If you’re a long-time smoker, you’re used to hearing the terms Sativa v.s. Indica. Even if you’re new to weed, you may have heard of the terms. These terms help us distinguish different strains. If you look at any shelf on a dispensary, you’ll most likely run across these terms. Some people prefer sativa and others prefer indica. Sativa vs Indica: What’s the difference?

The Marijuana Plant 

To better understand these terms for marijuana, it may help to know where they come from. 

When jumping into the agricultural side of weed, the terms sativa and indica mean something else. In 1753, Swedish botanist Carl Linnaes was the first to identify the cannabis plant as Cannabis Sativa in his work. 32 years later, a French biologist named Jean-Baptiste Lamarck identified Cannabis indica as a separate species. He based this off physical characteristics that were different from the sativa plant. Lamarck argued that the indica plant had dark and wide leaves, in comparison to the sativa plant. 

Over the years, there’s been more discussion on how to classify these plants. 

Later, in 1970, American biologists made another argument over the cannabis plant. They claimed that there were 3 cannabis species. First, C. sativa which had high THC and low CBD. Second, C. indica which had high THC and CBD. Lastly, C. ruderalis which has a high CBD to THC ratio. 

To this day, scientists are still making discoveries that help reshape the taxonomic framework of the cannabis plant. The terms sativa and indica were created for botanists to understand the shared characteristic between the plants. 


The cannabis sativa plant originates from dry and hot climates. For example, Central America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. The plants are thin, tall, and have narrow leaves. 

This strain of cannabis is much higher in THC and lower in CBD. THC is the euphoria-inducing component in cannabis. Therefore, sativa is known for its energizing and mentally stimulating effects. It’s believed that sativa is great for focus, creativity, and clarity. It’s recommended to be smoked in the morning or daytime. Sativa can be helpful for those who suffer from depression, headaches, nausea, and loss of appetite. However, some people may also experience anxiety when smoking. 

Popular examples of sativa are Sour Diesel, Strawberry Cough, and Green Crack. 


Cannabis indica originates from The Middle East. For example, places like India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Turkey. In comparison to sativa, the indica plant is shorter and bushy with broader leaves. Indica plants can also grow faster and produce more plentifully.  

Although the ratio of THC to CBD is very close 1:1, indica has a higher content of CBD compared to sativa. This makes indica a great addition to someone’s medical treatment. Many recognize indica as a pain reliever, with a relaxing and stable high. Indica has a soothing and sometimes sleep-inducing effect. This makes it perfect for an evening or night smoke. 

Popular examples of indica strains are Granddaddy Purple, Northern Lights, and Hindu Kush. 


You don’t always have to choose between sativa vs indica. Hybrids also exist. Growers cross breed these plants for several reasons. First, breeding hybrids can help some plants grow faster. Secondly, it can improve production. And lastly, it can help balance the effects between sativa and indica. This helps create many kinds of strains with different flavors, aromas, and effects. 

The exact percentages of THC and CBD in hybrids depend on the strains they stem from. It also depends on which strain is dominant to one side, sativa or indica. 

There are several hybrid strains to try. For example, there’s Do-Si-Dos, which is an indica-dominant hybrid. Then there’s OG Kush, which is a staple name in the Californian weed culture. OG Kush is a hybrid classic guaranteed to make you feel good. Lastly, Heavy Cream is a sweet smoke that will make you melt into a stress-free state. 

Which to Choose? 

Choosing the best cannabis strain for yourself can be tough if you haven’t tried out strains. Sativa vs Indica can provide different effects. Here are a few questions you should keep in mind when deciding. 

What’s the desired effect? Would you like a chill, relaxing high? Do you want something to help with chronic pain? Do you need a high that will pick you up and keep you focused through the day? 

What’s your tolerance level? If you’re a beginner, it’s best to look at strains with a lower potency. If you’re looking to push your tolerance, you may want to look at stronger strains. 

Do you have any medical conditions that may affect your experience? It’s important to consider any pre-existing conditions or medication that may interact with cannabis. You can always ask your healthcare provider if you’re unsure.