Indica vs Sativa
It’s so common for cannabis enthusiasts to feel clever about debating Indica vs Sativa. But what do you actually know above and beyond that “indica makes you tired and sativa makes you energetic”? The differences between these two main classes of marijuana are much bigger than that very basic explanation. In fact, for growers, the two can be so different in their genetics and their physical expression that they are almost considered two completely different plants.
It’s impossible to say that one is better than the other, and I don’t believe there’s any real cannabis connoisseur who would choose one or the other. Geneticists have been combining qualities of the two to create hybrids for years for that exact reason. So modern genetics doesn’t actually require you to choose. There are hundreds of hybrids available so that you can experience the best of both worlds. This article is a little bit of insight into the differences between these two varieties of marijuana, and how they affect the user differently.
In terms of identifying indica and sativa before actually using them, the two plants can look extremely different from each other. This is also probably due to the fact that they grow under different conditions. Whereas sativa is more well known in temperate climates that are closer to the equator whereas indica can grow in harsher climates and in colder weather. Take for example, the Kush variety, which is one of the original indica strains. It originated in the Kush mountains in Afghanistan. They developed thick resinous layers over the leaves to protect themselves from the winds and waters of the mountains. Indica plants are usually shorter and bushier and are ideal for growers who have indoor space.
Sativa plants are generally taller, thinner and for lack of a better word, lanky. They can get so tall that growers generally don’t even try to grow them indoors. They are much more suitable for outdoor growth. They like to be on the equator, where the climate can be warmer and where there is less variation in the temperatures between day and night/winter and summer. The leaves resemble the long fingers of a lady and the buds don’t grow quite as thick or resinous.
Differences in phenotypic expression
It can be a challenge to explain the differences in how you might perceive indica vs sativa in terms of their sensory qualities unless you’re holding two distinct buds in your hand. It’s much easier to find pure indica strains in dispensaries than it is to find pure sativa. It actually gets harder and harder to find pure sativa because they like to grow outdoors – which is a little challenging in some parts of the world.
Another reason that growers lean towards indica or indica dominant strains is because they have a shorter maturation cycle than sativa plants. The flowering time on sativa plants can be months long, and in general a grower will harvest less from a sativa plant than from an indica plant.
The indica variety also has a very peculiar smell and look about it, being covered in resins and in brown hairs. It usually carries that earthy, pungent aroma that relaxes you just sniffing it. On the other hand, sativa buds tend to be greener rather than browner, and their aroma is different altogether. I generally find that the smell of a sativa bud is sharper, like the diesel smell that we get out of a Sour Diesel. When they are being smoked it is easy to tell the difference from the smell. Even if you don’t think you know it, you know the smell of the real OG.
How do they affect you differently?
The part most people are interested in is the difference in their effects. At the end of the day, marijuana use is a completely subjective experience, so we don’t really know how true the classifications are when it comes to effect. Most users generally report an uplifting effect from smoking sativa, as if being energized. They are generally recommended for those people who want to get something done or enjoy being creative. It is considered a more social strain of weed for these reasons, too. Some medical patients use sativa strains to deal with depression because of its uplifting and energizing qualities.
Indica strains are famous for – well – knocking you out. They are said to be so strong on a physical level that rather than being energizing, they are extremely relaxing. There is a euphoria associated with the relaxation that indica strains bring. It is also common for an indica strain to bring on the munchies a little bit stronger than a sativa strain might. Medical patients might use indica varieties to treat insomnia or for use as a muscle relaxant.
The age of hybrids
Even though we’ve been classifying cannabis in to cannabis indica and cannabis sativa categories for a while, hybrids has been a more recent genetic endeavor. By mixing the genetics of the two different varieties, we have been able to create the myriad of strains that you see when you walk into a dispensary these days. For a lot of people, mixing the qualities of the two just enhances those qualities, giving the user the best of both worlds.
There are other factors which contribute to why strains are different from one another, such as their balance between cannabinoids. Some strains are heavier in CBD than they are in THC, whereas others contain extremely high THC content. This tipping of the scales occurs in both indica and sativa, and the more strains we create, the harder it is to say that sativa has a conclusive result and that indica has a conclusive result. Some smokers don’t prefer sativa because it can cause them some anxiety, whereas others say that indica strains make them lazy, preferring sativa.
Choosing between strains or types of marijuana is nothing more than personal preference at the end of the day, and the age of hybrids means that you can experience the qualities of both in a single strain. One of the most exciting things about marijuana is the variation in the effects that can be felt from person to person – even if it’s the same strain! There is no real ‘versus’ in the indica vs sativa argument – there is only which one is best for you!