Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid – How to choose a cannabis strain
Weed can often confuse and intimidate new cannabis users because they hear conflicting (and often wrong) information regarding the different categories of cannabis i.e. indica vs sativa vs hybrid. In our experience, most people hear terms like “trichome heads” or “cannabinoid profile” and start getting prolific fear sweats. Fear not, introductory stoners, we are going to explain different Cannabis Strains in simple terms for you.
In almost every dispensary ever existed weed is divided into three categories: indica, sativa or hybrid.
We will get into more specific details below but if you take nothing else away from this article know that indica is the general term given to weed that makes you sleepy, relaxed, couch-locked and very hungry.
Sativa is the general term given to weed that doesn’t exactly make you hyper but it’s more of an upbeat, creative high that resonates with the stereotype of the teenager who got caught smoking weed because they couldn’t stop giggling. Hybrid is a SUPER general term for any mix of the two.
That said, there is no actual chemical called indica or sativa. The two terms are used to describe characteristics of the highs associated with cannabis but that’s about as deep as it gets. The high you feel is actually more often associated with the terpene profile of the plant but that’s a different topic. All these terms sound complicated at first, but it’s basically just a tool for consumers to have some way to gauge what kind of Cannabis they’re about to consume.
Indica cannabis plants are bushy, stocky and have wider leaves than their sativa/equatorial relatives. The ancestor plants of modern day indicas come from the mountainous regions of the Middle East and Asia such as Afghanistan and Tibet.
Indica cannabis typically makes the user feel a sense of sedation akin to getting off the mountain after a long day of skiing. Indica-based edibles especially tend to have a potent anti-anxiety feeling that tends to leave the user glued to the couch and looking for the nearest source of snacks. Most people feel sleepy, blissful and relaxed when they use indica products. Indica strains are also considered the best for pain management, edibles in particular as they produce more intense bodily effects than smoking.
Some of the most popular, classic indica strains include grandaddy purp and OG Kush which have evolved over the years into strains like Purple Punch. Indica strain names typically have common denominators like kush, purple, skunk, things of this nature. The flavor of the flower varies but in general indica weed tastes earthy, gassy or grape-flavored.
It is important to note that indica cannabis tends to contain higher concentrations of THC than sativa cannabis, so beginners may want to start slowly. However: when you overdo it with indica, you tend to just fall asleep. Overdoing it with sativa can lead to paranoia or racing thoughts so that’s something to keep in mind when choosing a strain to start with.
Sativa cannabis plants are lanky, tall and have skinny, bright-green leaves. Their ancestor plants come from regions near the equator like Colombia, Jamaica, and parts of Africa.
Sativa weed is, in a sense, more of the classic high that you see actors try to portray in movies as giggly, euphoric, creative and silly. However, seasoned smokers will tell you it is very rare that any weed makes them giggly anymore. But sativa does make me feel rather creative. It’s a much more social and chatty high than indicas which often make me want to hide in my house and watch TV. When it comes to sativa vs. indica edibles, sativa edibles are great for outdoor activities like gardening.
Classic sativa strains include Blue Dream, Durban Poison and Green Crack to name a few. Modern day sativa strain names can honestly go all over the place because sativa plants produce a much wider array of flavors than indica plants. In general anything that sounds like it will be super fruity and flavorful will usually be either a sativa or a sativa-leaning hybrid.
Most of, if not all modern day cannabis strains are technically hybrids and it’s all kind of a wash in the first place because it’s virtually impossible to trace plant lineages back to pre-legalization days. However, hybrid strains generally have characteristics of indica and sativa in terms of how the plants grow and the effects they produce. Many companies use terminology like “indica-dominant hybrid” or “sativa-leaning hybrid” to give the user some idea of what they’re getting. Everyone has their own personal preference and it can vary from person to person. Some people feel sleepy on sativa and energetic on indica. There’s really no way to be fully certain how high you’ll get or what kind of high you will be without actually consuming the product in question.
A good rule of thumb is to “follow your nose” and choose a strain based on what smells good to you. Unfortunately, most regulations do not allow for customers to smell the product beforehand at a dispensary. If you really can’t decide, asking your budtender to help you choose a strain can be very helpful. Dispensary budtenders receive education from different companies on what their products do, so rest assured if you’re looking to have a particular experience they can, at the very least, point you in the right direction.
As with anything, if you’re new to cannabis start SLOW. That goes double for edibles. Once you’ve chosen your strain, start with one or two hits of flower or 10 milligrams of THC in edible form (one serving). Wait a half hour for flower and 2 hours with edibles before consuming more to allow yourself to feel the entirety of the effects and to gauge your tolerance level.