If you’re new to cannabis, lost in the lingo and clueless about what these terms mean, never fear.
For the longest, cannabis culture has been cloaked in innuendo and euphemisms. This is totally understandable considering that for decades our favourite herb languished under what essentially amounted to a global prohibition. Talking about cannabis was strictly taboo, and in reaction to this, a huge lexicon of slang developed as a kind of code language. This let cannabis fans discuss their passion secure in the knowledge that outsiders won’t be able to plumb their meaning. Who doesn’t love speaking in code?
This worked perfectly well for decades. But, things have changed – a lot. Now cannabis is not only being globally normalised, in some places, it’s also becoming a popular consumer product for both young and old. Suddenly the lingo has become a barrier to entry for thousands of people which means that many don’t have the basic understanding of strains that’s needed to find the right cannabis for you.
For the most part this really just separates the casual consumer from the die-hards (and, let’s be real, try-hards). Unfortunately, understanding some terms can actually prove to be vital to some people. With this in mind, we’re here to help you figure out exactly what it all means. It’s time to crack the cannabis code.
Sativa and Indica: What’s the difference?
Sativa and Indica are, in short, the two main categories of the cannabis plant. They are adapted to distinct climates, they look different, and they create different effects when consumed, including different kinds of highs. So, if you’re using cannabis to treat the symptoms of a medical condition you might opt for one strain over another, but if you’re using cannabis recreationally (stay safe kids!) then you’re probably going to want something very different. This is why the clever cannabis connoisseur needs to know her sativas from her indicas.
Of course, not all cannabis strains fall into these two categories. In the last couple of decades cannabis scientists have been busy at work developing new strains of cannabis that combine a sativa strain with an indica strain. These are called hybrids and are hugely popular now. But for now let’s keep things simple and focus on the fundamentals.
Sativa can trace its roots back to Eastern Asia. It’s been cultivated for centuries for all manner of reasons, ranging from recreation and spiritual practices to pragmatic industrial applications. It’s generally cultivated in areas close to the equator and is heavily adapted to thrive in hot and humid conditions. This means, outside of the equator, specialised grow houses with climate and humidity controls are often needed to grow sativa plants.
Sativa is infamous for its distinct fragrance. It’s an extremely pungent plant. This is down to the high concentrations of terpenes found within it. Depending on the strain, sativa plants can smell anything from spicey to peppery. Visually it’s known for its long, slim, and sharply pointed leaves. This is the shape that many people think of when they imagine cannabis – the classic marijuana leaf.
When grown outdoors, sativa plants can grow to a staggering 20 feet. Their flowers sprout from nodes that stretch along the length of each branch, which spread and grow upwards. Sativa plants take around 16 weeks to reach maturity.
Indicia is a species of cannabis that can be traced to the harsh and variable climate of the Hindu Kush mountains. This plant is much hardier than its Asain cousin, making it easier to grow in more temperate climates. It’s more naturally fibrous (woody and almost tree-like) than sativa and served as the basis for the selective breeding that gave us the low-THC industrial hemp.
This is the Danny Devito of cannabis strains – notably squat, dense and robust compared to the slender and sprawling Sativa. Its flowers tend to be densely clustered closer to the base of the branches. It also enjoys a slightly shorter cultivation time than it’s cousin, reaching maturity within about 12 weeks.
The Real Differences
Alright let’s park the science and talk about the effects. Here’s what all of this really means.
Sativa is frequently thought of as a ‘daytime’ herb by enthusiasts. This is because its balance of cannabinoids is energising. Many describe its effects as a ‘head high’ that increases alertness and energy. Artists claim that it is fantastic for creativity and has euphoric and uplifting effects. It can dissolve users into peals of childish giggles, and some even claim that it’s an aphrodisiac. Sign us up!
Indicia, on the other hand, is the ‘nighttime’ herb. It creates a soothing body high that relaxes from head to toe. Its higher levels of THC can act as an appetite stimulator, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself raiding the fridge. And it’s got some pretty powerful sedative and pain killing effects. Sounds good, right?
Which are you?
Well, that all depends. f you want nothing more at the end of the day but to collapse onto your couch and get lost in the latest adventures of Grace and Frankie, then Indicia may be for you. Just make sure you’ve stocked up on Cheetos first. You can enjoy your food, soothe any aches and pains from your long day, and count on a deep, restful nights sleep (Pro tip – don’t consume it too close to bedtime or it can mess up your REM sleep). On the other hand, if you want to hang with friends and share some laughs, sativa is the way to go.
If after reading all of this you’re still not sure, then it’s time to talk to your local Bud Tender (cannabis code for sales assistant at a nearby dispensary). He or she will know exactly what questions to ask you to figure out what it is you’re really looking for, and then direct you to the best options to suit your needs so that you find the perfect cannabis for you!