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How to choose a cannabis strain for studying

Published on October 2, 2019 · Last updated July 28, 2020
(Gokcemim, Hati royani, yokunen/iStock)

Not all of us study well while high, and that’s okay. If it’s true for you, recognizing that fact and saving the joint for relaxing once you’re done makes life easier. There are, however, plenty of those in the 21+ age set whose study habits may benefit from the mindful incorporation of cannabis.

A few important things to note first: Data suggests that if your study conditions are too far removed from your testing conditions, your studying is likely to be less impactful than if you had studied in conditions similar to your testing ones. This psychological principle is called encoding specificity, and it means that if you’re going to be completely sober while taking the test, you don’t want to be completely in the clouds while studying. Thus, if you choose to smoke only while you study, we recommend keeping your consumption minimal.

Still, there are potential positive applications for cannabis in the study process, regardless of whether you’re a college student, a grad student, or memorizing a presentation for work. The following strains fit with five different strategies; read through them all, then try out the one that makes most sense for you and evaluate its effectiveness.

If your focus needs sharpening…

Try Dutch Treat.

Most of us don’t intend to be several dabs deep for a test, but encoding specificity isn’t the only thing to take into consideration. If you’re more likely not to study at all while sober, then the question becomes how cannabis can help address the cause of that reluctance. For many, the issue is focus: In an era of ever-more-sophisticated attempts to grab our attention, textbooks and study guides are not gamified to compete with the likes of social media.

Though the wrong strain can be disastrous for focus, the right strain can help keep your mind on the task at hand. Dutch Treat can help slow the endless cycle of thought just enough to let you hone in on the primary task at hand. Also, pro tip with or without the Dutch Treat—put your phone away before you study (like, in a distant dresser drawer).

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If you can’t stay in your chair…

original glue cannabis strain

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Try Original Glue.

This strain is famous (as well as infamous) for gluing people to whatever they’re sitting on. This tends to be the couch, so the important thing here is to have your study station entirely set up before you hit this. Grab all your textbooks, your notes, your backpack, a glass of water, a blanket, whatever you’re going to need. Then get comfortable and get going on a long stretch of reading or review.

Again, having too much can undermine the efficacy of your efforts, but as with the focus issue above, if the alternative is not sitting down and studying at all, studying while slightly elevated is better than skipping it.

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If you suffer from test-induced anxiety…

Grape Ape cannabis strain

Try Grape Ape.

The principle of encoding specificity goes both ways: If studying is fine, but you find yourself using cannabis on test days just to deal with the nerves, you may want to be studying with it as well—preferably with the same strain. Choose something that will relax your mind and body while you study, and soothe your anxiety without putting you to sleep, such as Grape Ape.

Given that olfactory input is one of the things known to aid in recollection, there’s also a chance that experiencing Grape Ape’s uniquely pungent and complex grape-and-berry scent right before both studying and testing may help bring what you were studying back to the front of your mind, too.

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If you just miss the ritual…

acdc cannabis strain


Maybe you’re accustomed to consuming every night, and the nights when you try to study sober leave you feeling like a fish out of water. Easy fix: A high-CBD strain like ACDC, of which you can smoke or vaporize a gram while hardly feeling the psychotropic effects. The familiarity of hitting the joint or Volcano bag will relax you and let you concentrate, and with your mind on whatever you’re committing to memory, you’ll hardly even notice the lack of intoxication.

Bonus: If you also choose to consume ACDC before your test, you may benefit from the anti-anxiety properties of CBD.

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If you need an incentive…

kosher kush cannabis strain

Try Kosher Kush.

As we’ve noted, studying and THC don’t mix well for everyone. And again, that’s fine. But you can still let cannabis help you study, in the form of a classic carrot-style incentive.

Before a tough study night, or a big push on writing an essay, or most anything else you’re not looking forward to, check out your local cannabis shop for a top-shelf strain like Kosher Kush. Keep it sealed tight until a predetermined stopping point (otherwise that heavenly Kush aroma might make it hard to wait), then reward yourself for your efforts with a high that’s potent, mellow, and happy. It’ll relax your mind after a tough evening and drift you straight off to sleep so you’re fresh and ready for the next day, whatever it brings.

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Brett Konen
Brett Konen
Brett is a former editor at Leafly who loves travel, craft cocktails, and shining a spotlight on unique lifestyle trends.
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