Q&A: Sativa vs. Indica–What’s the Difference?

QUESTION

Hi Mary.  I’m new to weed and am trying to learn everything I can so I don’t sound dumb.  The other day I over-heard my friends arguing about which strand of weed is better, indica or sativa.  What’s the difference?

—theStonedScientician

ANSWER

Well Scientician, this is a common question among new smokers so I’m glad you asked.  Cannabis sativa is the species from which the other two subspecies (indica and ruderalis) originate.  Cannabis ruderalis is a very short plant that has virtually no psychoactive effects, so we’ll leave that one out.  I’ll sum up the main differences in a list so you can compare the two for yourself:

SATIVA:

  • Tall/lanky plants with narrow, light green leaves
  • Usually grown outdoors due to height and long flowering time
  • High is generally more energetic and “psychedelic” than indica
  • Useful for depression, fatigue, appetite loss, nausea and migraine
  • Popular strains include Maui Wowie, Haze, Durban Poison and Thai
  • A common “island” strain grown in Jamaica, Maui and also Africa
  • Higher THC content than indica

INDICA:

  • Short/squat plants with broad, dark green leaves
  • Can be grown indoors or outdoors
  • High is usually more sedating and “heavy” than sativa
  • Useful for insomnia, chronic pain, muscle spasm, anxiety and tremors
  • Popular strains include Kush, Blueberry, Afghani and White Rhino
  • Likely originated in Afghanistan, India and the Himalayan region
  • Higher in CBDs (cannabinoids other than THC) than sativa

Despite these distinctions, most of these classifications are kind of moot today, as nearly every strain of weed contains a mixture of both sativa and indica genetics and is a hybrid to some degree.

As for the argument regarding which kind is “the best,” that’s completely subjective.  Some people prefer the soaring, stimulating high of sativa-dominant strains while others enjoy the heavy, narcotic effects of indicas.  In general, sativas are better suited for daytime smoking due to their uplifting effects, whereas indicas are great for unwinding in the evening after a hard day.

Hope that answers your question.

Your Partner in Poignant Potty Prose,

Mary Microgram

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