Are Cannabis Strain Names Really Accurate?

The truth is a lot of cannabis newcomers are very confused about the different strains. For many years cannabis consumers rarely knew what kind of cannabis they were consuming. When I started smoking cannabis strain names weren’t that important. Finding marijuana was not as easy as it is now, and there certainly weren’t any dispensaries, so you were just glad to get anything. There was rarely a strain name attached to the marijuana I bought back then, and even if it had a name, there was no telling that the strain name was accurate. The cannabis industry was completely unregulated, and a lot of standards that are in place today were nonexistent in past decades.

Seed historians seem to agree that the first modern day marijuana seed breeding started in the 1960’s. Anyone who has frequented one of these dispensaries knows that the options for cannabis strains are abundant.
Different strains are touted as providing different effects and wellness benefits, but how much do cannabis strain names really matter?

There is an increasing importance to market strain names to marijuana consumers these days, which is leading to a lot of inaccurate strain names out there, especially at dispensaries. If a customer walks into a dispensary and is given the choice between a well known strain name and a jar full of un-named bud, the customer is much more likely to choose the one with the popular name. Many consumers that are looking for a particular effect are looking for particular strain names that they associate with that exact effect. Most folks probably think strains are genetically similar if they have a similar name, but this too can be misleading. For example, “haze” varieties of weed are expected to be more sativa-dominant. But, according to the 2015 study, while Super Silver Haze and Neville’s Haze are reported as being sativa-dominant and deliver, others, like Domina Haze, are actually more genetically similar to indica-dominant “kush” strains, like Master Kush or King’s Kush. A full 35 percent of strains the researchers tested had more genetic similarities to differently-named varieties than to similarly-named ones.

So names don’t mean much. But the dichotomy of sativa and indica, that exists, right?
“We don’t really know if indica or sativa exist in their purest forms,” said Sean Myles, a professor of agricultural genetic diversity at Dalhousie University. “In terms of what botanists have described in nature, we can’t get ahold of samples where we can be 100 percent confident that its a sativa or indica. This plant has been shuffled through so many human hands over so many millennia.” So, “pure” sativa or indica strains are also probably fictions.

Why cannabis strain names are not as helpful as some may think

  • Cannabis quality can vary widely depending on the cultivator and garden environment and a particular strain at one dispensary may look completely different at another dispensary
  • Industry regulations require testing labeling, but not accurate strain labeling
  • Many strain names are being banned
  • Cannabis strain names does not convey potency levels

As time goes by, a heavier focus will be put on other attributes of cannabis products, ones that are more reliable and a better indicator of quality than strain names. The fact of the matter is unless you get the strain from the seed breeder, a reputable seed bank, a reputable grower, or a reputable dispensary, there’s simply no telling what strain you are smoking on. Base your purchases on how the strain makes you feel personally. If a strain helps alleviate your symptoms, or gives you the certain high you are looking for, then it doesn’t matter what the strain name is. If you take that approach, rather than getting caught up in marketing hype, you will be a much more satisfied customer.