There are a few evidence-based ways to differentiate indica and Sativa cannabis plants:
How the plants look as they grow.
The regions in which they were discovered.
Their ratios of THC to CBD.
You likely already know that each cannabis strain has a different chemical make-up, but do these differences fall neatly along with the indica dominant strains vs. Sativa divide—is this the best, most accurate way to categorize cannabis? And is this an appropriate way for you to choose your cannabis products?
What is Sativa?
When the terms Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica were widely codified by botanists in the 1700s, Sativa was applied to hemp plants that were grown in Europe and Eurasia for their fibers and seeds—plants without intoxicating effect. These tall and narrow plants have historically been perceived to produce a flower that is more uplifting, which is why cannabis consumers often shop this way.
What is Indica?
Indica’s name comes from the region where it originates, India. Similar to Sativa, it’s a common, pop culture-promoted belief that indica provides a calming effect (sometimes remembered with the wordplay that indica will put you “in da couch”). These plants are short, bushy, and wide-leafed.
What is Hybrid Cannabis?
You’ll likely find the terms indica and Sativa applied to hybrid cannabis strains, usually in an effort to align a hybrid plant’s flower with the supposed effects of either of the colloquially “definitive” strains. Hybrid plants can take on physical characteristics of either indica or Sativa plants—and a wide array of psychoactive characteristics.