and take the time to learn about the different options available. This will help you get a positive and hopefully beneficial experience out of the type of cannabis you choose to use.

Do consult with a medical professional prior to consuming cannabis for your peace of mind.