WALK INTO any weed store and you’ll be bombarded with dozens of available strains, most boasting prog-rock names and each promising a specific experience. Chocolope promises a “dreamy cerebral effect” and “a strong mental shift that is great when coping with depression or stress.” PK Starship offers a “hard-hitting body high, delivering warm and relaxing waves over the body.” These are but two of literally hundreds of nominally distinct offerings available to weed consumers, with the overloaded cornucopia positing marijuana highness as an intricately mappable state of being.
I love weed, but I simply can’t give much of a shit about strains. My interest stubs out after the big, basic divide between cannabis indica and cannabis sativa. If I want a brain-sparking, energetic high, I’ll aim for any one of the 1,001 individual strains classified under the general umbrella of sativa. If I want a relaxed body with a caveman brain, I’ll aim for one of the 1,001 strains classified as indica. If I want a combo platter, I’ll aim for either an indica-dominant or sativa-dominant hybrid. Beyond the basics of indica/sativa, strain distinctions seem negligible—a creation of marketing, with its endless appetite for novelty, and one that benefits from the same sort of insistent imaginative engagement as astrology. (Correlation totally equals causation if you want it to!)
Underlying my resistance to blanket proclamations about strain distinctions is the deep subjectivity of every high experience. Few humans respond to any type of marijuana in the exact same way, and the idea that all purchasers of a certain hyped strain will find identical delights is as believable to me as the idea that every human born from September 23 to October 22 is a well-balanced if indecisive social butterfly ruled by Venus.
There are so many idiosyncratic variables to each person’s weed response: brain chemistry, individual response to cannabinoids and terpenes, one’s mood and surrounding environment at the time of ingestion. This isn’t to say that the claims made by individual strains are lies. I’m sure the aforementioned Chocolope gives many imbibers a “dreamy cerebral effect,” just like every other sativa on the planet. And I imagine PK Starship delivers a “warm, relaxing body high” as reliably as every other indica. But fussing over strain-specific minutiae seems to me an endeavor on par with comparing aromatic shampoos. Give it your full attention and placebo-effect-inviting imagination, and you’ll likely notice something. But don’t you have better things to do?
“I, too, was not impressed with the whole ‘strains’ thing,” wrote a reader in response to a quick dismissal of strain distinctions in an earlier column. “I generally agree with your conclusion, with the exception of one strain I found strictly at random. I find it outstanding for ‘kissing-and-beyond’ activities, in a way I had not experienced before. It is not so much a physical thing, where you can just sit back and it makes you feel great. Instead, it seems to excel at converting sexy thoughts into intense feelings. To get the full benefit, you need to be thinking your sexiest thoughts while engaging in sexual activity, whatever your particular kink may be. It is called Dutch-47. Try a gram with some of your kissing-and-beyond activities and see if you agree.”
Don’t gotta ask me twice. I picked up a couple grams of Dutch-47 and learned it’s a straight-up sativa that its growers describe in three adjectives: “Clear. Piney. Lively.” When I lit it and inhaled the smoke, I got a good, strong sativa brain-buzz, which felt very nice.
As for allegations of enhanced sexiness: I know better than to expect weed to act as a straight-up aphrodisiac. Weed doesn’t create erotic desire, it merely enhances existing sex feelings (and existing food feelings, and existing “that cat is throwing me shade” feelings). I don’t doubt our letter-writer had a highly memorable experience getting busy while lit up on Dutch-47. I’m just wary of giving too much credit to the strain. In my experience, pretty much all weed enhances sensual pleasures, with the real make-or-break impetus for sexual activity coming from more mundane sources, from the length of your to-do list to the last time you pooped.
Think of the serious strain fanatics as the wine aficionados of the weed world. If you want to get involved with tannins and acidity and the finer points of the palate, no one’s stopping you and you’ll probably have fun exploring. But if you just want to get high, get yourself an indica or sativa or hybrid and get to it.
Clean Your Bong is a new, twice-monthly pot column from David Schmader, author of Weed: The User’s Guide.