Before diving into the buds with both feet, it’s best to start with deciding what you want out of your cannabis experience. There are three main types of cannabis—Indica, Sativa, and Hybrids—each with its own traits and characteristics. Figuring out the type of effects you want to experience will help you choose the best type of cannabis for your lifestyle.
Do you think we would set you up with a couple of tips and leave you to do all the research on your own? That’s not how we roll. Get ready to soak up the fundamentals of cannabis culture.
What is cannabis?
Even with its newfound fame, cannabis is often confused as a term for marijuana. However, cannabis is a classification term for a family of flowering plants called Cannabeceae that includes hemp and marijuana plants. The main subspecies of cannabis plants are indica, sativa, and hybrids. The cannabis plant is primarily used for recreational purposes but has a significant presence in the medical industry. Most people can spot a cannabis plant from a mile away due to its distinct growth patterns and flowering process. But if you don’t recognize it, the smell will certainly give it away. Consumers typically describe the scent as earthy, herbal, and woody. Depending on the strain, sometimes the aromas are offset with notes of citrus, berries, or diesel.
Different Types Of Cannabis
Cannabis has a lot of buzz words flying around, but if you keep the main types of cannabis in mind, you can cut through the chaos. As mentioned, you want to figure out the kind of experience you are looking for to guide your cannabis journey. Are you spending a cozy night watching Netflix? Is there an upcoming event where you need to turn on the social charm? Or maybe you are trying to manage the stress of daily life. There are even strains that can make the most mundane tasks feel like an epic adventure. The world is your oyster when it comes to spicing up your life with a little bit of herb.
The three main types of cannabis plants that you will find at your local dispensary are indica, sativa, and hybrids. With each type of cannabis plant comes a never-ending list of cannabis strains. The term “strain” refers to the flower’s particular variety, be it Sour Diesel, Northern Lights, or Jack Herer. Due to decades of intense breeding and cultivation activity, the categories indica, sativa, and hybrid are not as sharply differentiated as they once were. However, these categories are still an effective way for consumers to identify the types of cannabis that will give them the experience they’re seeking.
Sativa strains are an excellent option for people that want to be productive and need to spend a few hours accomplishing a task. In comparison, indica strains are better for a chill afternoon or evening full of relaxation and couch melting to thoroughly enhance your downtime. Hybrids can offer a combined experience, depending on their dominant traits. Different strokes for different folks is the best way, to sum up choosing between the different types of cannabis.
Indica plants are commonly found in areas of high altitude and colder climates, identifiable by their wide, short leaves and their tight, densely packed flowers. In general, indica strains tend to be much higher in Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels than Cannabidiol (CBD). This strain is typically associated with the saying “in da couch” to describe its body-numbing properties that are known to induce long sessions of couchlock.
The main difference between indica vs sativa is that indica effects are typically felt throughout the body, producing a relaxing, laid-back vibe. You may find an indica session leaving you with the desire to sit on your couch with a treat watching TV or listening to music. Some users prefer indica strains to help manage pain and anxiety. Popular indica strains include Purple Kush, Afghan Kush, Northern Lights, Girl Scout Cookies, and Hindu Kush.
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Sativa plants tend to grow tall and lanky, with long, thin leaves. The flowers are less densely packed than indica buds and have a more wispy appearance. Sativa plants also take longer to grow and require more light than indica strains. Sativa effects are generally described as a “head high” with reviews of increased creativity and focus. Your body will not feel heavy or weighed down with sativa, making a hike or walk in the park an even more enjoyable activity.
In some cases, people find themselves feeling a bit foggy mentally, but the right sativa strain in the right dosage can actually make you feel mentally sharp, outgoing, talkative, and less inhibited. That’s why many people suggest consuming sativa strains during the day, or as a social lubricant. Additionally, sativa strains are frequently used to help manage feelings of anxiety and depression. Common sativa strains include Green Crack, Sour Diesel, Gorilla Glue #4, Jack Herer, and Pineapple Express.
Hybrids are a dream for most cannabis users, offering the best of both worlds. Technically speaking, most cannabis strains on the market today are hybrids, as a result of heavy cultivation and breeding activity. In fact, some experts believe that 100% pure indica or 100 percent pure sativa strains don’t really exist anymore. Instead, these experts argue, nearly all cannabis strains currently in existence have been crossbred with some other strain at one point or another.
In any case, a strain specifically marketed as a hybrid will exhibit a blend of indica and sativa qualities. Typically, a hybrid will fall slightly more on one side or the other, and this is frequently marked by the terms “indica-dominant” or “sativa-dominant.” The aesthetics of the plant will vary depending on the dominant plant that is used.
Ultimately, hybrids offer more variety, allowing consumers to fine-tune their product selection to a more precise experience. For example, a person who wants to feel more uninhibited and also wants to feel some of the physical sensations typically linked to indica strains could benefit from a sativa-dominant hybrid. Similarly, somebody who wants to feel calm and relaxed but doesn’t want to end up completely sedated and dozing off should probably look for an indica-dominant hybrid. Common hybrid strains include Blue Dream, Gorilla Glue, Skywalker, Tahoe 06, and Sour OG.
One Final Category: Hemp
Last but not least, we’re rounding out your cannabis 101 lessons with hemp. The defining feature of hemp plants is that they produce very little if any, psychoactive THC, while still producing many of the other chemicals found in regular cannabis plants, most notably the therapeutic compound CBD. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that CBD is all the rage right now as a natural and organic alternative to relieving pain, reducing anxiety, and help with getting a better night’s sleep.
In 2018, as part of the federal Farm Bill, hemp plants with less than 0.3% THC were removed from the list of federally banned substances. Now, a broad range of hemp-derived products—including hemp-derived CBD, CBD oil, and other CBD products—can legally be produced and sold in the United States. Additionally, hemp plants are very fibrous and are regularly used to manufacture textiles, food, and plastic alternatives.
While life may be like a box of chocolates—never knowing which one you’re going to get—cannabis doesn’t have to be so mysterious. Whether you need a little help with coming out of your shell at a party or a way to keep your daily rush of anxiety in check, knowing the characteristics and traits of the different types of cannabis will get you where you need to go. Just remember to start low and slow until you find the right strain, potency, and dosage for the perfect herbal adventure.