5 Ways to get a sense of what a strain has to offer

Published May 13, 2021 09:00 a.m. ET
iStock / Roman Barkov

We now have access to thousands of cannabis strains and their products, but unfortunately, they aren't all available at our local dispensary. Most of these stores carry a constantly rotating selection of anywhere from 10 to 30 different types of flower to choose from, which means that even once you’ve found one that works, eventually, you’ll probably be forced to settle for something different.

That’s just the way things are in the wonderful world of legal weed. We have some of the perks, just not quite as many as we’d once hoped, but this one issue, in particular, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The idea of trying new types of weed might make you apprehensive, especially if you’ve been left disappointed after bad decisions before, but there are some things that you can do to get a taste of what a strain might have to offer prior to making a heft investment.

1. A visual assessment

One of the best ways to figure out which offerings are the best cannabis strains is by doing an up-close visual assessment. Ideally, a pocket microscope will reveal things you should never see otherwise, but even a quick scan of the outside of a nice bud can tell you a lot. If it’s covered in tiny crystals or resin, then chances are pretty good that it’s a fully mature, high-quality product.

2. Research and recommendations

It is important to note that each person’s experience with various strains can differ greatly, for reasons we don’t quite yet entirely understand. Still, some good and solid recommendations from those who know you the best are a great place to start. If no one you know has tried the strain in question, then the next step should be online resources such as Wikileaf or right here at Cannabis.Wiki. With a bit of research, you can find things like other people's experiences as well as scientific data, like potential effects, all of which can be really helpful if you want to have some idea of what can be expected by a specific type of weed.

3. Feel it

Feeling a bud isn’t going to tell you much about its potency unless it’s really sticky which is a pretty good indicator, but it can tell you how fresh the product is. Of course, this has less to do with the strain and more to do with the methods and processes that are taken from seed to shelf, with some producers allowing flower to sit around for so long that the whole batch can start to lose its potency and effects. Old weed is super dry, so ideally, buds should feel spongy and soft, otherwise, it might just leave you tired and disappointed.

4. The dry haul

A good part of the cannabis experience is the felt effects, but this is something that we know is significantly influenced by terpenes, which are the naturally produced oils that give the plant its broad range of fragrances. Scientific studies have shown that consumers who enjoy the smell and taste of a strain are much more likely to enjoy the results, and this is where the dry haul comes in. A single deep breath through a pre-roll can be enough to sample the aromas inside, and a quick sniff will tell you whether or not it could be a good choice to try.

5. Sample packs

We know that you probably came here because the idea of wasting money on mediocre weed isn’t really something any consumer wants to face, but it doesn’t take a large investment to get a sense of what several different strains have to offer if you take advantage of sample packs. These 1-14 gram sample packs provide a range of different types of cannabis at a relatively affordable price, and chances are pretty high that you’ll end up loving at least one of them.

Know that nothing will completely prepare you for what’s to come

You can get lost for hours in our guides or on Wikileaf only to be left with more questions than answers, and that’s because there are no guarantees with cannabis. A strain that makes your best friend chatty, might wipe you out, and one that leaves your most seasoned stoner buddies in a stupor might not do the job for you. This is one thing that we haven't figured out just yet so always proceed as if anything is possible so that you aren’t left disappointed or discouraged to move on.

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