marijuana gummy bears next to pot leaf

Indica vs. Sativa: What’s the Difference?

Indica, sativa, hybrids – oh, my! When it comes to choosing the right strain, it can sometimes be a little difficult to choose – especially if you are unfamiliar with what each is.

On your first trip to the medical cannabis dispensary, you may feel more than a little overwhelmed. After all, experts are made and not born. At Maryland GreenScript Cannabis, we’ve made it our mission to educate the general population about the positive effects of medical cannabis.

The first topic in our little marijuana 101 curricula: what are indica vs. sativa vs. hybrid cannabis strains, and how do their effects differ?

Important: while classifying cannabis strains into indica, sativa, and hybrid is a valuable tool for the consumer market, many professionals are pushing towards a more specific cannabinoid classification.

What is an Indica Strain?

Cannabis indica strains are the George Costanza of the marijuana family. Shorter, stockier with a woodier stalk. This strain of cannabis originated in West Asia, specifically Afghanistan and Tibet. Generally, these plants are thought to have a more sedating, relaxing effect on consumers.

Some have given it a less flattering descriptor of producing a flat high, making it an effective form of pain relief. The scientific community is generally pushing towards classifying cannabis into chemical compounds known as cannabinoids. Most Indica strains contain close to 1:1 THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).

THC is a psychoactive compound that produces the high sensation of consuming cannabis. CBD, on the other hand, is non-impairing and non-euphoric. This does not mean it doesn’t create physical benefits such as:

  • pain relief
  • nausea relief
  • seizure prevention
  • easing migraines

While we’re on the subject of generalizing, indica strains are often better suited for physical pain and inflammation. It can be especially beneficial for patients suffering from:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer

Some indica strains that you may come across on your trip to the dispensary are:

  • Hindu Kush
  • Northern Lights
  • Granddaddy Purple
  • Blueberry
  • 9 LB Hammer

What are Sativa Strains?

If we continue with our niche Seinfeld references, cannabis sativa is the Kramer of the medical marijuana world. The plant itself is tall and thin with finger-like leaves. Picture a marijuana plant found on the t-shirts of college students, and you’re picturing the sativa plant. This energizing plant originates from Africa and Central America.

Sativa strains are often described as producing a high of the mind by being energizing and anxiety-reducing. This effect makes it ideal for daytime use.

Sativa strains are more suited for psychological illnesses such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

These ailments benefit from the uplifting effects of sativa strains, whereas the commonly more depressive effects of indica strains can be counterintuitive.

Some sativa strains that you may come across on your trip to the dispensary are:

  • Sour Diesel
  • Jack Herer
  • Durban Poison
  • Amnesia Haze
  • Strawberry Cough

What are Hybrid Strains?

Do you want your cake and eat it too? Hybrid strains may be for you.

A hybrid is a strain of marijuana that has been bred from both sativas and indicas. Since medical marijuana is still in its infancy, new strains and hybrid combinations are often created with beneficial effects.

Usually, hybrids are signposted as being indica-dominant or sativa-dominant to make choices more quickly. If you know you get on very well with indica strains, a good starting point in the hybrid world is an indica-dominant strain and vise versa.

But Wait, What are Terpenes?

You thought you finally understood marijuana, and then the person behind the counter chucks another new word at you, and you’re just as lost as before. Don’t worry; we’ve got you.

Terpenes are the aromatic compounds of plants. Everything from your great aunt’s lavender plant to her pine trees has terpenes. They are often what is responsible for attracting pollinators or repelling predators.

Terpenes are created in the same part of the cannabis plant as our friends CBD and THC. In turn, marijuana plants end up with their individual smells and flavor.

Indica terpenes tend to smell musty or earthy, whereas sativa terpenes are much sweeter or spicier. Next time you’re choosing between strains, get your nose involved to get a feel for indica and sativa terpenes.

You may be able to smell out some of the following terpenes found in cannabis plants:

  • Pinene: this aromatic compound smells exactly like what it sounds like- pine trees. Pinene is also found in conifer trees, rosemary, dill, and basil. Some benefits currently being investigated are anti-inflammatory effects, bronchodilation, anti-anxiety, and pain relief.
  • Linalool: the compound that maxes lavender so very relaxing is linalool, and this terpene can also be found in cannabis, mint, cinnamon, and coriander. Some of the prevalent benefits are its mood-boosting and stress-relieving effects.
  • Limonene: are citrus scents your jam? Limonene is recognizable for its citrus fragrance, often found in lemons, oranges, and limes. In cannabis, limonene terpenes are great for anti-inflammation, anti-anxiety, and anti-cancerous properties.

Research into Strains of Cannabis

Thanks to the relatively recent legalization and decriminalization of marijuana for medical purposes in many states, scientists have finally been able to research cannabis like never before. Much of the studies delve into THC and CBD, but ideal quantities for medical conditions are still unknown.

We are proud to be at the forefront of research and believe medical marijuana can be a game-changer for people with a variety of different conditions.

About: Maryland GreenScript Cannabis

At Maryland GreenScript Cannabis, we believe education into the positive effects of medical cannabis should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind. We recognize that there’s much advocating to be done and are proud of our years of experience in the field. For many people suffering from long-term health conditions, medical marijuana can feel like a last effort towards comfort and health.

Contact us today to discover how medical marijuana could enhance your quality of life and get a medical marijuana card in Maryland.

Extra, extra: Does insomnia plague you? Are you tired of popping pills and still tossing and turning all night? Do you want to read all about how medical marijuana provides better, more restful sleep? Thankfully we have just the article for you here.


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