Party time? Night on the couch? Check out this guide to cannabis strains

In this Sunday, April 23, 2017, file photo, visitors arrive at the fairgrounds to attend the High Times Cannabis Cup in San Bernardino, Calif. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

The world of cannabis is so vast, some people compare the varieties and their characteristics to the wine industry.

Just as someone might relish a crisp glass of Chardonnay, and another person might fancy a robust, full-bodied Merlot, those who use cannabis report different kinds of marijuana possess different properties.

Cannabis has several different species, but the most recognizable in the recreational market are indica, sativa and hybrid.

Matt Panelli, co-owner of Lacombe’s Merry Guana, says with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, there have been more people expressing an interest in recreational marijuana.

“It could be because people are home, and with the virus, people are hesitant of the black market a little bit – maybe they don’t want to go to the dealer’s house, or the dealer didn’t want to go to their house,” he said.

Indica plants are shorter with broad leaves, and strains are believed to have sedative, euphoric and relaxing effects. In the strain-naming world, varieties that include the word “kush” (Afghan kush, for example) are related to indica genetics, the Alberta Gaming Liquor Cannabis agency website states.

Sativa plants are taller, with longer, narrow leaves. They are believed to provide energetic and uplifting effects. Strain names that include the word “haze” are typically a sativa breed.

Panelli said the general rules are indica are more sedative, but the effects differ from person to person.

“People call sativas more uplifting. I would personally say they’re not as sedative as indicas are,” he said, adding because of the higher sedative effects in indicas, people may feel drowsy, or experience what’s known as “burnout” afterwards.

“Burnouts are usually worse on an indica, than it is on a sativa.”

Lemuel Jairal, owner of Jai’s Recreational Stuff Cannabis Retailer in Red Deer, said users may opt for sativas before going out to a party, or during the day, and prefer indicas at night, or for an evening on the couch.

Both Jairal and Panelli said hybrid plants have characteristics of both indica and sativa. Hybrids’ properties depend on how the plant is composed.

“If you have a strain of indica, with properties you like, and the same with sativa, with properties you like, and you want to capture those properties within one plant, you will breed the two and come up with a hybrid,” said Panelli.

“They can be 50-50 hybrids, right down the middle, or they can be leaning towards sativa or indica.”

Those shopping for cannabis will also find a selection with terpenes – organic compounds that give plants flavour and smell, the AGLC website explains.

Terpenes are described as the oils that the plant produces and they may have a variety of flavours such as blueberry, mango, orange or mint. From the connoisseur’s eyes, terpenes would be considered the same way a wine or whisky lover would look for tasting notes.

Terpene production is largely determined by temperature, humidity and light intensity, which regulate the amount of stress the plant experiences.

Both Jairal and Panelli advise new users to go slow.

Panelli said, “new users may want to consider a variety of CBD-blend cannabis,” while adding there is still research being done on CBD and its uses.

CBD has therapeutic effects ranging from acting as anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety, but those claims are yet to be scientifically proven.

“There is nobody on the planet that can tell you exactly how CBD is working and how much you have to take and what it works for,” said Panelli.