The Best Cannabis Strains for Beginners

(Gillian Levine for Leafly)

Updated 2/15/18

In many instances, a bad first experience may be enough for someone to tragically banish cannabis from his or her life forever. Typically the reason for doing so has to do with the anxious, paranoid side effects associated with THC, but what first-timers might not realize is there are a few ways to minimize those unpleasant feelings. For those beginners and low-tolerance consumers, we’ve compiled three basic tips, tricks, and recommendations for finding that perfect first-time experience.

Note: You can filter “beginner strains” on dispensary menus to see if any of these recommendations are available near you.

graph of average thc & cbd levels in marijuana strains for beginners
Click to enlarge. (Elysse Feigenblatt/Leafly)

Find a Low-THC, High-CBD Cannabis Strain

Unlike THC, CBD is a non-intoxicating compound with relaxing and medicinal properties. CBD can help counteract the anxiety associated with THC, so it’s a perfect starting point for new users. You’ll often find strains with equal parts THC and CBD, but some contain almost no THC at all. We have plenty of high-CBD strains to browse in the database, but here are some of the most commonly found and widely embraced varieties:

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Start Slow With THC-Dominant Cannabis Strains

Let’s start with the first and most obvious piece of advice: slowly ease into a THC-dominant cannabis strain, as they’re more likely to cause anxiety and paranoia. Settle yourself into a comfortable place and start with a low dose, maybe even just a single small hit if it’s your first time.

Microdosing With Cannabis: Benefits Without the Buzz

While many strains today tend to stretch toward a THC ceiling of 20 to 25 percent, those with less than 15 percent THC typically provide a less overwhelming experience. Keep in mind you’ll need lab-tested cannabis to know how much THC a flower contains, as amounts can vary between strains and even individual harvests. For example, one batch of Jack Herer may exhibit dramatically lower levels of THC than another, depending on how it was grown or phenotypic variances. Not only that, there’s additional variability that comes with each person’s unique brain chemistry and subjective experience.

What works for one beginner may not be the best for the next, but the below recommendations are meant to be starting points for those looking for a more balanced and mellow experience. These strains tend to deliver a more gentle euphoric experience, but once again, check the testing information specific to the item you’re interested in buying. If it has a THC content that exceeds 20%, chances are that strain may be too potent for your purposes.

Blue Dream beginner strain

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Cannabis Delivery Methods Vary in Their Effects

Our parting advice to you aspiring cannabis champions: be mindful of the delivery method. The strain is only half of the story; smoking, vaporizing, and ingesting can all affect your overall experience. There’s no right or wrong choice here for beginners, but there are nuances between them that should be considered.

Smoking Cannabis for Beginners

Most people begin cannabis with smoking, which has its benefits and drawbacks. One advantage smoking offers is dose-control – it’s easy to take a small amount and the acute effects usually subside after 20 to 30 minutes. But if you can recall the burning sensation in your throat the first time you took a hit, you can imagine that smoking may also turn some folks off entirely.

Vaporizing Cannabis for Beginners

Vaporizing may in fact be the most ideal delivery method for newbies. It’s easy on the throat and lungs, dosing is easy, and the flower’s flavors are usually better preserved. Portable oil-filled vaporizer pens are a great place to begin since you can take a hit as needed, while table-top vaporizers give you a larger portion at once (which you might feel obligated to finish).

Which Type of Vaporizer Best Suits You?

Ingesting Cannabis for Beginners

Edibles are a fantastic way to get around smoking cannabis. However, if you’re new to the game, start slow and dose low; the effects can take up to an hour or two to kick in, and they tend to be a lot more intense and long-lasting than inhaled cannabis. Novice consumers should start with a small dose–maybe just 5mg–and work their way up to the standard 10-20mg doses.

Cannabis Topicals for Beginners

Topicals are cannabis-infused lotions and balms that absorb transdermally for relief of pain, inflammation, and other localized symptoms. Most of them won’t get you high at all, so topicals are highly recommended to patients who want medical marijuana without all the cerebral hassle.