The Great Debate: Indica vs Sativa
For a newbie to cannabis culture or even a seasoned veteran stepping into a dispensary for the first time, there are so many options and things to consider when stepping into a modern dispensary. With so many options, where do you start? You have flower, edibles, concentrates, drinks, topicals, cbd’s, thc’s, cba’s, wtf’s (not a cannabis term, btw).
The very first thing you need to understand is the difference between the two most widely consumed strains of cannabis: Indica vs Sativa.
Knowing which strain of cannabis is right for you can dramatically improve your experience and provide you with that oh-so-sweet feeling that brought you here. Whether you want to alleviate pain, ease anxiety and depression, just chill, or even get into that creative space, there are key factors to consider before making your first purchase.
While all strains provide many benefits, each one provides a completely different effect. In this article we will clarify the key differences, their ideal uses, and help you navigate the big wide world of weed. Welcome to the stoned age.
The Different Types of Cannabis
Understanding the benefits of each strain can dramatically improve your experience and your quality of life. Because of the key differences in pain relief, relaxation, energy levels, and psychological effects, knowing which strain is good for what is the first step of the process.
Cannabis is divided into three different strains: Indica, Sativa, and Ruderalis. Ruderalis isn’t valued for its medicinal (or recreational) benefits, which is why growers focus solely on the first two, Indica and Sativa.
Both strains are highly valued for their medicinal properties. …And we’re not going to lie, they can both get you really high. But the type of high you are looking for and the ailments you are looking to treat will determine which strain is right for you.
Indica vs Sativa: What’s the difference?
What is the difference between the two types of weed? Let’s look at them side by side.
The Indica strain, due to its high yield of flower, is what the majority of early growers focused on producing, as it meant more bang for their buck. The plants themselves differ from the counterpart in that they are smaller, bushier, produce more flower in less time, and have short, broad leaves.
The effect of Indica is going to give you a more relaxed effect than Sativa and the high is significantly more of a “body high” than it is a “head high”.
Not only is Indica great at helping you relax, but it is also better at alleviating pain and is favored by people looking for something to help them sleep for those very reasons.
Indica will also stimulate your appetite which can be desirable for many different ailments.
The flavor of Indica is distinct as well, which usually has a more “earthy” and perhaps even “skunkier” taste.
The technical difference the defines Indica is that it has a higher amount of CBD, which a chemical component of marijuana that helps reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and relax the mind.
Sativa, on the other hand, has some major differences. The plant itself is taller, skinnier, takes slightly longer to grow, and produces less flower. Despite the longer grow time and slightly less yield, there are many reasons why this is so widely popular amongst cannabis fans.
The high from Sativa tends to be much more cerebral and energizing. It is the type of weed you will want to smoke during the day to get those creative juices flowing or even to gain a boost of energy. You will be much more alert (perhaps even paranoid), but it is mostly smoked for its uplifting feelings of euphoria.
Sativas tend to be much more effective in treating anxiety and depression.
The image of a Sativa high would be the excited, can’t-stop-laughing, get out and go to a party type of high.
The flavors tend to be much brighter and floral than Indica’s as well, which is why it is often favored by serious connoisseurs who enjoy the taste as much as the high. All of your fruit-named strains are going to be heavy on the Sativa side.
Quality: Another key factor
As with anything, there are varying levels of quality to consider, where the higher quality products will have a cleaner, more effective high and are better for treating specific pains and ailments.
Think of cannabis like you would alcohol. You have your top-shelf product like your single-malts with insanely high quality, then your mid-range for a more affordable but slightly higher quality, and finally a lower quality product with a much lower price point for the budget-conscious.
A perfect blend: Hybrids
Do you really have to choose between the two? The answer is no. Growers can combine the characteristics of each strain into a new strain that will carry certain characteristics of both Indica and Sativa. These are known as Hybrids.
As both Indica and Sativa have many great benefits, different hybrids can highlight particular effects of each, which could give you that relaxed body high you are after without the “couch-lock”. Or perhaps you want that euphoric head high without the paranoia. Regardless of what you are after, a hybrid may turn out to be your favorite strain.
Hybrids will tend to fall to one side or the other, favoring either Indica or Sativa as their dominant characteristic. Indica-heavy hybrids are often called Indica-dom, whereas Sativa dominant hybrids are known as Sativa-dom.
To find your perfect strain, we would suggest trying to identify which side of the spectrum you fall on, and then begin experimenting with hybrids. Talk to your budtender for some advice as well as, after all, buying weed is sometimes a “joint effort”. Sorry, couldn’t resist.
Trying different types of weed is half the fun anyway, right?
How to Choose the “Right” Strain
Firstly, decide what effect you are really striving for. If you are trying to alleviate chronic pain (no pun intended) you should start with an Indica. If you are looking to relieve anxiety, go with a Sativa.
Ask yourself if you are looking to treat an ailment. If you are, is your ailment physical or psychological? Are you in pain, or are you struggling to find peace of mind?
These will help you quickly identify where to start.
If you’re just looking for a good time, ask yourself what a good time looks like. Is it hitting the bong and hanging out and relaxing at home, or taking a rip before (and during…and after maybe) heading outdoors for a hike with friends? The energy level you are looking for is definitely going to be a key factor in your choice.
Have fun Exploring
Indica and Sativa are very different highs and each offers powerful medicinal benefits. They have different physical appearances, different tastes, and different moods.
The best way to know which strain is best for you is experimentation. Start with what you think you will like, then try the other and see what you think. New strains are being developed every day and there is guaranteed going to be one that checks all your boxes and makes life just a little more awesome.
Quality can be an equally important factor and should be given more weight when you are looking to marijuana for its medicinal effects, as higher quality means better medicine.
Whatever choice you make, remember that in the beginning, less is more. Dosage is equally important to the way you feel. Try a bit and increase the dosage as you become more familiar with the effects. Play around, enjoy and have fun trying to find your perfect vibe.