Medical Cannabis: How Do You Choose From Over 800 Strains?

Medical Cannabis: How Do You Choose From Over 800 Strains?

Names are usually chosen by growers, and often reflect the properties of the plant.

In just a few seemingly short years, the number of states legalizing, and considering legalizing, medical marijuana has meteorically mushroomed. And this renaissance is being reflected in the rapidly rising number of patients using this “miracle drug” for mitigating pain and even helping to cure or retard the progress of various diseases.

For those in legal states interested in trying out this new form of therapy, beware that there are over 800 strains of cannabis that fall into different categories and types. We suggest you have a basic awareness of what they are and consult a qualified caregiver before diving in. PCC Berkeley (California) published a Beginner’s Guide To Medical Cannabis – Choosing The Right Strain. As strain names are often unusual and colorful, and not necessarily representative of the desired medicinal effect, the authors split the effects into two categories: HEAD and BODY.

Most cannabis strains effect the HEAD or brain within minutes of medicating. The effect either consists of a heavy and foggy feeling, or a clear and active feeling and can be classified on a scale of 1-7, with number 1 being heavy and foggy, and 7 the clearest and most active. Head effects may start sooner than body effects, but tend to wear off quicker.

The BODY or physical effect usually creeps in 5-15 minutes after the “head effect”. This effect can vary from being relaxing and sleepy, to being uplifting and energetic.  A similar 1-7 scale is used for body effects, with 1 being the most relaxing and 7 the most uplifting.  Body effects usually take longer to set in but tend to last longer than head effects.


Type 1: Long-lasting physical relief with a heavy and intense HEAD effect. This kind of medicine is known as Heavy Indica, and is recommended for sleep, relaxation and pain related issues. Some examples of strains with Heavy Indica include: MK Ultra, Grand Daddy Purple, Peak 19, Romulan, Ogre, Hash Plant and Afghani Goo.

Type 2: Long-lasting physical relief with a clearer and easier HEAD effect. Clear Indica is suggested for daytime physical relief. Examples include Sensi Star, Blackberry Kush, Northern Lights, Morning Star, Bubba Kush, Snow Cap and Shiva.

Type 3: A BODY and HEAD balance but more on the heavy side. This medicine is known as a Heavy Hybrid, and is for individuals seeking pain relief or relaxation without too much drowsiness. Examples include Sage and Sour, Blueberry, White Rhino, Grape Ape, Champagne, Purple Kush and Cotton Candy.

Type 4: An even balance of HEAD and BODY effects. Even Hybrids are recommended for those who don’t want to be too active or too drowsy. Some examples: S.A.G.E., Northern Lights X Haze, Purple Skunk, Cali-O, Bubblegum, Silver Haze and Cherry Pie.

Type 5: An even balance of HEAD and BODY effect but a bit more on the clear side. Clear Hybrids are recommended for patients looking for a balance of head and body, a bit more on the clear side. Examples include Blue Dream, Cali-O, Odyssey, Bubbleberry, Super Silver Haze, AK-47 and White Widow.

Type 6: An uplifting BODY effect alongside some strong physical and mental relief. Heavy Sativa is for patients seeking an intense and uplifting body with a heavy head effect. Examples include OG Kush, Cheese, Trainwreck, Sour Diesel, Headband, Jack Frost and Skunk #1.

Type 7: An uplifting and clear effect without a physical side to it. Known as Clear Sativa, this is recommended for individuals who are looking for a clear head with little or no physical effects that is easy to function on. Examples include: Kali Mist, Strawberry Kush, Old Mother Sativa, Durban Poison, Jack Herer, Purple God and Power Plant.

Each strain has a limit to the amount and type of cannabiniods (marijuana’s active ingredient) that can be received by the body, so patients build tolerance faster to certain strains while others medicate the same way for longer. By using 3 or 4 different strains, users find it easier to keep their receptors fresh, conserve medicine and get maximum effect. Using a few strains will help to reach the desired cannabiniod balance.

PCC Berkeley recommends that patients keep a journal to note how certain strains affect them; to help determine what works best for each individual.

This information is not intended as medical advice. If you are using legal cannabis products for medical treatment, do so under the supervision of a professional caregiver.

Rick Lawrence/Pazoo

Rick Lawrence

About Rick Lawrence

A lot of athletes refer to themselves in the third person. My favorite example is a quote from baseball Hall-of-Famer Rickey Henderson: “Rickey doesn’t like it when Rickey’s limousine is late.”

Point is, I started to write this in the impersonal third person and it seemed way too pretentious, so first person it is

My name is Rick Lawrence and I love to write.

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