Indica vs. Sativa: Does it Matter?

Updated: Dec 16, 2019


When you walk into a dispensary, generally, the first thing you see and hear is something related to indica, sativa, or hybrid. Almost all packaging has those 3 little words, and it's how a budtender would introduce you to the world of marijuana but what if I told you those 3 words only matter to the cannabis grower?


It shouldn’t be new to you that we are learning how those 3 labels don’t matter that much unless you are a cannabis grower. Indica and Sativa plants grow and look different.


Check out this image from the Alchimiaweb.com blog article called “Anatomy of the Cannabis Plant.*



The other common association with indica, sativa, and hybrid is how they make a person feel.

  • Sativa - Energy, uplifting, stimulating, pairs well with social outings, creative projects, and maybe exercise or cleaning and laundry.

  • Indica - In-da-couch. Generally relaxing, maybe physically sedating pairs well with watching a movie or just before bed.

  • Hybrid - Can feel balanced or maybe more energy or relaxing. Pairs well with if you know how you will feel. :-)

However, further research, scientists found these identifications don’t always pair up and how a person may react depends on their disposition and the terpenes and cannabinoids found in the strain.


"Ethan Russo is a neurologist whose research in cannabis psychopharmacology is respected worldwide, and Jeffrey Raber, Ph.D., is a chemist who founded the first independent testing lab to analyze cannabis terpenes in a commercial capacity, The Werc Shop.


“The way that the sativa and indica labels are utilized in commerce is nonsense,” Russo told Leafly. “The clinical effects of the cannabis chemovar have nothing to do with whether the plant is tall and sparse vs. short and bushy, or whether the leaflets are narrow or broad.”

Raber agreed, and when asked if budtenders should be guiding consumers with terms like “indica” and “sativa,” he replied, “There is no factual or scientific basis to making these broad sweeping recommendations, and it needs to stop today. What we need to seek to understand better is which standardized cannabis composition is causing which effects, when delivered in which fashions, at which specific dosages, to which types of [consumers].”


What this means is not all sativas will energize you, and not all indicas will sedate you. You may notice a tendency for so-called sativas to be uplifting or indicas to be relaxing, especially when we expect to feel one way or the other. Just note that there’s no hard-and-fast rule and chemical data doesn’t reflect a clear pattern."

Source: Leafly - Indica vs. Sativa: What’s the difference between cannabis types?*


So there you have it. Indicas, sativas, and hybrids don’t mean anything in terms of how we consume and are incredibly misleading. The cannabis community must work harder to stop spreading those 3 words!


Terpenes and cannabinoids are the words we need to know and what we need to study so that we know how cannabis is going to help us and how we may feel while using it.


Check out Leafly’s Explore cannabis strains with a new perspective, then go to their Cannabis Guide to find the right strain for you.


Let me know do you still shop by the 3 common types, sativa, indica, and hybrid? Does your budtender explain the strain using those descriptions? Do you mention terpenes and cannabinoids? What are your favorite strains? Why?


I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below, email me at marijanesimplicity@gmail.com or follow me on Instagram @marijane_simplicity where I post about living a cannabis-friendly lifestyle.

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I'm not a doctor, scientist, or lawyer. All information posted is my personal experience and thoughts. All the stories I share are personal experiences. Any and all information provided is not medical or legal advice. Anything you decide to do is at your own risk. You should always follow your local state and city laws. I do not promote or suggest that people should use cannabis in an illegal state. If you live in a state where it's illegal, I highly recommend you join the movement to legalize it! 

Broomfield, CO | marijanesimplicity@gmail.com