Article Thumbnail

But Are Weed Strains REALLY Bullshit?

After writing about research claiming different weed strains might not actually do anything very different, I decided to test the theory out myself — the old fashioned way #420 #blazeit

At the start of November, I reported on research revealing that every weed strain contains virtually the exact same levels of THC and CBD. This revelation was a big deal for the cannabis community: It challenged the previously accepted belief that each individual strain contains unique levels of these cannabinoids, which were thought to be what generate the singular high belonging to any one strain, whether that be relaxing, stimulating or something else entirely.

In simpler terms, this discovery forced the cannabis community to reconsider the mechanics behind why different strains yield different effects (and for a brief moment, the smoker in me was forced to acknowledge that I may have been tricked into believing some Big Cannabis bullshit for, basically, my whole smoking life).

But worry not, fellow tokers: Different strains do produce different effects — just not for the reasons we thought. As leading medical cannabis expert Dustin Sulak told me at the time, the compounds behind these unique effects are called terpenes. “These are plant compounds found in cannabis (and elsewhere in the plant kingdom), abundant in essential oils, and [they’re] highly active in small doses,” he said. “For example, cannabis that smells of citrus likely contains the terpene limonene, [which is] also found in citrus fruit. Limonene has demonstrated antidepressant properties and other benefits in clinical studies.”

To put these findings to the test — and hopefully prove that I haven’t just been feeling different highs based on marketing blurbs for the last decade — I picked up five distinct strains from my local dispensary, with the aim of reviewing them both high, and after the fact.

My name is Ian, and I like weed. This is my story.

The Weed Strain: Sherbert

The Advertised Effect: According to Leafly, “Sherbert exhibits powerful full-body effects elevated by a jolt of cerebral energy. … Stress, tension and sour moods melt away with the carefree mindset and physical relaxation that comes with this rich hybrid.”

The I’m-Still-High Review: I just stepped away from the computer for a few minutes to do some dishes, then I started to notice that my head felt a little silly so I sat down and found it pretty funny when my dog started eating a piece of Chinese Broccoli that fell on the floor (he’s still playing with it). Overall, my body feels pretty tingly, and I feel calm while listening to some chill music (the Kurt Vile Pandora station).

At this point, I’m also pretty hungry, which is good because I’m having potstickers and Chinese Broccoli for dinner. I’m also becoming less interested in typing, TBH. This strain would be pretty good if you plan on just watching some episodes on Netflix and eating some good food — it definitely feels indica-dominant; although, I might also just be tired.

I’m going to put my computer away for a bit to eat and probably watch some Arrested Development.

I’m just logging back on to tell you all that this food is delicious.

It’s been about half an hour, and I’m feeling less silly now — I’ll probably just be chilling for the rest of the night.

The Sober Review: As you can tell from my high review, Sherbert was definitely a hard-hitting strain. After smoking, all I wanted to do was lay in bed and eat food, which is exactly what I did — after dinner, I also slammed an entire bag of jalapeño-flavored chips. I played Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! for maybe half an hour, but pretty quickly decided that binge-watching stupid YouTube videos would be a lot easier on my stoned brain. I also managed to sleep pretty damn soundly. All of this felt pretty similar to the advertised “powerful full-body effects” and “physical relaxation,” and sure, I guess you could also say that I experienced a “carefree mindset” in some sense. So… not bad, Sherbert. Not bad.

The Weed Strain: Super Blue Dream

The Advertised Effect: As per Leafly, “This strain is energizing and great for daytime use. While Super Blue Dream is powerful, it still allows you to focus and get things done. … For those who are afflicted with stress or anxiety, however, Super Blue Dream may be a good strain to try.”

The I’m-Still-High Review: Almost immediately I’m feeling a pretty solid head-high, but unlike the high I experienced with Sherbert, I’m feeling a little more invigorated by this one. In fact, I’m going to go take my dog out for a quick walk while the sun sets. BRB. But first, I have a little bit of a dry mouth, so I’m going to grab some water.

So, while I was out on the walk, I noticed that my thoughts were bouncing around maybe a little more than usual, and I even might have felt a tinge of anxiety for a moment. I’m not feeling that same immediate hunger that I felt when I was smoking Sherbert. I guess I’m feeling, more generally speaking, a little distracted.

I’m definitely noticing that I’m in my head on this strain a lot more than I was on Sherbert. I was just doing some dishes, and found myself wondering, Who was the first person to smoke weed? That felt like a pretty high thought to have.

The Sober Review: Compared to Sherbert, Super Blue Dream gave me much more of a head high — as you can see from my high review, my thoughts we really bouncing around all over the place, and I was having trouble concentrating on any one thing. I also didn’t experience the same Sherbert-induced insatiable hunger — I ate a standard portion of dinner and even managed to save enough for lunch the next day without dipping into those leftovers later in the night.

Overall, Super Blue Dream is probably a good strain to smoke if you’re doing something that requires out-of-the-box creativity and freedom, like writing psychedelic rock music or painting some weird shit. As far as being accurately advertised, this strain was indeed energizing, but I’m not entirely sold on the idea that “it still allows you to focus and get things done.” Call me a lightweight, but I wouldn’t consider going into a trance at my kitchen sink while wondering about the first stoner ever to be “getting things done.”

The Weed Strain: Golden Lemon

The Advertised Effect: The effects immediately hit the consumer between the eyes, leaving bright, sizzling euphoria in the mind,” says Leafly. “Golden Lemon melts over the body and shows its sedating indica-dominant side with heavy consumption.”

The I’m-Still-High Review: This does indeed taste like lemon upon first toke. Right now, I’m feeling what I guess is a relaxing body high — it’s raining and cold outside, so my warm and comfortable clothes feel very warm and comfortable. I also feel maybe a light head high, kinda like being in a comforting and pleasant headspace. I’m imagining being on vacation and sitting on the warm beach, so that probably says something, especially since it’s so cold outside.

A few minutes later, I’m feeling a little haziness in my head as well.

I’m not feeling super stuck in the couch, as they say. I even took my dog outside to go to the bathroom (we couldn’t go on a longer walk, since it’s raining, and he HATES the rain). As far as hunger goes, I’m not too hungry. In fact, I probably won’t eat until later than I normally do.

I have to say I’m feeling pretty functional. At least, I think I could go out and hold a conversation. I did, however, just totally forget my phone in the other room — I’m currently using it as a timer for lasagna.

The Sober Review: Smoking Golden Lemon was a pretty pleasant experience. It mostly made my body feel warm and fuzzy without affecting my brain’s ability to function all too much (although, once again, I did misplace my phone a few times while under the influence). I proceeded to smoke it throughout the night, which might explain why I decided to cook up two pieces of toast even after eating a hefty piece of lasagna. I also eventually — around 11 p.m. —  felt like I was going to fall asleep whether or not I wanted to, so this might be a good strain for anyone who has trouble sleeping. Speaking to the advertised effects, I’d absolutely say that being almost immediately transported to a tropical beach counts as “hitting the consumer between the eyes, leaving bright, sizzling euphoria in the mind.”

The Weed Strain: SFV OG

The Advertised Effect: According to Leafly, SFV OG “is great for patients who need strong pain relief but don’t want to be stuck on the couch … Its indica body effects take a little longer to feel than the initial head haziness, but once they do, everything will feel fine.”

The I’m-Still-High Review: I’ll tell you one thing right away: This strain is definitely harder on the throat (hehe) than the other strains on this list. So first things first: Water.

Pretty quickly here, I’m feeling kinda like a mild head rush. And now, I’m getting a little bit of that tingly body high — it feels a little bit like it’s rolling down my body, from my head to my toes. Overall, I’d saying I’m feeling pretty content — maybe even more so than before I smoked. I feel like doing something fun, so maybe I’ll hop on my Nintendo Switch for a while. This feels like a fun strain to play games or whatever on.

It’s been a few minutes, and now I’m feeling pretty hungry, so I’m going to heat up some food.

This strain feels like it hits pretty hard right off the bat, but it does mellow out after maybe 30 minutes or so. Also, it’s definitely energizing in a way — I even got bored watching Blue Planet II and wanted to do something more engaging, which you wouldn’t think would happen to a high person.

The Sober Review: Funny thing: Last night was the second night that I felt the need to make toast after eating dinner, so I guess there’s some evidence that SFV OG also ramped up my appetite. Otherwise, like I mentioned during my high review, this strain was stimulating in a way that actually left me looking for something to do besides watch TV, so instead I played some Nintendo Switch, which was more entertaining for my high brain. I also didn’t feel couch-locked at any point last night, so I’d say that SFV OG could make for a pretty good daytime smoke sesh. I’m not totally sure whether this description fits the advertised effects, but hey, they were right about not feeling couch-locked.

The Weed Strain: Deadhead OG

The Advertised Effect:Most users describe the high as cerebral and stimulating but with a relaxed body feel,” claims Leafly.

The I’m-Still-High Review: I’m initially feeling kinda warm-headed, if you know what I mean. I’m able to hold a conversation with a friend, so I guess this strain isn’t too hard-hitting. I’m still functional. I do have pretty bad dry mouth, though. I’m also not feeling indica-style tired.

I was pretty hungry, but I wouldn’t say that I had the munchies, per se — I ate a pretty normal-sized meal, and I’m feeling pretty stuffed. I can pretty reliably play guitar, so again, this strain doesn’t feel too inhibiting. In fact, I may even feel more “into” the music than before I smoked.

The Sober Review: I would say, overall, that Deadhead OG provided me with a pretty vibe-y high. Like I mentioned during my high review, I got super into guitar and was totally able to hold a fun conversation with a friend. I also never felt too high — even after a few hours of smoking, I was able to take the dog for a walk and take care of some chores around the apartment without much trouble. While the advertised effects aren’t as clear as the other strains on this list, I think that “stimulating but with a relaxed body feel” was, by and large, pretty accurate.

The Takeaway

It seems clear — to me, at least — that different strains actually do different things: Sherbert made me one with my couch and the endless internet wormhole known as YouTube; Deadhead OG may have actually motivated me to be more social and pick up the guitar; Golden Lemon, meanwhile, managed to transport my mind to a tropical beach while it was raining directly outside my window.

Even more than proving that there are some key differences between strains, this experiment reminded me that weed is incredibly unpredictable. The high that we experience while smoking really depends on several factors — the state of mind we’re in before hitting the bong; what we’ve eaten that day; how we slept the night before; the list goes on and on. All of which means that claiming one strain does one specific thing is inherently flawed, because that notion goes against the very nature of being stoned.

At the end of the day, smoking weed is an intimate and personal experience, and the impact that it has on you has much more to do with the current state of your mind and body than whatever dank strain your budtender recommends.