Medical marijuana is now legal in 23 states and DC. With a sweeping trend of legalization, more patients are turning to marijuana to help treat their medical issues. From chronic pain to eating disorders, anxiety and PTSD, pot is becoming the “medication” of choice for a growing number of people.

If you’re considering medical marijuana, you may be wondering which strain is the right choice for you. Before we discuss the most popular medical marijuana strains, it’s important for you to understand how you can obtain a medical marijuana card, and the difference between indica and sativa cannabis.

First things first….

How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card

medical marijuana strains

Although a medical marijuana card is not required in all states, many people still choose to get one to protect themselves from legal complications. Cardholders are typically added to a database, which lets law enforcement know that you are a medical marijuana patient. These registries are confidential, and stay between the doctor and your local dispensary.

Getting a card is a relatively straightforward process, but not always an easy one. It all starts with visiting medical marijuana doctors.

Obtain a Recommendation

In order to legally purchase medical marijuana, you must obtain a recommendation from a qualified doctor. To do this, you’ll need to schedule an appointment to meet with your physician and discuss your options. If your doctor believes that medical marijuana is a beneficial treatment for your illness, he or she will write you a recommendation.

In many states, a recommendation is the only thing you need to get into a local dispensary or cannabis collective. However, some states do require you to hold a medical marijuana card to purchase cannabis legally. Check with your state or local government to find out what the requirements are.

Apply for a Card with the State

Once you have obtained a recommendation, you can apply for an MMJ (medical marijuana) card. Your state government will need to review your application and your recommendation before issuing you a cannabis card.

Pay Any Required Feeds and Wait for Approval

Some states will require you to pay a fee before issuing you a card. In some cases, a fee will only apply when you renew your card. Keep in mind that some states will require you to go through the entire process of obtaining a recommendation in order to renew.

Cards are valid for a year.

Once you’ve paid the fee and submitted your application, you’ll need to wait for the State to review your paperwork. It may take some time for your application to be approved.

With your card in hand, you can now visit your local dispensary and purchase medical marijuana.

The question is: which strain do you buy? First, let’s discuss the difference between indica and sativa, the two main types of cannabis.

Indica vs Sativa – What’s the Difference?

medicinal marijuana

When you walk into a local dispensary, you may feel overwhelmed by how many different strains are available. But all of these strains generally fall into three categories: indica, sativa and hybrid.

Indica and sativa strains each have their own distinctive properties and effects, while hybrids fall somewhere in between. So what’s the difference between the two?

Indica

Indica plants are dense, short and have wide leaves. They’re the ideal choice for indoor growth, and what most people envision when they think of marijuana.

It’s believed that Cannabis Indica causes the following effects:

  • Full-body relaxation
  • Calming
  • Improved sleep
  • “Couch lock” or body buzz

For these reasons, indica strains are typically preferred for night time use.

Sativa

Sativa plants are taller and loosely branched with thin leaves. This type is better suited for outdoor growth and can grow up to 20 feet tall.

It’s believed that Cannabis Sativa causes the following effects:

  • Cerebral high
  • A burst of energy
  • Uplifting

Because of its uplifting effects, sativa strains are preferred for day time use.

Note: While these two types of cannabis have distinctive appearances, there is no scientific evidence to support these differences in effects.

Top Medical Marijuana Strains

medical marijuana dispensaries

Now that you understand the difference between indica and sativa, you can narrow your strain choices down to find the right one for your needs.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular strains of medical marijuana that you may have heard about in the news.

Girl Scout Cookies

Girl Scout Cookies is a hybrid strain of Durban Poison and OG Kush that originated in California. It has an earthy, sweet aroma and pungent flavor. With high THC levels, this strain will send you into a euphoric state that induces full-body relaxation.

Effects

  • Relaxation
  • Happy
  • Euphoric
  • Creative
  • Uplifted

Medical Uses

  • Stress
  • Pain
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Poor appetite

A little goes a long way with this strain, which is stronger than most. Girl Scout Cookies is a favorite with patients suffering from appetite loss, nausea and pain.

White Widow

White Widow is one of the most famous strains of marijuana. A balanced hybrid, this strain originated in the Netherlands and is a cross between South Indian indica and Brazilian sativa. Like Girl Scout Cookies, this is a strong strain that creates a euphoric, energetic high.

Effects

  • Happy
  • Relaxed
  • Euphoric
  • Uplifted
  • Creativity

Medical Uses

  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Pain
  • Appetite loss

With a pungent woody and earthy flavor, White Widow is often preferred by those who suffer from chronic pain and depression.

Jack Herer

A sativa-dominant strain, Jack Herer is a combination of Northern Lights #5 and Haze with a Shiva Skunk cross. Created in the 1990s in the Netherlands, this strain is distributed by Dutch pharmacies and is recognized as a strain that’s medical-grade. Its flavors are woody, earthy and pine-like.

Effects

  • Uplifted
  • Happy
  • Energetic
  • Euphoric
  • Creative

Medical Uses

  • Pain
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Appetite loss
  • Fatigue

With a relaxing, euphoric and energetic high, Jack Herer is a great strain for day time use.

White Berry

For a potent, full-body relaxation, White Berry is the ideal strain. This hybrid strain is known for relieving muscle spasms, restless leg syndrome, and insomnia. Many users say that this is the absolute best medical marijuana for anxiety, too. With sweet flavors of blueberry and berry, White Berry is a popular choice for medical marijuana patients.

Effects

  • Relaxing
  • Happy
  • Euphoria
  • Uplifting
  • Hungry

Medical Uses

  • Anxiety
  • Muscle spasms
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of appetite
  • Stress

Because of its potent relaxation effects, White Berry is ideal for night time use and will induce a peaceful, deep slumber.

A-Train

A hybrid strain that’s a mix of Afghani Mazar and Trainwreck. Not only does the A-Train enhance your appetite, but it also reduces ocular pressure. It’s no surprise, then, that it’s the preferred choice of glaucoma patients.

Effects

  • Energetic
  • Happy
  • Euphoria

Medical Uses

  • Pain
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle spasms

With uplifting and energetic effects, the A-Train strain is great for daytime use.

Dr. Grinspoon

Named after Dr. Lester Grinspoon, a professor at Harvard Medical School, this strain is cerebral and long-lasting – the preferred choice of true connoisseurs. It has a sweet, earthy and woody flavor.

Effects

  • Happy
  • Energetic
  • Appetite enhancing

Medical Uses

  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of appetite

Dr. Grinspoon is a great strain for nighttime use because of its long-lasting and relaxing effects.

These are just a few of the many strains of marijuana available to patients. Your local dispensary can also help by making recommendations on which strains will work best for your condition.

Obtaining Medical Marijuana

medical marijuana card

There are two common ways to obtain medical marijuana: a dispensary, or a cannabis club.

Cannabis clubs, often referred to as collectives, are private groups in which patients connect with caregivers to obtain the marijuana they need in exchange for a donation. Collectives are becoming the popular choice for MMJ patients simply because they are less prone to being victims of raids, and offer a variety of strains and edibles. Collectives, or clubs, operate under the non-profit model, and will only provide marijuana to members of the club.

Dispensaries use a for-profit model, which technically makes them illegal on the local, state and federal levels. These establishments will sell marijuana to all qualified patients, whereas collectives will only sell to members.

Because of the legal issues that dispensaries face, many have made the switch to the non-profit collective model or have permanently shut down their operations.

Finding the right strain for you will take some experimenting, but knowing the effects of certain strains can help you narrow your choices. If you’re still having trouble finding the right strain, consult with someone at your local collective or dispensary.