From indigenously-grown landraces to flavor-focused designer hybrids, the increasingly complex cannabis strains that are commercially available today have a range of practical applications. That said, sometimes potency is the order of the day, and both novice and experienced users alike are known to make a beeline for the strongest bud available. Here’s our look at some of the strongest cannabis strains on earth.
Notorious for its off-the-charts resin production, White Widow is a staple sativa-dominant hybrid with powerful energizing effects. When grown successfully, buds of this strain are dense and entirely covered in long-stalked trichomes, lending a dusty-white to grey appearance. White Widow is known for having a stinging, ammonia-like scent with some hints of earthy pine; its taste is earthy and vaguely floral. However, what this strain lacks in flavor profile it makes up for in quick-acting cerebral effects.
Enthusiasts describe an almost immediate uplift in mood and an energy and focus that can be applied to mundane as well as creative tasks
Psychedelic effects can amplify the impact of music or art, while a mild body buzz prevents the experience from veering into overwhelming territory. An excellent choice for chatty social use, this strain is an all-purpose perennial favorite. Its strong genetic foundation — it is crossed from Brazilian and South Asian landraces — has made White Widow a valuable plant for experimentation in crossbreeding; among others, it has yielded the increasingly popular hybrid The White.
Jamaican landrace strains are legendary for their bracing euphoria. Although cannabis did not exist in Jamaica until the 1840s (brought over from India by indentured servants), the plant took quickly to the island’s tropical climate and has since become renowned for its potent cerebral effects. The Jamaican cannabis plant may be almost unrecognizable to consumers of more commercially packaged bud, with thin and wispy leaves protruding from thin, stick-like branches.
Jamaican is also famously pungent, with an almost eye-watering, skunky-sweet musk. The high has a mellow body buzz but is mostly marked by stimulation of mental acuity. Euphoria and perceptions of clear thinking are common.
Those lucky enough to have enjoyed Jamaican strains claim that they experience talkativeness and a drastically improved mood and sociability. Often sought out by tourists on the island, true Jamaican weed can be difficult to come by elsewhere. Furthermore, in a market that tends to prefer novelty crossbreeds, traditional cannabis consumers and horticulturists consider the pure Jamaican landrace to be in danger of falling into obscurity.
Super Silver Haze
A cross of staple strains Skunk, Northern Lights, and Haze, Super Silver Haze is a wildly popular sativa with THC levels consistently around 20%. So named for its blanket of sticky trichomes, this strain boasts an enduring body high that complements its energizing and creative properties. Sweet citrus notes mingle with an earthy, piney undertone. Some users also describe a sharp, cheesy tang.
With a smooth, easy smoke that tastes like lemon candy, it’s no wonder that Super Silver Haze has earned a reputation as a friendly and shareable social strain
Its high comes on strong, providing motivation while maintaining a clearheaded focus. A body buzz emerges later on, along with some psychedelic distortion, but all without tipping over into hazy couchlock. Super Silver Haze was originally bred by Green House Seeds in the cradle of modern pot civilization, Amsterdam. It took first prize in the High Times Cannabis Cup three years running in the late 1990s and has since been used to parent Blue Dream, currently one of the most popular strains on the U.S. West Coast.
THC isn’t the only measure of cannabis potency. Colorado growers the Stanley Brothers have created Charlotte’s Web, a super strain high in CBD and primarily intended for therapeutic medical use. Named for Charlotte Figi, a young epilepsy patient and medical marijuana user profiled in a 2013 CNN documentary, Charlotte’s Web is bred from industrial hemp and has a CBD content of 15 to 20% — that’s 300 times higher than the CBD of the average recreational strain. To facilitate easy medical ingestion, Charlotte’s Web is available as concentrated oil as well as dried bud.
Users describe pleasantly numbing physical effects and a deeply satisfying sense of relaxation
With low THC content, this strain offers little to no psychoactivity, making it an optimal choice for patients – particularly children – who want to avoid getting high. Charlotte’s Web poses a challenging legal conundrum:advocates who consider it a medical hemp product clash with legislators who classify it as medical marijuana. As a result, doctors seeking to test its medical effectiveness in clinical trials are prevented from intensive study because of federal restrictions. Nevertheless, Charlotte’s Web is gaining ground – it was legalized in Florida in 2014 and has since taken root in select dispensaries for statewide distribution.
A pure sativa titan, Chemdawg is a strain with mysterious genetics. Said to have sprung from the seeds of an unknown batch that changed hands at a Grateful Dead concert, it is speculated to be a cross between Nepalese and Thai landraces. Whatever its parentage, Chemdawg packs a strong cerebral punch. Its potency has been passed on via crossbreeding to ubiquitous child strains Sour Diesel and OG Kush. Buds of Chemdawg are spring green with shades of purple in some phenotypes, and cloudy trichomes give a faint white sheen. Funky diesel is the only detectable smell, and the thick, earthy smoke can be somewhat harsh.
A quick-acting, thoughtful high persists for longer than average and can lend itself to giddiness and interesting conversation. Some users report a mild body high – suggesting traces of indica lineage – but couchlock is rare.
Although Chemdawg is traditionally gauged at a respectable 15-20% THC, the 2016 High Times Cannabis Cup in Colorado measured a particular Chemdawg flower phenotype, grown by Denver dispensary Next Harvest, at a staggering 32% — the highest THC composition measured in the competition’s history.