10 Best Weed Strains for Beginners

Tina Magrabi
Tina Magrabi - Content Writer

Oct 26 2021 - 7 min read

Buying — and using — cannabis for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. If you’re like many novice medical marijuana patients, you likely have a ton of questions like: 

Is all cannabis the same?

What do I ask for at the dispensary?

It’s completely normal to be confused by all of the talk of strains, terpenes, and THC ratios — and we’re here to help! 

Not all marijuana is created equally, and some strains are better for beginners than others. We’ve compiled our picks for the best weed strains for beginners, including potency levels, concentrations of CBD and THC, and which strains are best for beginner growers.  Plus, learn the difference between Indica and Sativa, the health benefits, and how to find the best strain for you.

1. Blue Dream

Blue Dream is a Sativa-dominant hybrid that crosses two champion strains: Super Silver Haze (SSH) and Blueberry. Blue Dream is well-loved by both novices and experts alike for its balanced Sativa effect and pleasant taste. Blue Dream contains a wide range of terpenes, which may help explain why the THC’s effects are not so overwhelming.

The Blue Dream strain is very approachable, and its popularity reflects this characteristic. Blue Dream may work particularly well for stress, anxiety, and depression. Blue Dream is known for its peppery, piney, herbal, and lavender taste, suggesting that this variety often contains the following terpenes: linalool, beta-caryophyllene, pinene, and myrcene.

Blue Dream marijuana strain
Blue Dream, from Kind Green Buds

2. Cannatonic

Cannatonic was bred for its balanced THC and high-CBD content (usually, about double the amount of CBD to THC), making it ideal for those who want to avoid the psychoactive effects of THC, but want to take advantage of some of its painkilling properties. Cannatonic is a cross between MK Ultra and G13 Haze.

The strain AC/DC is a sub-type of Cannatonic with a high amount of CBD. Like many CBD-rich strains, Cannatonic could be particularly useful for stress, pain, anxiety, depression, and muscle spasms (and for some, migraines) during the daytime. Cannatonic is often described as having an herbal, pine, and pepper flavor profile, suggesting the presence of the terpenes pinene, myrcene, and beta-caryophyllene.

3. Harlequin

Harlequin is another CBD-rich strain. Some have reported that Harlequin is slightly more “uplifting” compared to Cannatonic. Again, the low-THC and the high-CBD combination can make Harlequin very approachable for new users. Harlequin is a descendant of Colombian Gold, Nepali Indica, and Thai and Swiss landrace Sativas. 

Many people use Harlequin for pain, anxiety, and depression, especially during the daytime. The mango flavors associated with Harlequin could be due to the terpene myrcene. Harlequin may have a similar flavor profile to Cannatonic, meaning the terpenes in both strains are similar, but the concentrations are different in each.

4. Northern Lights (NL)

An Indica-dominant strain of Afghani parentage (with a touch of Thai Sativa), NL is a classic “couchlock” strain often enjoyed at night for its sleepy effects.

NL has also been used as a building block for many other strains for its stability, from SSH to White Widow. There are nine different original versions of NL, of which numbers 1, 2, 5, and 9 are the most desirable. There is a high amount of THC in NL, but some variations have some CBD to balance out the THC.

Northern Lights is noted for its herbal, peppery, citrus flavor profile, suggesting a mixture of the terpenes myrcene, limonene, and beta-caryophyllene. These work together with the cannabinoids for relaxing, euphoric effects.

Some have noted a slight energetic twist in some variations, which may be one reason why the creators picked Northern Lights to breed with several hazes, with the offspring being prize-winning strains like Super Silver Haze and NL5 x Haze.

The strain Northern Lights is also a short, stocky, and hardy plant that produces the classic “Christmas tree” shape. Due to its reliability and flavor profile, Northern Lights has been crossed with many strains to improve their vigor, shorten growth time, and potentially even save their genetics. These factors make Northern Lights one of the best marijuana strains for beginner growers, too.

Indica Cannabis Plant - Northern Lights marijuana strain
Northern Lights – an Indica Cannabis strain.

5. Blueberry

Blueberry is another classic Indica that comes from Thai stock, with some Afghani. Blueberry is possibly one of the most crossed strains there is, which is a testament to the strength of its genetics. Blueberry and its variations will likely stay with us for quite some time, and the original will likely always be enjoyed for its potential for insomnia, pain relief, depression, anxiety, and stress. 

Crosses like Blue Moonshine (Blueberry x Afghani) and Blue Cheese (Blueberry x UK Cheese) have more potent effects. Blueberry is noted for its fruity, piney, lavender, and occasionally slightly peppery taste. This suggests the terpenes myrcene, pinene, linalool, beta-caryophyllene, and some terpinolene are present in Blueberry and one of its many crosses.

Blueberry marijuana strain
Blueberry cannabis varietal.

6. Jack Herer

Jack Herer is a cross of three classic strains in Haze, Shiva Skunk, and Northern Lights #5 and comes with a classic taste to boot. Jack Herer can be pretty potent but also acts as a good entry point for other energizing Sativas. Jack Herer could be useful for depression, fatigue, stress, and ADHD. Jack Herer can alternately have more uplifting, euphoric, energizing effects.

Jack Herer is said to have a fruity, peppery, herbal flavor profile, suggesting terpinolene, beta-caryophyllene, and myrcene terpenes. Some variations also have a strong lemon flavor, suggesting limonene. Some varieties may contain high amounts of cannabigerol (CBG), but this still needs to be determined.

7. Hindu Kush

Hindu Kush is another Indica strain, although some report it having slightly different effects from your usual Indicas. Although sleepiness is one of its potential effects, some report Hindu Kush as having a little more uplifting and euphoric effect when compared to other Indicas. This could be due to Hindu Kush’s more citrusy, peppery flavor profile produced by terpenes like limonene, beta-caryophyllene, and pinene.

Hindu Kush is an excellent example of why you have to look beyond the Sativa vs. Indica label. In its natural environment of the Kush mountains, the same variety of kush plants grow tall like a Sativa at the lower altitudes and short and bushy like an Indica at higher altitudes to survive in different environments.

Many prize the hashish from Hindu Kush for its spicy, earthy, vanilla, and sandalwood flavors. The noted musky, spicy, earthy taste that can come with some kush varieties could be due to myrcene, as well as some delta-3-carene.

8. Granddaddy Purple (GDP)

Another Indica, this time a cross between Purple Urkle and Big Bud. GDP is renowned for its purple flowers, grape and berry aroma and taste, and fusion of euphoric and physically relaxing effects. GDP could be useful for appetite loss, muscle spasms, pain, stress, and nausea. Linalool, humulene, and myrcene are common terpenes in GDP, which suggest a sleepy effect.

Medical Marijuana - Purple Kush strain

9. Orange Bud

Orange Bud comes from a cross of two different Skunk #1 variations. It has a moderate THC profile with mellow effects that can help boost creativity. Orange Bud is very popular among newbies for stress- and anxiety-busting. TGA Subcool’s Agent Orange has a similar flavor and effect profile, whereas Orange Diesel has a stronger, more uplifting effect, commonly associated with Sativas. 

The strain Orange Bud could also be useful for depression. The citrusy and fruity flavor suggests terpenes like limonene and terpinolene. Many Sativa strains could be overwhelming for those with anxiety. Orange Bud is a hybrid that may help solve some of the issues associated with purer Sativas.

10. Sour Tsunami

A cross between two CBD-rich NYC Diesel and Sour Diesel strains, Sour Tsunami is a low-THC, high-CBD Sativa-dominant hybrid noted for its effectiveness at combating pain and inflammation. Sour Tsunami has an herbal, fruity, piney flavor profile, suggesting terpinolene, pine, and myrcene.

Cannabis; marijuana plant flowering.

Tips and Advice for Beginners

There’s much more to cannabis than finding your favorite strain. Here are some more helpful tips to understand cannabis as a plant and its effects on your body. 

Understand the Difference Between Indica and Sativa

There is much controversy surrounding the differences between Indica and Sativa strains. In general, when looking at the cannabis plant’s chemical makeup and the degree of hybridization that takes place, most types of cannabis are clustered around the middle and look more similar than different. 

Yet, several people have noted significant differences in Indica and Sativa effects. This may be partly a placebo effect, as well as the power of suggestion. Yes, “Sativa” and “indica” are arbitrary, but breeders’ selective processes are not.

Varieties of cannabis from equatorial regions (e.g., Durban Poison) tend to contain more tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV). Types from Afghani and Kush heritage may contain more myrcene, which is why they tend to make people sleepy. Varietals like Super Silver Haze (SSH), Jack Herer, and Amnesia Haze have a distinct limonene-beta-caryophyllene terpene profile. 

Cannatonic and Harlequin tend to produce more CBD, as they have been bred with that purpose in mind. Blueberry varietals are noted for their piney (pinene), peppery (beta-caryophyllene), fruity (terpineol), and lavender (linalool) smells and tastes. These are general tendencies and not necessarily firm-and-fast rules.

It may be easier to think of strains in terms of groups. If you find a variety of cannabis that is particularly effective for you, take note of its cannabinoid-terpenoid profile, genetics, and the breeder, then look for other strains in the group that match that profile.

Pay Attention to Terpenes

Just as important as THC and CBD are a strain’s terpenes. Terpenes are the oils within the cannabis that give it different flavors and smells – they’re what make some strains smell like citrus (limonene) and others smell like pine (pinene). If you find a particular terpene or group of terpenes that positively affect you, keep on the lookout for strains and products that match that profile.

graphic of the terpenes in cbd oil

Understand Methods of Ingestion

The way you consume cannabis exerts different effects based on how your body breaks down the THC and CBD, so the method of ingestion matters.

  • Vaping: The cannabis flower is a commonplace to start for many beginners. Vaporized cannabis has immediate effects, making it easier to know how it’ll affect you right away.
  • Edibles: These take longer to kick in and can be strong, as the liver breaks down the THC in edibles, making the cannabinoid more psychoactive.
  • Tinctures: An infusion of cannabis and oil is a good in-between method of ingestion, as the effects are faster than edibles and longer-lasting than vaping. An example of a popular tincture is cannabis-infused coconut or olive oil. Others infuse cannabis in alcohol to make an alcohol-based tincture (colloquially called “green dragon”).

Know the Possible Side Effects

Even if you use a beginner-friendly cannabis strain, there’s still a chance that you could experience unwanted side effects. The side effects of too much cannabis are easy to recognize and may include:

  • Sleepiness 
  • Anxiety or paranoia
  • Red eyes
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Hunger pangs
  • Increased heart rate

If you experience these side effects, know that they will most likely pass in a matter of hours. But if the side effects are severe or prolonged, it is wise to seek medical counsel.

The best way to avoid the side effects of cannabis is to receive a doctor’s prescription with correct dosing. Reach out to the physicians at Leafwell, and we’ll help you apply for a medical marijuana card today. 

Written by
Tina Magrabi
Tina Magrabi

Tina Magrabi is a writer and editor specializing in holistic health. She has written hundreds of articles for Weedmaps where she spearheaded the Ailments series on cannabis medicine. In addition, she has written extensively for the women's health blog, SafeBirthProject, as well as print publications including Destinations Magazine and Vero's Voice. Tina is a Yale University alumna and certified yoga instructor with a passion for the outdoors.

Leafwell medical marijuana card

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