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The Best is Relative – Finding the Right Cannabis For You

Emerald Cup Judges Rick Pfrommer and Nikki Lastreto inspect a bud/Photo courtesy of Nikki Lastreto

Joint Opinions

The Best is Relative – Finding the Right Cannabis For You

After tasting so many winning varieties as a judge in The Emerald Cup, people often ask me what is my favorite strain. It’s like asking someone their favorite destination after a round-the-world trip — some places stand out and some strains are memorable, but it’s really difficult to pin down the best of the best. So how does one develop the “nose” for judging connoisseur organic sungrown cannabis? First of all, you need to love and respect the plant deeply. She’s a girl like any other girl, and yearns to be appreciated. She wants her buds to be gently broken and admired and her terpenes to be passionately inhaled. She wants to please you!

It seems like I have been training my cannabis nose since I was a young flower child in San Francisco in the late ’60s. It didn’t take me long to figure out that I preferred Panama Red over Acapulco Gold and Afghani hash over Lebanese Blonde. I recall caring more then about how “stoned” I got, rather than observing the many other qualities of the plant and the subtle effects obtained through her various compounds. If you had said “THC” to me in 1969, I would have assumed it was a new psychedelic. Forget about having a clue about CBD or CBN, etc.

When Thai sticks appeared on the scene in the early 1970s it was a new taste treat. Not only was the high extremely sativa (another term I would not have known back then) but the flavor was rich chocolate with hints of cabernet. As a teenager with an unsophisticated palate, I probably would have compared it to a Tootsie Roll. Really, it is simply about whether you like that fragrance, that flavor, that high, or not. And that is always relative.

So, how do you judge for yourself what cannabis will best suit your needs? First of all, do not be seduced by the “bling” or the crystal sparkle on cannabis flowers. Particularly with indoor grown, it can be gained through the use of questionable additives. Look for solid buds with a neat, but not too-tight trim. Make sure it’s not too damp and not too dry. Like the three little bears, you want your buds just right… Of course, you will also smell the bud in search of the terpenes that appeal most to you, and hopefully the taste will follow when you finally indulge. OK, so I sound like a cannabis snob – and I am!

Let’s move on to the high. As you aren’t able to actually sample the medicine at a dispensary, hopefully there are trained budistas to guide you through the selections. It never hurts to ask yourself some questions first, such as: do I want to feel awake and creative (sativa-dominant) or do I want to relax and be mellow with some good belly laughs (indica-dominant)? Like ingesting any medicine, whether for health or ritual, intention and awareness are essential for a beneficial undertaking.

Last but hardly least, make sure it is sungrown and organically grown. We are blessed to live in a time and place where we can go to the health food store and purchase lovely fresh organic fruits and vegetables. So why buy anything other than cannabis grown organically under the sun, moon and stars? Get to know your cannabis and your smoking experience will enhance your entire body, mind and spirit.

How do you choose strains? Let us know.



  1. Luaono Tauala

    November 2, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    Hey my name is ono and I suffer from club feet and have troubles moving around and what not, I been smoking this Romulan and I absolutely love it. Whats the best type of cannabis for pain?

  2. penny sartin duke

    January 25, 2016 at 12:20 am

    I’m a 55 year old woman with many disabilities and I have exstream bad case of Arthritis all down my spine and RTA and Fibromyalgia as well as a club foot and very bad back too. I have to deal with migrain headaches alot. I rather have thc it cannabis for the pain then darn pills that can cause alot of dangerous damage to your body . I live in a state that won’t pass the bill for medical marijuana. Can you tell me if I have any legal rights on this and if there’s any options out there for me to use to help me get legalized please???? Thank you for your time. God bless yall .

    • penny sartin duke

      January 25, 2016 at 12:22 am

      I also have inphazema and copd

    • Nikki

      February 3, 2016 at 9:12 pm

      Greetings Penny, I am so sorry to hear you have to deal with so many problems. I am not medically trained to answer your questions – but the best advice I can give is for you to move to a state where you can get your medicine, because I do know IT WORKS! Write your Congressman and vote and pray the powers that be see the light. My prayers are with you, Nikki

  3. Earl Weis

    January 23, 2016 at 8:42 am

    what is the best or a good strain for use against copd/asthma

    • Nikki

      February 3, 2016 at 9:15 pm

      I wish I could tell you Earl, but I am not that knowledgable. However, if you ask at your local dispensary they should know or help you find the answer. If you are in the SF Bay Area I recommend you contacting either Harborside Health Center in Oakland or else Dragonfly Wellness Center and Dispensary in Fort Bragg, California. I know there are strains to help both of those ailments. I do know we had a member of our collective who loved our Royal Purple high CBD strain for his PTSD. Good luck! Nikki

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