Chances are when you walk into a dispensary; you will be asked if you are looking for an Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid. Don't fall in that trap, more than likely it is a budtender that doesn't understand Cannabis and the complex nature of the plant. The difference between let's say Blue Dream and Afghan Kush is not whether they are Indica or Sativa dominant; it is in the overall Cannabinoid and Terpene profile of each strain.
The most important question therefore is, what are you looking for? Are you dealing with anxiety, want more energy, pain management, or just a nice relaxing evening? Once you know what you want from the Cannabis you are buying, you can begin to make decisions based on the strains Cannabinoid and Terpene profiles. There are eight main Cannabinoids to consider as well as the predominant Terpenes of each strain. For instance, if you want something for anxiety a 1:1 CBD/THC profile is a great place to start. From there, look for a strain with a high myrcene content whereas a strain high in THC and Limonene will be more uplifting.
And this brings us to strains, this is a bit of a misnomer as well, but if you are just beginning to experiment, it is a good starting point. Cannabis is a plant; therefore, Cannabinoid and Terpene profiles will vary based on the cultivator and environment. You may try Granddaddy Purple and love it, and the next time you buy it; you feel something different. This is where it gets a little more complex, and centers around the genotype and phenotype. The genotype is the genetics of the plant; the phenotype is the way that the plant responds to its environment. To simplify it, let's compare it to buying produce. Not every Gala apple tastes the same; in fact, it is impossible to find two that are the same in flavor, texture, and size. The variance is the genetics, grower, growing conditions, and the way that it was harvested, processed, and stored.
Keep a strain journal and keep track of what works for you and what doesn't, always keeping in mind the plant's environment will have an impact on your experience. Therefore you may want to stay with a particular cultivator for the most consistency. Many people prefer Cannabis that is grown indoors; the controlled environment allows for a more consistent product.
We are hardcore advocates of organically grown Cannabis and Hemp and recommend that you never use anything other than a product that is organically grown and fully tested.
Last but certainly not least is start small. Microdosing is the best way to find the right dose and experiment with different strains and profiles.
So that brings us to research, where do you begin? Leafly is an excellent source for finding strains that fit your desired outcome. You can also begin to learn the most important Cannabinoids and Terpenes and their effects. This information will help you navigate the strains as you narrow down what you believe may work for you. In your journal, keep track of the details of the strain and the cultivator. You can also start some of your research in the beginner's section of our site. Our education section will help you find articles that help you better understand the plant.