Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on January 17, 2023

The cannabis plant is a versatile plant that has been changing significantly throughout its evolution. On top of that, cultivators and farmers have also been cross breeding different varieties in order to create specific strains and hybrids commonly known as medical marijuana to tackle medical conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and others, and also provide a more potent body high and uplifting effects for a lot of recreational users.

So, if you’ve been wondering about how many strains of marijuana there are and the different effects that these strains of weed can give you, this is the article that will answer all your questions. We’ll also name a few of the most popular strains that cannabis users turn to, so let’s get started.

What Are Cannabis Strains?

A cannabis strain is a breed of cannabis that has specific effects on users and different strains of cannabis have different effects. All cannabis strains derive from the family of plants called Cannabaceae which contains two main subspecies, Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa, although, in 1924, a third subspecies was discovered called Cannabis Ruderalis.

To create a new strain, cultivators cross breed strains that produce the various effects that the cultivator is after. Today, there are over 700 different cannabis strains on the cannabis market and more are produced each year.

The most important characteristic of the cannabis strain is the cannabinoid percentage, mainly the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) percentage. The variety in cannabinoids and their percentages are the reason for the different effects that weed has on users together with the entourage effects that the terpenes produce. Cannabis cultivators grow the plants to have a certain taste, appearance, and effect on users, and name them accordingly. You can find high THC and high CBD strains that have different effects on a wide range of medical conditions.

Types of Cannabis Strains 

Below, we’ll go over some of the most popular cannabis strains and their effects.

Cannabis Sativa Strains

Sativa strains are generally strains that have energizing and uplifting effects on users rather than sedative effects. Consuming these strains gives users a “head high” which is why they’re mostly used as a creativity booster in the morning or afternoon.

Cannabis Sativa plants have narrow leaves, grow very tall and lean, and have a longer flowering time. These strains thrive in equatorial regions and warmer climates and according to scientists, they originated in the Asian continent.

While nowadays most strains are hybrids, there are some plants that express strong characteristics of Sativa and those include:

  • Amnesia Haze;
  • Durban Poison;
  • Green Crack;
  • Jack Herer;
  • Sour Diesel;
  • Strawberry Cough;
  • Super Lemon Haze;
  • Super Silver Haze.

Cannabis Indica Strains

Cannabis Indica plants have more sedative effects compared to Sativa strains. These strains produce “couch-lock” effects, or rather a “body high” which is why most users consume them as nighttime strains that aid with insomnia and anxiety.

Indica plants are short, stocky, have broad leaves, and have a shorter flowering time compared to Sativas. These strains originated in the Hindu Kush region which is a region full of mountains near Afghanistan. For this reason, a lot of Indica strains contain the term “Kush.” Generally, these strains can thrive in harsher and colder climates. 

Popular Indica strains include:

  • Blueberry;
  • Blue Cheese;
  • Bubba Kush;
  • Girl Scout Cookies:
  • Granddaddy Purple;
  • Grape Ape;
  • Northern Lights;
  • Purple Punch;
  • White Rhino;
  • Zkittlez.

Hybrid Strains

These strains are crosses between a Sativa and an Indica parent strain and they’re either Sativa-dominant or Indica-dominant. Their appearance is based on which parent strain is more dominant, so they vary in size and color. In fact, most of the strains that one finds on the cannabis market today are hybrid strains.

Popular hybrid strains include:

Cannabis Ruderalis Strains

Finally, the cannabis Ruderalis strain, which originated in southern Russia, is much less potent compared to Sativas and Indicas. It’s also much shorter and has thin stems and large leaves. Ruderalis isn’t used as much for recreational purposes as it has a lower dose of THC and doesn’t produce potent psychoactive effects on users. This strain is autoflowering and it has a rather short flowering cycle which generally starts 3-4 weeks after germination.

Cannabis Compounds That Have Effects on Users

The effects of weed on users are due to the chemical compounds which are found in weed. The most significant are the cannabinoids and the terpenes.


What mostly affects what users experience after consuming weed is the amount of cannabinoids that are present in a strain. THC gives users psychoactive effects, while CBD is responsible for the sedative, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic effects that weed has on users.

Strains with a higher THC content produce euphoric and energizing effects, but consuming very high amounts of THC may also lead to anxiety and paranoia. On the other hand, CBD is non-intoxicating, which is why it’s used to treat medical conditions and can be used as anti-nausea medication, pain medication, anti-inflammatory treatment, and also for its neuroprotective effects on the brain.


Terpenes are the other chemical compounds that provide users with entourage effects after cannabis use. These components are responsible for the scent and aroma of a certain strain, and they also provide additional benefits such as anti-inflammatory properties and other therapeutic benefits, they enhance the effects of the cannabinoids and can help protect vital systems in the body.

The most common terpenes found in weed include:

  • Pinene;
  • Beta-caryophyllene;
  • Humulene;
  • Linalool;
  • Limonene;
  • Myrcene;
  • Geraniol;
  • Terpinolene;
  • Ocimene;
  • Nerolidol;
  • Phytol.

How to Find the Right Cannabis Strain for You?

Finding the right weed strain for you is extremely important, especially if you’re consuming medical marijuana as a treatment for a health condition. This is why consulting with a licensed healthcare professional is essential for getting the right treatment. Your doctor can give you the best information on current medical research related to your specific condition and recommend the right marijuana strain and dose, as well as the best cannabis product that suits your specific needs.

Final Thoughts

As the cannabis market expands, growers cross-breed more and more weed strains which gives us many more options to choose from. However, this also makes it more difficult for users to differentiate between weed strains. Each new strain has different levels of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids, as well as a wide variety of physiologically active compounds, and cannabis users aren’t always best informed when choosing which strain to try. 

While this doesn’t make a lot of difference for recreational users, medical cannabis users should know the composition and the physiological and mental effects of the specific strain before they start consuming it as a treatment. For that reason, consulting with a doctor is really the most important step that you need to take before you go to your local dispensary and buy cannabis products.

A passionate advocate for the benefits of cannabis. Fraser Horton, who has a background in botany and a strong love of nature, has spent years researching how cannabis affects the body and mind. He established Leaf Nation in 2020, where he has devoted himself to educating people about the legalisation of marijuana and its safe and responsible use. Fraser is committed to highlighting cannabis’ potential for improving wellness and working to dispel the stigma associated with its use.


The information presented on this page is provided as a public service to aid in education and is derived from sources believed to be reliable. Readers are responsible for making their own assessment of the topics discussed here. In no event shall Leaf Nation be held reliable for any injury, loss or damage that could happen if using or abusing drugs.