Weed has officially gone mainstream in the United States. Recreational marijuana is now legal in eight states and the District of Columbia, and an additional 21 states have legalized medical marijuana. If you live in one of these states and are considering marijuana for either a recreational or medical purpose, it’s important to understand the differences between indica and sativa strains of cannabis.
According to Leafly, Indica strains of marijuana produce a relaxing, calming effect, making them an optimal choice for users who want to combat insomnia, anxiety, or muscle spasms. Those who prefer indica describe the effect as more of a “body high” than sativa, described as more of a mental high. Popular indicas include strains like GDP and Pure Kush.
Marijuana users prize sativa strains for their cerebral, creative effects, allowing many individuals to conduct normal activities while under the influence. For this reason, those with chronic pain syndrome might opt to medicate with sativa during the day and indica at night to help with sleep. These strains are also effective for chronic fatigue and mood disorders such as depression. Many sativa fans say it promotes cerebral conversations and masks social anxiety, with others calling these strains energetic and uplifting. Some of the most popular strains of sativa include Trainwreck, Jack Herer, and Cherry AK.
The easiest way to tell the difference between an indica and sativa plant is by its leaves. Those of a sativa are long and thin, while indica plants have broader, flatter leaves, according to Leaf Science. Sativas are usually grown outdoors while indicas do well as an indoor plant. The buds of the sativa plants are characterized by their sweet, pungent, peppery smell.
Indica and sativa also have different levels of the psychoactive chemicals that create the euphoric feelings associated with marijuana: THC and CBD. Indicas have more THC and sativas have more CBD, which may explain their varied effects.
If you live a legal state, visit a dispensary to learn more about the differences between indica and sativa strains. Trained professionals known as budtenders can recommend specific strains of each based on your desired effects or the medical condition for which you’re seeking treatment. In fact, many strains are labeled with the exact ratio of THC to CBD. With so many different available strains of indica, sativa, and hybrids that combine attributes of both, you’re sure to find the specific type of marijuana that meets your needs.