Absolute Heat: The Best Weed Strains of 2024 (So Far)

2024 has been yet another remarkable year for California weed strains so far, with world class grass coming from every corner of Cali. If you’re a cannabis connoisseur, then by the end of the year you’ll probably be looking back fondly on 2024 as a year filled with great drops and exciting pheno hunts from familiar favorites.

What Are Cannabis Strains (or Cultivars)?

Before we dive into our favorite strains of 2024 so far (and some of our all time favs), let’s do a quick recap on cannabis strains, genetics, phenotypes, and everything that goes into growing world-class weed.

First, what is a cannabis strain? Simply put, a strain is a “variety” of cannabis. A growing number of scientists, connoisseurs, and cultivators are using the term “cultivar” rather than “strain.”

Are Cultivars and Strains the Same Thing?

To get a better understanding, let’s look at Leafly’s glossary of cannabis terms for as close to an “official” definition as we can probably get.

Strain as defined by Leafly:

“A strain refers to the named variations of cannabis that differ in appearance, aroma, and effect. Cannabis grows natively in different regions of the world and has been selectively bred for various characteristics. Terms like “sativa” and “indica” describe different structural differences in the plant: narrow vs. broad leaves, tall vs. short stature, etc. Cannabis strains that has been crossbred are called hybrids, which make up a vast majority of cannabis available today.”

Cultivar as defined by Leafly:

“Cultivar” is short for “cultivated variety.” This is a horticultural category (as opposed to a taxonomic one) to describe a plant that’s been selected and improved upon by humans. It can be a hybrid (either intentional or not), or selected from the wild, brought under cultivation, and distinct enough to warrant a naming. No matter the origin, it’s something that’s been touched by the human hand through selection.”

The Basics of Cannabis Plant Genetics

Every time you breed two strains together, you create a new strain that carries some properties of its parents. For example – if you cross the Indica dominant GMO Cookies with the equally Indica dominant Legends OG, you’d get Fatso, which carries many of the heavy indica properties of its parents.

Conversely, crossing strains can also produce vastly different effects than its parent strains, so it’s always a good idea to ask a budtender for advice if you’re not super comfortable with trying out a totally new strain.

What Makes a Cannabis Strain “Good” or “Bad” vs “Award Winning Quality”

Growing world-class weed isn’t easy, and every single person has a different definition of what makes for “good marijuana,” but here at Mankind, we typically judge our weed on a few simple factors; how does it smell – how does it look – how does it smoke – and how does it make you feel?

How Genetics Impact Cannabis Strains

Cannabis genetics are an important and often misunderstood aspect of the weed industry. Many of the best growers in California spend a lot of time, talent, and money investing in the genetics of their pot to produce the best possible product.

Cannabis is typically grown using one of two methods – cloning a plant or growing from seed – and in both cases, genetics play a huge role in the quality of the finished product.

Growing From Seeds vs Clones When Cross Breeding Cannabis

When growing a cannabis plant from seed, the crossed strains will impart various characteristics on their beautiful baby weed child. Many farmers will selectively breed individual plants to ensure the best possible traits from each parent are passed down to the seed (a process known as pheno-hunting)

When cloning a cannabis plant, the genetic characteristics are directly copied into each clone. In order to create the best possible clone, many connoisseur cannabis operations invest heavily in pheno hunts to produce the best possible genetic characteristics to be replicated across each clone.

What is a Pheno Hunt (Or “Pheno Hunting”) with Cannabis?

While “genotype” refers to the genetic makeup of a cannabis plant, “phenotype” refers to how those genes are expressed through the plant’s physical appearance.

Pheno hunting is the painstaking process of growing and monitoring a large number of seeds of the same strain in order to find the best possible phenotype of an individual strain. Some of the best indoor cannabis farms in California such as Blueprint, Turtle Pie, and Greendawg Cultivators are renowned for growing hundreds of plants during the pheno hunting phase in order to find the purest possible expression of a single strain.

Some of the characteristics that are highly sought after during a pheno hunt include:

  • High presence of THC, THCA, THCV, and CBD
  • Substantial resin production and high trichome density
  • Strong stems to support dense bud growth
  • Natural resistance to pests and disease

It may be a painstaking process, but the rewards are well worth it as we can tell as the strains being introduced year-after-year have only become more impressive in appearance, with more robust aromas and flavors, and most importantly of all carefully curated cannabinoid and terpene profiles.

This allows each strain to produce the best of the best parts of each parent strain, refining our ability as consumers to find strains that give us exactly the effects desired. For more information on finding the perfect strain (or strains) for your preferences check out our Cannabis Strain Guide for Picking the Perfect Indica, Sativa or Hybrid.

How Did We Pick Our Top Strains?

The staff at Mankind Dispensary prides itself on being one of the most knowledgeable and passionate teams in California. Our selections for the best California weed strains are always based on product testing, staff education, and customer feedback.

Some of the characteristics that the Mankind Dispensary team considered when choosing the best strains of 2024 include:

  • How does the weed hold up to the “senses test?” In other words, how good does it look, is the weed pleasant to touch or is it too dry, how good does it smell, and how good does it taste?
  • For classic strains such as Acapulco Gold or OG Kush, how does the flower compare to past experiences, and is the experience true to the strain? For example, one wouldn’t want a Blue Dream (which is often consumed for depression and anxiety relief) to cause racing thoughts or manic euphoria.
  • For new and exotic strains, what exciting new terpene combinations and effects are unique to the strain? Extra love is always given out to za za that creates entirely new terpene profiles such as Gelato, Zkittles, Runtz, or Papaya.
  • And most importantly… How does the weed make you feel?

Mankind’s Picks for 5 of the Best Weed Strains of 2024 (So Far)

This year, it’s all about the hybrids! Each of these strains is a hybrid, as most are these days – though some may be indica- or sativa-dominant, they all show off the best of their genetics from every aspect they were being judged on.

Permanent Marker

This strain should be an obvious choice considering it has only gotten better and become more popular with the more cultivators that choose to grow it. Chosen as Leafly’s Strain of the Year 2023, this hybrid is known for inducing feelings of creativity and talkativeness, and is noted for helping with symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stresses big and small.

While Permanent Marker is a hybrid, it tends to lean somewhat indica dominant but boasts the best of its sativa heritage making it a great daytime option for most. The least THC content can vary widely from about 18% to over 30%, depending on the genetics and cultivation.


As we mentioned with Permanent Marker, some strains only get better the longer they’re around – and Tangie is a perfect example of this. The strain is a “remake” of a strain called Tangie Dream, which was popular and sought after in the 90s being a perfect balance of two legendary strains A5 and G-13.

Today, Tangie is just as well-known, popular, and quick to be bought up as it takes the best parts of the California Orange and Skunk strains making a “perfect” hybrid strain. On average, this strains THC content is 17-23%.

Purple Haze

Unlike some of the newer strains where it’s relatively easy to trace the genetics, Purple Haze is a true OG player here which makes it hard to nail down its exact heritage. However, it is theorized that this sativa dominant hybrid was born from the legendary Purple Thai and Haze strains.

While it’s popularity may have spiked for sharing its name with the famous Jimi Hendrix song, this strains’ euphoric and energizing effects would’ve gained it popularity regardless of what we called it. This strain boasts a minimum 16% THC content, but can reach upwards of 30% as well.

Donny Burger

This hybrid is heavily indica dominant, hailing from two more recent strains called GMO and Hans-Solo Burger, creating THC heavy plants. Known for causing giggle fits and euphoria while a mellow calm washes over you, this strain is best in small doses unless you have a high tolerance to THC or handle indica strains well (without falling asleep!).

While the other strains so far can be found in a wide range of potencies, Donny Burger is consistently high, typically ranging in the high 20% range.


Because of the abbreviation, you may have tried this strain and not realized it. SFV stands for San Francisco Valley OG, where the strain was originally bred from the classic OG Kush strain for its specific phenotype attributes. While they are highly similar, this strain is often confused with its “cousin” SFV Kush, which is crossbred with the Afghani strain.

Known for its high THC content, which typically ranges from 20-25%, it’s debated as to whether this hybrid is sativa or indica dominant. However, it’s agreed that it offers a quick onset of relaxing effects and that its best medicinal uses are pain and stress relief.

The Best Strains of 2024 Might Not Have Even Arrived Yet

You want to know the best part about this list? Because we’re not even halfway through 2024, there’s still time for growers to drop new strains before the end of the year! What that means for us is plenty of time for testing, gathering insight from customers like you, and getting ready to give you a final ruling on best strains of 2024 when the year is up.

So what are you waiting for? Help us with our research by heading over to Mankind Cannabis Dispensary to find one of these strains or ask our budtenders for help finding something new! Or, if you’re already buzzed and not ready to leave the couch, you can order online for free delivery!

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