Exploring the Indica vs. Sativa Binary of Marijuana Strains

indica vs. sativa

Legalization movements around the globe are creating large groups of new cannabis-enthusiasts. But is the Indica vs. Sativa classification helpful for new users?

For someone new to the industry, things can get a little confusing when it comes to marijuana strains. With growers around world perfecting their crafts, there are now thousands of different marijuana strains in the world. But they seem to be divided into two main groups: indica vs. sativa. If you are an aspiring cannabis connoisseur, one of your first questions will probably be,

What is the difference between Indica vs Sativa?

Now let’s stop you right there. If you haven’t heard it yet, the urban legend is that indicas make you tired and sativas give you energy. But according to Jeffrey Raber, Ph.D. in chemistry from USC, the idea that groups of strains produce universal effects is all wrong. He says, 

“The data shows that indica and sativa is just morphology, It’s a misperception that indica will put you to sleep or that sativa is more energetic.”

There is definite truth to Raber’s statement, as the potency of bud varies between grower and growing conditions. For example, every batch of OG Kush will be different if the process is not streamlined. After all, this plant has a 12,000-year history growing alongside human-kind, and the indica and sativa myth may have simply arisen through the linguistic origins of the words.

Exploring the Word Origins of Indica and Sativa

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Wild cannabis growing in India

Indica, comes from the classical Greek and Latin word for India. A region that has long produced resin, heavy, psychoactive cannabis plants like Hindu Kush. Sativa literally means “cultivated.” Today’s true Sativa is a species of Cannabis produced for hemp that has close to no THC. The origins of the words may have contributed to our modern day classification by simply dividing between potent and less potent plants.

Professors Robert C. Clarke and Mark D. Merlin in their work Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany attempted to create a proper taxonomical definition of cannabis. They established that every resin producing cannabis-strain is derived from indica genes.

Their work states that your individual biochemistry, mood, genetics, physiology determine the overall experience. Furthermore, each different bud contains varying amounts of THC, CBD, and CBN, which will affect everyone differently. When you experience a sedative effect from indica or notice more mental stimulation from sativa what you’re actually noticing is an effect produced by a combination of all the compounds in cannabis combining with your body chemistry and physiology.

Conclusion: Don’t rely on Indica vs. Sativa classification to Manage your Experience

So, not all so-called “sativas” will give you energy. And not all “indicas” will lock you to the couch. In addition, managing your marijuana experience is about safe trials of multiple strains, and becoming educated on the different effects to your own personal physiology.