CBD strains: the GreenState team picks their favs

best cbd strains: field of hemp plants

In an industry obsessed with pheno-hunting driven by THC content for decades–it used to be hard to find CBD strains with low THC. When the 2018 Farm Bill was issued, cultivators in many states without legalized cannabis started growing hemp CBD plants for consumption. In response, more CBD genetics and hemp flower have filtered into the market.

CBD flower can bring the ritual of cannabis consumption to someone who can’t tolerate THC, gets drug tested at work, or simply doesn’t want to feel high. It is also coveted by many medical cannabis patients who seek efficient relief from symptoms without much. Before the Farm Bill, there were a few CBD strains gracing medical dispensary menus. Now patients and interested consumers can enjoy more exotic hemp flower strains.

The GreenState team has a unique advantage when it comes to CBD genetics. Editor Rachelle Gordon’s partner is a Minnesota CBD hemp flower cultivator who collects and perfects different strains.

On the other side, Senior Content Producer Cara Wietstock was a medical dispensary budtender from 2011 to 2018, when the old-school CBD strains reigned supreme. Together they’ve experienced the best of both worlds.

These cannabis aficionados have compiled their favorite hemp flower strains in an in-depth look at the best CBD on the menu.

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Cara’s Picks: Best CBD Strains 


While there are surely epic buds of Cannatonic in the world, the only iteration of the flower I have seen wasn’t the most gorgeous. The flower was dark green with a hint of brown and not very dense. The parentage is MK Ultra and G-13 Haze, which contributes to the overall aesthetic of the bud. G-13 can be heavy-hitting but somewhat ugly.

But the test results promised a high dose of CBD with very little THC, a coveted result before the Farm Bill brought an abundance of high-quality CBD flower into the fold. While the flavor matched not super pleasant but not overly off-putting aroma of dirt, the effects were solid. Personally, ACDC provides me more relief than Cannatonic, but since everyone is different, I’m sure others could have an opposite experience.


This old-school CBD strain has stood the test of time, at least in the Washington state market. The child of Cannatonic commonly grows in a nightingale-brown, aka a brown that verges on green. The buds grow in spears and can range in density. Aromatically, the flower emits a combination of fresh dirt and lemons which translates into a lemongrass musk flavor.

ACDC often tests with high levels of CBD and THC below 8%, though results can vary based on where and how the plants are grown. Because of this general ratio, it’s easiest to know this strain is working by gauging what’s not happening. ACDC has kicked in when that nagging neck muscle strain relaxes or that headache mellows out.

This is an excellent CBD flower for people who want to explore the plant with a less psychoactive experience.

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It is hard to miss a bud of Harlequin because the flower naturally grows with the most vibrant orange pistils. They are so abundant that I once rolled a joint that looked like it was 40 percent pistils. The buds are generally a vibrant green and can have rounder or spear-shaped buds–but despite differing structures, they’re always dense. Genetically, Harlequin is a cross of Thai, Swiss, and Colombian sativas.

This CBD strain generally grows with a 1:1 ratio of CBD and THC. Each cannabinoid tests around 10 percent creating a balanced, relaxing effect that can often feel psychoactive. My experience with Harlequin was uplifting, like a muted version of Green Crack or other old-school sativa strains.

best cbd strains: cannabis buds with bright orange hairs
Harlequin is known for its bright orange hairs, which are the pistils of the cannabis plant. Photo: ROSA LAZIC / Getty Images


There was a point when CBD buds were not very attractive, but Pennywise has always been impressive. This could be due to the genetic lineage of Jack the Ripper and Harlequin. Like its parent, Pennywise cannabis buds naturally have an equal percentage of THC and CBD. They just generally test with the tiniest bit more than Harlequin flower.

The flower actually has prominently orange pistils, but nothing near as impressive as Harlequin. Buds are dense, bulbous, and vibrant green with visible trichomes. When made into wax, the compounds create a red hue, and the effects are magnified. I have tried both options, but Pennywise wax is my favorite way to counteract anxiety.


This is another solid option for those seeking a strain with a high CBD percentage with as low as 1% THC. The cross of Harlequin and Sour Tsunami has a citrus profile but has some characteristics of an indica plant while growing. The flower is forest green with round buds that sometimes grow in the quintessential pine tree shape.

Enjoying Harle-tsu flower can feel like a warm glass of milk, the effects wash over my tired muscles and aggravated nerves in a wave after a few puffs.

Rachelle’s picks: hemp, hemp, hooray

My boyfriend grows CBD-dominant cannabis plants under the USDA hemp program. I’ve had a chance to try many different hemp varieties, but these are my favorites.

Sour Jet Fuel

Sour Jet Fuel is a remarkably potent hemp strain, even though the variety I’m familiar with is 0.3% THC. When I shared a sample with a friend of mine, he later texted, “This ain’t no hemp, right?” calling it an “out of bounds performance.”

This citrus-forward strain is more lemon than gas, with a powerful nose that’ll make you say, “WOWZERS.” The effects are more euphoric, likely from the lemon-leaning terpene profile that screams “sativa dominant.” I like this one first thing in the morning since its zesty flavor wakes me up but doesn’t leave me jittery.

best cbd strains: a sour jet fuel cola
Sour Jet Fuel is well regarded for its pungent nose and impressive bag appeal. Photo: AI Grow


Aptly named due to the balanced nature of its flavor profile, Abacus is a popular hemp strain with high levels of CBD. Since its debut in 2017, it’s become widespread in the hemp flower scene. Bred from Fruity Pebble OG and Alien Sour Apple, the cultivar is sweet yet tangy with soothing effects.

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I find Abacus to be more on the relaxing side—a nighttime smoke, if you will. The buds are also dark with hints of purple, a color that signals “bedtime” to the cannabis crowd. I recommend this CBD strain for people struggling to fall asleep who may eschew melatonin or other OTC sleep aides.


A perfect daily smoke, Trifecta is a chocolatey CBD strain that pairs well with other indica strains. Mixing a bit of Trifecta with an OG takes the edge off, allowing me to get a little stoned but still functional. For those seeking the therapeutic benefits of high CBD cannabis strains, Trifecta is a great pick.

The original version of Trifecta was thought to be a cross between Apollo 11 and Apollo 13. However, the information my partner had on these high CBD content genetics has disappeared. All I can say is that Trifecta was a fan-favorite.

best cbd strains: a field of Trifecta plants
Trifecta is a CBD strain that tends to do well in outside gardens. Photo: Kinnektion Products

Sour Suver Haze

Sour Suver Haze is likely one of my all-time favorite CBD varieties—the first time I tried it, I second-guessed if it was really less than 0.3% THC. The cheesy turpentine aroma brings me back to Amsterdam, where THC-rich Silver Haze was a go-to. And while the scent alone is enough to have me smiling, the effects are absolutely astounding.

The first time I shared a joint of Sour Suver Haze, I was convinced we had grabbed the wrong doob tube. I felt a halo around my brain, and the colors around me were just a tad brighter. I had heard of people feeling high from the effects of CBD, but never thought it would happen to me. When I later found out that the strain won first place in the High Times Hemp Cup for an extracted CBD product I immediately understood why.

Fresh Squeezed

Conjuring memories of the Five Alive juice I loved as a kid, Fresh Squeezed is a citrus lover’s delight. With hints of fruit and funk, this CBD strain is a cross between Limeade Kush and RKD. The aroma leans more lemon-line than orange, but the smoke is a flavor explosion on its own.

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Fresh Squeezed is a bit more subtle in terms of how it makes you feel, emphasizing the properties of CBD more than the plant terpenes. The mild nature makes it a great option for people who want to mix a bit of hemp flower in with bud that has a higher level of THC. The resulting salad offers the benefits of CBD with the fun of THC.

Smoking or vaping CBD flower is a wonderful way to get the cannabis experience without the overt psychoactive effects. While a small number of people may feel a bit of a buzz of cannabidiol (CBD), the effects are typically far less pronounced than typical THC strains. The side effects of CBD may include drowsiness for some people, so just like any other cannabis product you’ll want to start low and go slow.

Rachelle Gordon is a cannabis journalist and Editor of GreenState.com. She began her weed writing journey in 2015 and has been featured in High Times, CannabisNow, Beard Bros, MG, Skunk, Cannabis and Tech Today, and many others. Rachelle currently splits her time between Minneapolis and Oakland; her favorite cannabis cultivars include Silver Haze and Tangie. Follow Rachelle on Instagram @rachellethewriter Cara Wietstock is Senior Content Producer of GreenState.com and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.