Beyond Jupiter jack strain, sativa, and hybrid, dispensaries might divide the types of cannabis they have into strains. Strains are essentially different breeds of cannabis, and they’re bred to have specific effects on the user.
But if the terms indica, sativa, and hybrid are essentially useless categorizations, are strain names also meaningless?
Not exactly, says Elberg.
“Not all seeds that are sold under the same name are genetically identical, or even necessarily related. Some producers may choose to create a strain name essentially as a branding exercise, or to identify their product with an existing name because they believe the product matches characteristics the market expects from product sold under that name,” Elberg explains.
There are, however, still consistencies among product sold under specific strain names, Elberg adds.
“In general, for the less common names, product sold by different vendors tends to be pretty consistent,” he notes. “For the most common strain names, however, a wider variety of different products are sold.”
Strain names frequently describe the lineage of a variety, a major aromatic component, or a possible effect. As a result, strains are often marketed based on the characteristics that their names advertise. Both Afghani and Kush are strain names that denote their origins (Afghanistan and the Hindu Kush mountain range, respectively), Tangie and GSC (more commonly known as Girl Scout Cookies) allude to their respective aromas, and Calm by Canndescent is meant to convey how the strain will make you feel.
If you go to a dispensary and say you’re looking for an uplifting cerebral high and sweet flavors, the budtender may offer you an eighth of Blue Dream because it’s a popular strain known for both of your criteria. But you may get home and smoke that Blue Dream only to find yourself in heavy couch lock, tasting nothing but herbal earthiness. That’s because strain names are not reliable in predicting effects, flavors, or medicinal benefits. In other words, a strain name is more or less a marketing message.
OG Kush, for example, is one of Southern California’s most popular strains and can be found in nearly every dispensary. But the effects of an OG Kush from one dispensary to the next can be completely different. A strain’s characteristics can vary greatly from grower to grower. Different growing, harvesting, and processing conditions inevitably result in varying cannabinoid and terpene contents. So your best bet at finding the flower that works for you is to buy based on the chemical composition of the flower and the possible effects that are described by the brand or cultivator that made it, rather than the strain name alone.