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Library of the Herb

The Debate Over the Difference Between Cannabis Sativa and Indica Weed

4 Mins read

I  Different Characteristics between Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica

Selling cannabis flower in a dispensary in today’s marketplace is a complicated task. In Thailand, the task is made even more challenging by language issues, inexperienced consumers and a lingering fear of unclear laws.

One of the solutions that I have noticed budtenders making is to emphasize the difference in effects between Sativa and Indica strains. On the face of it, the guidance seems reasonable enough. 

The Conventional View of Sativa vs. Indica Weed

Cannabis is a plant that is made up of two main species: Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica. Both species have different characteristics. This scientific fact has led many cannabis dispensary budtenders to conclude that Sativa and Indica have effects that are as different as night and day. You may have seen the impact of this conclusion on packets of cannabis flower that Indicate whether they are Sativa or Indica strains with an icon of a moon or a sun. 

Cannabis Sativa is said to be known for its energizing and uplifting effects. It is often said that it is the strain to treat conditions such as depression, fatigue, and lack of appetite. Sativa strains have high levels of THC, the compound that is responsible for the plant’s psychoactive effects. The plants are typically tall, thin, and have long, narrow leaves. The buds produced by Sativa strains are also typically airy and less dense than those produced by Indica strains.

Cannabis Indica, on the other hand, is said to be known for its relaxing and sedative effects. It is often recommended to treat conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. Indica strains have higher levels of CBD, a non-psychoactive compound that is believed to have medicinal properties. The plants are typically short, stocky, and have wide, dark green leaves. The buds produced by Indica strains are typically dense and heavy.

Our Take

My experience with flower over a few decades, as well as anecdotal evidence from testimony of other cannabis consumers, is that whether weed will make one energetic and creative or sedated and relaxed depends, in large measure, on how the cannabis consumer wants to feel. Your weed will amplify your activity or enhance your relaxation. This helps explain the hyper-stoned impact of weed on some newcomers. They act in a way they believe they should act when high on weed. To a certain degree, weed meets the expectations of its user. 

In other words, if you want to get high and work out, consumption will make your workout better; if you want to get high and chill with the dog, consumption will make that happen with less stress and worry. Our minds are stronger than we think; the impact of weed on our perceptions and mood, more flexible than we imagine.

II  Rethinking the Usefulness of the Distinction Between Sativa and Indica

The distinction between Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica has long been a topic of debate among scientists, with many experts arguing that there is little scientific evidence to support the distinction. While these two species of cannabis have been traditionally classified based on their physical characteristics and effects, recent studies have shown that there is little genetic or chemical difference between the two.

One of the main arguments against the distinction between Sativa and Indica is that the genetic differences between the two strains are not significant enough to warrant separate classification. A study published in the journal “Frontiers in Plant Science” in 2016, analyzed the genetic makeup of 81 Cannabis accessions and concluded that there is a high degree of genetic overlap between Sativa and Indica strains, and that the genetic differences between the two are not as pronounced as previously believed.

Another issue with the distinction between Sativa and Indica is that the characteristics and effects of a particular strain are determined by a complex interplay of factors, including genetics, growing conditions processing methods and terpenes. A study published in the journal “Nature” in 2021, “Cannabis labelling is associated with genetic variation in terpene synthase genes” analyzed the chemical composition of cannabis samples from around the world and found that there is a wide variation in the chemical composition of plants within a given strain, and that there is no correlation between the chemical composition of a plant and its classification as Sativa or Indica. There were however, indications that effects were more dependent on the plant’s terpenes than has been assumed.

Many experts argue that the distinction between Sativa and Indica is not supported by scientific evidence, and that the classification of strains into Sativa or Indica is largely based on cultural or historical factors, rather than on any scientific basis. A study published in the journal “Frontiers in Plant Science” in 2020, found that the historical classification of cannabis strains into Sativa and Indica is based on subjective criteria, and that there is no scientific evidence to support the distinction.

While the distinction between Sativa and Indica strains of cannabis is still widely accepted, there is mounting scientific evidence that suggests that the distinction may not be as clear-cut as once thought. The genetic, chemical and environmental factors that influence the characteristics and effects of a particular strain are complex and varied, and the classification of strains into Sativa or Indica may not be supported by scientific evidence. The new evidence that terpenes are central to the type of high one achieves suggests that the best method for seeking out one’s flower of preference is to start “nose first”.

We’ve got a question for you!

Have you ever chosen a cannabis strain based on whether it was labeled as Sativa or Indica?

  • Yes, I always choose based on Sativa or Indica.
  • Sometimes, but I also consider other factors such as terpenes and personal experience.
  • No, I don’t believe in the Sativa/Indica distinction.
  • No, I have never tried cannabis.

Leave your answer in the comments!

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About author
Cenk Cetin is a cannabis tech entrepreneur based in Thailand. He is dedicated to the digital transformation of retailers and has a can-do mentality to any task related.
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