The cannabis industry currently recognizes more than 775 different strains of cannabis. Some of these strains originally grew in the wild, but most have been carefully cultivated by growers.
Every strain of cannabis contains a unique combination of 400+ chemical compounds including cannabinoids and terpenes. The varying combinations of these chemicals cause cannabis to produce a diverse range of effects.
That’s why smoking one kind of marijuana makes you feel upbeat and energetic while another makes you feel like you’ll never leave the couch. It all has to do with the ratio of chemicals produced by the plant’s particular strain.
Scientists classify cannabis strains into three groups: Indica, Sativa, and hybrid. All three types contain the well-known cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Only THC generates a psychotropic effect in humans.
Learn all about hybrid, Indica, and Sativa THC strains and get advice on what strains to try below.
Cannabinoids and Terpenes: A Quick Overview
All cannabis plants contain a distinct mixture of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other chemical compounds.
The chemicals work in harmony through what scientists call the Entourage Effect. This means they work better together than any individual one does alone.
Cannabis plants produce cannabinoid acids (and terpenes) in the resin glands of their flowers.
The cannabinoid acids require heat to turn into cannabinoids through a process called decarboxylation. That’s why you must either burn, vape, or cook cannabis before you consume it to feel the psychotropic effects.
Cannabis plants contain somewhere between 60 and 100+ types of cannabinoids. The ratio of each varies from plant to plant. Most of the cannabinoids will not give you that “high” feeling.
The two most commonly discussed cannabinoids are THC and cannabidiol (CBD).
THC (and another close variant of THC, THCV) are the only cannabinoids that cause users to get high. It’s also what causes you to feel hungry, also known as “getting the munchies.”
THC works well to relieve pain and nausea. For patients who do not feel anxious with THC strains, it can also ease depression, insomnia, anxiety, and more.
Users choose strains with THC for the euphoric experience, or the high, as much as its medical benefits. The strongest THC strains create a very intense effect that beginner users may find overwhelming.
There are two kinds of THC, Delta 8 THC and Delta 9 THC. Find more details here on the differences and similarities between the two.
CBD does not get users high. It’s known for its powerful medical benefits like pain relief, anti-inflammation, anti-anxiety, neuroprotection, and many others. Users choose CBD-dominant cannabis strains when they need a clear head while still getting powerful relief from their symptoms.
High CBD low THC strains can also help balance out the unwanted effects of THC when used at the same time.
Terpenes refer to the aromatic chemical compounds found in all plants and fruits, not just cannabis. They are what make oranges smell like oranges and lavender plants smell like lavender.
Terpenes give cannabis strains their distinctive smells and tastes. They’re why Strawberry Cough tastes like strawberries!
The type of terpene in a strain also contributes to the strain’s unique effects. As do the other terpenes produced within the same plant. (Remember the Entourage Effect?)
Common terpenes include caryophyllene, linalool, limonene, terpinolene, and myrcene.
Sativas: 6 of the Strongest THC Strains
Cannabis sativa is a tall, thin plant with long leaves that resemble fingers. They grow upwards of 12 feet and take a longer time to mature than other cannabis species.
Sativas originated in dry climates with long and hot sunny days like Southeast Asia, Africa, Central America, and parts of Western Asia.
Durban Poison is a pure Sativa strain that comes from a port city in South Africa called Durban. It’s become a popular medical marijuana strain due to its potent uplifting effects that make users feel energetic. It’s the strain to choose if you want to go on a hike or do something creative.
Terpinolene is the dominant terpene in Durban Poison. It has a very sweet, pungent smell with a bright flavor. Durban Poison has a 17% THC content.
Green Crack aka Green Cush
Another pure Sativa strain that makes you feel energized is Green Crack, also known as Green Cush. It gives users a strong high that’s great for focusing and concentration. It can help combat depression, fatigue, and stress.
Green Crack features myrcene as the dominant terpene. It has a fruity and tangy taste reminiscent of fresh mango. Green Cush contains 17% THC.
Technically a Sativa-dominant hybrid, most cannabis dispensaries consider Jack Herer a Sativa strain. It’s named after the author of a non-fiction book about cannabis called The Emperor Wears No Clothes.
Jack Herer combines a cross of Shiva Skunk and Northern Lights #5 with a hybrid of the Original Haze. Created by Sensi Seeds, it produces a clear, cerebral high with a feeling of creativity and bliss. It’s a very popular medical marijuana strain and has spawned many different variations.
Jack Herer has a unique earthy, black pepper taste. Its dominant terpene is terpinolene and it has 17% THC content.
Kali Mist is a very potent Sativa strain that first appeared in the 1990s. It’s unknown what strains mixed to create it.
The clear high from Kali Mist is great for staying focused and being productive during the day. Be aware the high can get very strong and border on psychedelic, so puff with caution.
Kali Mist is one of the highest THC content strains, especially for a Sativa strain, at 19% THC. It has a piney, citrusy taste with an earthy undertone. Myrcene is the dominant terpene in Kali Mist.
Looking for a strain that will make you feel happy and social? Sour Diesel is the Sativa strain for you. A cross between Super Skunk and Chemdog, Sour Diesel hits hard and fast. It’s an energizing and cerebral high that still makes you feel happy and dreamy.
Sour Diesel is a popular medical cannabis strain for its strong pain-relieving effects. As well as its ability to combat stress and depression.
Sour Diesel is one of the strongest THC strains at 18% THC content. It features caryophyllene as its dominant terpene, which causes it to have a harsh, skunky, sour taste.
Strawberry Cough is one of the most well-known cannabis strains thanks to its distinctive fruity flavor. It smells and tastes like fresh strawberries.
Strawberry Cough may be a cross of Strawberry Fields with another Sativa strain. The powerful, cerebral high relieves stress and makes you feel chatty with a strong feeling of euphoria.
Strawberry Cough has 17% THC, and its dominant terpene is myrcene.
Indicas: 5 High THC Content Strains
Cannabis indica is a stocky, short plant with chunky leaves and a very bushy appearance. They originated in India, Afghanistan, Turkey, and Pakistan in dry and harsh conditions. Indicas usually have higher levels of CBD vs THC.
Blueberry won the Cannabis Cup put on by High Time’s magazine in 2000 for best Indica strain. The indica strain first appeared in the 1970s and has changed a lot since DJ Short first cultivated it from several landrace strains.
Blueberry produces a relaxing, euphoric effect that lasts for a long time. The great-tasting strain reminds users of blueberries and helps with stress and pain.
Blueberry features 17% THC. Myrcene is the dominant terpene.
Grandaddy Purple first appeared in the cannabis world in 2003 created by Ken Estes. It quickly became one of the most popular and well-known strains thanks to its dark purple flowers and bright, white crystal resin glands.
Grandaddy Purple also tastes delicious with a deep berry and grape flavor thanks to its parents Big Bud and Purple Urkle. Users should expect a potent high that hits both the body and the mind.
Popular with medical marijuana patients, Granddaddy Purp will quickly treat muscle spasms, insomnia, loss of appetite, stress, and pain. It has a 17% THC content, and myrcene is the dominant terpene.
King Louis aka King Louie XIII
The first highest THC strain listed here, King Louis is a combination of two heavy-hitting Indicas, LA Confidential and OG Kush. It’s a calming high that will help you fall asleep very quickly if it doesn’t make you too hungry first.
King Louis has an overwhelmingly intense smell that’s earthy and musky and full of pine. It smells like a spicy, skunky forest.
King Louie XIII has a whopping 21% THC content with limonene as its dominant terpene.
Another well-known Indica strain, Northern Lights is a popular medical strain made by crossing Thai with Afghani. It’s known for its relaxing effects that work on the mind and body. It effectively treats insomnia, pain, stress, and depression.
Northern Lights smells spicy and sweet with a smooth, clean feeling on exhalation. The dominant terpene in Northern lights is myrcene. It has a THC content of 16%.
Purple Punch is another one of the highest THC strains. It combines Granddaddy Purple with Larry OG for a sweet, tart-smelling plant with tons of sticky resin glands. It tastes like Kool-Aid mixed with blueberries and grape candy.
The tasty strain packs a powerful punch and will make your mind and body feel very relaxed. Purple Punch helps with insomnia, stress, nausea, and minor body aches. It’s best used after you’re done for the day.
The dominant terpene in Purple Punch is caryophyllene and it has 19% THC content.
Hybrid: 4 Strains Combining One High THC Strain with Another
Hybrid strains of cannabis may combine a pure Indica strain with a pure Sativa strain, or two hybrids with either Sativa or Indica dominant. The physical appearance of hybrid strains depends solely on the parents.
Blue Dream is a very popular Sativa-dominate hybrid strain great for beginner and seasoned smokers alike. The cross between Haze and Blueberry tastes and smells like a berry dream.
Medical marijuana patients use Blue Dream to treat nausea, pain, and depression. It produces a balanced high with slightly energizing effects and total body relaxation.
Blue Dream has myrcene as its dominant terpene. It also contains 18% THC.
The second highest THC strain on this list, Do-Si-Dos is an Indica-dominant hybrid. It’s a combination of GSC-phenotype and OGKB.
Do-Si-Dos is as pretty as it is tasty. Its leaves are a bright lavender and lime green. It produces a sweet, floral aroma that’s slightly earthy and funky at the same time.
Expect to feel a deep body high with Do-Si-Dos thanks to the high THC content and OG genetics. You’ll melt into the couch and probably won’t get up for a while.
Do-Si-Dos has an impressive 21% THC content. Its dominant terpene is limonene.
Girl Scout Cookies
Girl Scout Cookies, commonly known as GSC, is an Indica-dominant hybrid crossing two very powerful strains, Durban Poison and OG Kush. It hits users quickly with an uplifting feeling of euphoria before drifting into full-body relaxation.
The potent strain can overwhelm novice users, so take care when trying GSC for the first time. Medical cannabis users will find it works great to increase appetite, lessen nausea, and relieve chronic pain.
GSC is very tasty as well with a sweet smell and complex flavor with hints of lemon, cherry, and mint. It’s a high THC strain at 19%, and its dominant terpene is caryophyllene.
Headband is a hybrid that takes two of the strongest THC strains, Sour Diesel and OG Kush, and combines into an even more powerful strain. It has long-lasting effects and works great to relieve pain, minimize stress, and provide calm.
The potent strain gets its name from the feeling of slight pressure around the head that users report. Almost like wearing a headband.
Headband has a high 19% THC content. The dominant terpene for Headband is myrcene.
Expand Your Mind and Your Cannabis Knowledge
This list covers many of the popular high THC cannabis strains available in legal states. It’s not all of the high THC strains, but it’s a good place to start.
You’ll at least be able to know exactly what you want to buy the next time you head to your local cannabis dispensary.
Want to expand your mind further with more cannabis knowledge?
Try the health section of our blog. You can find tons of great health articles on CBD, cannabis, and other noteworthy health topics. Head on over today!