How to Buy Cannabis: The Differences Between Sativa, Indica, & Hybrid Strains
Seemingly uncontrollable feelings of anxiety and paranoia? Melting into the couch? Zoning out for hours at a time? We'd venture to guess that nearly every cannabis consumer has experienced an uncomfortable feeling associated with being high.
The good news is, you can avoid this! Weed is like wine – every strain has a history, a unique cannabinoid profile, and different terpene compositions -- the funny names you hear in the movies actually mean something!
You may have heard the terms indica and sativa used in conjunction with cannabis. These terms are used to describe the two major species of the cannabis plant capable of inducing markedly different effects.
Most people never have the chance to choose, they get the bud that they can find and hope for the best. However, legalization has created an opportunity for customers to make informed decisions about the strain they consume. Choosing the right strain for you and your body can make all the difference when trying to calm down, spur your appetite, fall asleep, or find creative inspiration.
Different Types of Weed
Cannabis plants of the indica variety grow short and bushy. Their leaves are short, broad, and deeply serrated at the edges. Cannabis indica plants typically mature in 6 to 8 weeks, a relatively short period.
Commonly known as the 'nighttime' variety, the effect of cannabis indica is typically described as a body high. This is in reference to the physical relaxation and euphoria produced by indicas (likely due in part to the higher concentrations of CBD, CBN, and other soothing cannabinoids).
Indica strains have strong sedative properties and induce feelings of deep relaxation and even sleepiness. If you're looking for a strain for insomnia, an indica may be just what you need. Cannabis indica provides stress & anxiety relief and soothes nausea and pain. Oh, and the munchies? Those come from cannabis indica too.
If you are someone who is prone to anxiety or paranoia when consuming THC, an indica or other high-CBD strain might help moderate those effects. CBD is shown to act as an antagonist to THC, mitigating its effects and reducing anxiety in many people.
Indicas slow you down and are categorized as 'relaxing weed.' Ask for:
Granddaddy Purp, Bubba Kush, Northern Lights, Afghan Kush/Afghani/Afgoo, Hash Plant, Sensi Star, MK Ultra, Herijuana, Kosher Kush, Master Kush, Blackberry Kush, Shishkaberry
Cannabis plants of the sativa variety grow tall and lanky, much more than their indica cousins. Their leaves are long and narrow, with fine-toothed serration at the edges. Cannabis sativa plants typically take longer to mature than indicas, about 10 to 16 weeks.
Commonly known as the 'daytime' smoke, the effect of cannabis sativa is often described as a cerebral, or "head" high. Sativa strains induce feelings alertness, creativity, focus, and increased energy, which can help some people feel inspired, productive, and motivated.
Unfortunately, these same characteristics can induce racing thoughts and feelings of paranoia in certain consumers (especially new consumers who get a bit overzealous starting out). This may be able to be mitigated with CBD, so adding a bit of raw, organic hemp flower to your bowl or joint might help ease anxiety and paranoia associated with cannabis use.
Because of the euphoria and energy boost it provides, cannabis sativa may aid in managing symptoms of depression. That said, it's not a one-size-fits-all, so talk to your care provider to learn more about using cannabis to treat depression.
Sativas get your mind moving and are categorized as 'creative weed.' Ask for:
Sour Diesel, Green Crack, Jack Herer, Durban Poison, Super Silver Haze, Super Lemon Haze, Purple Haze, Island Sweet Skunk, Ghost Train Haze, Acapulco Gold, East Coast Sour Diesel, Strawberry Cough
Hybrid Weed Strains
We must clarify that the above descriptions address the extremes, i.e. 100% indica and 100% sativa strains (the reality is a bit murkier, as sativas and indicas sit on more of a spectrum than in distinct categories). The majority of cannabis strains available today are really hybrids that can lean heavily in one direction or the other.
These ‘hybrid’ strains of cannabis selectively combine elements of both the indica and sativa species through the breeding process. Hybrids are popular options, as they maintain the most favorable aspects associated with each of their parents and are a diverse class of cannabis cultivars.
As a general rule, hybrids can be heavily sativa- or indica-dominant, or somewhere in the middle. We recommend consulting with your local budtender or caregiver for strain specifics when searching for the right hybrid for you.
The majority of cannabis strains available today are really hybrids that can lean heavily in one direction or the other.
How to Choose:
Those seeking an upbeat, focused, and creative experience, should select a sativa dominant strain. Alternatively, those looking for relaxing, appetite inducing, and sedative effects should choose an indica dominant strain.
When using cannabis therapeutically, you can use the following chart to determine which THC to other cannabinoid ratio is best suited for your symptoms and needs. Follow our consumption and dosage guides for more on how to use cannabis safely and effectively.
What is CBD-rich cannabis?
THC can be combined with other non-psychoactive cannabinoids for maximum relief from persistent pain, inflammation, and anxiety. High-CBD strains of cannabis and raw hemp flower (another member of the cannabis family that produces high levels of CBD, CBN, CBG, CBC, and others, with only trace amounts of THC)
A compound with a myriad of therapeutic benefits that will never get you high, CBD is growing in popularity as people seek more natural pain management alternatives to opioids that do not carry the pharmaceuticals' notorious risk of addiction. In fact, many athletes actually use CBD in place of Ibuprofen for athletic recovery and pain management.
While high-CBD cannabis strains are available (look for indicas in this case, and check the CBD content), organic hemp flower makes an excellent alternative for consumers seeking fast-acting relief without the high associated with THC.
We enjoy the hemp flower from Canna Comforts, a hemp grower based in Colorado committed to producing potent, organic, non-GMO raw hemp strains that look, feel, smell, taste, and smoke like the top-shelf marijuana strains that inspired them.
We personally enjoy a bowl of Lifter topped with a bit of Elektra kief (shown in image below) for intensive symptom relief or a Wife Palm Wrap hemp preroll to unwind, but their diverse catalog of available batch-tested strains ensures the perfect whole-plant medicine for anyone.
- If you need to be productive all day and seek some extra energy and creativity, try a sativa strain
- If you’re looking to settle down and relax -- mentally and physically -- for the evening, grab yourself an indica strain
- If you want a great anytime smoke and a balanced high, try a hybrid strain that stays
- If you are seeking therapeutic benefits without the high, try a strain of organic hemp flower rather than cannabis