What Is Cannabis Strain?

Lana Braslavska
Lana Braslavska

A key author at AskGrowers, Lana Braslavska, specializes in presenting the latest news and trends within the cannabis industry. Her articles often highlight influential personalities and delve into their impact on the cannabis world. Her writing not only keeps readers informed about current events and key figures in the cannabis space but also provides a deeper understanding of the industry's relationship with public perception and media representation. Lana's expertise makes her an invaluable resource for anyone seeking education on the evolving landscape of the cannabis industry.

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What Is Cannabis Strain?

You might have been browsing marijuana products and encountered different strains of this herb. It's only natural to ask the question – what is a cannabis strain?

In this article, we are focusing on cannabis strains and all their specifics. We'll explain what they are and how they emerged and changed during history. Our guide focuses on all details of how the system worked and evolved to how it works now. Would you like to know how people used cannabis during humanity's history? Are you interested in discovering more about the three main species of this plant? Would you like to know their characteristics and how they are different from strains?

People usually can't hide their surprise when they see the long and impressive history of cannabis. Apart from significant historical effects, marijuana has a huge influence on today's culture and society. We designed this cannabis strain guide to help you learn more about different marijuana types and how to pick a suitable one for you!

What Are Strains And How They Emerged?

Did you know that cannabis used to be a cereal? Apart from that, humanity also used it for a wide range of medical conditions at a certain point. It was in the 70s when people didn't hide that they were getting high to fight against their physical but also mental health issues.

You could say that period was crucial for this herb. It was at that time when humanity learned numerous details about how marijuana works and how it can provide different benefits. That increased interest in various types of cannabis because it turned out not all herb classes had the same effect.

A major discovery was that THC could affect the central nervous system and have psychoactive properties. Scientists also learned about a CBN cannabinoid that affects the peripheral nervous system. Furthermore, the researchers discovered Indica and Sativa cannabis strains. They established that Indica affects the body more, while Sativa delivers a more mind-focused effect. It didn't take long for people to start experimenting with different pot strains.

What Are Strains?

Although some people grew cannabis for personal needs, it was cultivators who were in charge of breeding this plant. As time passed, cultivators discovered new information and tried to adjust their breeding process. It was their way of improving the product, and that's how they developed different weed strains. The result was you could find a particular strain of cannabis only in a particular region.

Strains Are From Different Regions

The types soon found their way to the Western world. It's where the cultivators continued changing these new strains. As time passed, the breeders officially accepted the term hybridization. These hybrids involved cultivating male and female herbs to achieve tons of varieties. Some hybrids made decades ago are still in use today since they proved to have valuable benefits.

Here is the basic explanation – you have two main types of marijuana plants. That includes Indica and Sativa, and they have different levels of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids. However, over time the developers used Indica and Sativa to make hybrids. As a result, those hybrids have become a separate cannabis category. That's because they have different levels of cannabinoids, which means they come with different effectiveness.

The short explanation would be that strains are different varieties of cannabis and nothing else. They come with specific smells, flavors, and benefits. The new strains appeared because people wanted something different than the classic Indica and Sativa. Some were looking for new flavors, while others wanted a strain specialized in a particular type of benefit. As a result, you can pick from dozens of strains nowadays. That increases the chances every user will find the one that suits their requirements.

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How and Who Chooses the Names for the Strains?

If you browse the market, the odds are you noticed people used different names for marijuana strains. Some names refer to the geographic origin, while others combine the parent strains used in the process. You'll find everything from simple to creative and funny names.

The critical thing to note is that there is no official rule to naming the strains. In other words, the creator has the right to call it any way they want. It's why we often encounter homages to specific characters, such as Alice in Wonderland or Jack the Ripper. If you are thinking about developing a strain, here are some suggestions for naming it!

Geographic Origin

The hybrid types of strain in marijuana plants began in the 1970s. People didn't experiment much with names over time, so the majority stuck to the region where they made the strain. That's how we had Colombian, Afghan, Panama, Acapulco, and similar types. These were sometimes combined with the strain's color, such as red or gold. It's interesting to note these cultivated breeds became the staple of many other hybrids to come. You can track the origin of today's strains to those that were cultivated in the 1970s. People made new strains to improve the flavor and effectiveness. Some wanted to make the breeding easier, so they focused on improving pest and disease resistance.

Inspiration from the Parents

We know that children sometimes have the same names as their parents, such as Frank Jr. It's a bit different with cannabis strains because most breeders look to cross the parents' names and come up with a new one.

Inspiration From the Parents

For example, if a cultivator used Snow White and Blueberry Dream strains, the new type name could be Berry White. You can also get more creative, so Girl Scout Cookies mixed with Venomous could become a Suicide Girl. As we said, the exact rules don't exist, but you should always consider the name sounds appealing.

Pay Homage to Someone

Many strains use celebrity names for marketing and homage purposes. It could be that Michael Jordan is your favorite character, so you name the new strain Space Jam or even GOAT. You can directly name it after an actor (Bob Saget and Charlie Sheen are some existing strains). Apart from using your favorite characters, some people pick "famous" names for marketing purposes. For example, Khalifa Kush sounds attractive, and it will make people at least check out the strain. The critical thing to note is that the names don't have to mean anything. Although they should be appealing and refer to the strain's characteristics, that isn't necessarily true. That's why you should always check the cannabinoid content and other specifics. It's the only way of ensuring the strain will meet your requirements.

History of cannabis

Some people think that cannabis became so popular because of new cultural trends, promotion of weed on mass media, and high that is considered to be the primary reason why people consume marihuana. Yes, all this makes sense, but the fact is also that people used this plant more than 6.000 years ago. Consequently, its history is an interesting thing to consider when analyzing its effects, types, as well as the phenomenon of its popularity at large. This information can also help understand how people started to use the word ‘strain’ instead of the word ‘cannabis’ and what exactly does it mean.

Cannabis in ancient Asia

Surprisingly, the first evidence of the cultivation of this plant comes from Imperial China. In 4000 BCE, it was used as one of the food crops. However, in 2700 BCE Chinese people started to use it as medicine for more than one hundred diseases and disorders. At that time, a Chinese doctor mentioned its psychoactive effects for the very first time in human history. Then, cannabis was found in India, and it was spread incredibly quickly throughout the country. It was used by monks during ceremonies.

Cannabis in Ancient Asia

Moreover, it was one of the 5 sacred plants and was considered as one of the sources of positive emotions and feelings, in particular, as a bringer of joy, happiness, and freedom. In 1000 AD, it was used by the legendary doctor and writer of the medieval times Avicenna. In his canon, this plant was recorded as a very effective plant that helps people suffering from various syndromes and disorders, in particular, from ache, gout, wounds, etc. Then cannabis was recognized as the medicine by Arabic doctors. Arabs also brought this plant from India to Africa where people used it to treat such serious illnesses as asthma, malaria, and even dysentery. Then it was brought to Brazil and then finally to the western world.

Cannabis in the Western world

This plant became known and quite popular in most countries pretty soon, but there was a scientist who changed the way people perceived marijuana. William O’Shaughnessy was an Irish physician who, in 1839, introduced cannabis to the medicine of the Western world. He published his research, which was the first study dealing with the variety of cannabis we call ‘Indica.’ Moreover, in 1842, he published his new study called Bengal Dispensatory and Pharmacopoeia, and the section on this plant extended to more than 20 pages. It allowed specialists to better understand the qualities and properties of marihuana, and that, in turn, led to a rapid spread of through the Western countries. People started to use cannabis to treat intense pain, asthma, and other serious illnesses, but the prevalence of this plant has decreased significantly in the following decades, until the time also known as the time when this plant was incredibly popular, the 70s, finally came.

The 70s and the revolution in cannabis studies – CBD & THC

In the 70s, the prevalence of marijuana has risen from 5% to 44% in just 4 years. In part, it may be explained by the fact that in 1964, two scientists revolutionized the whole history of the studies by the discovery of THC (stands for tetrahydrocannabinol). Why was this discovery so epic? The thing if finally allowed researchers to study and change the effects of marijuana. In about 2 decades, the CB1 receptor was discovered, and the scientists found out that it is the binding site of tetrahydrocannabinol and, at the same time, the receptor in CNS. Pretty soon, the second cannabinoid receptor also known as CB2 was discovered. Unlike CB1, it is localized primarily in PNS. And yes, it is primarily affected by CBD (strands for cannabidiol), the second important compound of the plant. This was the next step, the next stage, the revolution in the studies. The understanding of how cannabis affects the body and brain, which receptors it affects, what cannabinoids cause certain feelings was not just understanding how things work. This was the knowledge that allowed us to get as many strains as we have now. Moreover, this was the knowledge that allowed us to expect certain effects from certain strains.

3 species of the plant


But let us focus on the cannabis species: Indica, Sativa, and ruderalis. The long history of this plant and its interaction with people makes it difficult to determine whether they were initially different species. The thing is it has developed different properties and characteristics after spending centuries in a certain climate.

3 Species of the Plant

However, these characteristics can also be partially due to how people used the plant throughout history in different geographical regions. No matter what the reasons are, these 3 species have some different characteristics always considered by growers, medical professionals, and cannabis research.


The basic characteristics and benefits of Indica are as follows:

  • The short and pretty bushy plant with broad leaves;
  • Bigger yield;
  • Compact size;
  • Better adaptability;
  • Pretty short flowering period.

The typical effects of Indica are as follows:

  1. Pain relief;
  2. Muscle relaxation;
  3. General relaxation, riddance of stress and nervousness.

Generally speaking, Indica is known for its relaxing effect. The one who consumes it feels peace, deep relaxation, carelessness, and calmness. The experts note that if you want to feel all the effects to the fullest, you had better consume it in the evening. By the way, it is usually used for treating insomnia and other sleeping disorders. Growers love it for big yields, short flowering period, and for its size.


The basic characteristics and benefits of Sativa are as follows:

  • It is much taller (usually a few meters high);
  • Leaves are long and narrow;
  • It can be grown outdoors;
  • Easier harvesting;
  • Effects last about an hour.

The typical effects of Sativa are as follows:

  • Helps to cope with melancholy and other mood disorders;
  • Helps people who feel helpless and unconfident;
  • Improve cognitive functions, creative thinking.

This is the second species of this plant. Unlike Indica, this plant is a few meters high, and the leaves are much more narrow and long. Mexico and Colombia are considered to be the countries where Sativa comes from. And again, unlike Indica, it is usually consumed in the morning or at midday just because it has the opposite effect. It improves cognitive functions, creative thinking, and even helps becoming more confident in the social environment.


The basic characteristics of ruderalis are as follows:

  • Grows in Asia and Europe;
  • Up to 2.5 feet high;
  • Flowers in 30 days;
  • Very low concentration of THC

Ruderalis is rarely used by growers unless they want to create a new hybrid. The thing is the concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol in this plant is very low, so consumers do not feel any changes after they consume it.


Above, we mentioned that there are 3 main species, and considering the information we provided, we can claim that there are two most popular species. In general, it is true, however, there is another incredibly important thing to consider – the progress in the studies, new discoveries, all this allowed not only understanding how the old strains work but also create the new ones and mix the properties, and characteristics of the existing species. In fact, hybrids in the context of this topic, are far more important than ruderalis. We will return to them very soon.

It is impossible to distinguish the top 3 or even top 10 strains in the US or anywhere else, mostly because all consumers have their own preferences when it comes to the taste of cannabis and its effects. Moreover, numerous researches have shown that people living in different states have different tastes, but nearly all of them think that the following strains are some of the best strains in the market.

Most Popular Cannabis Strains

Blue Dream

Basic characteristics of Blue Dream:

  • A little more Sativa (60% Sativa/40% Indica);
  • THC concentration – 16–20%;
  • CBD and CBN – 2% and 1% respectively;
  • Usually used by people suffering from melancholy, eating disorders, nervousness, pain;
  • Effects: euphoria, happiness, relaxation, uplifting, improving creativity;
  • Expected adverse effects: dry mouth & eyes.

This is one of everyone’s favorites. Blue Dream is rightfully considered to be one of the most frequently bought and consumed strains due to its effects (most consumers report feeling creative, energetic, euphoric, uplifted, and aroused) and sweet berry aroma.

Green Crack

Basic characteristics of Green Crack:

  • 65% Sativa/35% Indica;
  • THC concentration – 15-18%;
  • CBD – less than 1%;
  • Usually used by people suffering from stress, melancholy, and chronic exhaustion;
  • Effects: euphoria, happiness, uplifting;
  • Expected adverse effects: dry mouth & eyes, paranoid.

Green Crack is known as one of the best morning strains. Consumers report feeling joyful, energetic, uplifted, euphoric, and focused. As for the flavor, mango is the fruit this strain is usually associated with, so this might be a great strain for those who like fruity aftertaste.

Girl Scout Cookies

Basic characteristics and benefits of Girl Scout Cookies:

  • 40% Sativa/60% Indica;
  • THC level – 16-21%;
  • CBD – less than 1%;
  • Commonly used by people suffering from stress, melancholy, and chronic exhaustion;
  • Effects: euphoria, happiness, relaxation, uplifting;
  • Expected adverse effects: dry mouth & eyes, dizzy.

This is the award-winning strain that is certainly more energizing than calming. This hybrid has a sweet and earthy aroma and provides full-body relaxation, and more importantly, relieves pain, helps to cope with eating disorders and loss of appetite.

Jack Herer

Basic characteristics and benefits of Jack Herer:

  • 55% Sativa/45% Indica;
  • THC level – 15-19%;
  • CBD – less than 1%;
  • Usually used by people suffering from stress, melancholy, nervousness, and chronic exhaustion;
  • Effects: euphoric, energetic, joyful, uplifted;
  • Expected adverse effects: dry mouth & eyes, paranoid.

This fruity, peppery and at the same time herbal cannabis became known for its energizing effects. Though there are a few variations of Jack Herer in the market, and each of them has its own features, the classic Jack Herer is loved most for its medical and non-medical effects, such as feeling joyful, uplifted, energetic and creative. This strain is also used in the treatment of such illnesses and disorders as melancholy and nervousness and for relieving pain.


Basic characteristics and benefits of Gelato:

  • A little more Indica (45% Sativa/55% Indica)
  • THC level – 14-20%;
  • CBD – less than 1%;
  • Used by people suffering from stress, melancholy, insomnia, pain syndrome;
  • Effects: euphoria, relaxation, feeling joyful and uplifted;
  • Expected adverse effects: dry mouth, dry eyes, dizzy.

Unlike all strains mentioned above, Gelato is slightly Indica dominant. This is also one of the most frequently consumed strains known for its unique taste (it is no accident that it was called the Italian ice-cream) and numerous effects – it makes people feel more relaxed, euphoric, joyful, created and uplifted. It is often used by people suffering from insomnia, chronic stress, nervousness, and pain.

Wedding Cake

  • More Indica (45% Sativa/55% Indica);
  • THC level – 17-24%;
  • CBD – less than 1%;
  • Used by people suffering from stress, melancholy, insomnia, pain syndrome;
  • Effects: euphoria, relaxation, feeling joyful and uplifted;
  • Expected adverse effects: dry mouth, dry eyes, dizzy.

Wedding Cake is another Indica strain known for the high level of THC and the effects it causes. This is the relaxing strain, but consumers need to be careful with it: the right does of Wedding Cake will make a consumer feel relaxed, joyful, and aroused, but overdose may cause such adverse effects dry mouth, dry eyes, dizziness, nervousness, and short-term paranoia.


As you can see, there is no simple answer to the question ‘What is cannabis strain?’ Nevertheless, it is not something extremely difficult to understand if you know about cannabis history, genders, species, subspecies, compounds, and so on. This is a lot of information, but we hope that our step-by-step guide on strains helped sort out the details and imagine the system, the elements of which are interconnected. Nevertheless, let us focus on the main points of our research:

  • This plant has a long history, and it was widely used in medicine for thousands of years. Researchers identified 3 species - Indica, Sativa, ruderalis.
  • During human history, people cultivated this plant and created new strains in different territories.
  • Finally, it became known in the Western world, too.
  • In the 70s, two main compounds were discovered.
  • Scientists were studying the properties of the compounds, the species, improved the process of breeding.
  • This allows for creating new strains.

Modern growers create various mixes, develop new strains, combine various effects and create new strains..

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