Heather Burton and Kenneth Langford04-18-2020
Cannabis cultivation is woven into the fabric of our history. Dating back thousands of years, Cannabis became illegal at the turn of the last century. For the last hundred years, the Drug Enforcement Agency’s classification of Cannabis as a ‘Schedule One’ drug has inhibited research and increased use for therapeutic purposes.
Today, laws are emerging to allow cannabis to be consumed as medicine. Some policies in certain states allow adult recreational use, and Canada has made cannabis federally legal. Cannabis research is only now being conducted heavily.
Unfortunately, there is no way to verify strains. Most cannabis suppliers cannot confirm strains leaving consumers to have blind-faith that the label on the package matches the cannabis inside.
Just like us, Cannabis is ever-evolving. Every strain is unique and it is important to ask your local budtender about the history of the strains you are choosing; Read the description provided by the dispensary, by the cannabis cultivators or our review.
In the 1800’s it was fair they assumed both Indica and Sativa strains were considered completely separate species. The history of Indica and Sativa categories is long but I’m here to break it down for you.
Physically, the plants have no similarities. Hazes are tall with light thin leaves whereas Kush strains are short with broader, darker thick leaves. Sativas also flower for a longer period of time than that of Indica strains.
Today, most strains have been hybridized and cultivated for specific medicinal and therapeutic properties. Each Cannabis strain will affect you differently. The most important question is what strain is your ideal strain.
In terms of species, hemp is not comparable to typical Cannabis strains. Hemp is genetically distinct from different industrial use and cultivation methods. The only thing hemp represents is a variety of Cannabis that repressed THC production that is less than 0.3%.
Before mass hybridization, Sativa strains were considered more energizing and Indica strains were more calming. Today, it’s not that simple.
Understanding the unique characteristics of Sativa and Indica strains can enhance your cannabis buying experience.
Sativa strains flourish in hot and dry climates such as Asia, Africa, Central America, and other geographical locations with long summer-like days.
These plants grow thin and tall with skinny long and light leaves. Impressively, Sativa plants can grow taller than 10 feet and have a longer flowering time compared to other cannabis types.
General effects associated with Sativa strains include a boost in energy that can reduce anxiety and stress as well as increased productivity and focus. Typically these strains have lower levels of CBD and higher levels of THC present in their make-up.
Indica is a native strain to Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, and some regions in Turkey. These plants survive in hostile and dry Hindu Kush mountain ranges.
Indicas are short, bushy, and stocky. They have broad and dark leaves that grow wide. Indica strains flower sooner than Sativa, and are known to produce a larger harvest.
Depending on the strain, most Indica strains have a variety of cannabinoids like CBD and THC present.
The most common effects associated with Indica strains are relaxation, relieving pain, and enhanced appetite due to the full-body-like tendencies they produce. Due to their sedating effects, it is best to save these strains for nighttime use when you wish to unwind.
Popular Indica strains include Purple Kush, Afghan Kush, and Hindu Kush.
Pro tip: If there’s ‘Kush’ in the title, it is probably Indica-dominant.
Usually, when you think of Cannabis components you go straight to THC content even though there is more to the cannabis experience than just having high THC levels. Other cannabinoids like CBD, CBN, and CBG all play a role in how the strain will affect you. In addition, the unique terpenes of each strain affect the experience and properties of the plant.
The variations of Indica and Sativa in any given strain are what most people rely on to find the strain they need.
For example, let’s say you’ve been using Purple Kush (Indica) to improve your sleep quality and help you feel more relaxed. Everything’s been going great, you’re feeling like your best self. Now, you go back to your dispensary and purchase Pink Kush because they no longer have the strain you normally use. You think: Hey, it’s a kush strain, so it will give me the same effects. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The Pink Kush you bought is an Indica-dominant hybrid, and instead of feeling relaxed, you feel energized and slightly paranoid.
Why did this happen if both strains are kush? It’s because Indica/Sativa variations create different experiences. Not to mention, each Cannabis user has a unique experience with each specific strain.
THC (-trans-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the most known compound derives from Cannabis, exclusively initiating the psychoactive effect of the plant. Other than that, THC is also known for it’s healing properties such as relieving pain, reducing anxiety, and spasticity relief.
Although a lot of dispensaries bring a lot of attention to THC content, Cannabis consumers (especially new users) may benefit from other cannabinoid combinations.
Let’s say you’ve never tried Cannabis, but you are looking to reduce physical pain and want a cerebral experience.
The budtender will most likely sell you a Sativa strain. Well, that specific Sativa strain they chose for you happens to be high in THC (over 20%), and the budtender didn’t know that you’re just trying cannabis for the first time. So, what happens? You will most likely have an unwanted experience with Cannabis and be less willing or inclined to try it again, even though the right strain could truly benefit your daily life.
That’s where hybrid strains are beneficial. Opting for a Sativa-dominant strain would most likely provide you with aa more positive and relaxing experience.
Why? Because this strain is Sativa dominant, meaning that it also possesses Indica characteristics, but to a lesser degree.
Choosing a Sativa-dominant strain that has the calming effects of Indica present instead of a pure Sativa strain may be more beneficial to a new user as it will help balance out the experience.
The same can be said about Indica- dominant strains for consumers who prefer more of a body-high with a mild energetic kick.
There are a few common questions surrounding Landrace, or pure Cannabis strains, like Thai and Hindu Kush. Are these strains hard to find? Are they worth seeking out? Are they currently on the market labeled as other products?
Landrace Cannabis strains evolved because of local natural selective pressures in a geographically limited area.
Open pollination means the wind helps male cannabis plants pollinate the female plants. When this occurs in an isolated geographical location, Landrace strains can evolve and diversify.
Today we have thousands of genetic varieties of cannabis. Thanks to exchanging seeds and humans traveling the globe, breeders began to create their own Landrace strains.
While the seeds may have been the offspring of a Kush strain from India, they have been modified (or adapted) to grow in the outdoor conditions of North America.
Because Cannabis was illegal, the black market took over. Consequently, when production expanded, organized criminals didn’t care about selection, they cared about quantity. They would grow and sell everything.
The result? Lots of sub-par Cannabis immerged.
Even though Cannabis has been legalized for medical and recreational purposes making accessibility easier, finding a pure Landrace strain in North America is highly unlikely.
The only way to get a Landrace strain is to visit the location of its origin.
Hybrid Cannabis strains are a combination of breeding Indica, Sativa, or other hybrid strains. Hybrids are man-made creations. There are three common hybrid varieties:
Indica-dominant: presiding of dominant Indica characteristics and traits.
Sativa-dominant: presiding of dominant Sativa traits and characteristics.
Balanced: An equal combination of both Indica and Sativa traits and characteristics.
While it may be hard to identify a hybrid Cannabis strain on aroma alone, there are still general features you can keep an eye on.
Indica-dominant hybrids may have purple undertones, they will usually have a strong skunky smell, and their buds tend to be small and dark.
Sativa-dominant hybrids usually consist of fluffy buds that are light in color and have a citrus or fruity smell.
The aroma of a hybrid strain doesn’t necessarily give you an indication on how it will affect you after consumption as everyone has their own unique experience with Cannabis.
Some people may feel energized from an Indica-dominant hybrid and feel waves of sedation when they consume Sativa-dominant strains.
There may be no set guidelines for hybrid effects, but just like physical characteristics, there are some specifications you can follow.
Indica-dominant hybrid: Slightly affects the mind and strong sedating physical effects. You will experience slight euphoria with strong soothing properties.
Sativa-dominant hybrid: Strong cerebral effects with mild relaxation effects. You will experience the uplifting and euphoric feelings of a Sativa, while still getting that body-high that comes with Indica.
Balanced: An equal balance of both the physical and cerebral effects.
Flexibility. Let’s say you want mild physical sedation during the day, but you find a pure Indica strain to be too intense; It makes you drowsy, it makes your body feel heavy, and you just want to sleep.
This is where breeding an Indica strain with a Sativa strain can reduce the physical and sedating effects of an Indica dominant strain.
You can’t please everyone all the time, but with a hybrid strain, you can please most people more of the time.
The combination of certain strains to form hybrid siblings is very beneficial to those searching for a fusion of Sativa and Indica properties. For example, Green Crack is a hybrid Cannabis strain with the taste and smell of an Indica plant but that produces more of a Sativa-like cerebral effect. This hybrid leaves the consumer with the positive aspects of both of the strains that were integrated.
When it comes to Cannabis cultivation, hybrids leave a messy footprint. First off, there is the placebo effect. People report effects that they were told they may not experience. Cultivating hybrid strains brings major inconsistencies to the market as consumers react differently to the many strain variations that are produced.
It’s important to understand the makeup of hybrids and ask important questions before making concrete decisions for consumption. Always ask a budtender for their professional opinion, as well as our reviews to get a better sense of the strain’s possible effects and limitations.
Before trying anything for the first time it’s necessary to ask the important questions. In this case, Sative vs. Indica? Although offering noticeably different effects, each user experiences Cannabis strains differently and should handle with care.
Hybrids can provide a variety of effects beyond the standard “body-high” or energetic boost. Again, it is very important to understand what strains were combined and make decisions based on facts.
So, the next time you order from a dispensary, ask about how the strain was cultivated: How long did it take to cultivate? What did the plant look like? Find the dominant percentage that suits you best, and keep in mind all the compounds that enable this special plant to be so magical.