Cal Verde Cannabis in Belmont, MA.

Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid: What’s the Difference?

by: Emma Thurston

When people think of cannabis, they tend to think of it in two categories – sativa and indica. Indica dominant varieties like Granddaddy Purple and Bubba Kush have long been associated with a relaxing, physically sedating high (Indica = “IN DA COUCH”) while sativa dominant strains like Jack Herer and Strawberry Cough are thought to give you a more energized, creative, and social buzz. Hybrids take a little bit from both worlds – and with so much creative breeding happening in the cannabis cultivation world, most strains will be a hybrid with indica or sativa dominance.

The neat little indica/sativa buckets that we’re tempted to put strains into have turned out to be much more complex. The different types of cannabinoids and terpenes in each strain are what determines the effect you’ll get, not simply whether it’s indica or sativa dominant.

Cannabis plants contain hundreds of chemical compounds, with cannabinoids leading the charge. You’re likely familiar with the two main ones – THC and CBD. THC (Δ 9 – tetrahydrocannabinol) is the cannabinoid that’s responsible for making us feel high and hungry. Some users find that it can help relieve pain or nausea, and assist with sleep. CBD (cannabidiol) is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid that’s often used for medicinal purposes, like reducing inflammation and combatting anxiety. Check out our blog “Flower Strains for First Timers ” for more information about how CBD can provide a buffer to the effects of THC.

Next up are TERPENES! Terpenes are well on their way to becoming the stars of the cannabis show, and for good reason. Terpenes are aromatic oils that give fruits, herbs, and other plants their scent. Have you ever had a beer that had a citrusy aroma to it? That’s because of the terpenes found in that variety of hops. Lavender, pine, citrus, berries, pepper, and even diesel fuel are common scents found in different cannabis strains, and those are all specific terpene attributes. Cultivators and manufacturers have really begun to shift focus on the terpene profile of their products, not only for the appealing aromas, but because more and more research is showing that terpenes like myrcene, pinene, and linalool can be linked to how they make you feel. This is one reason that there’s so much interest in full-spectrum and/or “live” products – flash freezing the fresh plants right after harvest preserves those terpenes in ways that traditional dry curing doesn’t, resulting in tasty, aromatic finished products.

While research is increasingly showing that all the chemical compounds in cannabis combine to give us what’s called the “entourage effect,” there’s still nothing wrong with using the sativa/indica differentiator as a starting point to chase the effect that you’re looking for. If you try strain after strain of indica and you find it’s better at giving you the energy to deep clean your house top-to-bottom when you’re really after an intense relaxation, switch it up and try a sativa strain. Every person has a different experience with different strains, the important part is keeping an open mind and experimenting to find out what hits your sweet spot. Luckily for us, there is no shortage of incredible lines of cannabis out there, with new hybrids being developed constantly! We pride ourselves on carrying a wide variety of all kinds of strains, so you’re sure to find exactly what you need. Make sure to talk with Cal Verde’s experienced team if you’d like some guidance on which varieties you might enjoy.