A high that heals

A beginner’s look at what medical-cannabis strains help alleviate certain symptoms

Different tokes for different folks.

Different tokes for different folks.

Each week, SN&R’s The 420 will highlight Sacramento’s medical-cannabis community.

All medical cannabis is not created equally.

Anyone who has stepped into a dispensary knows that the days of one-size-fits-all marijuana are long gone. More than 200,000 California residents have made medical cannabis a legitimate alternative to conventional medicine. For patients suffering from terminal illnesses to even those coping with everyday ailments such as arthritis and anxiety, local medical-cannabis clubs offer a variety of strains with varying effects. But how do you know what medical pot works for what disease?

For the uninitiated, cannabis is divided into two broad categories: indica, denoting plants that are sedative and calming; and sativa, which are characterized by a more energetic or cerebral high. Plants that are indica and sativa hybrids have been manipulated and crossbred by modern growers to create an endless variety of strains whose effects can be highly specific.

Although it’s easy to be deterred by their less-than-professional sounding names (e.g., “Purple Dragon” or “Silver Haze”), the specialization of cannabis has made the plant into the modern-day cure-all. The staggering assortment of strains that are available—most clubs feature a few dozen—can be overwhelming to the novice patient. So SN&R has listed some common ailments and the strains that can help aid in treating them.

Insomnia: Try OG Kush. One of the most famous varieties, this indica strain is noted for its ability to gently calm and relax, leading to a somewhat sedated feeling. For many, it has similar effects to that of a conventional sleeping pill.

Chronic pain: A sativa-dominant hybrid strain, such as Blue Dream, offers relief to the user without leaving one lethargic and drowsy. Those suffering ongoing pain from past injuries, or from such conditions as arthritis, could find this strain particularly effective.

Anxiety: A hybrid strain such as White Berry gives just enough relaxation to pacify unrest while still enabling the patient to be functional and go about their daily routine.

Depression: As its name might suggest, Green Crack is a strain known for its high energy and alert of high; it has no affiliation with actual “crack.” A sativa strain, Green Crack proffers a high level of functionality for any user.

Nausea: An indica-dominant strain such as Northern Lights can calm nausea while aiding in appetite. Nausea-defeating strains can be an invaluable resource for those undergoing such treatments as chemotherapy, whose side effects are often difficult to control with conventional prescription pharmaceuticals.

Loss of appetite/anorexia: Although many strains are effective at increasing appetite, the calming qualities of Purple Urkel make it particularly popular for those suffering from anorexia and other eating disorders. This strain could also aid in appetite stimulation for those undergoing aggressive medical treatments for such conditions as AIDS or cancer.

These are some of the more common uses of medical cannabis, and this list covers only a portion of what the medical cannabis community uses to treat ailments. Strain variety expands daily, though, so uses for medical cannabis will only grow as well. Just as with any prescription drug, it is important that you work with your respective dispensary’s budtender or expert to find out what strains best suit your unique condition.