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Strain Review: Is Harlequin the Best High CBD Strain?

By Adam Schmidt

As you may know, cannabis is a complex plant with hundreds of compounds (of which over 100 are cannabinoids). The two most prominent (and best studied) cannabinoids are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (better known as THC) and cannabidiol (more commonly known as CBD).

THC is the ingredient which gives consumers cannabis’s notorious psychotropic effects (e.g. the “high”). CBD, which is non-psychotropic, provides opposing effects. In fact, evidence shows that CBD counteracts the potential adverse effects of THC (e.g. heightened anxiety, paranoia, cognitive impairments). Both CBD and THC provide therapeutic effects (some of which are overlapping), and are thought to work together synergistically to enhance the therapeutic properties of cannabis.

Given CBD’s remarkable therapeutic versatility (antianxiety, anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, antioxidant, etc.), and that it’s non-psychoactive, high-CBD strains such as Cannatonic, ACDC, and Harlequin, continue to increase in popularity. Harlequin has emerged as one of the most popular strains.

So how does Harlequin stack up?

Harlequin usually clocks in at a 5:2 CBD to THC ratio with 4-7% THC and 8-16% CBD. Harlequin is sativa-dominant strain that boasts an impressive genetic lineage: Colombian Gold, Thai and Swiss landrace strains, and a Nepali indica. Given the influence of sativa properties, Harlequin provides characterist effects that ease anxiety, while increasing alertness. The nice balance of cannabinoids makes it a great candidate to use Harlequin to treat anxiety and pain.

What do consumers say about Harlequin?

Consumers have posted over 600 reviews on Leafly, overwhelmingly positive.

Overall Effects:

On overall effects, user the420mon remarks:

“Harlequin is THE strain everyone needs in their rotation(or on constant supply). Think of Harlequin as the “classic” pot… [it produces] a very mellow, but uplifting and energetic high, and very happy as well. Your focus is on point with this strain. Now, it’s not what harlequin has that PR does have, it’s what it DOESN’T have that makes it great. That annoying head pressure and “lightheaded” feeling that makes people nauseous when smoking a sativa. Instead, your whole body gets nice and high, with no negative effects, like paranoia or anxiety. I feel that harlequin was bred as a perfect strain. I’m yet to meet a single person who doesn’t love Harlequin.”

Chronic Pain:

CBD is known to be effective to treat pain. Reviewer, jaktyboy, claims Harlequin helps alleviate pain (and nausea):

“Harlequin is a great strain that is high in CBD’s. It quickly alleviates the pain in my body (knees and lower back) and allows me to function at 100% without the cloudiness of other strains. It has also helped with nausea. I highly recommend everyone have some in their medicine cabinet.”

Migraines:

Other consumers credit Harlequin for treating migraines and helping them get off of prescription medications. Harlequin enthusiast, lmichelle6585, notes:

“I. Love. Harlequin. I recently “detoxed” from prescription migraine medications. I was taking 15 plus imitrex a month. I saw several doctors and they were all like ‘keep taking them! It’s not a problem.’ What a bunch of crap. The imitrex and topamax (thank god I was only on that briefly) were both causing tons of rebound headaches. That was a few months ago…I’m now back to my “normal” level of migraines. 3-4 a month. So if you’re in that boat “ABANDON SHIP!” 🙂

“I’ve tried a couple other strains, but for my migraines this one is a lifesaver. I was told by my local place, by a fellow migraine sufferer, that Indicas with a 1:1 ratio of THC:CBD work best. I found they work ok, but maybe that info will help somebody else. I’ve also found this strain works well for PMS and cramps. Not sure if it’s the best for that though, just the best I’ve found so far.

Anxiety:

Given that research suggests CBD can be a powerful fast-acting anti-anxiety remedy, it’s not surprising Harlequin devotees claim it helps them deal with anxiety. Reviewer, thegoob0615, writes:

“I honestly can not say enough good things about this strain. I suffer from anxiety and became a patient to see if marijuana could help some of my symptoms. I figured if I could control what I smoked, I would be able to find something that worked for me. Unfortunately over the last month, every strain I tried, no matter how low the THC content, would cause immense panic attacks and overall terrible experiences. Really disappointing.

“I made one last run to a dispensary to buy a high CBD strain to try, before I retired my recommendation and sought other options. Holy hell, this is the strain for me. I have almost NO anxiety when I smoke this. I can talk, think clearly, be in public, and many other things that are just unmanageable for me when I smoke high THC strains. The high isn’t too overwhelming, but it’s still there. I just feel uplifted, relaxed, but fully functional…”

But, thegoob0615 notes Harlequin does profoundly increase appetite (which could be a good or bad thing): “The only downside is sometimes I get wicked munchies.”

Gastrointestinal Issues:

Another passionate fan, Nattiecakes credits Harlequin for transforming her health, including gastrointestinal issues. Nattiecakes writes:

“Harlequin has been nothing short of a miracle for my varied health problems. I am 30 years old and had not done cannabis before. I was researching ways to heal my gastrointestinal inflammation and bleeding, which contributes to most of my other problems (allergies, hormonal imbalance, fatigue, exercise intolerance, etc) and decided to give cannabis a try. I did some other strains before trying a high CBD, low THC strain…[but] I really need my short term memory intact, too; that drives me crazy. So I got a strain of Harlequin that’s 15% CBD to 7% THC…

“Before, I would eat a very restricted diet (restricted form of paleo) to avoid all my food allergies, eat all organic, eat as much raw food as possible, etc. Even doing all this, and taking probiotics and enzymes, was not enough to really help my digestive tract much…[With Harlequin] I ate a bunch of things I usually can’t eat at all. I waited for the stuffy nose, the feeling of being hit by a truck, the need to nap… nothing ever came. My stomach never got upset. I thought surely I’d feel it the next morning — I will always, always wake up with a stuffy nose and sore all over if I eat so much as extra sugar — but nope. I woke up feeling better than ever.”

“I AM NOT EXAGGERATING WHEN I SAY HARLEQUIN HAS TURNED MY LIFE AROUND!”

Wow, that’s quite an endorsement!

Cannabis and Yoga?

If that’s not enough, some aficionados claim Harlequin is great for yoga. Yes, yoga! ChestyMcDeathrack (great name!) writes:

Harlequin* loves the gym! I just got done with leg day, and let me tell you: fantastic! … [M]y post-lifting yoga routine was EPIC…I locked into a great prana unusually quickly and maintained it throughout the routine even though the gym was playing rap music and gym music in general is a huge distraction for me. I feel like a Dr Bronner’s soap bottle right now. All full of calm energy and f**king love, damnit.

Closing Thoughts

While everyone physiologically experiences strains differently, for most people, Harlequin provides pleasant, clear-headed, relaxing and anxiety-relieving effects. However, not everyone is a fan. Jake Browne, America’s budtender and strain reviewer for The Cannabist, was less enthusiastic. Browne writes:

“I usually love sativa-dominant hybrids like this for the mood and energy stimulation. Instead of the creative spark or extra pep in my step, it was very contemplative and internalized a lot of my energy. That’s not to say the high was stoney: at every given moment a lucidity was annoyingly present, as if all I had to do was shake myself out of my own inner monologue.”

Keep in mind, Browne doesn’t generally use cannabis for therapeutic effects, and acknowledges:

“There isn’t a doubt in my mind that Harlequin is effective medicine for a number of people. As someone who primarily uses cannabis recreationally, I’m fine leaving it to them.”

No doubt, if you’re looking for heavy body high, Harlequin isn’t for you. But, if you’re looking for a strain to help you relax, relieve anxiety, or treat other ailments, Harlequin may be your new best friend!

Are you a fan of Harlequin — or any other high-CBD strains? Let us know in the comments section below!

High-CBD strains such as Cannatonic, ACDC, and Harlequin continue to increase in popularity. Harlequin has emerged as one of the most popular strains.

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Why Colorado Tokers Love Harlequin

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A reader recently pointed out the lack of high-CBD strain reviews in this column, and she was right. There’s no excuse, folks: I had CBD bias, and I’m ashamed of it. I’m currently free of any real anxiety, inflammation or muscle pains, so the thought of buying a CBD strain had never really crossed my mind. After getting called out, though, my eyes focused on a jar of Harlequin during a recent trip to the Health Center Uptown.

Harlequin is an easy CBD strain to find around Denver. Its sativa-leaning tendencies and consistent CBD-to-THC ratios make it popular for medical patients and low-tolerance users alike. While many tokers assume that any CBD product will make them sleepy, Harlequin has become popular for daytime use. The strain’s genetics are dominated by sativas from Colombia, Switzerland and Thailand, and the burst of energy it gives is noticeable but not overpowering. Harlequin’s lineage also includes a landrace Nepali indica, which is likely responsible for the high CBD content, as landrace indicas are known to have relatively large amounts of the cannabinoid.

I’ll admit that it took me a few sessions to learn how to properly dose myself and manage expectations with Harlequin, but it soon became quite serviceable. Two bowls in the morning helped ease an upset stomach and any slight neck pain without getting me anywhere near stoned, and mixing it 50/50 with Durban Poison — a delicious sativa that can get too racy at times — provided the perfect balance for any paranoia or lack of focus brought on by the Durban’s THC potency.

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At least a half-dozen metro dispensaries carry Harlequin at any time. Boulder Wellness Center, Denver Kush Club, Good Chemistry, Green Man Cannabis, the Health Center, Mile High Dispensary, Native Roots, Smokin’ Gun Apothecary and the Station, among others, all either currently carry the strain or did recently.

Looks: Harlequin buds are usually dense, round and colored in a rich forest green, with vibrant rusty-orange pistils and speckled amber trichomes that look like ants and fireflies moving among the trees.

Smell: Strong wood and soil scents dominate at first, with subtle, sweet and creamy notes of vanilla that teeter on the edge of chalky rounding things out.

Flavor: Much like its smell, Harlequin’s flavor is dominated by woody, earthy tastes, followed up by a faint sweetness on the side of the tongue.

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Effects: Although it’s a CBD strain, Harlequin packs quite the sativa uplift, known for melting away pain and anxiety while easing stress and fatigue. The strain is much more popular for medical use than recreational, but its relaxing yet invigorating effects are a favorite for the productive smoker. Just remember to keep a water bottle with you: The cottonmouth is strong in this one.

Commercial grower’s take: “I’ve heard it’s a little too humid up here in Colorado for Harlequin, but I doubt anyone with a properly secured indoor grow has problems with that. Not the most popular on the street because of low THC levels. Most of the people growing this at home are either doing it for themselves or other medical patients. Hearty strain, though — good choice for beginners.”

Home grower’s take: “Harlequin is pretty popular commercially because it’s one of the easier, higher-yielding CBD strains to grow. It’s also got a little THC, but not too much, so people looking for more medication without totally abandoning the high tend to like it. It being a sativa doesn’t hurt, either. I think most people associate CBD with sleep, so when they find out they can try this without getting groggy, it’s a big selling point. Usually ready for harvest within sixty days, too, so I wouldn’t be surprised if its clones sell well.”

Is there a strain you’d like to see profiled? E-mail [email protected]

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Harlequin is an easy CBD strain to find around Denver. Its sativa-leaning tendencies and consistent CBD-to-THC ratios make it popular for medical patients and low-tolerance users alike.