Flower will forever be the king category in cannabis. That’s because every product starts with the plant, so there will always be more buds on shelves than concentrates, vape pens, and edibles. This is illustrated by Headset’s data on all legal cannabis markets. No matter what state you click, their best-selling category is always cannabis flower.

With that, that means there will always be an ever-evolving world of cannabis strains that you’ll have to learn (and try). This could get very overwhelming in this modern-day world of hybrid cannabis, so you’ll have to develop a way to know which strains you even want to take dollars out of the ATM to try.

Learning cannabis genetics, and the expected effects from certain lineages will be a great tool along this mission of finding the “best” cannabis strains for you.

A nug of cannabis flower is held up to the blue sky between someone's thumb and index finger.

What are cannabis strains and genetics?

Cannabis strains are the umbrella term for all of the different types of cannabis that exist. They are most often broken down into three types: sativas, indicas, and hybrids. These days, nearly all the strains of weed you see on shelves are hybrids. There are very few pure sativas or pure indicas being sold if any.

There are thousands of cannabis hybrids in existence today. They all derive from pure sativa and pure indica landrace strains. Landrace cannabis strains grew naturally in the wild, as wildflowers, long before humans figured out how to commercialize them. Examples of landrace strains include Mexican sativas, Afghan indicas, Thai sativas, and the list goes on.

Over time, cannabis breeders would find these strains and value their characteristics. Eventually, breeders would hybridize these different strains of weed with each other in the hopes of magnifying those specific characteristics in the offspring. The result is a bunch of different strains, and flavors of weed.

Genetics refers to the lineage of these strains. Meaning strains are the specific plants, like Super Lemon Haze, and genetics obviously refers to the parent plants, i.e. Lemon Skunk and Super Silver Haze.

Two bright green stalks of cannabis flower stand among other cannabis strains being cultivated.

What’s the difference between strains and genetics?

The difference between strains of weed and genetics is pretty simple: strain refers to an individual type of cannabis plant, and genetics refers to the lineage that created that individual. In layman’s terms, strains are the kids; genetics are the parents.

Genetics are what give a strain its characteristics, yield potential, cannabinoid profiles, and terpene profiles. Breeders cross plant genetics to combine their best attributes in hopes of finding a new, unique, hybrid cannabis strain. This is why we now have thousands of different cannabis strains in existence.

For example, Blue Burst is a hybrid cannabis strain made by crossing Purple Thai with Afghan. These genetics result in Blue Burst having sweet blueberry flavors and relaxing effects. So from that, you could have an idea of the effects that any hybrid made with Blue Burst in its lineage might have on you.

A small plant from a specific cannabis strain is grown beneath bright overhead lighting.

How to use genetics to find the right cannabis strains

As mentioned above, if you know the genetics of a cannabis strain, you will have a better idea of how the high will affect you than if you’re just looking at if it’s an indica, sativa, or hybrid. That’s because you’ll have an idea of its expected terpene profile and effects.

This learning is imperative since the only way you’re able to buy cannabis right now is to look at flowers inside of a jar or ask a budtender how it hits. But with each human having an individual endocannabinoid system, budtenders won’t ever really be able to tell you how a strain will affect your body. You’ll have to try and document them.

Look at the strain XJ-13. XJ-13 is a cross of Jack Herer and G13 Haze. If you know how both Jack Herer or G13 Haze hit you, you may be able to guess the effects of XJ-13 on you.

A person selects from among different strains of weed on a tablet while holding a jar with a nug of cannabis flower.

The same goes for any strain of weed that uses XJ-13 in its lineage. If you’ve had the strain, and felt uplifting effects that make you feel happy, chances are that strains with XJ-13 as a parent will have a similar effect on you. So if you find a cannabis strain you love, ask your budtenders about products that contain those genetics, and you will probably find another enjoyable smoke.

Knowing a strain's genetics will also give you an idea of how it might smell and taste. This will then give you an idea of how it hits. If you see Zkittlez in a strain’s lineage, you can expect it to have that candy-fruit taste to it, and whatever effects its terpene profile usually has on you.

All in all, learn weed to know weed. If you spend some time doing trial and error on strains, eventually you’ll be able to know which ones you’ll want to buy simply based on their lineage and terpene profiles.

Many different cannabis strains are cultivated at an indoor growing room with bright overhead lighting.

The future of cannabis genetics

If you think we aren’t getting a lot more hybrid cannabis strains in the future, then think again.

The future of cannabis genetics will always be about flavor chasing and finding the most unique expression of plants possible. That means a lot more crossing genetics and a lot more pheno hunting for breeders. Additionally, the future of cannabis genetics is expected to heavily include tissue culture.

Tissue culture is removing a piece of plant tissue from a strain and then transferring it to an artificial growing space for propagation. It helps preserve stable genetics, but it also helps protect that plant from contaminating pests and poor atmospheric conditions.

A scientist examines the tissue culture of a cannabis flower from a specific cannabis strain grown in a petri dish.

The primary benefit of propagating a strain through tissue culture is that you are more guaranteed that the plant will grow the same each and every time. Plus, tissue culture requires less time and resources than traditional cannabis cultivation.

In the end, we are sure to see more tissue culture influencing the future of our cannabis strains. We just hope that the end result is a wide variety of high-quality, premium-tier cannabis, and great smoking cannabis.

At STIIIZY, we only use premium flower for all of our cannabis products including our proprietary pods and battery system. If you’re interested in trying fire strains like Blue Burst, check STIIIZY’s product page for information on where to find them.