How do you decide what to pick up at the dispensary? Do you have a favourite strain? Maybe a reliable brand? How do we even find those things?

There are four major factors we look to when making recommendations to anyone but they all stem from one question, what kind of experience are you looking to have?

By Tess Stuber

Plant type: Indica vs. Sativa

The first factor most folks look to is plant type. Indica vs Sativa. But the way we use the terms colloquially isn’t the same as their original meanings. Plant type is based on the biology of the plant and influences the effects, it is not determined by the effects themselves. Indica plants are easier to grow due to their hardy nature. They can withstand colder temperatures and they grow bushier and lower to the ground. Indica plants have a wider leaf structure whereas Sativa plants have longer, skinnier leaves. Sativa plants prefer warm climates and typically grow taller, and lankier. For this reason, our market is dominated by Indicas.

Due to extensive genetic cross-breeding, almost all cannabis today is a hybrid of the two types. If you ask the average person what the difference is, they might tell you that Indica strains put you to sleep while Sativa strains keep you awake. There are a lot of reasons people have come to this conclusion, but this isn’t always true. For starters, no cannabis is an “upper.” While some sativa strains may give you some mental energy, excitement, or focus, they won’t stimulate you the way caffeine does, for example. Indica strains do tend to focus more on the body, but if they all make you fall asleep, you’re likely over-consuming.


This brings us to the next big factor we look to when choosing a particular strain of cannabis: terpene content. Terpenes are the molecules in plants that determine their smells. These terpenes also have physiological effects that vary based on how they mix with each other, what cannabinoids are present, your own natural body composition, and the grow methods/quality of the grow. This is the third factor. Knowing what grow methods you prefer and what quality standards matter to you can help guide your choice at the shop.

There are hundreds of terpenes and likely many more we haven’t even discovered yet but some of the most common in cannabis are Myrcene, Caryophyllene, and Limonene. All of these terpenes can be found in other kinds of plants too and we’ve been using their medicinal benefits for thousands of years.

Have you ever heard of people taking lemon shots in the morning for a little pick-me-up? This is largely because of the Limonene content found in citrus plants. Limonene has been shown to boost energy, stimulate creativity and focus, and elevate mood. Maybe you’ve also heard that eating a bunch of mangos before you smoke can make you feel more high? That’s because mangos have a high Myrcene content, the most common terpene found in cannabis. This terpene has relaxing, sedative-type effects and is found in nearly every strain to some extent.


Of course, it’s also important to look at how strong the strain is that you’re choosing. Thanks to legalization, all cannabis is tested to provide a THC content percentage. While this can help guide your decision, these tests can vary a lot and can also be manipulated. We should be cautious not to put too much weight into the number without considering all the factors.

We have to understand that cannabis has gotten a lot stronger in the last 20 years thanks to plant genetic science. Maybe your granddaddy could smoke two-gram blunts every hour but if you do that today, you’ll be a vegetable before the sun goes down. Tolerance plays a big role in determining how much we should consume. The way one strain affects each person can change a lot based on body chemistry and tolerance to THC or other cannabinoids.

THC content in the Ontario legal market mostly ranges from 20-30% THC. Most strains in the 1970s and 80s had less than 10% THC. To find cannabis of this strength today, we have to look to our balance strains. These strains are bred to have a close to even amount of THC and CBD. This can be as low as 3% or as high as 16%. These strains are our favourite for ensuring a smooth cannabis experience. CBD helps to buffer our system from some of the less desirable effects of THC such as anxiety, paranoia, a rapid heart rate, and a heavy crash when the high subsides.


Everyone has different measures for what makes good weed “good.” It’s up to you to decide. Beyond potency and genetics, there are a lot of different factors that play into quality. There are also a wide variety of grow methods out there, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. For example, cannabis grown outside under the sun is obviously the most ‘natural’ and does have holistic benefits that come along with that. Some folks have noticed outdoor grown cannabis feels more comfortable, easing in and out of the high sooner and providing very clean feeling effects, but the external factors of the weather make it hard to control. When you grow indoors, you can control every part of the process from climate to care to get the outcome you’re looking for. There are also plenty of in-between options. One isn’t better than the other, it’s up to you to decide what suits your experience best.

At Bonnefire, we value craft cannabis that is small-batch, hand-trimmed, grown with love and care, and as organic as possible. We try to highlight small to medium-sized producers as much as possible and seek out those who came from the legacy industry with their many years of experience behind them.

Still not sure where to begin? Come chat with us in person or online and we’ll help you find your perfect strain.

Find us on Instagram @BonnefireCannabis

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