Marijuana strains: Indica, sativa and hybrid cannabis strains

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Marijuana strains can be a complex subject. This article covers the a to z of the indica, sativa and hybrid cannabis strains. Learn what distinguishes one marijuana strain from another.

What are marijuana strains?

A marijuana strain is a genetically similar group within the same species.

Indica and sativa are the two major strains of marijuana seeds.

These two cannabis strains can be combined to create hybrid cannabis strains.

Many experts believe there is a third marijuana strain, ruderalis, but it is debatable whether it is it’s own species or a sub-species of stavia. We concentrate on the indica and sativa marijuana strains. 

In the sections below we detail the characteristics of the major marijuana strains, as well as their psychoactive active and beneficial effects for each marijuana strain.

Marijuana strains infographic

This infographic summarizes the differences between indica and stavia marijuana strains.

Marijuana strains - Sativa and Indica marijuana strains

Indica marijuana strain

The origin of the indica marijuana strain is mostly central Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

Indica marijuana strain characteristics

Marijuana strains - Indica marijuana strain characteristics

Indica marijuana plants have distinct characteristics:

  • Plants:
    • Sturdy, wide plants.
    • Shorter plants, typically between 3 -6 feet in height.
    • Plants are more compact and better suited to growing marijuana indoors.
  • Leaves:
    • Wide, broad leaves that are darker in color.
  • Aroma:
    • Plants emit a musty, earthy aroma.
  • Flowering period:
    • Shorter flowering period: between 45 – 65 days weeks.
  • Flowers and buds:
    • Buds are dense and plump.
    • Flowers and buds grow closer together and feel tacky to the touch.
    • Flowers sometimes purple in color.
    • Contain more resin, making them ideal for hashish.

Indica marijuana strain THC and CBD levels

Marijuana strains - Indica marijuana strain THC vs CBD

Indica cannabis strains tend have a lower THC content, and a higher CBD content, i.e. a lower THC to CBD ratio compared to stavia marijuana.

Indica marijuana strain effects

This marijuana strain acts much like a sedative and helps the body to become deeply relaxed, with a feeling of being stoned.

The indica marijuana strain provides a night-time body high that gives the following effects

  • relaxing, calming, mellow, sleepy, carefree,
  • body buzz or couch lock.

It is best suited for night-time use.

Indica marijuana strain medical treatment

Indica marijuana is used to treat the following medical conditions:

  • Mainly insomnia and pain
  • Can also alleviate:
    • Anxiety
    • Loss of appetite
    • Arthritis
    • Multiple sclerosis
    • Parkinsons
    • Panic attacks
    • Migraines
    • Eating disorders
    • Seizures.

Sativa marijuana strain

The origin of the sativa marijuana strain is equatorial climates such as Thailand, southern Africa, and Mexico.

Sativa marijuana strain characteristics

Marijuana strains - Sativa marijuana strain characteristics

Sativa marijuana plants have distinct characteristics:

  • Plants:
    • Slim and loosely branched plants
    • Plants grow tall and thin, typically between 8 – 15 feet in height.
    • Better suited to growing marijuana outdoors because of plant size.
  • Leaves:
    • Long, thin leaves that are lighter in color.
  • Aroma:
    • Plants smell sweet, fruity, or spicy.
  • Flowering period:
    • Longer flowering period: between 60 – 90 days.
  • Flowers and buds:
    • Buds are loose and airy, an lighter in weight.
    • Buds sometimes have hints of reddish orange color.

Sativa marijuana strain effects

Marijuana strains - Sativa marijuana strain THC vs CBD

This marijuana strain has a similar effect to an anti-depressant, because it is stimulating and uplifting, promotes focus and makes you feel happy.

The sativa marijuana strain provides a day-time mind high that gives the following effects:

  • Energetic, uplifting, euphoric, sociable, cheerful, alert.
  • cerebral, spacey or hallucinogenic.

It is best suited for day-time use, and affects your head more than your body.

Sativa marijuana strain medical treatment

Sativa marijuana is used to treat the following medical conditions:

  • Mainly mood disorders and chronic fatigue.
  • Can also be used for:
    • Creative blocks
    • Lack of focus.

If you have any form of social anxiety please avoid the sativa strain. Some users have reportedly experienced panic attacks, paranoia and anxiety when taking it.

Sativa marijuana strain CDB and THC levels

Sativa cannabis strains usually show a higher THC content and lower CBD content, i.e it has a higher THC to CBD ratio compared to indica marijuana.

Hybrid marijuana strains

Marijuana seed breeders create hybrid cannabis strains by crossing or interbreeding two different marijuana strains.

The objective in cross breeding cannabis strains could be numerous, for example:

  • To create more potent marijuana strains.
  • To enhance the benefits of parent cannabis strains in the resultant hybrid marijuana stain.
  • To increase the yield of the resultant marijuana strain.

The hybrid marijuana strain carries features of both parent stains. It is bred in the quest to create the perfect marijuana high, effects and benefits.

Today an enormous amount of hybrid marijuana strains are available. They are the result of many years of precision marijuana cross breeding.

Hybrid cannabis strains are far more common than pure indica or sativa marijuana stains. It is very rare to find a strain that is 100% satvia or indica.

To determine the effects and best uses of hybrid marijuana strains you need to look first to the original parents, and then to the blend of each major strain. Hybrid marijuana stains that are predominantly indica will likely have more indica effects than sativa effects etc. For example:

  • Predominantly sativa strains will likely provide an uplifting buzz.
  • Indica dominant hybrids, will likely provide a relaxed body high.
  • Hybrids that are a 50/50 mix will likely provide a balance between a head high and body high.

It is hard to be more precise than this on a general level.

The beauty of hybrid cannabis strains is that there is a hybrid stain to suit almost everyone’s taste and needs. There are literally thousands of hybrid strains to produce highs on any point in the spectrum.

Marijuana strain THC and CBD

THC and CBD are the two main chemical compounds found in marijuana strains.

THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol is the chemical compound that makes you high. The THC levels in any marijuana strain creates a psychoactive effect that changes mood and perception.

CBD, or Cannabidiol, is a chemical compound that acts as an anti-psychotic. The CBD in a marijuana strain enhances the positive effects of the THC compound, and negates the negative ones at the same time.

The medicinal value of a marijuana strain lies in the CBD compound. It is used to help treat symptoms of many different diseases and conditions.

Marijuana strain terpenes

Terpene is an unfamiliar term for many growers, and even for some marijuana experts.

Terpenes are the fragrant oils that give a marijuana strain its distinct aroma. Terpenes are emitted in the marijuana flower’s resin glands. These are the same glands that produce THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids.

When you are researching different cannabis strains, you’ll come across discussion about the stain’s  aroma and taste. Both the smell and the flavor of the marijuana strain come from plant’s terpenes.

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