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Indica vs. Sativa
A Cannabis Campus Guide

Cannabis is a flowering plant with two main subspecies — Indica and Sativa. There are hundreds of existing strains of cannabis, that fall under these two subspecies, or are a mix of the two. It is important to understand Indica vs. Sativa when you are researching which strains might best support your ailments, conditions, and needs. Medicinal cannabis can offer support for a wide variety of needs, some strains are more appropriate for certain conditions than others, some may even worsen a condition. It is best to work with a marijuana dispensary with educated and helpful staff on sight to discover which variety and strains are best for you.


Indica and sativa cannabis plants are different from each other in a variety of ways, from their appearance and cultivation, to their differing physical and mental medicinal effects, even their scent and taste. Marijuana plants of the Indica variety are shorter than Sativa, with a bush-like appearance. Indica leaves like the plant are shorter as well with wider leaves. Marijuana plants of the Sativa variety are taller and slimmer with less of a bush-like appearance. Sativa leaves are long and thin like the Sativa plant itself. Indica cannabis varieties more often have an earthy, diesel-like, skunk aroma that is more commonly associated with the familiar scent of cannabis. Sativa cannabis varieties often have a more sweet or spicy scent, like that of fruit or herbs. 


The scents come from the different varieties of terpenes, or scent molecules, that differ from marijuana strain to marijuana strain, much like the different amounts of THC and CBD from strain to strain. All of the different compounds that make up the differences in Indica vs. Sativa are also what create the differences in the medicinal effects and benefits. Terpenes are often an additional focus when working with a caregiver at a medical cannabis dispensary because they are known to play an important role in the benefits and effects of different strains and can support, increase, or decrease different effects for maximum beneficial medicinal support. 


When faced with the choice of Indica vs. Sativa their appearance and cultivation won’t likely matter to the consumer. The biggest factor in making a choice of subspecies will be their accompanying medicinal effects and benefits from the differing compounds, how they will affect your day or night, day to day living, and what ailments they may support. Indica’s are relaxing and a great fit for an evening or sleep strain. They provide both mental relaxation and muscle relaxation, so are a great fit for acute pain or anxious feelings. Sativas are uplifting and a great fit for a daytime or social strain. They provide mental clarity and focus, and are useful for chronic pain and depressive feelings. Many find that Indicas are touted as providing a “body buzz” and Sativas are touted as more of a “mind buzz.” 

Indica Vs Sativa


With the introduction of the medical marijuana market and reputable dispensaries with experienced staff, patients are able to have more access to both varieties and an array of strains to best meet their needs. Sativa plants require much more growing time than Indicas, and produce less flowers per plant, which is where the medicinal value exists. Indicas’ fast growing time is why they typically were what was available before medical cannabis became a legal option, as whatever grew fastest and brought in profit was what was sold. Now dispensaries and cultivators are able to take the time needed to cultivate a variety of both Indicas and Sativas with a focus on their effects and benefits and specific compounds for specific ailments. Patient need has become the market focus and this provides a much wider array of options for patients when deciding which strain might be best for them. With the assistance of onsite caregivers, patients can compare and contrast both the typical subspecies effects and benefits of Indica vs. Sativa and the more specific effects of different strains related to their terpene, THC, and CBD compound makeup.


With modern medical cultivation and medicinal marijuana dispensaries working towards more effect-specific strains to specifically support different ailments and needs, medicinal cannabis options have changed from Indica vs. Sativa, to also including Hybrid strains. Hybrids are cross bred cannabis strains to combine specific effects and benefits of different strains into one more targeted marijuana medicine. Typically Hybrids are a mix of Sativas and Indicas, but some are bred from all Indica or all Sativa heritage. Hybrids can often provide an energized yet mellow effect, successfully capturing the best of both worlds. Hybrids tend to be dominant in either Sativa or Indica, although some balanced Hybrids do exist. This “dominant” classification is helpful because patients can rely on their experience with Indica vs. Sativa varieties to pinpoint whether they would want a Indica dominant Hybrid or a Sativa dominant Hybrid to best meet their personal needs and preferences. This also allows patients to treat the same ailments with one strain during the day and another in the evening, to maximize the medicinal benefits without disruption of daily life from any unwanted sleepiness or energized effects. Working with a trusted medical marijuana dispensary to achieve maximum medicinal benefits is highly recommended. This allows you to have a personalized experience with medicinal cannabis, bringing the most benefit and positive effects to your life.