CBD. You've seen these three letters advertised at your neighborhood cafe, fused within the topical your aunt has been boasting to the family about, even on the shelves of your local pharmacy stores. What you might not be aware of, however, is which cannabis strains contain the highest levels of cannabidiol (CBD), the non-intoxicating cannabinoid that has taken the health and wellness market by storm.
Similar to the way cultivators try to maximize the production of THC, there are also high-CBD strains specifically bred to offer therapeutic benefits without intoxicating levels of THC. This has made it possible for children suffering from seizures to be safely treated with medical cannabis.
And while CBD is often associated with oils, tinctures, vape pens, and other cannabis products, it's also available in flower to roll in joints, pack in bowls, and load in vaporizers.
If you want to curate your CBD experience with strain-specific flower, you'll want to know the most popular options available on the legal market. Without further ado, here are seven of the world's most historically significant and widely used high-CBD strains.
First surfacing in 2011, Charlotte's Web is a high-CBD strain with an incredible history behind it – one that helped shed the stigma surrounding the use of medical cannabis to treat children. The strain is named after Charlotte Figi, a girl who developed a rare condition called Dravet syndrome, also known as severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy (SMEI), as a baby. Severely disabled by age three, she was suffering about 300 grand mal seizures a week, as reported in a CNN article in 2013.
After finding initial success in 2013 with a high-CBD strain called R4, the young girl's mother, Paige Figi, contacted the Stanley Brothers, a group of seven siblings in Colorado who were crossbreeding a strain of marijuana with industrial hemp to produce a high-CBD strain. They eventually developed a high-CBD strain that dramatically reduced her frequency of seizures to two to three times per month.
The story of Charlotte's Web sparked a discussion about the purported benefits of using CBD to treat epilepsy in children. At the time, some families even uprooted and migrated to Colorado just to gain access to the Charlotte's Web CBD extract. The cultivator behind this strain, now incorporated under the name Charlotte's Web, made up 14% of the market share for hemp-based CBD products in 2018.
It's considered by some to be a variation of hemp, as it has a CBD content of 17% and minuscule traces of THC. Dominant terpenes are beta-myrcene, caryophyllene, and bisabolol, giving Charlotte's Web flower a sweet taste and woodland-like aroma.
Created by the Spain-based CBD genetics company Resin Seeds, the high-CBD strain Cannatonic is a cross between MK Ultra and G13 Haze. Widely recognized as the “CBD queen,” this strain pre-dated many other CBD strains and helped spark the CBD movement of today. Introduced and analyzed at Spannabis, the annual cannabis event in Spain, in 2008, even Resin Seeds was shocked by the elevated levels of CBD it had achieved with this strain.
Some Cannatonic plants have tested as high as 17% CBD with a THC content that typically hovers below the 6% mark. About half of the population of Cannatonic seeds, however, will offer a near 1:1 CBD-to-THC ratio, according to Resin Seeds. This high-CBD strain has been lauded by HelloMD, an online medical resource, for its relaxing and uplifting properties, offering potentially therapeutic benefits for pain relief, muscle spasms, migraines, and other conditions.
The most abundant terpenes found in Cannatonic, according to one MCR Labs testing results, include myrcene, b-caryophyllene, and limonene, giving the flower an earthy and citrusy flavor.
A cross between two renowned high-CBD strains, Cannatonic and Ruderalis, AC/DC has an exceptionally high 20:1 CBD-to-THC ratio. The strain was selected by Dr. William Courtney, a medical expert who specializes in the dietary uses of cannabis, after he received a packet of seeds from Spain-based Resin Seeds, the original breeder of Cannatonic.
This CBD-heavy strain usually contains between 16% to 24% CBD and 2% to 6% THC, according to the Office of Medicinal Cannabis (NCSM), a government agency that operates under the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sports. The exceptionally high CBD content denotes that AC/DC could potentially be used to treat seizures, anxiety, and pain relief. The most abundant terpenes found in AC/DC include b-pinene, b-caryophyllene, and a-pinene, giving the flower with a sweet and herbaceous flavor.
Harlequin is a high-CBD strain that is a descendant of Thai sativa, Nepali indica, Swiss sativa, and Colombian Gold. This sativa-dominant strain tends to maintain a consistent 5:2 CBD-to-THC ratio. Lab tests conducted on Harlequin samples found that the strain contained between 8% to 16% CBD content and 4% to 7% THC content, according to the NCSM.
The well-defined balance of CBD and THC makes Harlequin a premier candidate to treat a variety of medical and psychological conditions, including anxiety, chronic pain, headaches, fatigue, and stress. Prominent terpenes include myrcene, a-pinene, and b-caryophyllene, giving this strain an earthy aroma with hints of mango and citrus.
Ringo's Gift is a high-CBD strain that is a cross between AC/DC and Harle-Tsu, two hybrid strains also recognized for their therapeutic value and an immense amount of CBD content. It's named after its original breeder, a renowned marijuana activist and trailblazer in CBD genetics named Lawrence Ringo, who founded the Southern Humboldt Seed Collective, or SoHum Seeds. There are a few varieties of ratios and phenotypes of this strain, some of which offer an equal 1:1 CBD-to-THC ratio, while some strains have been reported to reach a whopping 25:1 CBD-to-THC ratio.
For varieties that offer a more well-balanced ratio, consumers oftentimes report a warm and calming buzz without evoking feelings of tiredness or risk of couch-lock. This high-CBD strain has been purported to benefit a variety of mental conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and stress. Physical ailments can also be potentially treated with Ringo's Gift, including epilepsy, arthritis, chronic pain, inflammation, muscle spasms, and headaches. Its terpene profile, which includes myrcene, a-pinene, and caryophyllene, makes this an earthy strain with a piney and minty aroma, giving off a slightly spicy and tangy flavor.
First cultivated in Northern California at SoHum Seeds, the CBD genetics company founded by Ringo, Harle-Tsu is a high-CBD strain that is a cross between a Harlequin male and Sour Tsunami clone. When it was awarded first place for best CBD flower at the 2014 Emerald Cup, lab testing showed that Harle-Tsu yielded 21.05% CBD and 0.86% THC. On average, however, most Harle-Tsu strain samples contain about 18% CBD.
Boasting a 20:1 CBD-to-THC ratio, this high-CBD strain can be consumed without any concern of being inundated by the intoxicating effects of THC. Harle-Tsu is said to give users the feeling of complete relaxation. It comprises a plethora of terpenes, including myrcene, pinene, humulene, terpinolene, and ocimene. The combination of terpenes and high CBD content generates several potentially therapeutic benefits for various conditions, such as epilepsy, chronic pain, inflammation, depression, stress, and others.
Another popular CBD strain bred by Ringo, Sour Tsunami is a sativa-dominant hybrid with a unique lineage. After crossing an NYC Diesel with Sour Diesel and back-crossing it with a Sour Diesel clone, which was then crossed with a sativa-dominant strain called Ferrari, the resulting genetics were crossed back with Sour Diesel to create Sour Tsunami. It's one of the first known cannabis strains created specifically for medicinal purposes.
Despite its complicated origins, this high-CBD strain has become popular for its therapeutic properties. Test results on Sour Tsunami strain samples have demonstrated CBD levels from 10% to 11% and THC levels ranging from 1% to 10%. It could be used to relieve ailments such as chronic pain, back pain, stress, nausea, anxiety, and insomnia. The main terpenes found in high-CBD strain include myrcene, terpinolene, and b-caryophyllene, giving the flower a distinct aroma of diesel and chocolate.