When browsing strains at dispensaries, you will notice that marijuana is often broken up into three main groups: Sativa, Indica, and Hybrids. Across the board, all types of cannabis stem from two distinct groupings of strains: Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica.
There are a number of ways to differentiate the two. Sativa comes from regions with more tropical climes, like Thailand and Mexico. The plant itself is tall and thin, with leaves similar in description—long and skinny. Sativa plants impressively have the potential of growing up to 25 feet, making them more suited for outdoor growing environments.
Indica hails from the the Hindu Kush Mountain range in central Afghanistan (and yes, this is where many kush strains get their nomenclature). The Indica plants can withstand extreme temperatures, including freezing cold winters and blistering hot summers. They grow quicker than their Sativa counterparts, clocking in yields at 6-9 weeks, in comparison to Sativa’s 10 to 16 weeks. Additionally, Indica strains often yield more cannabis than their Sativa counterparts. However, despite their ability to withstand greater seasonal temperature variation, their short growth height makes them more suitable for indoor growing.
In terms of smoking effects, Sativa strains are prone to inducing a “head high” — its effects are more cerebral. It increases creativity and alertness. As a result, Sativa strains are often suggested for daytime smoking, as they bode well if you’re engaging in physical and social activities. In terms of medicinal effects, Sativa is generally recommended for combatting depression or fatigue.
On the other hand, Cannabis Indica is infamous for “couch-lock” — that feeling of melting into the couch — since its effects often produce a “body high.” As such, this strain caters towards those craving a mellow, relaxing experience, so it’s best suited for nighttime smoking (just like having a glass of wine). For these reasons medicinal patients suffering from pain or insomnia should veer towards Indica strains.
There are also Hybrids — crosses between these two groupings. Not long after the two taxonomies were observed in 18th century, cultivators began experimenting with the different groups.