Navigating the World of Cannabis Strains: From Novice to Expert Choices

Different cannabis strains flower

The world of cannabis is rich and multifaceted, akin to the universe of wine or gourmet coffee. With each passing year, as the cultural stigma diminishes and curiosity grows, countless individuals find themselves diving into this aromatic world, eager to explore its depths.

The Science and Art Behind Cannabis Strains

The term “strain” in the cannabis industry refers to the different breeds of cannabis plants. Like dog breeds, each cannabis strain possesses its unique attributes—flavor, aroma, appearance, and of course, its effect on the human body and mind.

Indica vs. Sativa vs. Hybrid

The foundational classification of cannabis plants falls into three categories:

Indica: Picture yourself curled up on a couch on a cold winter night, covered in a warm blanket, and sinking deeper into relaxation. That’s the Indica experience for many: deep relaxation, calming, and often recommended for nighttime use.

Sativa: It’s a sunny day, and you feel an energetic buzz, a need to create, to discuss, to move. Sativas typically offer a more cerebral experience, stimulating creativity, uplifting mood, and often preferred for daytime use.

Hybrid: A fusion of both Indica and Sativa, hybrids are bred to offer a balanced effect, making them versatile for a range of activities and times of day. They can lean towards either Sativa or Indica in their effects based on their lineage.

Terpenes – The Unsung Heroes:

Beyond just cannabinoids like THC and CBD, terpenes play a pivotal role in the cannabis experience. These aromatic compounds determine the strain’s signature scent and flavor, ranging from citrusy to piney, fruity to skunky. Research even suggests that terpenes might interact with cannabinoids, potentially influencing the overall effect.

THC Content and Potency

It’s hard to discuss cannabis without addressing THC. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the primary psychoactive compound, and its percentage in a strain often determines its strength. But remember, a strain’s overall effect isn’t just about THC; it’s a symphony of compounds working together.

Decoding the Recommendation Levels

Novice: For the uninitiated, the world of cannabis might feel a bit overwhelming. Novice strains are an invitation to explore, often offering milder effects and a gentle introduction.

Intermediate: You’ve dabbled, you have a few favorites, and you’re ready to expand your horizons. Intermediate strains offer a balanced experience, neither too light nor overwhelmingly potent.

Expert: For those who know their way around a cannabis dispensary blindfolded, expert strains offer intense, often complex experiences. They’re not just about strength but intricate flavor profiles and effects.

The Ultimate Strain Guide

At the heart of this exploration are the strains themselves. Here, we put together the 50 best strains based on popularity trends. It is important to note that the taste and effects can vary based on growing conditions, harvest times, and processing, so not everyone might experience the exact same flavor or effect.

# Strain Taste Profile Type Recommendation Level Approx. THC %
1 Blue Dream Sweet berry flavors Hybrid Novice 17-24%
2 Sour Diesel Pungent, diesel-like aroma Sativa Expert 19-25%
3 Girl Scout Cookies Sweet and earthy, with hints of mint or chocolate Hybrid Intermediate 17-28%
4 OG Kush Earthy pine with sour lemon and woody undertones Hybrid Intermediate 19-26%
5 Pineapple Express Tropical, cedar, with pineapple and pine notes Hybrid Intermediate 18-25%
6 Jack Herer Earthy with hints of pine and sweet spices Sativa Intermediate 18-24%
7 Gorilla Glue #4 Earthy, pungent, with hints of pine and sourness Hybrid Expert 25-30%
8 White Widow Earthy with hints of pine Hybrid Intermediate 18-25%
9 Granddaddy Purple Sweet and earthy, with grape and berry undertones Indica Novice 17-23%
10 Green Crack Sweet, with tropical and citrus notes Sativa Expert 20-24%
11 AK-47 Earthy, sweet floral notes Hybrid Intermediate 13-20%
12 Durban Poison Sweet and spicy/earthy Sativa Expert 15-25%
13 Bubba Kush Sweet hashish flavors with subtle notes of coffee and chocolate Indica Intermediate 15-23%
14 Northern Lights Sweet and spicy aromas with earthy and pine notes Indica Novice 16-21%
15 Trainwreck Sweet lemon with spicy pine undertones Hybrid Expert 18-25%
16 Lemon Haze Fresh lemon citrus Sativa Intermediate 15-22%
17 Strawberry Cough Sweet strawberry flavors Sativa Novice 15-20%
18 Purple Haze Earthy and sweet with notes of berry Sativa Intermediate 15-20%
19 Cherry Pie Sweet and sour with a taste of cherry pie Hybrid Intermediate 16-24%
20 Tangie Citrus, particularly orange Sativa Intermediate 19-22%
21 Gelato Sweet and fruity, with hints of lavender and berries Hybrid Expert 18-25%
22 Mimosa Citrusy, with strong orange flavors Hybrid Intermediate 20-27%
23 Skywalker OG Spicy with herbal and jet fuel notes Indica Intermediate 20-26%
24 Zkittlez Sweet and fruity, reminiscent of candy Indica Novice 18-23%
25 Maui Wowie Sweet pineapple flavors and high tropical terpenes Sativa Intermediate 19-22%
26 Banana Kush Sweet banana with tropical notes Hybrid Intermediate 18-25%
27 Blackberry Kush Sweet, berry flavors paired with a strong diesel backbone Indica Intermediate 15-20%
28 Do-Si-Dos Floral, with earthy and sweet flavors Indica Expert 25-30%
29 Grape Ape Grape-like with other berry undertones Indica Intermediate 18-23%
30 Cereal Milk Sweet and milky, reminiscent of a fruity cereal Hybrid Novice 19-22%
31 Wedding Cake Tangy, rich, and creamy, with hints of pepper Hybrid Expert 24-28%
32 Forbidden Fruit Cherry and grapefruit flavors Indica Intermediate 22-26%
33 Runtz Sweet and fruity, reminiscent of tropical candy Hybrid Novice 19-24%
34 Gushers Tropical and sweet, with hints of cookies and gas Hybrid Intermediate 18-22%
35 Agent Orange Citrusy, predominantly orange with a sweet aftertaste Hybrid Novice 12-16%
36 Cookies and Cream Sweet vanilla and nutty flavors Hybrid Novice 18-23%
37 Tropicana Cookies Citrusy, predominantly orange Sativa Intermediate 20-25%
38 Purple Punch Grape, blueberry, with vanilla undertones Indica Novice 18-20%
39 Sherbet Fruity and sweet, with creamy undertones Hybrid Intermediate 17-24%
40 Lemon Larry OG Lemon and pine, with skunky undertones Indica Intermediate 20-26%
41 Platinum OG Piney, with a hint of berry Indica Expert 22-28%
42 Cherry OG Cherry and berry flavors with diesel undertones Hybrid Intermediate 18-23%
43 LA Confidential Earthy and piney with a hint of skunk Indica Expert 19-25%
44 Blueberry Muffin Sweet, reminiscent of fresh blueberries and baked muffin Hybrid Novice 16-20%
45 Animal Cookies Sweet and sour with earthy and pepper notes Hybrid Expert 23-27%
46 Super Lemon Haze Zesty citrus flavors with sweet undertones Sativa Intermediate 16-22%
47 Berry White Berry flavors with spicy and sour undertones Indica Intermediate 17-23%
48 Critical Kush Earthy and woody with a hint of citrus Indica Intermediate 20-25%
49 Blue Cheese Blueberry and cheese with a creamy berry aftertaste Indica Novice 15-20%
50 Chocolope Chocolate and coffee flavors Sativa Intermediate 18-21%

Finding Your Perfect Match

Navigating the vast world of cannabis strains is akin to a quest. Each strain, with its unique blend of flavors, aromas, and effects, is a potential match. So here’s what you can do to embark on this exploration:

1. Define Your Intent:

Before stepping into a dispensary or browsing an online menu, reflect upon what you seek. Is it relaxation after a hard day’s work? A burst of inspiration for a creative project? Or perhaps relief from physical discomfort? Your purpose will be the compass guiding your strain selection.

2. Explore Different Consumption Methods:

Your journey with cannabis can be multifaceted, and the mode of consumption plays a pivotal role. While smoking or vaping offers immediate effects, edibles provide a prolonged, often more intense, experience. Tinctures, topicals, and capsules bring their unique onset and duration. Experimenting with different methods can change the dynamics of the same strain.

3. Dive into Flavors and Terpenes:

For many, the taste and aroma of the strain are paramount. Some love the citrusy zest of a Lemon Haze, while others might gravitate towards the earthy undertones of an OG Kush. Engage your senses. Often, the strains you enjoy most olfactorily will be the ones that resonate best with your body.

4. Start Low and Go Slow:

Especially if you’re new or trying a new strain with higher THC content. Begin with a small dose. It’s easier to incrementally increase than to counteract feeling overly high.

5. Journal Your Experiences:

Consider keeping a cannabis journal. Note the strain, consumption method, dose, flavor, and effects. Over time, patterns might emerge, guiding you closer to your ideal strains.

6. Engage with the Community:

Talk to budtenders, join online forums, or participate in local cannabis events. Personal recommendations and shared experiences can be enlightening. Remember, though, everyone’s body and chemistry are unique. What works wonders for one might not for another.

7. Revisit and Reevaluate:

Your relationship with cannabis will evolve. Factors like your body’s chemistry, tolerance, and even the circumstances in your life can change the effects of a strain. What didn’t impress you a year ago might become your next favorite. So have an open mind.


Embarking on the cannabis journey is like exploring a rich, aromatic forest with countless paths. The strains are the trees, each with its unique story and character. As the landscape of legalization and acceptance grows, so does our collective knowledge. Dive in, explore responsibly, and find your perfect match in this ever-evolving world.

For those eager to embark on this voyage of discovery, The Hemp Doctor offers a diverse selection from these top 50 strains. From our line of D8 vapes, D9 vapes, and HHC vapes, you’re bound to find a strain that resonates with you. So, why wait? Dive into the world of exquisite cannabis choices and find your favorite at The Hemp Doctor.