25 Essential Strains

How does one define an essential strain? Is it based on a strain’s strength or the way its smell hits your nose? Now more than ever, the cannabis consumer is educated, searching for the finest flower on the market and in a position to know exactly why they love what they’re smoking.

The Cannabis Now editorial team has spent years comparing the numerous strains we’ve smoked from around the world. We compiled this list to highlight many of the best from the modern era and a few timeless classics. This list doesn’t claim to determine the exact marijuana mountaintop, but rather to present a spectacular selection from the thousands of strains that have been produced since cannabis law reforms really got moving in the right direction with California’s Proposition 215 in 1996.

While we spent plenty of time judging these strains, we know it’s nothing compared to the generations of time that master breeders have spent — under the threat of arrest — to progress the cannabis genome. Their lifetimes of effort are clear in the caliber of cannabis today, which all of the strains on this list have demonstrated whenever we’ve had the privilege of getting our hands on them.

Today, in states with legal adult use cannabis, these experienced cultivators are taking their efforts to the stratosphere now that they don’t have to protect themselves as they did under prohibition. Things are so good on the hunt for new strains nowadays that folks are popping thousands of the same seed in hopes of getting their hands on a golden ticket phenotype. So, while you’ll notice some new faces on this list that you might not have come across yet, we assure you they’re up to snuff.

Just as we did before we promised 3rd Generation Family’s Rozé would blow up before it placed second in the 2017 Emerald Cup and won the accompanying Breeder’s Cup, we’ve compared these strains against the fullest landscape possible. It wasn’t too hard to give Rozé a stamp of approval, given its mother is Zkittlez, which was among the top strains of the last few years and arguably the most hyped cut on the planet since the original Girl Scout Cookies pheno many years ago. But then again, one could definitely argue Supernova Gardens’ Purple Punch is beginning to nip at Zkittlez’s heels, as every major U.S. pot publication selected Purple Punch as their Best Strain of 2017.

We definitely weren’t just going to toss something on this list because it tested 30 percent THC. In the same sense that 99.9 percent THC-A crystalline dabs aren’t that fun, there is a lot that more that goes into the cannabis plant than just THC, so our grouping assembles a very diverse palate of cannabinoids and terpenes.

For example, deep purples like Forbidden Fruit and God’s Gift will provide a grapey myrcene content, which brings along sweetness and some of the most narcotic, full-bodied highs of all. On the other end of that flavor and feeling spectrum is Durban Poison, which also made the list because of its legendary history. Famed Canadian author Dana Larsen wrote he bought more than two ounces of the South African classic for $12 Canadian while visiting Johannesburg in 1994. These days, a top-shelf eighth is likely still going to set you back $60 bucks, but luckily, you can still get your hands on this premium landrace sativa.

Much of the list contains far more balanced hybrids than the above examples. Cult classics like Mr. Sherbinski’s Mochi Gelato have a beautiful purple hue and a nice gassy overtone on top of an already complex smell. For an even deeper adventure into terpenes like pinene and humulene, Titan OG and Sour Headband will have you mistaking the jar for a gas station after you pop it open the first time.

On this list, you’ll see plenty of awards winners with accolades from every newspaper, magazine and sesh imaginable. But in the end, no matter the trophy, title or accolade, it’s all great cannabis because it connects with us. We recognize it as special because it makes us feel special, and here at Cannabis Now, these 25 strains are definitely exceptional to us.



Type: Hybrid
fire Hot Take: Rosewater terps.

Gorilla Glue #4 strain

PHOTO Martin Henderson

Gorilla Glue #4

Type: Sativa Hybrid
fire Hot Take: Don’t let your fingers get stuck together!

Sirius Black strain

PHOTO Wade Preble

Sirius Black

Type: Indica
fire Hot Take: Oregon’s less drowsy purple.


PHOTO Dabsel

Sour Banana Sherbert

Type: 50/50 Hybrid
fire Hot Take: The original Sour Diesel gets a flavor upgrade.

Forbidden-Fruit Strain

PHOTO Chris Romaine

Forbidden Fruit

Type: Indica Hybrid
fire Hot Take: San Jose’s most famous strain!

Titan OG strain

PHOTO Northern Emeralds

Titan OG

Type: Indica Hybrid
fire Hot Take: Smells like a gas station in the woods.

Super Lemon Haze from CRAFT cannabis

PHOTO Gracie Malley

Super Lemon Haze

Type: Sativa
fire Hot Take: An Amsterdam classic and the best lemon strain ever.


PHOTO Dabsel


Type: 50/50 Hybrid
fire Hot Take: A great high from the Cookies lineage.

Zkittlez Strain



Type: Indica Hybrid
fire Hot Take: Actually tastes like the rainbow.

Purple Punch Strain

PHOTO Jared Delello

Purple Punch

Type: Indica
fire Hot Take: Strain of the Year 2017.

Jack Herer strain

Jack Herer

Type: Sativa Hybrid
fire Take: A classic ingredient.

Lemon Meringue

PHOTO Ian Stout

Lemon Meringue

Type: Sativa
fire Hot Take: Exotic Genetix’s Cookies and Cream sequel.

Wedding Cake strain macro

PHOTO Jared Delello

Wedding Cake

Type: Hybrid
fire Hot Take: Cookies x Cherry Pie and a lot of cup wins.

Tangie Strain

PHOTO Dabsel


Type: Sativa Hybrid
fire Hot Take: Crockett Family Farm’s jewel, loaded with terpenes.

Cherry Pie strain

PHOTO Dabsel

Cherry Pie

Type: Hybrid
fire Hot Take: South Africa meets NorCal Purple.

mochi gelato strain

PHOTO Allie Beckett

Mochi Gelato

Type: Indica Hybrid
fire Hot Take: One of the most developed lines of Gelato.

Durban Poison strain

PHOTO Gracie Malley

Durban Poison

Type: Landrace Sativa
fire Hot Take: A true smokable panic attack.

Mimosa Strain

PHOTO Martin Henderson


Type: Hybrid
fire Hot Take: Ultra-rare Chalice winner by Symbiotic Genetics.

Raspberry Cookies C.R.A.F.T CANNABIS

PHOTO Gracie Malley

Raspberry Cookies

Type: Indica Hybrid
fire Hot Take: Keepers of the Craft’s championship GSC x Cherry Pie.

Sunset Sherbert Strain

PHOTO Gracie Malley

Sunset Sherbert

Type: Hybrid
fire Hot Take: Accident from Sherbinksi’s grandma’s basement.

Sundae Driver Strain

PHOTO Jared Delello

Sundae Driver

Type: Indica Hybrid
fire Hot Take: $2,500 packs of seeds. Worth it!

Kosher Kush Strain

PHOTO Martin Henderson

Kosher Kush

Type: Indica Hybrid
fireHot Take: The LA Jewish Community brings the heat.

Sour Headband Strain

PHOTO Gracie Malley

Sour Headband

Type: Sativa Hybrid
fire Hot Take: A more intense version of Headband, but Diesel lite for sure.

Scooby Snacks Strain

PHOTO Martin Clifford

Scooby Snacks

Type: Hybrid
fire Hot Take: The best pairing of OG Kush and Cookies.

God's Gift Strain

PHOTO Dankshire

God’s Gift

Type: Indica
fire Hot Take: The Scorpion Crew’s outrageous purple.

Originally published in Issue 31 of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

TELL US, did we leave anything essential off the list??

The post 25 Essential Strains appeared first on Cannabis Now.

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