A vast majority of the contraband marijuana in North America during the 1960s originated in Mexico. And, with a THC content that was only between 3% and 5%, most of it was not very potent.
By the early 1970s, further development of sophisticated strains began taking place in the Netherlands, which introduced such legendary strains as Northern lights and many others. These contained THC levels that could reach 15% or more.
Since then, much has developed when it comes down to cannabis strains. From genetics right through to growing techniques. Below, we dive into the best cannabis strains available in 2023.
What Makes One Strain Better Than Another?
Cannabis history spans back literally thousands of years.
Yet, it was not until the past few decades that research and strain development around the globe has begun producing weed that is beyond anything previously available in regard to the potency, effects, and types of high that they offer.
One of the most important things to understand is that accomplishing this is a lot more involved than simply boosting the THC level normally contained in a strain’s genome background.
The variety and intensity of effects that you experience from any given strain are also dependent upon a complex combination of terpenes, cannabinoids, and flavonoids within the marijuana that create the specific individual characteristics of that particular strain of Cannabis.
By isolating and boosting the presence and combination of certain terpenes, cannabinoids, and flavonoids it is possible to rebalance and fine-tune the overall intensity, high, and flavor profile that is ultimately experienced by the end-user.
This is said to produce what is known as an entourage effect, in which the THC works synergistically with the other compounds in the strain to modulate its overall psychoactive effect.
The first strains used in the initial incarnation of today’s superweed all originated in various exotic regions around the globe.
As such, they are often referred to as a ‘landrace strain’ to acknowledge their point of geographical origination.
Here are several of the most prominent in the collection in alphabetical order:
The 15 Best Weed Strains of All Time
1. NYC Diesel
Whether it’s aficionados refer to it as NYC Diesel or Sour Diesel, this pungent strain of weed is predominantly Sativa. It is often preferred over a morning cup of coffee by its many fans (including myself).
In my experience, It is one of the best weed strains to provide motivation to the mind and spirit, along with a dreamy euphoria that proves absolutely lethal to feelings of stress.
Sour Diesel was created in the 1990s by combining the genomes of Super Skunk and Chemdawg 91.
It has been appraised as being a whopping 90% Sativa and only 10% Indica, which accounts for its well-known reputation for delivering a vibrant, effervescent high.
Related Read: Sativa VS Indica
Myrcene is the most prominent terpene found in NYC Diesel. This Sativa dominant strain also features lesser terpenes such as pinene, and caryophyllene, which contribute earthy and citrusy, and fruity notes to its flavor profile.
The pungent, skunky aroma of Sour Diesel is a real eye-opener when it hits the olfactory glands of anyone within close proximity to its fragrant, cured flowers.
Yet, the dank flavor quickly gives way to light notes of spice and citrus. Its tight, nuggety buds are often frosty, with THC-laden trichomes that are intermingled with prominent orange pistils and bright green sugar leaves.
2. OG Kush
OG Kush is a hybrid Indica dominant that is one of the most potent and popular strains on the market, primarily because of the stellar high that it provides.
The THC content of the OG Kush flower is some of the highest available Cannabis strains on the market and generally tests out between 19 to 25%.
Depending upon how much you smoke or vape, OG Kush can also deliver a knockout punch at the end of a hard day that can provide the much-needed relaxation that both your mind and body require.
This Indica dominant hybrid strain is most prominently a cross between the strains of Premium OG.
Developed in Florida in the early 1990s, and one of the king-pen strains originating in California, Chemdawg, along with OG Kush, is within the genetic foundation of many of today’s most popular strains.
The two most prominent terpenes found in OG Kush are Caryophyllene and Limonene, along with a host of additional contributors such as Myrcene, Linalool, Alpha-Pinene, and Humulene.
OG Kush is a much better strain for seasoned users who know what they are getting than those who are just becoming acclimated to the many uses and benefits of Cannabis.
3. Lemon Haze
Lemon heads, unite!
The pure, zesty, citrusy aroma and flavor profile of the Lemon Haze strain may get you nearly as high as the weed itself.
However, the stunning effects of this strain will quickly outweigh the aesthetic niceties as they launch you into a blissfully euphoric high after only a few tokes.
Lemon Haze continues to be one of the top-selling strains on the market because of its uplifting effects, which often prompt the onset of giggles along with a desire for activity and social interaction.
This strain is best for experienced canna-philes because of its formidable cannabinoid profile, with a THC level that averages around 19% or more.
The primary terpenes found in the Lemon Haze strain are Terpinolene, Beta-Caryophyllene, Humulene, and Myrcene.
Together, they create the delightful lemony goodness and creative, energizing effects that help make this strain so popular.
The high THC content of Lemon Haze means it’s a frequent favorite for those looking for relief.
4. Maui Wowie
Maui Wowie was the first and probably one of the best strains of high potency marijuana to originate in the Hawaiian Islands.
It first appeared on the local scene in the late 1960s, but once west coast visitors to the Islands got a taste of it, the word spread across California and the mainland to Cannabis lovers who were in search of a higher love.
Maui Wowie delivered the goods with its ability to impart an energized, soaring, and euphoria high that didn’t put you to sleep afterward but generally left you clear-headed and mellow.
Maui Wowie offers up a delightful taste of ‘Aloha’ while providing you with an energetic buzz, along with a desire to get out and begin a productive day.
The terpene profile in Maui Wowie is high in Limonene, Linalool, and Myrcene, followed by lesser amounts of Caryophyllene, Pinene, and Humulene.
All of these work in balance to provide the strain’s characteristic stimulative and energizing effects.
Maui Wowie is a classically Sativa strain with Indica-like perks. It has evolved over a century within Hawaii’s richly unique botanical environment to become a true Hawaiian landrace Sativa strain.
Although genealogical technology within the Cannabis industry over the past few decades may have produced weed with a higher THC content, Maui Wowie is still viewed as a top choice for Cannabis consumers around the globe.
Tangie is one of the relatively new marijuana strains that is believed to have been inspired by one of the most popular strains of weed on the market, Tangerine Dream.
This Dutch genome is a cross blend of California Orange and a classic hybrid, Skunk #1, a genetic balance of 70% Sativa and 30% Indica.
It is a potent Sativa dominant hybrid that has an extremely low CBD level of around 0.1%, which in my experience, allows for a smooth, euphoric high that tapers off incrementally and leaves you happy and energized without the sensation of feeling sedated afterward.
Myrcene is the most prominent terpene in the Tangie strain, and its earthy essence comprises a whopping 36% of its Tangie’s entire terpene profile.
Beta-Caryophyllene contributes to the strain’s sweet, botanical flavor and aroma, with limonene adding the final prominent citrus notes that originally inspired its name.
Personally, I’ve found Tangie a great anxiety reliever. In addition to being an excellent antidote for feelings of depression and stress, it also offers a flowery bouquet and tropically sweet flavor overtones of fresh oranges and citrus, which makes Tangie one of the tastiest strains on the shelf today.
6. Grandaddy Purple
Granddaddy Purple ranks among the most potent Indica strains commercially available on the market. Grand Daddy Purple was created by growers in California just after the turn of the century by the celebrated cannabis advocate, Ken Estes, referred to by some as the ‘Medicine Man’.
This particular Indica hybrid was the result of crossing a couple of the strain’s strongest varietals; Big Bud and Purple Urkle.
It produces wonderfully aromatic flowers that bloom in a colorful spectrum of soothing purple hues and buds that are covered by an abundance of rich, resinous trichomes that will delight true cannabis aficionados.
This strain contains a profile of nine separate terpenes. Some are major contributors to its flavor and aroma, while others play a lesser role.
Linalool is the most prominent player, with Humulene taking a close second. Myrcene follows at 17%, while Beta-Caryophyllene, Alpha Pinene, and all the rest of the terpene groups within the strain each comprise less than 5% of its total composition.
Grand Daddy Purple is one of the highest-profile Indica strains on the market.
With an 80% Indica and a 20% Sativa ratio and THC levels that can reach up to 25%, it really packs a wallop that allows your mind to roam freely while your body relaxes.
Related Read: Purple Weed Strains
7. Jack Herer
If you happen to be looking for an energizing boost to help kick-start you into becoming motivated to begin an active day, Jack Herer may be the best strain to match your needs.
The Jack Herer genome is a mix of classic Sativa, Haze, with Northern Lights #5 and Shiva Skunk, both of which are Indica.
It is a perfect daytime strain that initially provides an elevated and uplifting boost and a mild, calming finish, which follows shortly thereafter.
Originally created in the Netherlands in the 1990s, Jack Herer is named after the prominent cannabis advocate and has won numerous international Cannabis Cup awards as Best-In-Class Flower.
Although there are several different variants of Jack Herer, the most prominent strain being 55% Sativa and 45% Indica.
Jack Herer’s terpene profile is created by a wide variety of contributors. Myrcene offers all fruity notes, while Alpha-Pinene and Beta-Pinene add a woodsy, pine-scented essence.
Alpha-Bisabolol is the terpene responsible for contributing a good portion of the floral essence to Jack Herer. Trans-Nerolidol, which is also found in lemongrass and jasmine, adds an additional touch of fresh flowers and citrus.
Lesser contributors to the Jack Herer profile are Guaiol and Caryophyllene Oxide, both of which are present in trace amounts.
Jack Herer also offers such an effective adjunct to sedation and relaxation that Dutch physicians and pharmacies adopted its application decades ago after noticing its medicinal potential.
8. Super Silver Haze
Super Silver Haze is not only considered by many to be among the highest quality Sativa strains on the market, but it also won First Place at the prestigious High Times Cannabis Cup for three years in a row back in the 1990s.
Over the decades, it has gained a reputation for being the best weed strains for delivering an energized, uplifting euphoria that can offer hours of cerebral stimulation.
This potent strain is comprised of a genetic blend of the popular Sativa strain, Haze, Northern Lights, and Skunk #1, to produce a genome that is 70% Sativa and 30% Indica.
The primary combination of terpenes in its profile includes Myrcene, which is the most prominent. It contains lesser amounts of Caryophyllene and Limonene.
This combination contributes an earthy, slightly musky aroma and a pronounced citrusy flavor profile.
The pleasant herbal aroma of Super Silver Haze offers slightly spicy notes with a touch of sage and an earthy flavor profile with a hint of diesel. But its sticky, resinous flowers are most celebrated for the pleasant, long-lasting effects that they provide.
9. Super Lemon Haze
Super Lemon Haze is a classic Amsterdam original that was created by the growers creating a cross between Lemon Skunk and Super Silver Haze.
It is among the few consecutive winners of the coveted High Times Cannabis Cup in 2008 and 2009.
The cannabinoid combination in this Sativa/Indica hybrid is 80% Sativa and just 20% Indica, which makes it a compatible choice for both recreational and medical applications. In my experience, when used in the morning, it can initially produce energy, creativity, and euphoria.
The primary terpene in the Super Lemon Haze is beta-caryophyllene, along with terpinolene, humulene, and myrcene.
The strain’s unique blend of cannabinoids and terpenes helps it to deliver a lemony aftertaste while creating a balance of energizing and relaxing effects.
After a taxing day, Super Silver Haze can be a useful tool in anyones’ weed arsenal.
This potent west coast hybrid strain contains a potent 19% THC content that, at 55% Indica and 45% Sativa, creates a nearly equal balance of cannabinoids.
Together, they offer a full range of the effects for which marijuana has become renowned.
It’s a straightforward strain. Botanically herbal flavors are spicy with a touch of diesel and, when smoked, offer a distinctly strong diesel-like aroma that is unmistakably Cannabis in origin.
This strain contains a full terpene profile, which consists of 29% Beta-Caryophyllene, 22% Limonene, 0.12% Linalool, 0.08% Myrcene, 0.06% Humulene, 0.06% Alpha-Pinene, and 0.01% Terpinolene.
While it can provide you with a cerebral high that helps drive creativity, this strain is more likely to be used by those who want to relax.
11. White Widow
White Widow is a classic, well-balanced hybrid strain that has been winning international awards all the way back to the mid-1990s.
This highly popular genome was created by a cross between a landrace strain of Sativa from Brazil and an unknown strain of Indica sourced from India that may have been Hindu Kush.
This highly energizing strain gets its name from the fact that its flowers are generally covered by an exceptionally thick coating of white trichomes.
This strain’s extensive terpene profile is composed of Alpha-Pinene, Beta-Pinene, Myrcene. Although, Limonene. Beta-Ocimene, Terpinolene, Linalool, Caryophyllene, Humulene, Nerolidol, Guaiol, and Bisabolol also feature.
White Widow will provide you with a long-lasting high that can occasionally last as long as 2 hours. This classic strain of marijuana will leave you cotton-mouthed, euphoric, and red-eyed!
12. Hindu Kush
Hind Kush Originated in the Kush Mountains of Afghanistan and is a pure Indica strain that has contributed to the genomes of popular strains like Master Kush, OG Kush, and many more.
The most prominent terpenes found in this strain are Beta-caryophyllene, Limonene, Myrcene, and Humulene, all of which contribute to its earthy, spicy aromas and floral flavor profile, which also has a touch of citrus.
After all these years, it still ranks highly within the chain of Cannabis royalty.
Its pure Indica gene pool is perfect for imparting a deep sense of calm.
13. OG Cookies
OG Cookies is the master-strain that helped to put all of the other Cookie strains in the jar.
This potent Indica strain is a cross that can contain 20% or more THC, and very little CBD. Because of this, most people primarily choose to enjoy OG during their leisure hours.
The terpene profile of this strain contains high levels of Beta-caryophyllene, along with lesser levels of Limonene, Humulene, Myrcene, and Linalool. In combination, they all work together to create the Cookie strain’s characteristic earthy, doughy, and floral flavors.
14. Girl Scout Cookies (GSC)
GSC is a relatively new strain compared to the original classics.
However, this Indica hybrid has become popular for being among the best strains for providing a sense of chill.
While there is debate about its exact parentage, most researchers suggest that it is a hybrid cross between OG Kush and Durban Poison.
The Terpene profile of GSC is composed of 0.9% Caryophyllene, 05% Myrcene, .05% Limonene, .03% Linalool, and .03% Pinene.
If you happen to be ‘down in the mouth’, in my experience, GSC will likely put a happy, euphoric smile back on your face, followed by calming waves of bodily relaxation.
15. Wedding Cake
With a staggering THC content of up to 27%, Wedding Cake is some of the most potent weed on the market.
It has become an extremely popular hybrid, which is a hybrid between Sour Cherry Pie and Girl Scout Cookies.
Despite its confectionary name, the combined flavors found in Wedding Cake are anything but sweet. In fact, the flavor profile tends to be rather earthy and sour, with only a faintly sweet finish.
The Wedding Cake terpene profile is composed of Caryophyllene, Humulene, Limonene, and Nerolidol, which are responsible for the strain’s slightly sweet undertones and the relaxing, euphoric effects that they provide.
It is among the best strains for those of you seeking the benefits of high THC flower.