Sativa vs. Indica

Summary: The key difference between sativa and indica is that sativa is felt predominately in the head while indica is felt in the body.

When it comes to cannabis flower, there are two basic types (strains) on the market: sativa and indica (plus a combination called hybrid). Think of it like wine: there's red, white, and a combination, rosé. (Piece of trivia, red wine comes from red grapes, but white wine comes from both red and white grapes since the grape juice is clear).

Sativas tend to get the brain racing which can lead to paranoia in people who tend to be anxious. Creative people, who like sativas, find that it can enhance their thought process and help them recognize trivial connections. (It can also create thoughts that don't make sense. Today's version of “Write drunk, edit sober" – legendarily attributed to Ernest Hemingway – would be "Write high, edit low." In other words, don't believe everything you think – make sure your thoughts can hold up to the light of day.)

Indicas tend to relax people and help them sleep. The mnemonic for remembering which is which is: Indica: "in the couch."

There are close to a thousand different cannabis strains, but, like race horses, the names typically don't help a consumer differentiate the types. Sometimes, the strain names might indicate their lineage. For example, Thai haze is a cross between Thai and haze. But it takes some research to know the effects of Thai or haze. Plus, everyone's reaction is different. The same strain from different places can be vary when it comes to the potency of THC, CBD, CBN, etc. Additionally, the flavor (aroma or taste) is a highly personal preference. It's been said that a person should go with what smells good. One person's skunky smelling weed is another person's delight. I doubt that many cannabis consumers could tell the difference, by smell or taste, between a sativa or indica anymore than a person can tell the difference between regular or decaf coffee.  Also, what complicates matters is verifying the strain. In the old days, it was said that each time a bag of pot changed hands, it became a different strain. 

Nowadays, legally licensed dispensaries tend to either grow their own cannabis plants or have a highly trusted cultivator. Regardless, in California, all cannabis must be tested in a lab and appropriately labeled. But that simply reports the percent of key compounds like THC and CBD. Think of it as the equivalent of alcohol proof on a liquor bottle. So, just like learning your preferences for drinks, through trial and error, the same is true for cannabis.


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