If history serves as evidence, cannabis flower will always be the biggest category of cannabis. According to data from Headset, a Washington-based cannabis data analytics firm, it is the top-selling category in every legal cannabis market.
That’s because, for one, flower is where all products begin so you’ll always need more of that to create all of the smaller sub-categories. For two, flower will always provide the greatest diversity in strains and genetics for people who chase the whole spectrum of aromas, flavors, and effects.
For the flower heads out here, you might be wondering if certain strains are better than others, and what really differentiates them all from each other.
You’ve come to the right place to learn.
What makes a strain of cannabis flower great
Cannabis flower is great because it’s fun to smoke, we believe it potentially provides excellent therapeutic benefits, tastes great when grown properly, and can satisfy most cannabis consumers’ consumption needs.
Cannabis strains refer to the different types of cannabis flowers and the genetics that created them. The types of flowers are categorized as sativas, indicas, and hybrids, which refer to how a plant grows more than the effects they provide.
Underneath these umbrellas are a world of cannabis genetics and crossed strains that each have their own unique aromas, flavors, and effects.
For consumers, there are many attributes that matter in deciding the quality of a cannabis strain. They include aesthetics, aroma, flavor, and potency. Of these, truly, the most important are aroma, flavor, and potency.
Aroma is the way a cannabis flower smells, thanks to the plant’s terpene profile. Terpenes are the aromatic compounds that make strains like Chemdog smell and taste like diesel and Jack Herer smell and taste citrusy and spicy.
As cannabis research progresses, we’re learning that the effects we expect from certain strains of weed are more about the plant’s terpene profile and less about if it’s an indica or sativa.
Oftentimes strains that smell like citrus/oranges are energizing, strains that smell like gas are the most potent, and strains that smell like berries are relaxing.
Flavor is the way a cannabis flower tastes after you apply heat to it. Heat activates the compounds within the plant and makes for the enjoyable experience you feel after inhaling a strain of weed’s smoke or vapor.
Flavor is one of the most important parts of the cannabis consumption experience. If the weed doesn’t taste good, you won’t return to dispensaries to buy more of it.
It doesn’t matter how good the plant smells if the terps don’t carry through to the smoke, and it definitely doesn’t matter how potent the strain is if its taste is terrible.
The Emerald Cup, a historical cannabis competition and awards show, categorizes cannabis flower flavors and strains as Jacks + Hazes, Tropical + Floral, OGs + Gas, Sweets + Dreams, Dessert, and Exotics.
Within these categories are thousands of different strains of weed with their own specific aroma and flavor profiles.
Potency is how intensely the effects of a cannabis strain hit. It is the least important of the quality factors but still matters. Even if a weed strain tastes super delicious, you still want it to punch and last for a while.
THC potency isn’t the end-all-be-all of a strain’s quality, so never use it as the guiding light to purchasing weed.
The complete experience of a strain is the ultimate judge of quality. The combination of the qualities listed above is the final score. Does the strain of weed smoke well? Does it smoke smoothly? Does it taste good? Does it overall make you feel good and want to consume more?
How strains of weed affect people differently
The oldest cannabis strains ever are called landrace strains. They grew in the wild, and over time, were crossed over and over to create the world of hybrid cannabis strains we know today.
Of all these hybrids, they each affect people differently because of the human body’s endocannabinoid system. The ECS is a system of chemical signals and cannabinoid receptors in our bodies that process cannabis compounds. It is based on your physical makeup and genetic history.
This is why the levels of high are so subjective. What makes you sleepy could make someone else energetic. What makes you relaxed could make someone else anxious. What gets you super baked can just be a middle-of-the-road high for someone else.
To know what’s right for you, you’ve got to smoke different strains and monitor the full consumption experience.
Strains of weed that dominate the market
The strains of weed that are most popular change so often that it's hard to call any of them consistently dominant. However, there are plenty of cananbis strains out there that are objectively great.
Some popular strains include Push Pop, Black Truffle, and Grape Sorbet.
According to Leafly, Push Pop is an indica-dominant hybrid marijuana strain made by crossing Cookies and Cream with Temple Flo. This strain produces uplifting and euphoric effects that leave the consumer feeling buzzy. Push Pop features an extra smooth flavor profile that smells sugary and tastes like milky candy.
Leafly says Black Truffle is a hybrid weed strain. Reviewers on Leafly say this strain makes them feel talkative, energetic and aroused. Black Truffle has 18% THC and 1% CBG. The dominant terpene in this strain is caryophyllene, the “spicy” terpene that you find in pepper or cinnamon.
Grape Sorbet tastes like a mix of sweet, fruity, and earthy flavors. The effects are most commonly blissful, relaxed, and happy. Its potent high makes for a perfect nighttime treat.
The importance of how a strain of weed is cultivated
Genetics plays a huge role in the overall quality of a cannabis strain, but right after that, how it’s grown is most important. In the growing process, drying and curing are really what make or break the weed.
If cultivators don’t get the drying and curing processes just right, those volatile terpenes will disappear, those trichomes won’t form correctly, and the overall aroma, flavor, and potency of the buds will be an absolute dud.
The future of cannabis cultivation and choosing strains of weed
There’s no telling what the future of cannabis strains will be in the world of federal legalization. We can only speculate.
Many believe the future of growing cannabis strains lies in outdoor and greenhouse cultivation. It is more eco-friendly than indoor cultivation and it costs much less too. Cheaper production results in cheaper weed, and that is mostly what the cannabis market craves: affordable weed, regardless of the quality.
Plus, with the goal being scalable production, outdoor and greenhouse cultivation allows for much bigger plants, yields, and grow area.
As far as the future of consuming cannabis strains, it’s all about the flavors and who can create the most unique ones. There will also be a taste for gas, and there will always be a demand for colorful flowers, but who is going to breed the next wave of exotic flowers and flavors that set the standard for all that weed strains can be? Only time will tell.
All we really hope is that consumers will be more educated on terpene profiles and their role in the complete experience of cannabis. Many studies have shown that all of the compounds of cannabis strains work together to produce the specific effects we feel in cannabis.
Terpenes are seen as the best guide for predicting the effects we feel from cannabis. It is hoped that the industry will move away from indica, sativa, and hybrids being the deciders of effects.
In the end, the question of if some cannabis strains are better than others will always come down to consumer preference. You’ll have to try a few different stains, learn about the complete experiences, and dwindle down all of the options on dispensary shelves to the handful that you’ll want to use consistently.