Indica vs. Sativa vs. Hybrid – What’s the Difference?

There are a lot of terms that Medical Marijuana patients, especially new patients, might be wondering about when they visit an MMJ dispensary to buy products. While we won’t dive too far into the world of medical marijuana terminology, there are a few basics that every Ohio MMJ patient should understand when it comes to buying cannabis. When you first enter a dispensary, or if you’re browsing through online products from a licensed Ohio dispensary, one of the first things you might notice is that products tend to be categorized based on the type of strain. Let’s first discuss what we mean by a marijuana “strain.”

 

What is a marijuana strain?

Before we discuss what a strain is, we need to know the origin of the marijuana plant first. It is estimated that cannabis has been used as food, medicine and fiber as far back as 2900B.C. in Central Asia. Overtime, the original cannabis plant from Central Asia had variations of itself growing in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Africa and parts of Europe. While these cannabis plants all derived from one location, the plants adapted to their growing environment, slightly altering their chemical composition, features and characteristics from the original cannabis plant. These handful of plants that were naturally altered through nature are what is known as “landrace” strains, meaning they are original to the regions in which they were grown. Fast forward a few thousand years, through careful crossbreeding of these original landrace strains, we now have the hundreds of cannabis strains that we know and love today. Out of those hundreds of strains, they can be categorized into two main groups: Indica and Sativa.

What is an Indica Strain?

The Indica strain of the cannabis plant can be recognized by the plants physical traits. Indica’s tend to grow short and bushy, with large distinct leaves. When Indica strains are consumed, their effects are characterized as being euphoric and relaxing. Users report feelings of being happy, sleepy, and sometimes hungry. The common association of Indica strains is that they cause a heavy feeling of relaxation that might be best used at night. The medicinal benefits of Indica strains include relief from insomnia, pain, depression, stress, and nausea. Common Indica strains that you might find at a dispensary include Granddaddy Purple, Northern Lights, 9 Pound Hammer, and Hindu Kush.

 

What is a Sativa Strain?

Sativa strains, opposite of Indica strains, can be recognized from the plants tall and slim stature. Unlike the bushy Indica plant, Sativa strains have smaller leaves that grow more dispersed on the stalk. Sativa strains are also reported as having a happy, energetic and euphoric effect on users. The common association of Sativa strains is that they keep you active and alert, and are best to be used during the day. The medicinal effects of Sativa strains include relief from stress, pain, and depression, as well as fatigue. A few well-known Sativa strains include Sour Diesel, Jack Herer, Super Lemon Haze and Durban Poison.

 

What is a Hybrid Strain?

Indica and Sativa strains are created through crossbreeding the genetics of different strains. As with many plants, the cannabis plant requires a female strain to be pollinated by a male strain. To create an Indica strain, one type of female Indica is bred with a male Indica, the same applies to creating Sativa strains. When a new strain is created, the lineage of the strain can be traced back to the originals. Take for example the Sativa strain “Super Jack”, which was created through the crossbreeding of the parent Sativa strains Super Silver Haze and Jack Herer.

What happens though when an Indica plant is bred with a Sativa plant? You guessed it, they create what is known as a Hybrid strain. Hybrid strains can be complex depending on how much crossbreeding has gone into the lineage to create a strain. When we talk about Hybrids, you might find a percentage associated with a Hybrid strain, such as 50/50, 60/40, 70/30 and so on. These percentages indicate how much of the strain is from an Indica lineage, and how much is from Sativa. For example, if you breed the Sativa “Jack Herer” with the Indica “Purple Kush”, they create the strain Purple Kush, a 50% Indica, 50% Sativa cross. When a Hybrid strain has a stronger Indica lineage, it is referred to as an Indica-dominant Hybrid, or if it has been bred with more Sativa strains, we refer to it as a Sativa-dominant Hybrid.

 

Knowing Your Product

When you visit your local Ohio MMJ dispensary, the products should be clearly labeled as either an Indica, Sativa or a Hybrid. The importance of strains being labeled is that many medical marijuana users prefer specific strains to help alleviate specific symptoms. When purchasing Hybrid strains, research the lineage of those strains and see if the Hybrid is bred to be more of an Indica or more of a Sativa. Dispensary employees should be able to provide feedback on their Hybrid products, which strains they have been crossbred with and if the product is more of a Sativa or an Indica. You can also speak with your Ohio MMJ Physician on what they recommend that you try with your conditions and symptoms. Ultimately, each patient responds differently to products, strains, and dosing, what works well for some might not be what works best for others. It’s important to keep track of your medication by using a Patient Journal so that you can learn how your body responds to medical marijuana.

https://www.leafly.com/explore/category-indica

https://www.leafly.com/explore/category-sativa

https://www.leafly.com/explore/category-hybrid

https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/sativa-indica-and-hybrid-differences-between-cannabis-types

https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/the-cannabis-origin-what-is-a-landrace-strain