Dispensaries have indica, sativa, and hybrid (a cross-breed between an indica and sativa plant) labels on their products to help customers pick what they want. There’s hundreds of different strains, and they’re all placed into the classification of indica, hybrid, or sativa. Even edibles are often labeled this way. But, what’s the difference between indica and sativa strains?

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History of Strains

Cannabis was classified into two groups, indica and sativa, in the 18th century by Jean Baptiste Lamark. Lamark used these classifications to separate the two solely by their appearance. He described cannabis indica as shorter and bushier, with short, wide leaves, while cannabis sativa is longer and thinner with long, slim leaves. Sativa plants have longer flower cycles, and survive better in warmer climates than indica plants. This classification became widely accepted, and is still used today. Dispensaries and brands even use these categories to label their products. 

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So, what does indica or sativa mean for you? While effects of cannabis strains depend on many different things, such as terpenes and cannabinoids, the category of indica, sativa, or hybrid can hint at what you’ll be feeling. Indica is said to put you “in-da-couch” while sativa is more of an energizing head high.


Indicas are known for their body high, which helps in relaxation and sleep. Indicas can also help with pain relief and increase appetite while reducing nausea. 
Popular indica strains include Northern Lights and Grape Ape. 


ativas help spark creativity and uplift mood, making them a great daytime strain. It’s also known to relieve anxiety and help with focus. 
Some popular sativa strains include Jack Herer and Acapulco Gold.


Since hybrids are a cross between indica and sativa, their effects will land somewhere in the middle. An indica-dominant hybrid will have more of a body high, while a sativa-dominant hybrid will give a head high. 
Popular hybrid strains include Cereal Milk and Goji Berry. 

Is There Really a Difference?

Though researchers now understand that indica and sativa classifications are based on how the plants grow rather than the psychoactive effects, they are still used by consumers to predict the type of high they’ll get. Other factors, such as terpenes, CBD, and the complete chemical makeup of each strain, have a strong influence on the type of high each strain produces. 
If you’re looking for a head high, a sativa is usually the right way to go, and if you’re looking for a relaxed body high, indicas are the answer.
So, what’s your favorite?