Are you struggling to complete a big project or endlessly avoiding your mile-long to-do list? We know just what you need. Thanks to widespread stereotypes, there’s a common misconception that smoking cannabis is a one-way ticket to lazy, munchie-filled couchlock. In reality, many strains of cannabis can actually boost the consumer’s energy and productivity.
People tend to associate being high with leisure and mental detachment, but lots of anecdotal evidence points to cannabis’ ability to enhance creativity while improving focus and work rate. Unfortunately, these potential benefits are still largely unresearched—cannabis’ federal status as a Schedule I controlled substance limits research into its effects, and the scientists behind relevant studies have focused more on testing the plant’s theorized negative effects than its perks.
For example, a 2006 study assessed the common idea that cannabis hinders ambition. A survey of heavy cannabis users and non-users revealed no significant differences in the motivation and well-being of the groups, but the researchers did not look into any possible benefits of cannabis use.
Similarly, a 2020 study addressed the supposed link between cannabis use and unemployment, finding that adult consumption had little impact on stable, full-time employment. It did reinforce that recreational cannabis should be avoided by youth since early onset cannabis use (before age 15) was associated with lower overall achievement, but this may also be due to complex socioeconomic or traumatic situations.
But in adults, there is also a growing body of research supporting cannabis’ role in productivity and related traits. One study discovered that cannabis increased divergent thinking, or “thinking outside the box,” as well as verbal fluency in uncreative individuals. In a pilot study published in 2016, medical marijuana patients showed improved executive functioning following three months of treatment. And a deep dive into online forums suggested that cannabis is anecdotally therapeutic for ADHD, meaning it can increase focus in some individuals.
While cannabis is not going to magically morph you into a grind-till-you-die superhero, it can certainly help with various factors that play into productivity. For some, this may look like enhancing creativity and focus. For others, it may look like alleviating pain or anxiety that’s distracting. Ultimately, the productive effects of cannabis are dependent on the strain and its unique blend of compounds.
Each of the cannabis plant’s 700+ unique strains offers its own experience for consumers—hence why some folks become alert and imaginative while others end up relaxed and spacey. The difference in the effects of each strain lies in the indica/sativa classification, the cannabinoid (active chemical compound) content, and the terpene (aromatic compound) profile. Modern research contends that the terpene profile is actually most important when it comes to the diversity and effects of strains, now called “chemovars” by researchers.
When selecting a strain specifically for energy and productivity, most in the cannabis community agree that sativas are more ideal than indicas. That’s because sativas are known to be invigorating and uplifting, producing more of a buzzy “head high,” whereas indicas typically produce more sedating, body-relaxing effects.
However, it should be noted that the increasing amount of hybrid strains is leading scientists and consumers away from these classifications, and there are definitely other factors to consider. What we historically think of as “sativas” versus “indicas” probably lies more in their different terpenes; some are more energetic or sedating than others.
Just as important as the type of strain is the strain’s ratio of cannabinoids. THC is responsible for altering the mind, meaning it could be to thank for any lifts in focus and creativity. CBD, on the other hand, is calming and balances out the THC effects but does not produce a high. Low- to mid-potency THC strains with high CBD are optimal for an energy boost, as THC is sedating in high quantities and can inhibit function. For a bonus, look for strains that have THCV, a less abundant but energizing cannabinoid.
Finally, make sure to check the terpene profile if it’s available. Terpenes are what determine the fragrance and taste of the strain, but they also interact with the cannabinoids and produce effects of their own. Consider selecting a strain high in pinene, which boosts energy, focus, and short-term memory. Caryophyllene helps reduce pain and anxiety, which can interfere with productivity if left unchecked. Limonene, an uplifting and stress-fighting terpene, is another great option.
Camphene is a cool, menthol-type terpene that may provide pain relief while also improving insulin sensitivity, reducing high cholesterol and triglycerides, and burning glucose. Eucalyptol, another cool, mint-like terpene, has properties that are cough-suppressing; lung-protective against inflammation, infection, and cigarette smoke; and bronchodilatory (airway-opening), which may promote exercise.
Humulene is a terpene rare in cannabis but known for its hummus-like scent that is also anti-asthmatic and lung-protective. Ocimene is a unique terpene that has potential anti-hypertensive and anti-diabetic effects through a variety of receptors. All of these effects may help promote physical activity and a healthy lifestyle, which in turn benefits productivity.
Now that we’ve covered the science behind cannabis-fueled productivity, let’s explore some of the cannabis community’s favorite strains for busy days. Because productivity looks different for everyone, this list includes a mix of strains that activate creativity, target anxiety and stress, or simply give the body and mind a lively leg up.
Whether you’re painting, exercising, crunching numbers, or finally getting to those chores that should’ve been done a week ago, these strains are sure to put you in the zone.
Kicking off our list is Durban Poison, an African landrace strain that has long dominated as one of the most popular strains worldwide. This pure sativa is commonly referred to as the “espresso of cannabis” with good reason—Durban Poison delivers a racy, clear-headed, cerebral high that will launch you into your daily tasks in no time. With up to 26% THC, it’s one of the most potent energizing strains you will find.
The buds of this strain are round and chunky with a thick coating of trichomes. Durban Poison is rich in a terpene called terpinolene, which gives it a fresh, sweet, piney flavor along with stress- and depression-fighting abilities. It is also said to spark creativity and generally boost the consumer’s mood, making it a great option if you need to dive into an artistic project.
Said to rival a cup of coffee, this sativa-dominant strain is a cross between Cinderella 99 and Vortex. Cinex provides a burst of clear-headed energy that hits hard and induces a positive mindset. In addition to making the consumer feel happy and energized, Cinex facilitates creativity, making it a favorite among musicians and artists.
These green and slightly orange buds are filled with limonene and pinene, giving them a citrusy, earthy, and skunky flavor and aroma. This combination of terpenes also grants Cinex the ability to help with stress, depression, and anxiety while improving mental focus and reducing inflammation, so it’s sure to diminish any physical or mental problems that are keeping you from your to-dos.
If you love Lemonheads, you’ll be a fan of Super Lemon Haze. A sativa-dominant hybrid of Lemon Skunk and Super Silver Haze, this zesty strain will wake you up, improve your focus, and even stimulate a bit of creative energy. Proceed with caution, though: The potent and buzzy effects of this strain can be a bit much for anxiety-prone consumers.
Super Lemon Haze buds are light green with orange-yellow pistils and have a tart, sweet, citrusy taste with earthy undertones thanks to the terpinolene content. Because it creates feelings of euphoria, many users turn to this strain to alleviate stress, depression, and fatigue. Have some snacks and water ready, though, because Super Lemon Haze causes dry mouth and munchies.
As can be assumed from its name, this sativa delivers an exhilarating mental buzz that can’t be topped by many other strains. Like Super Lemon Haze, Green Crack is widely respected for its uplifting effects that increase the consumer’s focus. It is rumored that this strain was named by none other than Snoop Dogg, one of the cannabis community’s longest-standing icons.
Because Green Crack is abundant in the terpene known as myrcene, it has the sweet and tangy flavor of mango—so much so that it’s often referred to as Mango Crack. It also has some earthy undertones. Its greenish-yellow buds, accented with rusty red pistils, are ideal for fighting fatigue, stress, depression, and pain.
While most of the strains on this list are sativa or sativa-dominant, Green Ribbon is a true 50/50 indica/sativa hybrid of Green Crack, Trainwreck, Afghanica, and White Rhino. Like Durban Poison, Green Ribbon creates a cerebrally energizing high that enhances mood. For this reason, many people use it to combat stress, depression, and anxiety—just be mindful of the high THC content that will lead to a stronger high, as too much THC could turn counterproductive very quickly.
Just like their parent strain Green Crack, Green Ribbon’s light green buds contain myrcene, which is sweet and spicy. Green Ribbon’s flavor is best described as the sweet, earthy scent of forest, with some underlying fruity and floral notes and a dash of citrus. The buds are abundant with trichomes and produce smooth smoke that shouldn’t make you cough—unlike our next contender.
This sugary strain is aptly named for its fruity flavor and tendency to make users cough. While that alone might not sell this sativa for you, consider the effects. Strawberry Cough hits slowly and drastically lowers stress levels, making it a good option for cannabis users who are anxiety-prone. Often described as cerebral and uplifting, the relaxed-yet-alert feeling of this quite potent strain also makes it helpful for social settings.
Strawberry Cough’s colorful buds are a sight to behold, blending streaks of light green, purple, earthy yellow, and bright orange. The myrcene they contain is the reason for the strain’s sweet and skunky flavor profile, which is very much reminiscent of—you guessed it—a super sweet strawberry. Medical users often turn to its euphoric effects to relieve anxiety and depression.
Our list would never be complete without the famous Jack Herer strain, named after a prominent American cannabis activist and author. This slightly sativa-dominant hybrid, which took first place in the 7th High Times Cannabis Cup, is a mix of Shiva Skunk, Northern Lights #5, and Haze. Unlike Strawberry Cough, its effects kick in immediately, flooding the user with focused, creative energy and helping to relieve stress.
Jack Herer’s sage green and orange buds taste like earth and pine, which could be due to the terpinolene and pinene they contain. Some users also report notes of citrus and skunk. On top of this strain’s widely respected euphoric effects, it’s noted as having strong medicinal properties that tackle chronic stress, chronic pain, ADHD, and more.
Looking for a pick-me-up with a little less kick? Tropicana Cookies, a sativa-dominant hybrid of Girl Scout Cookies and Tangie, has a lower potency than most of the others on this list but delivers a high that’s just as energizing. Most users report feeling very happy after consuming it, making it a favorite strain when it comes to alleviating stress and depression.
The caryophyllene content of this strain not only contributes to its mood-enhancing properties but also offers inflammation relief, meaning Tropicana Cookies could also be a good option if physical pain is keeping you from your tasks. Its gorgeous purple, dark green, and orange buds do indeed taste like tropical, citrusy cookies because of the limonene within them.
Maybe your version of productivity involves relaxing and stimulating creativity. If tension and lack of imagination are stunting your progress, Blue Dream is the strain for you. This sativa-dominant hybrid of Blueberry and Haze brings on a blissful, introspective rush of creativity that’s difficult to beat. It also relaxes the body, creating an all-around balanced high that cannabis consumers are obsessed with.
This cerebral strain reflects its namesake with a strong aroma and flavor of blueberries. Its appearance, however, lacks blue entirely and features trichome-heavy green buds and yellow-orange pistils. Recreational and medical users alike report that Blue Dream does wonders for stress, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and nausea. While it might not be the best pre-gym strain, it’s perfect for intellectual activities.
Also on the creativity-promoting side is Sour Diesel, a sativa that blends Chemdawg and Super Skunk. Sour Diesel has been providing cannabis lovers a dank, energetic, happy high since the early 1990s. With just a hit or two, you’ll feel creatively stimulated, revitalized, and motivated, making Sour Diesel the perfect strain for daytime use. It also offers a bit of physical relaxation without any risk of couchlock.
While users have raved about Sour Diesel’s effects for decades, not everyone is as crazy about the flavor of these frosty nugs. As the name suggests, this strain quite literally tastes like gasoline with notes of sour citrus. If you can deal with its flavor, though, Sour Diesel’s dreamy effects are optimal for treating a variety of mood disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder.
While THC-heavy strains are great for energy, they aren’t always ideal for folks who experience anxiety. Enter Harlequin, a sativa that’s widely renowned for its high CBD content. This strain isn’t going to invigorate you like most of the others on this list, but it will help you focus and relax if anxiety is holding you back. Thanks to its low THC and balanced CBD levels, it also won’t make you very high and will keep you clear-headed for your tasks.
The high amount of myrcene in Harlequin lends it the sweet flavor of mango, and it’s also reported to have some earthy and piney characteristics. This is one of the best strains for medical cannabis patients who suffer from chronic pain, as CBD is a known anti-inflammatory. The CBD is also responsible for the reduced anxiety users feel, as it is thought to counteract any paranoia caused by THC as well as combat anxiety and depression on its own.
If you’re trying to stay away from intoxication, ACDC is your best option. This true hybrid has one of the lowest THC levels of any available strain, making it perfect for someone who needs to chill out but stay focused. Although ACDC won’t get you very high, it’s overflowing with calming and pain-reducing CBD, which places it next to Harlequin on the list of top medically therapeutic strains.
The yellow-green buds of ACDC have a spicy, earthy, and piney flavor as a result of the myrcene and pinene content. Because ACDC is well-known for its ability to relax, revitalize, and focus the consumer while boosting their mood, it is a great strain for alleviating symptoms of chronic pain, chronic stress, anxiety, and epilepsy.
Last but not least, Grapefruit is a potent sativa-dominant hybrid that offers a bit of everything. After smoking or vaping this strain, you will feel energetic, happy, confident, and relaxed. Feel free to skip your morning glass of OJ, as this balanced, citrusy strain is a wake-and-bake favorite among cannabis consumers. Make sure to go slowly if you’re a first-time or new smoker, though, because Grapefruit’s high THC levels can make you feel sleepy if consumed in large quantities.
The fluffy, light green nugs of Grapefruit have a tropical, citrusy, and sweet flavor and aroma, which just amplifies the strain’s invigorating and mood-boosting effects. In addition to its influence on mental state, which makes it a favorite strain for easing depression, it is also praised for its analgesic (pain-killing) properties. Many users turn to it to relieve migraines, PMS, and chronic pain.
There you have it—cannabis can, in fact, be a valuable tool for boosting performance, focus, and motivation. Although research on productivity and cannabis use is still in a very early stage, personal reports accumulated over decades from the cannabis community point to certain strains as being key to this life hack. These strains can easily replace your morning coffee—or be used in combination with it—for similar stimulating effects. Just be sure to consume them in moderation.
What’s your favorite strain for a productive day? Let us know in the comments!
Note: The content on this page is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be professional medical advice. Do not attempt to self-diagnose or prescribe treatment based on the information provided. Always consult a physician before making any decision on the treatment of a medical condition.
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