This is information you won’t be using when purchasing your bud, but it’s also good to know and definitely easier to define. Experienced growers will be able to tell if a plant is an indica or a sativa simply from a general glance at a garden. It becomes a fairly straightforward task after you’ve dealt with so many plants.
When it comes to indica plants, their buds will be heavier and consequently, much denser than sativas. These are what a lot of consumers look for. They grow in dense clusters closer to the nodes, creating the classic “crunchy” look.
Indicas originated in dry areas like the Middle East. Because of this, plants are shorter in height as compared to sativas, but wider and bushier as a compensation. Their leaves are broader and thicker so that sunlight is more easily caught. They have shorter flowering periods to avoid mould during the fall. Because of their morphology, indica plants can’t handle humidity very well and so they’ve learned to develop sooner. This is a selling point for a lot of growers out there and surely part of the reason pure sativas are hard to find.
Whether as a need or a want, knowing how to distinguish cannabis sativa from indica is always handy. With this article, you’ll be able to do so before you even feel the high come on.
Because most strains out there are hybrids nowadays, it can be hard to tell from dried herb what is indica vs sativa. But there are still a few guidelines that can point you in the right direction for making an educated guess.
Records date back to the 18th century with the first observed differences between indica and sativa plants. Back then, people started noticing that cannabis plants showed great differences in structure and resin production. Today, we have established standards and conditions for each type of cannabis plant and the effects they produce.
Even the novice stoner will probably be able to differentiate an indica high from a sativa one, but can you visually tell plants and buds apart? That’s the true challenge. Many of us in the stoner community aren’t always able to trust our dispensary or dealer. With this, knowing how to visually distinguish the two types of cannabis can be a very handy trick. After this, you’ll be able to verify with a look through the bag if your source is telling the truth.
Let’s start off with sativas. Coming from regions like Southeast Asia, Colombia, and Mexico, these are plants that deal well with equatorial climates. These are very humid places. Plants have to adapt and so their physicality becomes an evolutionary consequence of their geography. Sativa plants will have slender leaves and grow tall as means of preventing the appearance of mould. This height change is more noticeable during the flowering stage. In the proper outdoor conditions, these plants can grow up to 6 metres tall.
If you have the chance to take a closer look, there are other factors you can seek out to distinguish between indica and sativa. In case you’re offered a couple of puffs, analyse the flavours. Indicas tend to have sweet flavours like Honey Cream or Sweet Skunk. Sativas, on the other hand, have more earthy and pungent tastes like Sour Diesel. When it comes to smell, sativas have a much more floral and delicate aroma. This is the opposite of their flavour, which is weird, but still true. Indicas emit a much more pungent and skunky profile. These will let the people around you know you have weed in your pocket much faster than a sativa will.
There are many ways you can learn to spot an indica from a sativa plant just by looking at them or their buds. It's not as hard as you may think!
Flash forward 20 years and I’m living in Seattle down the road from Uncle Ike’s, a big, beautifully branded dispensary. By this time, I’d finally had the chance to try marijuana once or twice — a half-burned roach during a college party, some skunky shake smoked out of an apple at a beachside bonfire — but somehow I’d never had any success getting a buzz. I figured I needed something stronger, but I was afraid to go too strong. I had some vague idea that different strains offered different benefits, but I didn’t even know enough to type in a Google search. Every day, I passed Uncle Ike’s wishing I had the knowledge to go in and ask for what I wanted, but feeling too embarrassed to admit how little I knew.
Whether you’re eager to improve your knowledge or just hoping not to look like a total noob when you walk into a dispensary, consider this article your cheat sheet to the different types of cannabis on the market today. Though as I discovered, most dispensary workers love to educate people about the difference between strains. What they don’t love having to explain is that your inability to get high isn’t because your weed variety isn’t strong enough — it’s because you’ve been smoking it wrong. No matter which variety of cannabis you choose, just make sure you’re actually inhaling, OK?
Thanks to the booming interest in medical marijuana, growers have developed cannabis strains that offer an equal ratio of CBD to THC; one such strain is ACDC. However, some CBD-heavy strains can go as high as a 22:1 ratio of CBD to THC. If that’s what you’re after, look for a strain called Ringo’s Gift.
The second most plentiful cannabinoid in the marijuana plant, CBD is the yin to THC’s yang. It produces that nice, mellow relaxation without the psychoactive effects (what your grandpa might call the “reefer madness”). If smoking pot makes you anxious, paranoid, or prone to hallucinations, a CBD-heavy strain will probably be your cup of tea. It’s also good for people who are exclusively interested in the medicinal effects of cannabis, such as pain and stress relief, mood disorders, and other chronic physical and mental issues.
Popular CBD strains: ACDC and Ringo’s Gift
Popular hybrid strains: Blue Dream
Thinner leaves, taller plants, and longer flowering cycles characterize the sativa variety of cannabis. The strain of choice for the “wake and bake” crowd, the THC-heavy sativa gives you more of a heady high as opposed to a heavy stoned feeling. Some strains can even act more like an upper than a downer, providing positive energy that is particularly helpful in creative and cerebral endeavors. If you’re trying to finally write your novel or have to put together a PowerPoint presentation, this bud’s for you. Sativa is also said to be helpful for depression, social anxiety, and even ADHD.
Also known as “in da couch,” this variety of cannabis gives you more of a body buzz (as opposed to a heady “high”) and leaves you more relaxed. Oddly enough, indica strains tend to have a lighter THC concentration than sativa (more on that in a moment), even though they result in a more “stoned” sensation. This ultra-mellow type of pot, characterized by shorter plants with fat leaves, is perfect for insomniacs and the type who wake up in the middle of the night worrying about stuff. It’s also a good option for alleviating physical conditions like muscle pain and even seizures.
Today’s hybrids tend to be indica-dominant or sativa-dominant, which means it’s a good idea to decide what direction you’re leaning toward before buying. If you’re looking for a nearly perfect balance between the sedative effects of an indica and the euphoric energy of a sativa, keep your eyes peeled for Blue Dream, a California strain that has achieved legend status.
Whether you’re eager to improve your knowledge or just hoping not to look like a total noob when you walk into a dispensary, consider this article your cheat sheet to the different types of cannabis on the market today.