The words “Indicas” and “sativa” were introduced in the 18th century to describe different species of cannabis: Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. The term “sativa” described hemp plants found in Europe and western Eurasia, where it was cultivated for its fiber and seeds. It refers to the intoxicating varieties discovered in India, where it was harvested for its seeds, fiber, and hashish production.
Here’s how terms have shifted since their earliest botanical definitions:
- Today, “sativa” refers to tall, narrow-leaf varieties of cannabis, thought to induce energizing effects. However, these narrow-leaf drug (NLD) varieties were originally Cannabis Indicas.
- “Indica” has come to describe stout, broad-leaf plants, thought to deliver sedating effects. These broad-leaf drug (BLD) varieties are technically Cannabis indica ssp. afghanica.
- What we call “hemp” refers to the industrial, non-intoxicating varieties harvested primarily for fiber, seeds, and CBD. However, this was originally named Cannabis sativa.
Although the cannabis varieties we consume largely stem both terms are used—even if erroneously—to organize the thousands of strains circulating the market today.
Not all indica will put you “in da couch,” but nevertheless, many consumers associate indica with full-body effects, for example, heavy limbs or a tingly face.
They also report indicas as being helpful in aiding relaxation and curbing insomnia.
Common effects include feeling relaxed, euphoric, happy, and sleepy. Indicas are commonly known as “nighttime” strains, used for relaxing and unwinding at the end of the night.
Sativa vs Indica
When cannabis consumers think of “indica” vs. “sativa” marijuana strains, they generally think that are physically sedating, perfect for relaxing with a movie or as a nightcap before bed, and sativa strains are energizing with uplifting cerebral effects that pair well with physical activity, social gatherings, and creative projects. Hybrid strains are thought to have a mix of indica and sativa effects.
But indica doesn’t always mean “in da couch,” and sativa doesn’t necessarily energize all of its consumers. As research opens up and we learn more about the cannabis plant, it turns out the chemical compounds in each strain—the cannabinoids and terpenes in it—determine the effects you’ll feel, not whether it’s an indica or sativa. In fact, the origins of those two terms are rooted in botany, not effects.
However, even today, the belief that indicas, sativas, and hybrids deliver distinct effects is still deeply rooted in mainstream cannabis culture. If you’ve ever been to a dispensary, you’ve likely heard a budtender begin a strain recommendation by asking which of those three types you prefer.
Let’s look at where the terms “Indicas,” “sativa,” and “hybrid” actually come from, and how a cannabis strain’s chemical profile interacts with your unique body to make you feel effects.
bles are THC-infused food products in some shape or form, such as baked goods, gummies, or chocolates. Josh Hawkes, a Denver-based budtender and weed podcaster for the show Two J’s Later, describes four categories of edibles: sativa-only, indica-only, hybrid (a mix of sativa and Indicas), and pure CBD.
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Afghan Kush$280.00 – $1,150.00 Select options
Blueberry$270.00 – $1,080.00 Select options
Forbidden Fruit$250.00 – $1,000.00 Select options
Fruity Pebbles$270.00 – $1,080.00 Select options
Girl Scout Cookies$280.00 – $1,050.00 Select options
Granddaddy Purple$280.00 – $1,150.00 Select options
Hindu Kush$250.00 – $1,000.00 Select options
Northern Lights$270.00 – $1,100.00 Select options
Skywalker OG$260.00 – $900.00 Select options
Wedding Cake$260.00 – $1,050.00 Select options