Sativa and Indica: What’s the difference?

Whether you are trying to decide what sorts of marijuana plants to grow or what stain of marijuana to use, you’ll be faced with the same initial decision. You’re going to have to decide if you want a strain that is either indica, sativa, a 50/50 hybrid, or a strain that is dominantly one or the other.

If you’re not sure which one you’d prefer because you’re not familiar with the effects and characteristics of sativas and indicas, then you can find some of the most important differences between the two outlined below.

Differences in Physical Characteristics

The first and most obvious difference between sativas and indicas is how the plants look.

Indica cannabis plants tend to be pretty short and stocky while sativas are thinner and taller. Their leaves also appear markedly different to the trained eye. Both have the serrated edges of the classical marijuana leaf that comes to mind when you think of cannabis, but indica leaves are wider and shorter while sativa leaves are much longer and more slender. In terms of growing times, pure indica strains tend to have faster growing and flowering times than sativa strains. 

Hybrids will fall somewhere in between these descriptions and flowering times depending on what sort of crosses they are.

Differences in Chemical Makeup

The main chemical difference between indica and sativa strains lays in their typical levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Sativa strains tend to have higher THC levels than indicas, while indicas tend to have higher CBD levels than sativas.

However, you should keep in mind that while this is a safe generalization to make, the actual amounts of THC and CBD can differ significantly from strain to strain. An individual indica plant, for example, might have a higher THC content than an individual sativa plant. In fact, the indica strain named Darkstar is particularly known for its THC potency. 

Differences in Effects

The differing THC and CBD levels described above are one of the main reasons why indica and sativa strains tend to have different effects on marijuana users.

Indicas are usually described as giving more of a “body high” while sativas are usually credited with a “head” or “cerebral” high. Indicas are thought to induce relaxation, sleep, and a feeling of “couch-lock,” while sativas provide the user with a more uplifting, clear-headed type of high.

While this is again a good generalization, you should again keep in mind that both strains can bring on different types of highs, and that a good number of strains are hybrids which will fall somewhere in the middle.

Medically, indicas and sativas are beneficial for numerous overlapping conditions. Whether a particular strain is best suited for a particular condition will depend largely on its chemical content.

For example, indicas strains are typically considered to be more beneficial for seizures than sativas. However, Charlotte’s Web is a sativa strain that has risen to considerable popularity due to its near miraculous ability to reduce seizures, particularly in children. It may be sativa, but it has a very high CBD content and a very low THC content.

Why Make Hybrids?

There are a good mix of indicas, sativas, and hybrids available for marijuana growers and marijuana users to choose from. Hybrids are useful because they provide a spectrum of both growing properties and effects. They allow for the creation of strains which receive the benefit of the faster flowering time of an indica and the higher THC content of a sativa.

Whether you’re a marijuana grower or a user, this wonderful variety gives you the ability to choose the strain that is uniquely suited for your needs.