Whether you’re interested in Cannabis because you need it formedical purposes, like chronic pain relief or insomnia or you are a recreational user who likes to peruse the menu, there’s likely one question you asked of yourself at some point, “What’s the difference between Indica and Sativa, and what’s a hybrid?”. 

I’ll go through the definition of each for you and throw in some surprising facts that even the most knowledgeable user might not be unaware of. We’ll keep the full history of Cannabis for another time.


For many years, it’s been believed that Cannabis comes in three basic categories in terms of how it can affect you, for the layman at least, Indica, Sativa and then a hybrid of the two, which may be leaning more Sativa or more Indica–more on that later. 

For a long time, Sativa was considered to be an ‘upper’ and Indica a ‘downer’. Meaning that while it can still be relaxing, Sativa offers more uplifting, energetic effects and Indica would give more of what’s called ‘couch-lock’, wherein you’re just stuck on the couch or bed and more of a sedated effect. 

There’s a lot of science being thrown around right now, and since it’s now legal in many states, there is more of an opportunity to study it and learn what we can. If you’re wondering about the legality in your state, the folks over at disa.com came up with a great interactive map with some info on all 50 states: https://disa.com/map-of-marijuana-legality-by-state

Let’s talk about Cannabis Sativa for a minute. The plant can be used for much more than a medicinal and 

recreational aid. You can find records dating back thousands ofyears ago in Asia and with the widespread use becoming more and more popular, you’d probably have an easier time listing off where it can’t be found. 

Professor Warf, a geography professor at the University of Kansas in Lawrence has said, “For the most part, it was widely used for medicine and spiritual purposes. For example, the Vikings and medieval Germans used cannabis for relieving pain during childbirth and for toothaches.”. However, the plant can also be used for hempseed oil for cooking, lamps, lacquers, or paints. The range of the plant extends even further from bird-seed to industrial fiber. 

But how is it different from the sedating Indica? Sativa is more well-known for having cerebral effects and being for ‘day-time’ use. Cannabis Sativa grows much taller than it’s Indica sibling, with an average height of 10-12 feet, depending on the growing conditions, but they have been known to get up to 25 feet. Long branches, narrow leaves and bright green color are tendencies that make it easy to differentiate between Indica. 

So you’ve had a nice, energetic day and you’re ready to unwind with an Indica. A few things about Cannabis Indica first. The general consensus is that the plant originated around India, Afghanistan and that general region. Since the weather is a bit harsher than where the Sativa is from, Indica plants had to develop a thick coat of resin to act as protection from the elements. The Indica plants are usually a lot shorter and bushier than their Sativa counterparts and range around three to six feet tall, with wide, full leaves that are some of the most colorful flower you can find with dark green buds, orange trichomes and even purple leaves.  

While the density depends on the grow, it’s usually widely accepted that Indica is going to be a much stickier grind because of all that resin. We’ll have a later post about what CBD is and what it can do for many people, but for today’s purpose, at its basic level, CBD is a non-psychoactive component to the cannabis plant, and it contains properties that can offer medical relief in many customers/patients. There is, on average, more CBD within the Cannabis Indica, which makes it a great choice for anyone with Chronic pain, insomnia, and basically anything you just need to sit back and relax in relief. 

All that being said, there is some contention among professionals in the industry about whether there really is a difference or not. There’s a scientist named Dr. Jeffrey Raber who has been called a pioneer in medical marijuana lab testing. He got his PhD in chemistry at USC and he’s been studying this very question. Dr. Raber’s findings, as of 2016, are that indica and sativa are only really used to explain ‘the morphology’ of the plant itself and that it’s a misrepresentation that indica will put you to sleep and sativa is more energetic. Dr. Raber believes we need a better classification system that would study more extensively the terpenes, which is the affecting factor. Terpenes are, “the enormous range of scents and flavors found in marijuana.” Based on a profile of these terpenes, Dr. Raber thinks we can be more discerning consumers. 

My final thoughts are this, everyone’s body chemistry is different, so really, the best research that can be done is on yourself. Research responsibly! At The Source, we only sell products that have been lab tested, so find an establishment that cares as much as you do about the product you’re purchasing. Do I personally think there is a difference between Indica and Sativa? I do. I also think that we’re so close to the beginning stage of learning about Cannabis en masse that there’s a lot we don’t know yet.