Many people love the psychoactive effects that THC-rich cannabis strains produce. However, a growing number of medical marijuana patients are exploring the benefits of high CBD strains.

Cannabidiol or CBD is now a central factor for many medical cannabis patients as they select new medicine. However, in many places there are literally dozens of high CBD strains available, and more all the time. The choice can often confusing, if not overwhelming.

Adding to this issue is the fact that the idea of breeding CBD-dominant cultivars is itself new. There’s just not the same body of knowledge existing for decades out there about these strains—not in the same way.

Therefore, it was a matter of research, and we did it. Our team is really medical marijuana patients as well as recreational users, so we understand what everyone is looking for as we go through these high CBD content strains.

So here are the best high CBD strains we could find as of 2020. Whether you consume them as flower or prefer CBD oil, enjoy these strains in good health!

  • ACDC
  • Cannatonic
  • Canna-Tsu
  • CBD Blue Shark
  • CBD Critical Mass
  • Charlotte’s Web
  • Cherry Wine
  • Harle-Tsu
  • Lifter
  • Pennywise

ACDC

ACDC is on most lists of high CBD content strains, with an average CBD/THC ratio of 20:1 and CBD content of up to 20 percent. This gently sativa-dominant cross of Ruderalis and Cannatonic—another high CBD heavy hitter in its own right.

ACDC is a high quality daily driver for medical cannabis patients coping with anxiety, arthritis, depression, epilepsy, inflammation, migraines, nausea, neuropathy, pain, PD, seizures, or tension. It is also excellent for those suffering from GI issues such as Crohn’s disease.

If you like an earthy, piney, herbal, slightly woody, sweet flavor, ACDC is a great choice. This strain’s primary terpenes include b-pinene, b-caryophyllene, and a-pinene.

Most ACDC users report increased energy, focus, and relaxation, without fatigue or sedation. Along these lines, don’t be fooled by the name—it’s definitely not an even CBD/THC split! This is a CBD-dominant strain with no intoxicating side effects thanks to these safe THC levels.

Cannatonic

Don’t think of Cannatonic as something that induces catatonia. Think of it as a cannabis tonic, something to soothe your body and soul that is 100 percent cannabis.

There is a lot of variation in the CBD/THC split of this strain, which can range from 5:1 to 1:1. ACDC typically hovers at about 2:1 CBD to THC and 10 to 12 percent CBD content, offering an even-handed cannabinoid profile that is an effective medicine or a light, relaxing recreational strain. Watch the label, though; in 2016, Cannatonic tested over 20 percent CBD at the Southern California Cannabis Cup.

Cannatonic was bred as a medical marijuana strain, a cross designed to optimize the indica traits of its parents, G13 Haze and MK Ultra. Created in 2008 for “Spannabis” by the Spain CBD genetics company Resin Seeds, the Cannatonic strain has led the way for many other cultivars such as Canna-Tsu, Quin-n-Tonic, and Midnight Express.

Cannatonic has a light, citrusy, earthy aroma and flavor, along with notes of piney sweetness. This is no surprise given that the most abundant terpenes found in the various phenotypes of Cannatonic include myrcene, pinene, b-caryophyllene, and limonene.

Cannatonic acts fast but leaves users clear-headed, and customer reviews report it is good for daytime treatment of anxiety, depression, fatigue, muscle spasms, migraines, pain, and stress.

Canna-Tsu

If you’re looking for a more balanced CBD/THC option, Canna-Tsu is a great strain that smells truly amazing thanks to its well-developed palate of terpenes. You will love these earthy, citrusy aromas.

It’s easy to confuse Canna-Tsu with its relative, Harle-Tsu, but they just share a parent—Sour Tsunami. Harlequin is Harle-Tsu’s other parent, while Canna-Tsu went in the Cannatonic direction. Like it’s Cannatonic mama, Canna-Tsu has a range when it comes to CBD/THC ratio, but it tends to be balanced. There is sometimes also variation from crop to crop in other cannabinoid concentration, especially CBN levels which can be relatively high in this strain.

Most phenotypes of Canna-Tsu exhibit myrcene, pinene, terpinolene, and b-caryophyllene in the greatest abundance. These contribute to the herbal, piney, fruity, spicy scent of this strain.

Medical patients report that they turn to Canna-Tsu for anxiety, bipolar disorder, chronic pain, and seizures. In terms of other effects, the user can expect a soothing sense of calm while staying focused and awake.

CBD Blue Shark

CBD Blue Shark brings both the medical benefits and the flavor. It is a connoisseur’s cannabis experience for a medical marijuana patient.

Barney’s Farm bred CBD Blue Shark from CBD Shark and Blue Cheese to land a seriously delicious, nearly 1:1 CBD/THC strain. In fact, average THC content of 6 percent and CBD content of 8 percent make for a truly mellowing cannabinoid profile that medical marijuana patients report helps them cope with anxiety, inflammation, and stress.

The name CBD Blue Shark might suggest blueberry to you, and actually this complex flavor bouquet does include notes of berry, along with jasmine and other flowers, and of course cheese.

This compact plant is relatively hardy with an 8 to 9 week flowering period. After that, look for a high-yield of resinous buds for a high CBD strain—over 19 ounces per square meter.

CBD Critical Mass

For those fans of the indica-dominant strain Critical Mass, CBD Critical Mass was created to add medical benefits to those gorgeous, heavy-hitting indica genetics. The result is an 80/20 indica/sativa hybrid with a fairly even THC:CBD ratio ranging from 1:1 to about 1:2.

Actual CBD content is typically around 5 to 10 percent, with THC content in the same range. CBD Critical Mass is perfect for both medical marijuana patients and recreational users who want that gentle, refreshing high with some pain relief from CBD.

In fact, think of CBD Critical Mass as a lighter, more refreshing, yet still deeply indica-feeling version of Critical Mass. You won’t feel totally couch-locked or sedated, but you will feel extremely relaxed and ready for a night of restful sleep.

CBD Critical Mass plants resemble their less medical cousins, offering up high yields of heavy buds on branches that benefit from support. Grown inside, expect at least 17 ounces per square meter from plants that are medium sized. Outside plants get taller but yield about the same, flowering in late September or early October.

Charlotte’s Web

A hemp cultivar, Charlotte’s Web is a high-CBD strain out of Colorado that has done as much as any other to fight the stigma attached to medical marijuana. Named for the late Charlotte Figi, then a severely disabled child living with Dravet syndrome and fighting for a better life, Charlotte’s Web was the one thing that eventually reduced the frequency of the child’s seizures.

Medical marijuana patient customer reviews reflect similar experiences treating anxiety, arthritis, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, migraines, muscle spasms, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, pain, and seizures. Without sufficient THC content, there are no cerebral effects, and no head high from Charlotte’s Web.

Charlotte’s Web has among the highest CBD content of 17 percent with extremely low THC content—making it legal to sell nationwide. Abundant terpenes in most phenotypes of this strain include beta-myrcene, pinene, caryophyllene, and bisabolol, lending Charlotte’s Web a sweet, herbal, piney aroma and flavor with woody, spicy, peppery notes.

Cherry Wine

Cherry Wine is a high CBD strain that makes the delicious most of two other high CBD content cultivars: Charlotte’s Cherries and The Wife. Like Charlotte’s Web, Cherry Wine has less than 0.3 percent THC content, making it mostly legal.

Cherry Wine has a unique chemical profile among high CBD strains for several reasons. First, it is a reliable source of CBG as well as CBD. Second, it features the common terpenes beta-myrcene and caryophyllene, but it is also abundant in humulene—something found in few of these cultivars. 

Fans of CBD cannabis strains love the high CBD content Cherry Wine boasts, 15 to 22 percent. This also affords a restorative, pain-relieving experience for mind and body.

Cherry Wine is one of those new strains that appeals to the senses, nose first. These smell of tart, sweet cherries and black pepper, with undertones of herbs, cheese, and hops. This is an especially nice strain for vapes and concentrates.

Harle-Tsu

The late Lawrence Ringo is someone people who care about CBD will be hearing about. Creator of both Harle-Tsu and Ringo’s Gift, Ringo combined Sour Tsunami and Harlequin at SoHum Seeds in Northern California. The result is an exceedingly functional daytime CBD strain that won 2014’s best CBD flower at the Emerald Cup.

Harle-Tsu has earned every ounce of its fame. It typically comes in a 20:1 CBD-to-THC ratio, with at least 10 percent CBD, and certain batches testing past 20 percent. It also boasts a strong, unusually invigorating terpene profile that includes myrcene, terpinolene, and pinene in abundance, and humulene and ocimene in smaller amounts. Don’t expect a Sour Diesel style fuel taste or smell; instead, Harle-Tsu has an herbal, woody, faintly fruity sort of aroma and flavor.

This high CBD stimulates but does not intoxicate, thanks to the negligible levels of THC. Instead, this knockout combination of cannabinoids and terpenes delivers an incredible medical and recreational experience. Customer reviews report that Harle-Tsu treats chronic pain, depression, epilepsy, fatigue,  inflammation, insomnia due to anxiety, joint pain, lack of appetite, nausea, PMS, PTSD, and stress.

Lifter

Lifter is named for its ability to pick up your spirits and mood, changing the game and day. In this way it is much like a more traditional sativa-dominant strain, but not intoxicating.

An unusually spicy, earthy, fruity, tasty high CBD option among many that have a plainer, “grassier” flavor to many, Lifter’s plentiful terpenes and high CBD levels of around 15 percent make it one you should grab if you see. Those terpy flavors also have therapeutic benefits, not to mention making this a knockout strain for concentrates.

Although many CBD-dominant strains don’t offer much if anything in the way of cerebral stimulation, Lifter reportedly gives you that uplifting flavor boost on top of its cannabinoids that fire up the mind without the jitters. In this unique way, Lifter competes with other sativa strains, even the high-THC strains that power you into a cerebral buzz.

Along with the higher CBD levels of around 15 percent, the terpenes myrcene, b-caryophyllene, and ocimene are abundant. This makes for a peppery, spicy, herbal, minty flavor profile that is punctuated by fruity, tropical notes.

Other than an uplifted mood, customer reviews report that Lifter helps with inflammation, migraines, nausea, pain, and stress. But unless anxiety is the sole source of your insomnia, this may not be your silver bullet for sleeping at night—they call it Lifter for a reason.

Pennywise

Don’t be scared, even after the recent remake. The Pennywise cannabis strain is here to help you heal, and not by terrorizing you.

Pennywise is named because it is the genetic cross of the world-famous sativa powerhouse Jack the Ripper and the high CBD Harlequin. Jack the Ripper brings a heavy dose of focus and mental clarity to this strain, and Harlequin brings the calm, even-handedness only a 1:1 CBD/THC ratio can offer. The result is a high CBD strain that is both pleasant and functional all day long, at any dose.

Pennywise has a pocket full of sweet candy flavor to lure unsuspecting whoevers, also also notes of coffee, bubblegum, and pepper—pretty much what you’d expect from a devilish clown. But all that will happen is an ever-so-mellow high that relieves pain and allows you to do your thing. And medical marijuana patients report in customer reviews that Pennywise helps with arthritis, depression, epilepsy, lack of appetite, nausea, and PTSD.

Image of high CBD cannabis strain.
Closeup of Cannabis female plant in flowering phase.

Final Thoughts

There are more CBD products on the market all the time, but to us it’s much more exciting to see actual high CBD strains coming out of the greenhouse and into dispensaries. There is a real market for these low THC strains, especially as older demographics support medical marijuana programs more across the United States.

The broad spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes are among the most exciting things about the cannabis plant, and these growers are bringing more of what the plant has to offer to the public. Did we miss any popular CBD strains that we shouldn’t have passed up?

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