If you’ve ever been to a cannabis store, you’ll notice that there are two main types of cannabis: Sativa and indica(sativa vs indica). But what’s the difference between the two?
Sativa vs indica origin
The literal difference between the two is in terms of classification. Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica are two of the subspecies of the genus Cannabis.
Let’s start off with indica. These plants are indigenous to northern dryer climates like the middle east, and the Himalayan foothills of northern India. Over time, indica plants have learned to develop quicker. And because of that, they have a shorter harvesting period. For this reason, Cannabis indica is sought after by lots of growers.
Sativa is native to hotter climates near the equator like Mexico, Southeast Asia, Columbia, and some countries in Africa. Since these places are hot and humid, Sativa plants have evolved over time into what they are today. The origins of these plants are important because it’s what shapes the leaves, buds, and plants themselves. We’ll get into that later in this post.
Do Sativa & Indica Plants Look Different?
There are a few key differences between how sativa and indica look.
Cannabis indica plants tend to grow shorter, and bushier. This is also similar to the leaves. Indica plants are typically shorter with wider blades. This is so that sunlight is easier to catch. Indica buds also have a noticeably different bud structure. They are usually smaller, denser, and heavier. This is another reason why indica plants are very sought after by growers. Cannabis sativa plants, on the other hand, tend to grow taller (up to 6 feet!) and produce less dense taller buds. Sativa leaves also follow this same pattern, tall with thin blades. There is also a longer harvesting period with Cannabis sativa. This will explain why pure sativa strains are not as common as pure indica strains.
Sativa VS Indica effects
Sativa is more of an alert cerebral high, this is known to have uplifting medicinal values. Many people use sativa to treat depression, anxiety, and in some cases to even enhance creativity. Indica is known to have a relaxing body high. People often use indica to help with sleep, muscle soreness, and to increase their appetite. If you’re new to cannabis, a light indica might be a good place to start. We’ll have a beginners guide later in this article.
Sativa vs indica vs hybrid?
Pure Cannabis sativa and pure Cannabis indica are a lot less common then hybrids. All the word hybrid means is that the strain is a mixture of indica and sativa genetics. Depending on the lineage, hybrid strains can take the characteristics from both indica and sativa. Most hybrids are not a 50/50 combination though; they are usually dominant in either one or the other. Since most cannabis nowadays has been practically grown in a lab, almost all strains are hybrid. Even the ones that are claimed to be pure indica or pure sativa. There are still pure strains out there, but most of the ones you will find today are a hybrid by a small percentage.
Sativa VS Indica CBD and THC
A common myth is that all indica’s contain more CBD, and this is the reason it gives a body high. There is this same myth with Sativa’s, and that more THC is what produces the cerebral head high. Research shows that THC and CBD are not more predominant in either sativa or indica. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t indica’s with large amounts of CBD, or that there isn’t sativa’s with large amounts of THC. This just means that this isn’t the reason for the difference in highs and that CBD and THC are not native to one or the other. We will go more in depth later on in this article if you are unfamiliar with CBD and THC.
What are cannabinoids and terpenes
Cannabinoids and terpenes may seem a bit confusing for beginners but its really not that complicated. Cannabinoids are compounds found in cannabis. There are 85 known cannabinoids, but there’s probably more that we don’t know about. In all of our brains, there are cannabinoid receptors. These are what allow cannabis to interact with us, and allow us to feel psychoactive and physical effects from cannabis.
The two most common cannabinoids that you may or may not have heard of are THC and CBD. When you are looking at strains and edibles, you will see a milligram or percentage rating. This is THC, and this compound specifically does have psychoactive effects. For a long period of time, THC was considered the only psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis. Other cannabinoids can either increase or decrease the effects of THC.
The other most common compound is CBD. CBD has become more and more popular over the last few years for a couple of reasons. First of all, CBD has no psychoactive effects. What this means is that people who are not interested in getting high can now get the benefits of cannabis with CBD. Furthermore, there have been some very promising results with CBD on people (especially infants) that have rare forms of epilepsy. If you want to read more about this, we will have an article here.
What strain is right for me?
If you are planning to use cannabis for medicinal purposes, please check out the infographic to see which kind of Cannabis matches your symptoms. Keep in mind that these are not direct guidelines by any means, and all strains are different. Above all, it is also important to know that cannabis effects every person differently.
If you are new to Cannabis and you plan to use for non-medicinal purposes the best way to find the right strain for you is by trying. Each strain has its own effects and the only way to know which one is right for you is by testing them out.
Another (very) important thing to keep in mind. If you are someone who smoked cannabis twenty-or-thirty years ago, and you are planning to try it again. Cannabis is very different then what it used to be, the average strain in the 1980s–1990s would be 4%-8% THC potency. Today, the average strain is around 20% and some strains are even in the 30%-35% range. If you are new to cannabis, the best advice I could give you would be to take it slow and work your way up. If you want our complete beginner’s guide, where we cover everything you could ever possibly want to know, click here.
Ryan is a content manager at thecannaschool.ca who has a background in economics. Ryan specializes in making cannabis edibles at home but loves to write about all things cannabis!