Snapdragon Cannabis Co.'s Budtender Basics

December 8, 2023

In the vibrant cannabis world, where the variety of strains and products can be overwhelming, Snapdragon Cannabis Co. is here to be your budtender with this comprehensive guide. Snapdragon’s Budtender Basics is designed to be the education and expertise you need to help identify favorite strains and what exactly makes them a favorite by diving into the different components and effects of the plant. Let’s dive into the fundamentals that make Snapdragon’s budtenders not just salespeople but knowledgeable guides on discovering the perfect strain.

Indica, Sativa, Hybrid Terminology: Broad But Useful Strokes

To embark on the cannabis journey, one must first comprehend the fundamental distinctions between indica, sativa, and hybrid classifications. These terms are used everywhere, but what do they mean? It’s essential first to disclaim that these terms are often misused. Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid classifications refer to morphology or the structural identification of the plant, not the pharmacology or the effects. That is to say that Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid do not entirely dictate a strain’s effects, like being euphoric or sedating. Typically, when using these generalizations, Indica strains are described as providing a relaxing body high, Sativas offer an uplifting cerebral effect, and Hybrids combine elements of both. The truth of cannabis pharmacology is much more complex and exciting because of the decades of science, breeding, and care for genetics that the industry has advanced.

Recommended read: Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica versus “Sativa” and “Indica” by John McPartland

Why Do Different Strains Have Different Effects?

Not all Indicas will make you sleepy; not all Sativas will energize you; these are sometimes helpful generalizations but still vague and broad. The diversity of effects among cannabis strains extends far beyond the broad strokes of Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid labels and the physical structure of the plant. Effects depend on the strain’s chemical makeup: the cannabinoid and terpene profile, and also personal body chemistry. For example, why does OG Kush feel and taste different than Sour Diesel? The answer: It’s not just about the classifications on paper; it’s about the complex synergy of cannabinoids and terpenes orchestrating these effects within each strain.

Strain Effects = Cannabinoids + Terpenes*

*other plant compounds contribute to the entourage effect, but these are the primary ones.

Genetics and growing styles significantly affect what particular terpenes and cannabinoids are expressed in certain strains. Still, terpenes are not “locked” behind Sativa/Indica/Hybrid labels and can be found in many different strains. Most strains today are genetic hybrids, and true Sativa or Indica genetics are less common. One hybrid strain may even produce Sativa or Indica-leaning phenotypes and traits, which are different chemical expressions of the same strain.

Genotype & Phenotype: Bridging the Gap in Cannabis Understanding

Understanding a strain’s genetic code (genotype) and how it manifests in observable characteristics (phenotype) is crucial to proper budtending. Budtenders are equipped to explain the subtle but significant differences between strains, ensuring customers make informed choices that align with their desired effects and experiences.

  • Genotype: The genetic code of an individual organism (seed)
  • Phenotype: The result of a genotype interacting with its growing environment. A physical expression of specific genes the environment triggered. (plant)

A great example is the classic Runtz strain- regarded as an evenly balanced hybrid and Black Runtz, an Indica-leaning phenotype of classic Runtz. Another example is Thin Mintz, a phenotype (not a separate cross) of the famous Girl Scout Cookies. It’s a common misconception that strains like these are two completely different crosses because of the difference in classification. It is because of the ever-changing and wild chemical nature of cannabis that we have so many different variations, sometimes all within the same strain.

Types of Cannabis: Types 1-4 Explained

  • Type 1 Pure THCA
  • Type 2 Mixed ratio THCA to CBDA
  • Type 3 Pure CBDA
  • Type 4 CBGA & Other Dominant Cannabinoids

This other classification method is a simple way to reference different cannabinoid-dominant cultivars. While sometimes helpful, this classification’s major flaw is that there’s no room for terpene information, which makes strains truly unique.

Terpenes: Flavor, Aroma, Effects – More Than Just Cannabinoids

It’s not just about cannabinoids. Terpenes are vital! Terpenes, the aromatic compounds in cannabis and many other plants and organisms play a pivotal role in shaping the overall experience of individual strains. Terpenes can enhance, synergize, or accentuate cannabinoid effects, and they can even have cannabimimetic effects alone or paired together. Snapdragon’s Budtender Basics program emphasizes the importance of terpenes in influencing flavor, aroma, and effects. Budtenders guide customers in appreciating the nuanced world of terpenes, allowing for a more refined and personalized cannabis experience.

Common Terpenes Found in Cannabis Strains

  • Caryophyllene: Pairs with THC and CBD. Also found in black pepper
  • Limonene: Pairs with THC, CBD, and CBG. Also found in citrus fruits.
  • Myrcene: Pairs with THC, CBD, and CBG. Also found in mangoes.
  • Terpineol: Pairs with THC and CBG. Also found in orange peels.
  • Humulene: Pairs with THC and CBD. Also found in hops.
  • Linalool: Pairs with THC, THCV, CBD, and CBG. Also found in lavender.
  • Pinene: Pairs with THC. Also found in pine and coniferous trees.
  • Bisabolol: Pairs with THC and CBD. Also found in chamomile.
  • Camphene: Pairs with THC and THCV. Also found in Sage.

Recommended Read: Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects
Recommended Read: Cannabis sativa terpenes are cannabimimetic and selectively enhance cannabinoid activity

Finding Your Perfect Strain: A Personalized Approach

Snapdragon’s commitment to individualized cannabis experiences shines through in helping customers find their perfect strain. Budtenders engage in thoughtful conversations, asking about preferences, desired effects, and past experiences. This personalized approach transforms the customer’s journey from a mere transaction to an exploration of self-discovery. Cannabis is all about personalization, not mass production. It’s essential to take time to consider personal factors about cannabis regimens and how that may impact the strains people are looking for vs a one-size-fits-all approach.

  • Follow your nose: Your olfactory senses are usually the best identifier to seek out pleasing strains to your ECS. Trust your gut, trust your nose (and taste).
  • Try a wide variety: Your body chemistry will change, as will the different products you try; sample a wide variety of strains and products to be aware of what you like!
  • Rotate your strains: Feeling dissatisfied from consuming the same strain? Desired effects starting to fade over time? Rotate multiple strains and blend them to create personal mixes for your specific needs. Switching to another strain then later returning to one of your favorites is a great way to refresh your senses.
  • Try different types of flower & concentrate: THCA may be classic cannabis, but CBDA and CBGA dominant strains have plenty of potential to offer the relief you’re looking for. Try different types and blend them to experiment with other effects and moods.

Putting it All Together

Snapdragon Cannabis Co.’s Budtender Basics course elevates the cannabis retail experience. By equipping budtenders with a deep understanding of indica, sativa, hybrid terminology, Types 1-4 classifications, genotype and phenotype distinctions, the influence of terpenes, and the art of personalized recommendations, Snapdragon ensures that every cannabis journey is not just satisfactory but genuinely exceptional. These are gentle but effective guidelines that we use not only for our customers but also for our friends, family, and ourselves to guide us to the right strains and products every time. Now, with this information, you can have a solid understanding of the complexity that goes into selecting strains, and you can begin your cannabis journey on a proper, well-informed note.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the THC percentage matter?

Yes, it does, just like all cannabinoids matter in the overall pharmacology of cannabis. The answer is much more complex than yes or no. Terpene percentage and other compounds the plant produces, like CBGA and CBDA, matter just as much.

What is the BEST cannabis product overall?

The best product is what works best for you! Personalized cannabis is better than generalized. The more specific to your needs, the better the product will be.

Can I tell if a strain is indica, sativa, or hybrid from the COAs?

We cannot tell if a strain is an Indica or Sativa based on the terpene or cannabinoid profiles alone. However, strains generally have the same cannabinoid and terpene profiles in batches, thanks to breeding and genetics. Sativas and Indica strains may typically have a wide variety of terpenes. Still, these are not locked behind terminology and instead depend physically on factors like genetics, growing conditions, and more.

How can I tell if a strain is Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid?

The most consistent answer comes from trusted sources, like the original strain’s grower, farm, or producer. There may be multiple answers depending on the strain, so researching strain lineage pays off when determining how a strain may affect you.

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