It’s easy to become satisfied smoking the same strain, at least that’s how I am. Once I get in a groove with a reliable strain, indica or sativa, I tend to go back to it because I like consistency. But, if I’m being honest, that’s no way to live and the world of marijuana has gifted us hundreds of strains and it would be a shame to avoid exploring the plant’s subtleties across the globe. Many cultures through history have had a culture of marijuana use, from pre-20th century Central and South America to the mountains of Afghanistan hundreds (or thousands) of years ago to the islands of Hawaii nestled in the Pacific. Each has been gifted with their own roots to manipulate and cultivate over the years, so we’ve put together a list of the Top 10 Strains from Around the World to keep fresh ideas on your palette. We tried to spread the love across the continents too, to highlight weed you might be unfamiliar with depending on your location. These aren’t necessarily the most popular strains or most smoked strains, but each is uniquely tied to the area it originated and speaks to the larger culture of that land.
This strain is one of the most famous Sativa-dominant hybrids through underground and legal history. Titled after the cannabis activist of the same name, Jack Herer was passionate about the use of hemp as a renewable resource until he passed away in 2010 at age 70, nearly 20 years after his strain started popping up in the Netherlands. It’s known for its intellectual mental effects that give a jolt of creativity. While some people describe it as a “head high”, it should be noted that it soothes tension where most sativas have the potential to cause anxiety as well as curb ADHD. It’s three-way cross between Haze, Shiva Skunk, and Northern Lights #4, Herer has the happy, cerebral effects of a Sativa with a light dusting of typical Indica effects. The smell might be its most noticeable trait. For someones first time smoking it, you might confuse this sativa with a floral bouquet.
Drawing its name from the Hindu Kush mountains in northeastern Afghanistan where it was cultivated to make hash, Afghan Kush is thought to be hundreds, if not thousands, of years old. Western travelers encountered the strain on their hikes of the “Hippie Trail” that stretched from Europe to India in the 1960s, but the Kush was grown for generations before that. The people of that region harvested the wild flowers because of their high resin content. This allowed them to press some of the best hash the world has ever known, another reason the Kush mountains are important to cannabis history. Eventually, this strain’s popularity brought us to today, where Kush became a colloquial shorthand for good weed of any variety in the last forty years. Kush, strictly speaking, refers to the plants of the Hindu Kush and their numerous offspring, many of which are parent or grandparent strains of your favorite bud today. What made this strain distinct and gave it worldwide recognition? As mentioned above, anyone who looked at the plant saw the resin trichomes practically fall off when it was picked. This, coupled with its pungent, earthy, skunky smell, let travellers know this was prime bud they’d stumbled on.
Since the 1960’s, Maui Wowie has been an exotic and coveted strain for cannabis samplers. Its history is muddled, since we don’t have a genetic lineage of it, but it was cultivated on the island of Maui before it spread to the other Hawaiian Islands. The smooth, citrus-pine and lavender taste is common of strains from those islands and it’s pleasant mid-level sativa makeup give it an edge over others. A good morning smoke, it’s flavor is mostly tropical fruits and a faint hint of musk. People describe it as electric because it gives you a buzzing effect that you can feel in your fingertips. Maui Wowie is also good for patients who suffer from stress, chronic pain and depression. This strain is my go-to when I’ve had a bad day and need a pick-me-up in that 3 p.m. range.
Girl Scout Cookies
I can’t think of a strain that better captures the essence of California weed in 2019 than Girl Scout Cookies. It’s everywhere. In rap songs, on billboards, in pop culture talks about the plant and anywhere else you can think. This strain is clouded in mystery, but we know its a rare variety of Florida OG Kush and Durban Poison offspring called F1 Durb. We also know California perfected this mix in the last five years. It’s almost at the point where “cookies” is shorthand for dank weed the way “kush” used to be. A hybridized Sativa whose unique essence has won the palates of discerning cannabis connoisseurs everywhere; some of Cookie’s greatest attributes are its one-of-a-kind bud structure, high potency, and unparalleled flavor profile. Cookie is a strain that calls out to the flower smokers and terp chasers of the booming industry. It is now being used to hybridize countless other varieties of cannabis to increase potency and density in Indicas and Sativas.
Named for its South African port of origin, Durban Poison is one of the few pure Sativa landrace strains in the world. Even quoted as a psychedelic strain by stoner icon Tommy Chong, Durban Poison is known to produce strong but clear-headed effects, due in part to its high levels of THCV. THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin) is a cannabinoid similar to THC in structure with slightly varying effects. THCV doesn’t give the traditional “high” effects of THC like munchies and potential sluggishness. It gives you the focus without pushing you to a place where it’s useless. Think a strong cup of coffee without the jitters but that might not even do it justice because its comedown is practically nonexistent. This was one of the first legal strains I smoked a few years back and, besides novelty, it was my most enjoyable sativa experience to date. Imagine walking all day on a conveyor belt of happiness and that describes Durban Poison.
Making its way from the Pacific Northwest in the 1980s, Northern Lights is a fruity, tasteful and almost psychedelic strain. Although most of the subsequent plants were bred towards an indica expression, there are still sativa phenotypes popping up now and then as a reminder of the genetic history of the plant. According to legend, Northern Lights was originally bred by a man known as “The Indian” on an Island near Seattle Washington in the United States. Some also claim that the plant originated in California before ending up in the hand of this mysterious man from Seattle but there is no conclusive evidence to support this. Apparently there were a total of eleven plants that were labeled Northern Lights #1 through Northern Lights #11. #5 was said to have been the best of the bunch, with Northern Lights #1 coming in at a close second. The original Northern Lights plants were described to be true breeding Afghanis with extreme indica characteristics. They were dark green in color and very stable, with a high flower to leaf ratio while sporting a piney taste and purple hues in flowering. They were also known to be highly resinous with a THC percentage over 15%, sometimes higher. Find yourself in a cold rainy pocket of the North West and some Northern Lights to complement it.
We couldn’t do a list of top weed strains around the world and exclude Jamaica. Lamb’s Bread, sometimes called Lamb’s Breath, is a landrace sativa from the Caribbean country that’s been around for decades. Said to be a favorite of legendary musician Bob Marley, this cannabis strain is strong and full, often clocking in at over 20% THC.
The flowers of this cannabis strain are known for being a vibrant lime green and covered with a frosty coating of trichomes. Cannabis consumers note that this strain has a pungent, cheesy and skunky aroma with plenty of spice on the exhale.
Lamb’s Bread usually gives you a clear-headed, uplifting high that’s ideal for daytime activities like exercising and running errands. It also imparts deep mental stimulation that can enhance creativity or help you get over mental barriers. If you can find some of this, look for some good Lee “Scratch” Perry vinyl to go along with it and toke away.
The original Cheese strain emerged in the 1980s under mysterious circumstances. Legend has it that California cultivator Sam “the Skunkman” moved to the Netherlands to get serious about growing. When one batch of “Skunk” seeds found its way to the UK in 1988, a cultivator in South East England found that the resulting plant had a distinctly cheesy stench. Noting the massive yields from this plant, they cloned it and saw its success spread throughout the UK. It proliferated at several festivals and alternative communities throughout the 1990s, becoming the strain of choice for those in the budding rave scene. Whatever happened to that batch of seeds, it resulted in the U.K. Cheese we know today. Today, it’s pretty common throughout the UK and in any jurisdiction where cannabis is legal. Like its name suggests, U.K. Cheese has a pungent, sometimes off-putting, aroma and a strong taste that lingers in your mouth. That sounds like quite the crowded and eccentric palate. Indeed, this combination of aromas is not to everyone’s taste. Yet in the same way cheese that tastes delicious can smell horrendous, Cheese strains have their appeal. There is the umami effect to consider with Cheese strains too, in other words they have a smoother taste that takes the edge off the strong aromas.
Girl Scout Cookies are popular now, but they didn’t start the weed craze in California by any means. Mendocino County on the northern coast of California has historically been highly supportive and proud of the cannabis industry there. It’s no surprise to see a strain named after the county, especially one of the purple varieties that dominated Northern California in the early 2000s.
An Indica-dominant hybrid, Mendocino Purps uses a cerebral head high to balance out its Indica properties. We know that it traces its lineage to a North American Indica. Unfortunately, we are not privy to where it took its Sativa side. Regardless of where it came from, that combination won the High Times Cannabis Cup in both 2007 and 2009. Its buds smell of pine and berries, with earthy undertones and the delicious flavor of coffee and caramel. Mendo Purps’ buds get their name from the vivid purple hue that fills them when harvest-ready. THC levels average in the high teens but are known to reach up to 22%. Its high will get you feeling tranquil and sedation, laziness or sleepiness. Because of this effect, it’s best to consume this strain at night. We wish it could be under a purple moon.
Legend has it that Acapulco Gold was traditionally grown in the Guerrero Mountains, located just outside the city of Acapulco on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. The sunny, sea-blown landscape of the region could have been a major contributor to Acapulco Gold’s initial success. All cannabis plants are sensitive to a variety of environmental pressures, including temperature, exposure to light, humidity, soil pH, etc. Each of these factors can have a significant impact on a plant’s overall health and plays a big role in determining which genes a specific plant will exhibit and which traits will remain dormant and undetectable. Whatever is in the air and soil around Acapulco produced a legendary strain that has been immortalized by celebrities and pop culture references for half a century. The ‘gold’ part of its name comes from the hue of the harvested bud, which can range from a brownish tint to golden leaves and accompanies the flowers toffee flavor and Sativa genetics. While not as popular in today’s age of dessert strains, it’s nice to hit a joint of some throwback to capture the rich underground history of cannabis.