A booming medical marijuana industry has led to many people incorporating cannabis into their individual treatment plans, but—especially for beginners—sometimes the ins and outs of all the different strains and products are confusing.
What’s the difference between marijuana strains? Does it really matter if you’re using it medically?
Here’s a guide on how to choose the right product.
What You Should Know About Medical Marijuana
As far as medical use is concerned, the two main active ingredients in cannabis are delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). CBD processed from the hemp plant is federally legal. THC is trickier. According to federal law, marijuana products must contain less than 0.3% THC. But, especially when it’s prescribed for medical conditions, many states permit delta-9 THC. For any product or strain, make sure to look into your state-specific laws to make sure it’s legal in your area.
Choosing the Best Medical Marijuana Strain
Besides finding the right strain of medical marijuana for your needs, you should know that it can come in many different forms. You can find medical marijuana available in pill form, liquid form, dried leaves, edibles, and oil. Depending on your preferences and health conditions, one may be easier for you to take.
There are three main categories of cannabis found in dispensaries: sativa, indica, and hybrid. Prior to choosing a cannabis product as part of your medical treatment, be sure to consult with a medical marijuana doctor to discuss the proper dosage and method of consumption.
Sativa strains are known to uplift emotions and moods, and the strain comes from the Cannabis sativa plant. It’s popular among daytime users for its energizing effects. Many people say that sativa strains increase their focus and efficiency.
Users often associate sativa strains with a “head high” and feelings of alertness or creativity. For this reason, sativa tends to be a favorite choice among recreational users, but it can have medical benefits as well. Doctors may recommend sativa strains for patients dealing with depression, anxiety, or PTSD.
Indica, on the other hand, is usually considered to be the opposite of sativa. Cannabis indica is a different species of cannabis plant, being shorter and bushier than sativa. Indica strains are usually associated with relaxation and pain relief.
If sativa produces a head high, indica is often called a “body high.” Many users report feeling their muscles relax and overall sensation of calmness. This makes indica strains a popular choice for treating pain. Some users claim that indica strains help them sleep better.
Can’t decide? There’s a middle ground! Hybrid strains contain properties of both sativa and indica. Depending on the genetic history of the strain, you find that dispensaries list it as indica-dominant or sativa-dominant. Hybrid strains often mitigate an effect that’s too strong. For example, if a patient takes an indica strain for pain relief but finds that they feel too tired throughout the day, their doctor may recommend trying an indica-dominant hybrid strain.
Keep in mind that the effects of each strain are generalized, and different people can have different experiences while using the same strain. Terpenes, THC and CBD content, and previous cannabis use history can all impact how your body processes medical marijuana.
Choosing the Right Variant For You
When it comes to selecting the right strain, you have to think about the effects you’re looking for when using medical marijuana. Some strains are better suited for specific medical conditions than others.
Consider the Terpenes
Terpenes are the source of the scent of the strain and contribute to its taste. For instance, myrcene is a common terpene, and it lends that grassy, earthy aroma that many people associate with marijuana. If you don’t particularly like that smell or taste, look for strains that emphasize other terpenes.
Some users have suggested that terpenes also contribute to the medical effects of a particular marijuana strain, making it more calming or uplifting.
Change Your Method of Consumption
You may just not enjoy smoking joints. Luckily, there are many other ways to consume medical cannabis. Experiment with edibles, tinctures, or even topical CBD creams to see what produces the best results.
Edibles in particular can create a different sensation and experience of cannabis. Compared to a pre-rolled joint or vape, edibles tend to take effect more slowly and last longer. The taste is usually less pronounced, as well.
Getting Professional Help
If you have received a prescription from a doctor for medicinal marijuana, be open about what is working and what isn’t. Discuss your preferences. After understanding your requirements, they will give you recommendations on the best type of medicinal marijuana. After all, medical cannabis is supposed to help, not add more stress to your life.