A Beginners Guide to Marijuana Strains and Their Effects

Are you new to the world of cannabis and feeling overwhelmed by all the different strains? You’re not alone! With hundreds of varieties available, it can be difficult to understand what they are and how they differ. 

In this beginner’s guide to marijuana strains, we’ll explain the differences between indica and sativa, as well as hybrid strains. 

We’ll also discuss terpenes—the aromatic compounds that give cannabis its unique flavor and aroma—and their effects on your experience with each strain. 

So whether you’re a first-time user or just looking for something new, this guide will help you find the perfect strain for your needs.

What Exactly Are Marijuana Strains?

Marijuana comes in a variety of strains, each offering its own unique set of effects and flavors. 

At the most basic level, there are two main categories: Indica and Sativa. Indica tends to have notes of earthy, sweet, and fruity flavors. Sativa usually has notes of citrus and floral flavors. 

In addition to these two main categories, there are also hybrid strains that combine both indica and sativa characteristics. Hybrids vary widely in their effects, so it’s important to do your research before trying them out. 

Sometimes, different flavor profiles of marijuana are also referred to as strains, though they are technically a different category than the overarching strains of indica and sativa. 

Marijuana varieties comes in all different forms and can be engineered to be more appealing for users. Indica tastes like earthy, sweet and fruity flavors. Sativa tastes like citrus and flowery flavors. 

Hybrids have a mix of both Indica and Sativa flavors. Each kind has its own special effects. Some popular options include Bubblegum, Sour Diesel, Blue Dream, and Pineapple Express. 

The Effects of the Marijuana Strains 

Cannabis effects can vary greatly from one strain to another. 

  • Indica strains are known for producing a range of effects including relaxation, sedation, and physical pain relief. Indicas are often described as having a “body high” and provide feelings of physical ease and comfort. This can be especially beneficial for those suffering from chronic pain or muscle spasms.
  • Sativa strains are known for producing energizing and uplifting effects. Sativas can provide an increase in creativity, a boost of energy, and improved focus. The effects of Sativa can vary from person to person but generally tend to be more cerebral than physical. They often help people feel more talkative, social, and open-minded. 
  • The effects of hybrid strains depend on the ratio of Indica to Sativa in the strain. Hybrids can be indica-dominant or sativa-dominant and generally produce a blend of both physical and mental effects. Generally, they are more balanced than either indicas or sativas alone. 

Pros and Cons of the Different Marijuana Strains 



  • Relaxing and sedative effects, can help ease physical pain
  • Can promote appetite stimulation
  • Great for night time use or winding down after a long day


  • Not ideal for activities that require high energy levels, such as sports or exercising 
  • May cause drowsiness or sleepiness if taken in large amounts



  • Uplifting and energizing effects can help improve mood and creativity 
  • Great for daytime use or activities that require high energy levels 


  • Not ideal for calming down after a long day due to its energizing effects   
  • May cause anxiety or paranoia if taken in large amounts. 



  • Can offer a mix of both indica and sativa effects, depending on the ratio used in the hybrid 
  • Great for activities that require an even balance between calming and energizing effects, such as yoga or hiking


  • May cause confusion and difficulty focusing if taken in large amounts  
  • Can be difficult to determine the ratio of indica/sativa used in a hybrid, making it harder to predict effects. 

How to Choose the Right Strain for You

While all cannabis has similar effects, there are nuances to each strain that can make it unique. 

When selecting a strain, it’s important to consider your goals and needs. For example, if you’re looking for something to help with pain relief or relaxation, an indica-dominant hybrid may be the best option for you. 

On the other hand, for a strain to help with focus and energy, you’ll likely want something that is sativa-dominant. 

If you’re using marijuana recreationally, you’ll have a lot more freedom to choose based on desire effect than those who are exclusively consuming medical marijuana. 


Choosing the right strain of cannabis can be a daunting task, especially for beginners. 

But with a little research and understanding of the two main types—indica and sativa—as well as hybrids, you should be able to find the perfect strain for your needs. 

When in doubt, speak with the experts at your local dispensary for some advice on which is right for you. They’ll be able to point you in the diright direction based on your desired effects.