Choose your high: Breaking down categories and strains of marijuana

Stepping into a recreational marijuana store can be overwhelming. Shops can carry dozens of different plant strains and phenotypes at any given time, some specific to that region or even that particular store.

Not all buds are created equal, either. Some shops will grade each plant harvested according to its physical properties. This is not an indication of the level of THC in each plant but, rather, whether it reflects the desired attributes of a given strain, just as particular wines are a reflection of their varietal.

“We grade each plant individually by visual aspects,” said Zach York, processing supervisor at Alpenglow Botanicals in Breckenridge. “Fuller, more developed plants will be the top shelf, and then we’ll downgrade it a step to A grade or two steps to B grade as we find flaws.”

Though strains of marijuana are classified as either indica or sativa, it’s rare that a plant will be 100 percent of one or the other. Hybrids are common, and the composition of each plant dictates the type of high you will feel.

“Indica is easier to grow in the sense of yield, as well as that full bud development,” York said. “It gives you more of a body high, as opposed to the head high of the sativa.”

Whether you’re choosing your product based on grade, price or other factors, when shopping for a particular high, it’s good to know the basics. Here, York breaks down the two main categories of marijuana, indica and sativa, and the various strains therein.

Indica

• Skywalker Kush

Composition: 100 percent indica

Aroma: Spicy earthiness

Features: Kush is kind of a distinct flavor in and of itself, York said, but its aroma is more of a spicy earthiness, rather than the sweetness you would find in other strains. Cultivators haven’t been growing Skywalker Kush as long as some other strains, but it’s already in the realm of popular nomenclature that people recognize and desire, which is why Alpenglow chose to add it to the shop’s repertoire. The buds are heavily coated in THC crystals, and this kush has been popular with customers and staff members, York said.

• Pineapple Express

Composition: 80 percent indica, 20 percent sativa

Aroma: Hazy fruitiness

Features: You may have heard of this strain from the movie of the same name. York said that familiar moniker also makes this product popular with a lot of consumers. The aroma of the flowers translates very closely to what they will taste like when smoked, and this one is very aromatic. York said its high indica content makes Pineapple Express good for pain treatment or those who are looking to relax or go to sleep.

• Mango Kush

Composition: 80 percent indica, 20 percent sativa

Aroma: Mixture of spicy sweetness

Features: This strain is a phenotype that was cultivated from a Pineapple Express seed, a variation of the original. Alpenglow Botanicals co-owner Justin Williams explained how particular phenotypes are developed. “Parents have 10 kids, but they aren’t all exactly the same,” he said. “Close, but not exact.” Mango Kush placed highly in the recent Cannabis Cup and has a dense structure, York said, with a light-green appearance and lighter colored hairs on the flowers.

Sativa

• Strawberry Cough

Composition: 75 percent sativa, 25 percent indica

Aroma: Fruity, with some spice, fitting to its name

Features: Like most sativa-dominant strains of marijuana, Strawberry Cough is characterized by its fluffy buds, which are typically less dense than those of its indica-heavy cousins. A phenotype of the Strawberry Cough, called Strawberry Blue, placed ninth at the Cannabis Cup. York describes the sativa high as “motivational, uplifting, a head high as opposed to a body high, with a little bit more creativity or psychoactivity” than an indica.

• Juicy Fruit

Composition: 90 percent sativa, 10 percent indica

Aroma: Much sweeter in the aroma, compared to Strawberry Cough

Features: York said the Juicy Fruit is a little bit heavier than other sativa strains, with really nice bud development. “In terms of how the flower fills out, basically with any plant, it can be healthier or not quite as healthy,” York said, describing how plants of this strain are graded. “It will be fluffier or leafier, and more dense, top-shelf flowers have dense, compact buds.”

• Jacks Cleaner

Composition: 90 percent sativa, 10 percent indica

Aroma: More toward spicy, like a classic Middle Eastern hookah spice

Features: Another popular product, this strain is named for Jack Herer, a famous marijuana strain breeder and seed grower. “That’s one of those that when it’s more fully developed, more desirable, it’s that fluffy, not quite as dense, light green with orange hairs,” York said.


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The Summit Daily Updated Apr 2, 2014 03:11PM Published Mar 28, 2014 03:42PM Copyright 2014 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.