Now, prior to moving to the Northwest over four years ago, where marijuana is legal in both the states of Oregon and Washington, I wasn't much of a casual weed smoker. In fact, I didn't know the indica and sativa difference — which, to be honest, I'd like to think a lot of people with my "experience" with the drug didn't. That's not to say I am nowadays, but, you know, when you're surrounded by pot and it's as accessible as it is, you partake in the action more than usual.
That's not an admission of being a pothead, but a few tokes here and there haven't killed me yet. As for being high? Yeah, it's done that on more than just a few occasions. Hey, when it rains from mid-October through the beginning of April or so, how else is a guy supposed to pass the time while watching Netflix movies on his couch by himself? Isn't that what pot became legal for? (OK, that's a pseudo joke, but I think you understand the point... weed is a good recreational thing to do).
Seeing as how I'm still an amateur when it comes to pot, I'm always all ears when it comes to learning more about the sticky icky stuff, which is why I asked a few industry experts about the differences between indica and sativa, the two species of the marijuana plant, which have varying side effects on users.
Whether you're looking for something to keep you up all night or some bud that'll mellow you out, here's what some of the top experts in the cannabis business had to say about what separates indica and sativa.
“Indica and Sativa can perhaps be good indicators of genetic origin, but not of medical effects. Recent research continues to point to the 'effects' of cannabis having to do with the complex array of cannabinoids and terpenes working in concert, as well as the individual consumer's own response to that entourage effect, rather than thin leaf (sativa) vs wide leaf (indica) plants.” — Matei Olaru, CEO of Lift, Canada's most recognized cannabis media and technology company
"The terms “indica” and “sativa” have been used throughout the centuries with various and conflicting definitions. Genetically the plant has been crossbred, hybridized, relabeled, mislabeled, and manipulated to the point that the terms are unreliable as cultivar descriptors. Today, the terms “indica” and “sativa” generally refer to the perceived effect imparted by the cultivar-- either energizing or sedative. At one time, classical “indica” cultivars typically contained high levels of the terpene myrcene giving a more pronounced sedative effect while “sativa” varietals contained less and were thus regarded as being energizing.
"Of course, In terms of chemotype or genotype, there is very little correlation associated with the classical descriptors “indica” and “sativa”. In truth, there is no way to actually determine what either is and there are numerous cultivars (strains) which claim to be both at different times. In truth, nearly all the commercial cannabis seen today is a true hybrid of early “indica” and “sativa” labeled cultivars.” — Anthony Smith, Chief Science Officer of Signal Bay, Inc., a cannabis biotech company providing research, analysis and consulting services to the medical marijuana industry through its subsidiaries
"I've generally understood Sativa strains to be preferable to consumers that want to function on a higher level, whereas Indica strains are often consumed by those that prefer to hang out and relax. Either way, it's important that consumers know their bodies well and are knowledgeable on the effects of a cannabis high beforehand, as well as take proper precautions to ensure a safe, enjoyable experience." — Uri Zeevi, CEO of Seedo, a fully automated hydroponics growing device company based out of Israel
“With thousands of cannabis strains available, similar to the variety of wine varietals, each providing a different effect, it is hard to provide broad categorizations based on just the cannabis type. In the most simplistic terms you can compare sativas to white wine, indicas to red wine, and hybrids to rose wine. Some of the more advanced strain finder apps allow you to ‘dial-in’ the effects you want and then searches through the multitude of different effects provided by the thousands of different strains to recommend the perfect strain just for you. Just another example how today’s technology provides results that would be difficult to discover on your own.” — Mike Weiss, President/Founder of Nature’s Dream, whose Cannacopia mobile app enables you to discover which marijuana strains help you feel the way you want, based on your desired mental mood, physical effects, medical condition, and taste preferences.
“I hear from many industry leaders that sativas help them work and stay focused. Others who use cannabis to help them relax at night tend to use indica. Both have their purposes, and one of the great things about cannabis is that it can be very customized to what you're using it for.” — Evan Nison, CEO of NisonCo, a cannabis-focused PR firm representing socially conscious organizations
"Every cannabis strain, regardless of its position on the Indica-Sativa spectrum, affects users differently. Much of the difference is attributed to how bodies absorb and process marijuana and the various levels of THC, CBD and terpenes contained in each strain. Conventional cannabis wisdom and thousands of years of anecdotal evidence do provide us with some generalizations related to each type of cannabis.
- "Indica-dominant strains are known for being mentally and physically sedating -- typically making the body feel heavy -- sometimes like a weighted vest. They are excellent for pain relief, insomnia, reducing nausea, or for full body and mind relaxation. Indicas tend to taste sweet, berry-like and/or fruity. Originally native to the Hindu Kush region of the Middle East, their leaves are wide and broad with a deep color throughout the plant."
- "Sativa-dominant strains provide more energetic, uplifting cerebral effects that pair well with physical or creative activity. Typically used during the daytime, many sativa users rave about how using these strains motivate them to clean house, go for a hike, or add that extra spark while listening to music or a concert. Sativas are helpful for people who suffer from fatigue, ADD, or depression. They usually have an earthy, musty flavor with hints of pine. Native to the warm climates of Mexico, Central America and Southeast Asia, sativa leaves are long and thin with a light green color. The thousands of variations on the spectrum between true indica and true sativa plants provide users with just as many types of nuanced effects as there are strains." — Sally Vander Veer, President of Medicine Man, the largest cannabis dispensary in Denver, Colorado
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Lead image via Instagram/BigMike.