Cannabis connoisseurs have long prized potency as one of the main factors that makes a particular strain more desirable than another. Potency has long been popular in an illicit market—when the local selection consisted of the offerings of one illegal dealer versus those of another, many consumers were looking to get more bang for their buck and sought out the strongest strain. Traditionally, cannabis users attributed strain potency to high levels of the cannabinoid THC, which has led to the proliferation of strains that are full of it. THC may be the most prevalent active compound in marijuana, but it is only one of at least 85 that we know of. Thanks to marijuana’s growing legitimacy as a medicinal option, CBD is starting to emerge as the cannabinoid poised to steal THC’s thunder.
What are High CBD Strains?
CBD is the abbreviation for cannabidiol, the cannabinoid second only to THC when it comes to average volume. Recently, research has shown CBD to have analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety properties without the psychoactive effects (the "high" or "stoned" feeling) that THC provides. While high THC strains often tout levels of over 20%, generally, CBD levels of over 4% are considered to be high.
Who Do These Strains Help?
It was initially thought that cannabidiol’s main function was to counter the psychoactive effects of THC, but more evidence seems to show that medically, CBD packs quite a punch on its own. It looks to be especially promising for conditions that are difficult to treat such as Crohn’s disease, PTSD and multiple sclerosis. Lately, it is one of the rarest of these conditions, Dravet’s Syndrome, that is getting a lot of attention from both the medical community and the public. Dravet’s Syndrome is an especially debilitating form of epilepsy that affects children and is notoriously resistant to current approved treatment methods. Sufferers are plagued by seizures, often up to hundreds a day that worsen as they age and can be life-threatening. Currently, treatment methods include having the child wear an eyepatch, specialized diets and brain surgery, but all have mixed success rates.
Through families’ stories of the successful management of Dravet’s Syndrome using CBD-rich marijuana strains, cannabidiol is beginning to look like these kids’ best hope. No, this does not mean kids are smoking it. One of the earliest success stories involves a young girl named Charlotte who was given a tincture version of Charlotte’s Web, a strain that was specifically developed to provide her with all the benefits of the drug without the high. In less than 2 years, Charlotte went from a monthly seizure count of 1,200 to about three. That’s some compelling math! Other success stories followed and more parents have begun to speak out, particularly parents who are desperate for access to this life-saving treatment.
This video highlights Charlotte and her disorder, as well as the promising treatment of high-CBD strains to help alleviate her symptoms:
Unlike pharmaceutical treatments for Dravet’s, cannabis has no lethal dose or known serious medical side effects, but it is still federally illegal. The fact that this condition affects children as young as a few days old makes it both a prime opportunity for non-psychoactive CBD-rich strains to shine, but it also makes it a touchy subject in a culture where cannabis has been demonized. However, the success of treating a condition that was previously often untreatable begs us to take a closer look at these three little letters. The FDA seems to agree—earlier this year they approved a study to examine the effects of CBD on epilepsy, specifically in young users.
What are Some Strains That Generally Have High CBD Levels?
Strains vary from grower to grower, crop to crop and even plant to plant, so keep in mind that the actual medication’s CBD levels may vary. However, here are some strains that have been actively bred in recent years to have higher CBD levels, so they might be a good place to start. We also recommend checking with dispensaries about the specifics of their strains’ CBD levels or see if they provide test results.