Three different forms of cannabis: Sativa, indica and hybrid

When buying weed, you should be less focused on how a product looks than its chemical composition

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With myriad different types of marijuana available, it’s simply not enough to base your decision on which kind to consume solely on anecdotal evidence from other cannabis users. Instead, it may be more beneficial to make your selection based on whether or not the product is mainly a sativa, indica or hybrid blend.

When it comes to weed, you should be less focused on how the product looks and put more stock into the different chemical composition that each strain contains in order to find the one that is most congruent with your needs and expectations.

What is the difference between indica, sativa and hybrid weed?

Indica’s origins trace back roughly to the areas of India and Afghanistan, but it is difficult to concretely state exactly where it originated. Unlike sativa, indica plants are much shorter and better equipped to grow and survive in mountainous climates were they likely first began growing.

Some popular indica strains are Girl Scout Cookies, Hindu Kush and Northern Lights.

Sativa is most commonly believed to have come from regions near the equator, which would make sense considering they grow best in conditions that are more tropical in nature. They are often very tall and thin plants that can reach a maximum height of 12 feet or more in some cases and sport lengthy and serrated leaves.

A few strains that are mainly sativa dominant include Sour Diesel, Durban Poison and Green Crack.

What is hybrid weed? Hybrids are created through the manual breeding of indica and sativa strains and adopt certain characteristics from both. A large number of marijuana strains are in fact a hybrid and exude the majority of the characteristics of the dominant strain. As such, the plant’s appearance depends greatly on the phenotype dominance of the strain’s parents as they can resemble either indica or sativa plants.

To answer the question “what is a hybrid weed high like? some top choices include Chemdawg, Gorilla Glue and Blue Dream.

Terpenes hold more important in comparison to the strain type

The foremost predominant chemical constituents found in the cannabis plant are terpenes and cannabinoids. Cannabinoids carry some influence over the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in a manner that delivers physiological as well as mental effects that are largely beneficial. As such, when attempting to decipher how a particular strain will impact you, it’s a great idea to pay attention to the cannabinoid and terpene profile over simply making a decision as a result of it being sativa, indica or hybrid.


In terms of cannabinoids, the most common types that you will likely encounter within a cannabis plant are as follows:


Otherwise known as THC, this cannabinoid is often found within marijuana plants plays a significant role in the plant’s psychoactive effects. When consumed in small doses THC can improve mood, but in larg doses it can sometimes result in negative effects such as anxiety or paranoia. When there is a higher amount of THC within a product there is an increased chance that negative side effects may occur.


Aside from a THC, CBD is often the second most abundant cannabinoid and has frequently been the subject of research over the past decade. CBD is largely used for medicinal purposes because it often does not present any psychoactive effects. This means that the side effects are often quite mild or non-existent, making it a top choice for people who can benefit from its medicinal qualities, such as reducing chronic pain, without the unwanted high. The higher amount of CBD in a product, the fewer chances of side effects because higher rates of CBD work to counteract the effects of THC.

Cannabinol (CBN)

While there has not been much research on CBN, the research that has been done found this cannabinoid, which does not contain psychoactive properties, plays a crucial role in the sedative quality of marijuana. Along with THC and CBD, it also seems to reduce pain in certain individuals. It also seems as though higher amounts of CBN may be beneficial for those who are in need of a greater degree of sedation.

Terpenes found in cannabis

Terpenes are very fickle compounds that provide marijuana (as well as other plants) with their odour and taste. Similar to cannabinoids, terpenes are interrelated to molecular pathways within the human body and can offer some beneficial advantages.

Some of the main terpenes that are found in marijuana plants consist of:


An analgesic, sedative, as well as an anti-inflammatory terpene.


It is the most common terpene. While also having anti-inflammatory properties, it is anti-malarial and a gastric cytoprotective.


This terpene has anxiolytic effects in addition to being an antibiotic and possessing antioxidant and cancer-fighting properties.


Finally, the pinene terpene is a bronchodilator (relaxes lung muscles and opens airways) with anti-inflammatory qualities.

According to accredited marijuana researcher Ethan B. Russo, the relationship between cannabinoids and terpenes is a fantastic indicator of the medicinal efficacy in comparison to the classification of the plant. In his work, “Taming THC,” Russo focused primarily on how the cannabinoid and terpene profile can work together to treat a plethora of medical ailments. 

The effects of sativa, indica and hybrids are not scientifically based

In 2014, Jacob L. Erkelens published an article about the controversy surrounding marijuana taxonomy that dates back to the 16th century. At the time, weed had been classified under an assortment of names such as domesticated hemp, wild hemp, cannabis terminal and cannabis sylvestris. Botanist Carl Linnaeus was the first to classify the substance as cannabis sativa in 1753. In 1785, Jean-Baptiste Lamark, a French biologist, coined the name of a new marijuana species known as cannabis, C. indica. In both instances, the names were the result of geographical location as well as the way they looked – not their chemical compositions.

In the time since Lamark’s contributions, hundreds of additional marijuana strains, or sub-strains, have been classified. Each strain has the ability to create unique medicinal benefits. While the taxonomic structure of marijuana identification has grown immensely, the differences between them have not been heavily researched. More studies on this topic would be useful in the future.

Recently, more patients have been turning to the consumption of marijuana as a legitimate form of medicine. However, this is often done despite a lack of rigorous scientific testing and is done more on the basis of trial and error. Thus, due to the uncertainty of the strains profile, the need to identify the chemical constituents of a certain strain, as well as its impact on the human body, is paramount.

The good news is that in U.S. states where cannabis is legal, manufacturers must label their product, which takes the guesswork out of a strain’s potential effects. In this case, look at the terpene and cannabinoid profile of the product and learn the potential effects of the compound prior to use.

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