Indica and Sativa: What’s the Difference?

Indica and Sativa: What’s the Difference?

Cannabis has been legal in Canada for just over a week, and we’re already seeing the stigma start to disappear. It’s really incredible to watch more and more people come out and talk about their experiences with cannabis. It’s on Facebook, on Instagram, in person. It’s awesome.

A slightly-less incredible feeling is when your mom calls you to ask about what all these different strains of cannabis are and which one she should get because, quote: “you’ve been smoking since you were sixteen, so you probably know what you’re talking about.”

Gee, and here we thought we were being discrete all those years.

So this is a post for all those millennials who are suddenly expected to teach their parents about the magic of cannabis consumption. Or, if you’re new to the cannabis space, this post is for you too!

And the first thing we want to focus on is the classification on the side of your packaging, Indica and Sativa (and Hybrid strains): what is the difference?


Indica and Sativa: a primer

Indica and Sativa are different types of the same cannabis plant. Scientists are on the fence as to whether or not they’re biologically the same, or if they’re technically their own separate species (it’s a bit of a debate). Think about the difference between, say, a bulldog and a chihuahua – they’re clearly different, but how different are they? Actually, not much is known about the difference between the two strains, since there hasn’t been much research on the effects of different strains of cannabis.

The biggest takeaway here is that everybody’s body is different, and that means everybody will react to cannabis in a different way. So everything we’re about to tell you is a generalization.

(If this is a bit confusing, don’t worry, we get it)

Without getting lost in the weeds too much, let’s dive in and talk about why you would use an Indica strain, a Sativa strain, or a Hybrid strain.



If you’re looking at the dried flowers and you see splashes of purple in the tighter, denser bud, then you’re probably looking at an Indica or Indica-dominant strain. Classically, Indica strains are what you probably think of when you hear “cannabis” – they’re the strains people use to relax after a long day. Indicas relax your muscles, and the higher THC (the chemical in cannabis that gets you “high”) can spike your appetite.

While Indicas probably won’t give you a full out-of-body experience, they will heighten your physical senses and increase your reaction to certain stimuli, like music or watching a movie. They also have a tendency to put you asleep, so most people consume Indica strains at night. Medically, Indica strains are great for those who have trouble sleeping, or who experience pain. But we want to stress: you should probably talk to your doctor before using cannabis to treat your own symptoms.



Sativa buds are longer, wispier, and have flecks of orange. They’re also looser, which makes sense: in the wild, Sativa plants have been known to grow to over twenty feet tall. Sativa strains give most people a very different effect than Indica strains: instead of slowing you down, Sativa speeds you up, giving you an energy boost, and making you more alert.

These effects make Sativa strains ideal for daytime users, especially you creative-types. Some reported effects include laughter and an increased ability to hold a conversation. When you think of Sativa, you should think of increased creativity, more ideas, a more focused, productive day, or keeping you awake and battling fatigue. Sativa is also occasionally used to combat chronic pain and joint inflammation, but again, talk to your doctor!



And then we have the Hybrids. Remember the bulldog / chihuahua comparison above? Well, just like you can crossbreed different dog breeds, so too can you crossbreed Indica and Sativa strains to create Hybrids. Hybrids take certain characteristics from Indica strains and apply them to Sativa strains, and vice-versa.

There’s the (classically named) OG Kush, which is a Hybrid strain, bred to be relaxing like Indica but uplifting like Sativa. Some Hybrids are pure Hybrids, with the effects split right down the middle. And then there are Indica-dominant, and Sativa-dominant strains, which obviously keep more of their Indica and Sativa traits, respectively.



The crazy thing is, recent research has shown that the centuries-old stereotypes surrounding Indica and Sativa strains may be more wrong than right. Modern science has identified the things that actually make cannabis work, and they are called Cannabinoids. The two major players here are THC and CBD, and we’ll look at them in a later Mind(Full) post here on Spark.BRNT. But we think we’ve kept you here long enough for today. Thanks for reading!


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