CBDCBD God Bud boasts plenty of resin glands containing high amounts of CBD. (Image courtesy of Karl Deppen)

Good Medicine: These CBD Medical Marijuana Strains Will Boost Your Grow — And Your Bank Balance

In the past 15 years, one of the most important movements in the wider community of cannabis breeders, growers and consumers has been the shift in focus to CBD strains.

Interestingly, CBD (cannabidiol) and CBN (cannabinol) were at one time the scorned cannabinoids that the community wanted as little to do with as possible. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) was rightfully seen as the euphoric, psychedelic cannabinoid that produces that classic, uplifting, recreational high everyone was after. And as a consequence, seed breeders worked ceaselessly to create strains with as little CBD and CBN as possible.

Fast forward to today, when post-prohibition is sweeping the nation and the rise in popularity of medical marijuana has prompted us to see CBD in a new light, thanks to its medicinal advantages that include pain relief, muscle spasm relief, alleviation from inflammation, insomnia and other stubborn conditions. People suffering from the likes of chronic pain, neuropathic pain, sleep disorders, arthritis and musculoskeletal injury report that CBD-rich cannabis helps them more than any doctor-prescribed medicine ever did.

Breeding high-CBD strains that produce reliable medical outcomes has been a challenge for many cannabis breeders. After years of selective breeding to put back in what previous decades of lineage cultivation had removed, we now have a handful of worthwhile CBD strains in photoperiod, feminized and autoflowering varieties.

When I first started growing high-CBD strains, I mistakenly assumed they’d be more resilient and faster finishing than regular photoperiod cannabis. However, I soon found out this was far from the truth. The medicinally driven focus of creating high-CBD bud instead of crops rich in psychoactive THC has resulted in genetic anomalies and weaknesses in many CBD strains. Of the dozens of commercial CBD bloodlines on the market, most are no better than if you were growing hemp.

Indeed, the breeding of incredible, truly high-CBD cannabis is still flawed and a work in progress, and will likely take another three-to-five years before we have perfected spectacular CBD-rich strains that yield big, offer a full range of CBD medicinal benefits, and are also exceptionally enjoyable for recreational consumers and patients alike. Nevertheless, you can trust these nine strains as the best we have right now.

Following is the list, in no particular order, of CBD strains you can count on when you’re looking to grow reliable phenotypes of healing cannabis, and how best to grow them.

1. CBD Kush

CBD Kush is a feminized photoperiod strain that boasts Kandy Kush — one of the most underrated regular strains of all time — as one of its wonderful genetic precursors.

How best to grow CBD Kush: A 70:40 indica-dominant strain that has enough sativa to warrant an average 61–65-day bloom phase, expect higher than average yields from CBD Kush, plus a very pleasant high and flavor, especially when it’s fed Bud Candy, Big Bud, Rhino Skin and Nirvana during bloom phase.

Where to buy: Dutch Passion Seed Company

2. CBD God Bud

British Columbia’s God Bud was one of the tightest, strongest, most nuggety strains coming out of western Canada during the 1990s. Admittedly, it was tricky to grow and not a heavy yielder, but the high was penetrating — like a fruity version of AK-47, the famed one-hit wonder. Plus, the buds had a glowing bluish tint that made them visually unique.

How best to grow CBD God Bud: Now, the original God Bud has been crossed with high-CBD Harlequin to create a CBD-rich version that gives you larger, more resinous buds and a less-crippling high, loaded with cannabidiol. It needs eight-to-nine weeks in bloom and benefits from a high-UV grow light. Feed Nirvana, Big Bud Organic and Bud Candy Organic to get larger, tastier yields.

Where to buy: BC Bud Depot

3. CBD Charlotte’s Angel

CBD Charlotte’s Angel is a rarity in the CBD world because it retains sativa characteristics and yet has high CBD levels tested at 9–17 percent of total cannabinoids. As the name indicates, this strain comes from a cross between the Dutch version of Charlotte’s Web, which is one of the most famous CBD strains in the world, and the genetic line of Red Angel, a Dutch clone-only CBD.

How best to grow CBD Charlotte’s Angel: This feminized strain has a very long and variable bloom phase of 9–12 weeks, indicative of its multiple phenotypes that tend toward sativa. The most useful phenotypes take about 10-and-a-half weeks in bloom phase, are rich with resin glands, and provide a moderate THC high, along with the high you get from terpenoids and CBD itself. Feed with Bud Factor X and Rhino Skin to promote even more resin gland development, and use Big Bud from weeks two to eight of bloom phase — or longer, depending on how your phenotypes are maturing during flowering phase.

Where to buy: Dutch Passion Seed Company

4. Great White Shark CBD

Great White Shark CBD is a feminized strain created by crossing White Widow, Skunk #1, and an unnamed all-CBD strain. Lab testing of Great White Shark CBD shows equal amounts of THC and CBD, at about 12 percent each, so you get an interesting hybrid high, along with CBD’s medicinal assets. The strain has a rather unique taste and scent, and is thus a favorite of those who like to make dry sift, bubble hash and cannabis oils.

How best to grow Great White Shark CBD: You’ll need about nine weeks in bloom phase, and the strain’s growth characteristics make it ideal for screen of green and sea of green grow ops.

Where to buy: Green House Seed Company

5. CBD Auto White Widow

Autoflowering cannabis strains tend to boast the genetics of high-CBD ruderalis. CBD Auto White Widow is an Auto White Widow crossed with high-CBD Sweet and Sour Widow to create a 1:1 THC and CBD ratio.

How best to grow CBD Auto White Widow: It’s ready to harvest 9–10 weeks after germination and is one of the more powerful autoflowering CBD strains you can grow.

Where to buy: Dutch Passion Seed Company


White Widow is one of the more powerful autoflowering CBD strains you can grow.

6. Pennywise

West Coast seed breeder and grower Subcool crossed high-CBD Harlequin with high-THC speed weed Jack the Ripper to create Pennywise. The strain’s non-feminized seeds produce four phenotypes with pretty much the same aromas and tastes, yet have pronounced differences in appearance and bud structure.

Some phenos give you thick buds that are purple in color, while other buds are thin and pale green. The purple phenotypes are the most desirable due to the high and the harvest weight. Also desirable is that this strain is resistant to powdery mildew.

How best to grow Pennywise: All phenotypes grow out to be short to medium in height, so you only need one topping, and bloom-phase stretch is shorter than most strains. You need 60–67 days in bloom phase and can expect moderate yields of buds that give you intriguing scents and flavors including ground coffee, pepper and lemony bubblegum. The Jack the Ripper component makes the high a lot more alert and peppy than you usually get from a CBD strain.

Where to buy: Subcool Seeds

7. Cannatonic

This is one of the foundational CBD strains, made by crossing New York City Diesel with Reina Madre. The breeder describes it as a 50:50 split between indica and sativa, with a nine-week bloom phase.

How best to grow Cannatonic: There are three phenotypes for this strain. The predominant pheno that shows up the most is a high-potency varietal with a 1:1 CBD and THC ratio. Another pheno will have mostly CBD and very little THC, and a third will be high THC and low CBD. The breeders recommend growing several plants, growing all the phenos to maturity, and then combining buds from each pheno to get a 1:1 THC to CBD ratio, plus a variety of useful terpenoids.

Where to buy: Resin Seeds

8. Haze Autoflowering CBD Automatic

Dinafem is one of few breeders to make reliable, well-yielding autoflowering cannabis strains. The company launched its CBD Haze autoflowering strain in 2016 after crossing a Haze XXL autoflowering strain with a pure CBD autoflower.

How best to grow Haze Autoflowering CBD: These plants grow fast and compact, with Haze THC and a healthy dose of CBD produced by plants that are ready to harvest 80–90 days after germination. This CBD strain has been successfully grown outdoors and indoors and is considered reliable and hardy, with little phenotypic variation.

Where to buy: Dinafem Seeds

9. Deadlights

In my humble opinion, Deadlights is the most complex and satisfying CBD strain on the market right now. It has two main phenotypes, and after sampling it many times, I’m sure it has a lot more THC than the breeder estimates, because the effects are way more than just body-centered and medicinal.

How best to grow Deadlights: Check here for a full strain report on Deadlights, and consider using it as a mother plant and/or pollen donor for crossing with other strains to add taste, yield, scent and cannabinoid complexity to any breeding project, whether your aim is to create a high-CBD strain or just to insert more CBD into a high-THC strain.

Where to buy: Subcool Seeds

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