High CBD Strains of Cannabis: What They Are and Why They’re Used

September 19, 2018

High-CBD cannabis strains have become bestsellers in legal cannabis markets.

Once a rarity on dispensary shelves, cannabis strains that are high in CBD have become more readily available over recent years. They are now a popular choice for anyone interested in the natural effects of cannabinoids while maintaining a clear head.

What are High-CBD Strains?

High-CBD strains, also referred to as CBD-rich strains, are varieties of the Cannabis plant species that contain high levels of CBD.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of over 100 cannabinoids so far identified in cannabis plants – including hemp and marijuana. Cannabinoids like CBD are active compounds that interact with different receptors in the body to produce a wide range of effects. Along with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), marijuana’s intoxicating compound, CBD is among cannabis’ most prevalent of cannabinoids.

Thanks to crossbreeding, there are now thousands of unique cannabis strains on shelves of dispensaries. On a chemical level, these strains differ in the make-up of their cannabinoid content, providing consumers with various THC:CBD concentration options.

Marijuana strains bred for producing intoxicating effects contain a higher concentration of THC. Others contain heightened levels of CBD – these are considered high-CBD strains.

plants with cbd

Most Popular High-CBD Cannabis Strains

A quick online search or visit to a local dispensary will give you an immediate idea of the wide array of cannabis strains that are available. While there are a mind-boggling number of high-CBD strains, the 10 listed below are considered some of the most popular and more readily available at local marijuana dispensaries.


acdc cbd plant

This high-CBD strain has won numerous Cannabis Cup awards and provides some of the highest CBD concentrations. A descendant of Ruderalis and Cannatonic, ACDC presents an impressive on average 20:1 CBD to THC ratio and contains 16-24% CBD.

ACDC is often described as having aromas that are earthy, sweet, and skunky, followed by subtle hints of citrus.


 cannatonic cbd

One of the most popular high-CBD strains and former Cannabis Cup winner, Cannatonic is a cross between MK Ultra and G13 Haze. Cannatonic typically presents a 1:1 or 2:1 CBD to THC ratio and tests at about 12% CBD.

Cannatonic has a slightly earthy flavor, accented by notes of sweet pine and citrus.


 cannatonic cbd

Canna-Tsu is the result of two CBD-rich strains — Cannatonic and Sour Tsunami. This balanced cannabis strain has a 1:1 CBD to THC ratio, with a CBD content of 7-10%.

Canna-Tsu presents a unique and complex bouquet, featuring notes of citrus and sweet earth


harle tsu cbd

A high-CBD strain crafted by late cannabis activist Lawrence Ringo, Harle-Tsu combines Harlequin with Sour Tsunami. While relatively hard to find compared to other CBD strains, Harle Tsu boasts a 20:1 CBD:THC ratio, testing at about 22% CBD against less than 1% THC.

Harle-Tsu’s aroma and flavor profile is earthy, with hints of chestnut and honey.


harlequin cbd

This descendant of Colombian Gold, Nepali Indica, Thai, and Swiss Strains consistently tests at a CBD:THC ratio of 5:2, with 8-16% CBD. Harlequin has won multiple Cannabis Cup awards.

Harlequin’s flavors are typically described as a blend of earthy musk and sweet mango.


pennywise cbd

Pennywise is a high-CBD genetic cross between Harlequin and Jack the Ripper. It presents an even 1:1 CBD:THC ratio, and CBD levels can top 12%.

The flavor of Pennywise features notes of lemon, bubblegum, coffee, and pepper.

Ringo’s Gift

ringo’s gift cbd

Named after CBD and cannabis activist Lawrence Ringo, Ringo’s Gift is a cross between Harle-Tsu and ACDC, two strains known for their high levels of CBD. Ringo’s Gift can vary wildly in CBD to THC ratios from 1:1 to 24:1. Typically, you can find strains of Ringo’s Gift with up to 20% CBD.

Ringo’s Gift is dominated by an earthy hash aroma and flavor, with hints of citrus and pine.

Sour Tsunami

sour tsunami cbd

Sour Tsunami is thought to be one of the very first cannabis strains bred specifically for its CBD concentration. Created by Lawrence Ringo, Sour Tsunami is a descendant of Sour Diesel and NY Diesel and presents a 1:1 CBD:THC ratio, with around 11% CBD.

This high-CBD strain tastes like diesel with traces of citrus, pine, and woody flavors.

Stephen Hawking Kush

 stephen hawking cbd

Named for the famous astrophysicist, Stephen Hawking Kush is a high-CBD hybrid descending from Harle-Tsu and Sin City Kush. This heightened CBD strain was created by Alphakronik and presents a ratio of 1:1 CBD:THC, and 22% CBD.

Stephen Hawking Kush has vivid cherry and berry flavors with a note of mint.

Sweet and Sour Widow

sweet and sour cbd

Offering CBD levels that range between 5-10% and an even 1:1 split of CBD and THC, Sweet and Sour Widow is often a popular strain among marijuana beginners. Sweet and Sour Widow is derived from White Widow and an unnamed high-CBD hybrid.

As its name suggests, Sweet and Sour Widow has a flavor that is both sweet and sour. Its aroma is commonly described as pungent earthy or woody, with notes of pepper and pine.

Who Are High-CBD Strains Good For?

Unlike marijuana strains that are dominant in THC, high-CBD strains are an ideal choice for those looking to benefit from the natural effects of cannabinoids without becoming overly intoxicated with an intense high.

Strains high in THC elicit temporary euphoric effects, causing delayed reaction times, coordination problems, sensory awareness issues, a skewed perception of time, and in some cases, paranoia.

CBD, on the other hand, is not intoxicating. In fact, evidence suggests that CBD can mitigate some of the euphoric effects of THC.

Cannabis strains that contain heightened levels of CBD will therefore not be as intoxicating as low-CBD strains. Some high-CBD strains with higher CBD:THC ratios provide wellness effects with minimal, if any, intoxication.

cbd and thc differences

High-CBD Cannabis Strains Vs. Hemp CBD Oils

High-CBD marijuana strains are not the only option for those looking for CBD. CBD is found in the stalks and flowers of all cannabis plants, which include both marijuana and hemp.

Harvested for its stalks and seeds, hemp is naturally more abundant in CBD, making it possible to extract cannabis oil that contains significant levels of CBD.

So are there differences between getting CBD from cannabis strains and hemp-derived CBD oils? Here are a few things to consider:

Legal Status

Marijuana strains, even those rich in CBD, are prohibited under federal law and only available in states that have legalized adult-use or medical marijuana. Obtaining medical marijuana requires first obtaining a doctor’s recommendation.

Hemp-derived CBD oil is federally legal in the U.S., which means it is available to purchase online and in stores. CBD products made from hemp are legally available in most major markets, without a prescription.


Even when containing higher levels of CBD, cannabis strains in most cases will cause some type of high. This is because the THC concentration in high-CBD strains is often high enough to elicit temporary euphoric effects.

Hemp, on the other hand, contains less than 0.3% THC by weight, far too little to cause the euphoric “stoned” effects like those associated with marijuana. With hemp-derived CBD oil, you to take advantage of CBD’s natural balancing properties without having to worry that it’ll get you high.

Consumption Method

With high-CBD cannabis strains, in most cases, the plant’s dried flowers are smoked via joints or pipes, which can expose the lungs to harmful toxins. However, they can also be added into edibles, infused into tinctures, vaped, dabbed, and applied topically onto the skin.

Hemp CBD oil allows for lung-friendly consumption methods. It can be absorbed under the tongue, infused into foods and beverages and swallowed, vaped, dabbed, and applied topically.


On a molecular level, CBD from hemp-derived CBD oil is the same as CBD from high-CBD marijuana strains. The cannabinoid interacts with the body’s receptors in the same way, no matter which variety of cannabis it comes from.

Some high-CBD cannabis strains do contain higher percentages of CBD by dry weight than hemp plants. However, any difference in CBD concentration becomes negligible once hemp oil is extracted from the plant.

hemp cbd

Where to Buy Hemp-Derived CBD

Dixie Botanicals® high-quality hemp-derived CBD products are available in the United States and in over 40 countries. Our high-quality CBD oil is extracted from specifically selected hemp cultivars that offer higher percentages of CBD by weight.

To get started with hemp CBD, visit the HempMeds® online shop today. You can also learn about the benefits of incorporating CBD into your daily routine through our blog.