Cannabis 101

Sativa vs. Indica

The most common way to categorize cannabis strains is in three categories, sativa, indica, and hybrid. These categories are used by many professionals and consumers to predict effects. While science is demonstrating that cannabinoids and terpenes are more accurate indicators of effects, many find it easier to group cannabis into three simple buckets. 

The sativa, indica, hybrid classification might not be the most accurate, but it is still an east way to gauge a weed strain for most smokers. Understanding these three categories is the first step to classifying cannabis. Once an understanding of sativas, indicas and hybrids is strong, it’s easier to explore cannabinoids and terpenes and the nuances of marijuana. 

The History of Sativas & Indicas

Species Plantarum, a 1973 publication from Carl Linnaeus, classified all cannabis plants initially under one group, “Cannabis sativa L.,”. Cannabis as the genus and sativa as the species. It wasn’t until 1785 that biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck updated the naming using two species, “Cannabis sativa” and “Cannabis indica”. The naming system was mostly in reference to the physical attributes of the plant, with sativa being taller and more fibrous and indica shorter and stouter. 

What’s the Difference Between Sativa and Indica?


Originating from warm and humid climates, sativas have a slow maturation cycle and grow tall and lanky to combat humidity. The effects commonly associated with sativa are energy, focus and creativity. Many smokers prefer sativa for a day-time smoke, helping with productivity. Great for physical activities like cleaning, hiking, and group sports. Most sativa strains have lower levels of THC and higher CBD. 


Originating from cold northern climates, indica plants have a shorter flowering cycle and are short with dense structure and larger buds.  The effects commonly associated with indica are relaxation, pain relief and sleepiness. Smokers love puffing on indica when decompressing at the end of the day, watching netfix, listening to music or just chillin with friends. Indica plants have high THC and are cultivated for psychoactive properties.

What’s a Hybrid Strain?

Hybrids can be created by crossing any two strains, possessing beneficial properties from both parents. Cannabis breeders create strains based on the desired effects, whether it’s crossing two sativas, two indicas, or one of each. The result is some combination that leans one way or the other, or clocks in at a balanced 50/50. 

Hybrids are great for smokers that need the alertness of sativas and the mellowness of indicas. Indica-dominant strains deliver pain relief suitable for the end of a long day or post-workout, while sativa-dominant strains can help with mid-day stress or a productivity boost. 

While cannabinoids and terpenes are beginning to unlock new, more accurate methods of classifying cannabis, strain categories will always have relevance. This is the system that the cannabis culture has used for decades when describing cannabis. Everyone is different, and our reaction to substances varies. This is why the ultimate test will come down to the end user, and the effects they seek. With safe experimentation, cannabis users can pinpoint what strains deliver their desired effect.

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