Why Feeling is the Key to Buying the Right Cannabis

If you’re new to the world of using marijuana, you may find that your first visit to a dispensary or shop is a bit overwhelming. The sheer number of options, including different strains, potencies, and ways to use cannabis, can leave you more stressed than when you started.

Although working with a “budtender” at an Arizona marijuana shop can help you pinpoint the perfect cannabis for your needs, understanding some of the basics before shopping can help you start in the right direction. Ultimately, there’s one important principle to remember to help you buy the right type: How you want to feel needs to be your top priority.

Categories, Strains, and Effects

Not everyone has the same needs or goals for using cannabis. Some people simply want to feel intoxicated and experience the high that comes from smoking. Others are more interested in reducing anxiety, pain, or another ailment that may respond to the benefits of cannabis. When you’re shopping, being able to articulate these goals can point you in the right direction to choosing the perfect pot.

Indica and Sativa

Knowing how you want to feel can help you choose whether you want indica, sativa, or a hybrid category of marijuana. You’ll likely see different types of marijuana with these labels in the dispensary, and while there is a wide range of options within each strain, it’s a starting point.

Generally speaking, indica is used to describe the strain of marijuana that creates a more relaxing effect. Sativa, on the other hand, tends to have more energizing effects, while hybrid offers a bit of both feelings. That said, because there is such variety among the individual marijuana species within each category, choosing one or the other isn’t guaranteed to give you the effect that you’re seeking. In short, focusing on the indica/sativa label is oversimplifying the process, and unlikely to produce the exact results you want.


A slightly more effective method for choosing cannabis is to look for specific strains instead of just the category. A strain is essentially a specific type of plant, and each one can have different effects. For example, there are several varieties of Kush, including Purple Kush and Afghan Kush, which originate from the Hindu Kush mountains of India. Although there are subtle differences among these different strains, which fall into the indica category, you can typically expect a calming, sedative effect from anything labeled Kush. This doesn’t mean that non-Kush strains won’t help you relax, but simply serves as a starting point for choosing.

But What About THC?

When shopping for cannabis, you’re likely to see offerings that have 25 percent  (or higher) THC, with a higher price tag to match. Some people mistakenly think that the more THC contained in the marijuana, the more intense the high they can achieve. This isn’t necessarily the case. There are many factors that determine the effect on marijuana on an individual, with THC content only one of them.

In fact, research has shown that using cannabis with even 50 percent more THC has no measurable difference in terms of the strength of the high or how long it lasts. These results are applicable only to smoking, as using edibles with a higher THC content will certainly affect the high. But for smoking, weed with a THC content of 16 percent can have the same effect as that with 25 percent, due to differences in the levels of other cannabinoids, and the terpenes, or compounds that influence how the drug affects the mind and body. Your own endocannabinoid system can also influence the effects of cannabis, meaning a strain that leaves your friend completely stoned might have you feeling relatively unaffected.

Therefore, choosing the best option for your goals has nothing to do with THC content.

What to Ask For

So if the category and THC content of cannabis isn’t going to help you choose the right option, what should you look for?

Ultimately, your best option is to clarify your goals, talk to the experts at the marijuana dispensary, and try different options to find the one you like the best. Reading reviews and researching different strains is also important. You might discover, for example, that some strains have unpleasant side effects that you don’t want, such as increased appetite. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, and don;t get hung up on a specific strain or THC content just because a friend recommended it. Remember, everyone experiences the effects differently.

It might take some time to find the perfect cannabis for your needs, but experience is the ultimate teacher. And if you have something you like, ask about other options that provide a similar experience. You never know when you’ll discover a new favorite.

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