The Age Old Cannabis Debate ...Indica, Sativa or Hybrid? !?!?!

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 Indica, Sativa or Hybrid? 

Is there a true difference in strains? 

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Genetics and strains can be tricky. With the mass hybridization and experimentation with different cannabis strains it can be hard to know exactly what you’re getting without actually seeing the plant, knowing the genetics it came from or if it was grown from an actual seed tracked from a seed bank-rare rare rare occurrence. 

So how do dispensaries and weed connoisseurs recommend strains based off of their effects? 




What does Indica, Sativa or Hybrid mean to you? 



Working at a dispensary we were taught to tell people INDICA=in the couch, low energy, more body high and SATIVA=energizing, uplifting, head high and HYBRID is just  a nice mix of both.

Well it actually turns out that all strains these days are HYBRID they are just classified as indica, sativa when those strains are more DOMINANT in the hybrid and hybrid is just a more diluted mix of both. 



Another aspect of my job at the dispensary during my downtime was updating our strain list in weedmaps. Adding new strains I had to list whether they were Indica, Sativa or Hybrid. When it was a new genetic and people weren’t sure which category it fell into they told me to look up the “parent” plants that created this genetic. Well some sources told me the Mom was indica and other “sources” told me the same thing was Sativa. Chalk it up to the plant is a hybrid because that’s the safe way to classify. 



As I began to notice this more and more and after searching the internet and seeing there were not many resources to even find certain genetics and most definitely not any verified sources. I started to wonder about the origins of the strains since they are ancient plants that have been widely unregulated and untraced for thousands of years.  

The cannabis plant, a brief history: 

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Cannabis Sativa is argued to be the ORIGINAL, overarching genus-species of the weed plant. Technically there is Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Ruederalis genus-species, but all are usually classified under Cannabis Sativa. Under this category there are millions of variations crossed over thousands of years. Cannabis Sativa plants with less than 1% THC (psychoactive compound) can be classified as hemp. Cannabis Sativa plants bred to yield high THC are not only highly sought after, but are continuing to be manipulated and crossed to reach the highest THC content for sale in the medical, recreational (and black) cannabis markets. 

Cannabis Sativa's original roots have been recorded in Central Asia over 5,000 years ago. The plant and its amazing benefits have been optimized by humans for thousands of years until only relatively recently (the past couple of hundred years) when it was scheduled and outlawed as having no medicinal benefits.*EYE ROLL*-hard, hard eye roll here since the US government owns patent 6,630,507 which finds that cannabinoids have antioxidant properties, hmmmm. Another day, another blog post.

Getting back to the genetics and strains, the cannabis sativa plant’s seeds would still be exclusively found in Central Asia if they weren’t spread throughout the world by travelers and trade. These LANDRACE strains, that many strains of cannabis today are descendants of, exist from this human intervention of bringing the cannabis plant back to their native lands and the plant adapting and evolving in unique environments.  

This genetic drift from the original plant coupled with the modern day obsession with cannabis variety and vast selections leaves us with very few PURE indica or sativa strains. Some verified landrace strains are still out there and many growers seek these  seeds and plants out to cross their genetics with as the Landraces have adapted to their environments and may have more synergy between the plant and the earth with the potential for more therapeutic effects within the plants? 


Landrace strains usually have their region in the name, whether native or adopted, for example: Afghani, Hawaiian, Thai or the more modern Humboldt, San Fernando Valley (SFV), etc.  There’s also no regulation for how strains are named so there’s also that. (Northwest Pacific Coast Dog Shit anyone? NWPCDS for short.)

Taking all of this into consideration the defined Sativa, Indica, Hybrid breakdown: 


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Sativa: The Original Strain  

  • Sativa strains are known to grow higher and have longer, thinner fan leaves. 

  • Thrives in warmer climates because they have longer flowering cycles

  • known to have more uplifting, energizing, cerebral effects

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Indica

  • Shorter plant with thicker leaves

  • Thrives in cooler climates with shorter growth cycle

  • More of a physical relaxing high

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Hybrid: Well just about everything falls under this category 

Lots of variations and wide spectrum of characteristics. Depends on the traits the plant picks up from it’s parents.


How the same exact strain is grown, from the soil pH, sunlight  exposure, amount and quality of water all can cause variables to this strain grown across different grows. Which is why you can try a glue variety from a dispensary in Las Vegas, but the Greenway Glue from Greenway Las Vegas will be a zillion times better because the quality and care of the grow process!

With the widespread availability of cannabis you have most likely heard these terms for describing certain strains and I hope you have learned more after reading this article. We have come a LONG way from the days of meeting up with your dealer for their nameless offerings ranging from “middle grade” to “fire” weed varying only by price and possibly appearance. 


With the luxury of dispensaries explaining the genetics of the strains comes a lot more details and descriptions about the experience of the high from these strains and their indica, sativa facing qualities. So where are they getting this information? I straight up ask them when I read a description that says, “a mellow body high” or “sparks creativity great for adventures in the park” etc.

I appreciate the efforts in enticing the consumer with the effects, but they are just not guaranteed without much more data to back up the overall vibe of the high. They can say the heavy sativa lemon haze is super energizing and will make you want to run a marathon and you could smoke it before going to the gym with this mind, but then never make it to the gym because you feel like a zen moment on the couch is more fitting at the time. 

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The bottom line is

We really can’t guarantee where certain strains come from and what effects they will have on the individual. What we CAN do more of is observe and record the results and effects we experience from consuming the different genetics. The more we do this the more we can validate and verify the healing effects of the plants. Tracing the indica, sativa dominance of strains and testing for cannabinoids while tracking TERPENES is the key to predicting how the strain could go over.


The bottom line is you should always experiment with small amounts of different strains and see how your body reacts to each. TERPENES are what you should look out for as they very well be the key to the plant’s personality and therapeutic effects. Never completely write off an indica or sativa because the next one you try could be your new best high! 

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