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Indica Vs Sativa

Indica Vs Sativa, What’s The Difference?

As marijuana continues to gain popularity, and dispensaries advertise more and more to promote their products, you are likely noticing some recurring phrases or terms that you might not have been familiar with before. Or perhaps you still are not. After all, the marijuana industry is still in its early phases, and though the legality has been shifting over the years, it can still be intimidating to be unaware of some of the choices. A common example is how to tell the difference between indica and sativa, or what an indica high vs a sativa high means for the user.

Not to worry, as we can help you understand the difference between indica and sativa so that you can make the right choice for you.  

Indica or sativa?

So, it is likely that you have found yourself asking “indica or sativa?” But the question might not only be limited to “Which one do I get?” In actuality, you might be wondering “What’s the difference between indica and sativa?” After all, weed is weed, right? Well, not quite. In fact, each plant has a different set of characteristics and effects, and understanding the difference between the two will help you find that perfect strain that works for you and meets your needs.

If you have asked neighbors or friends, you might have been told that thedifferent leaves of sativa and indica cannabis plants each have their own distinct effects on the mind and body. For example, it is a common talking point to note that when comparing the effects of indica vs sativa, sativas tend to give you a more energizing experience, while indicas tend to make you more relaxed.

While these broad classifications do have some validity, this is not entirely correct, and is a  broad generalization of the difference between indica and sativa. The words “sativa” and “indica” refer to the physical and geographic characteristics of the cannabis plant, rather than the effects the flower provides.

In this post we will explore what makes a cannabis plant an indica or a sativa, and what is actually making you fall in love with a certain strain.

Geographic Origin

The differences between indica and sativa can be traced back to each respective plant’s origins. Cannabis sativa was discovered by Western society before indica, and was thought to be the only species of cannabis. Sativa originates from areas between the 0° and 30° latitudes, specifically Mexico, Columbia, Thailand and Southeast Asia. Because of the warmer temperature in these regions, cannabis sativa evolved to be tall and lanky to conserve water. Sativa plants can now be found all over the world, but tend to grow in warmer environments that mimic their original home.

However, sativa was only thought to be the only species until 1785, when Western explorers encountered the cannabis indica plant and named the plant after the location the plants were found – India. Cannabis indica evolved in the Kush Mountains of northern India and grew in the 30° and 50° latitudes. Like sativa, indica can now be found in most corners of the world.

But don’t think that the geographical origins of sativa vs indica are what set them apart. Like any plant, growing in different regions and climates inherently gives different characteristics to sativa and indica, but there is more to discuss when it comes to choosing whether indica or sativa is right for you.

Growing Indica Vs Sativa

Growth And Physical Characteristics

The physical characteristics between indica and sativa can be noticeable by those who know how to tell the difference between indica and sativa. For example, indica plants tend to grow to about 3-6 feet tall and are ideal for growing indoors. The flowering time for indica is much faster than sativa at 6-8 weeks, making it a more popular plant among hobby growers.

On the other hand, sativa plants can grow up to 20 feet tall. And from a grower’s perspective, you can understand why this height would make it more difficult to cultivate on a regular basis. Because of this, many growers like to mix the plants, creating hybrids to tame the height. Sativa plants are also the longest flowering species, taking 10-16 weeks to flower.

You can easily tell the difference between indica and sativa by the shape of their leaves. Indica leaves are deep in color and broad, while sativa leaves are lighter in color with slender leaves.

Characteristics of Indica Vs Sativa


As we mentioned above, many users associate indicas and sativas with their own unique effects. The classic school of thought is that indicas tend to be more relaxing and used at night, while sativas are energizing and are usually recommended for daytime use. This has long been the stereotype, and only now that more and more information about the differences between indica and sativa is coming to light can we start to sift through these stereotypes and help our customers nail down the species that works for them.

To break down the difference between indica and sativa effects more clearly, though, means considering the strain’s terpene profile, rather than simply its indica or sativa classification,. Terpenes are botanical compounds that are found in everything from pepper to lavender to hops.

Terpenes are the reason why lavender is soothing, why spicy scents can wake you up, and why that IPA beer that’s full of hops makes you sleepy. The same principles apply to cannabis, and play a direct role in the difference between sativa and indica leaves. You can check out our blog post on terpenes to learn more on this subject.

Effects of Indica Vs Sativa

Indica or Sativa: Choose What’s Right For You

Next time you’re shopping for cannabis don’t fall into the stereotypical indica or sativa trap. Try something new! Tell your budtender why you want to use cannabis, and then ask what terpene profile would be best for your desired effects. You might just find your new favorite strain! While the conversation between the differences of indica and sativa is valid, it comes down to what works best for you and your condition. For this reason, it is best to learn directly from your budtender and discover what is comfortable and enjoyable for you.

Indica Vs Sativa Terpenes

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It is important to note that even through online ordering, orders are only available through in-person pickup and paid in cash.

And if you are looking for a guide to be able to readily know the differences between indica and sativa, you can download the Indica Vs. Sativa Poster here.

More Reading:

Cannabis Cultivation Grow Styles: Indoor, Outdoor or Greenhouse?

Cannabis Genetics: Exploring the Past and Shaping the Future

Make Your Own Cannabis Edibles: Cooking Tips and Recipe Ideas

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