For a novice in the world of cannabis, hearing discussions about the various strains and different types of marijuana can be dizzying. What types of marijuana are there? Three main types of cannabis plants comprise the strains consumers can find at most recreational and medical dispensaries. Besides those, ruderalis and non-psychoactive hemp fill out the cannabis spectrum, providing a wide range of effects, uses, and health benefits.
Three Primary Types of Marijuana
Should a customer strike up a conversation with a budtender in a dispensary or ask a question about marijuana effects online, they’ll quickly learn that there are different types of marijuana. Specifically, there are three types of marijuana that are known for differences in their effects, plant origin and appearance, and harvest time.
Of the three main types of marijuana, cannabis indica is known for its sedating effects. This sets it apart from sativa, which is known to be more stimulating. Indica strains achieve their effects through differing amounts of cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, as well as terpenes.
The Cannabis indica plant originated in the Middle East, in places such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tibet. It generally has a higher CBD content than Cannabis sativa, though the CBD to THC ratio is very close to 1:1Trusted Source.
The general perception is that indica is an effective pain reliever, with a flat and relaxing high. Many medical marijuana strains contain a hybrid form of this strain.
That said, it is important to note that little scientific evidence backs these ideas. There are far more variations within the indica vs. sativa categorization, and many scientists believeTrusted Source that we should not generalize the psychoactive and other effects of different strains.
Indica creates a powerful “body” high that’s referred to as “couch lock.” After consuming a strong indica strain, many consumers feel physically heavy, unwilling to move, and extremely relaxed. Indicas also tend to stimulate the appetite. Due to all of this, general advice for those planning to enjoy a indica is to have a snack and relax in front of the TV or to get comfortable and go to sleep.
Medical Uses of Indica Strains
Because of its strong physical high and relaxing effects, cannabis indica is good for treating many different medical conditions. While swallowing a pill means that patients have to wait a half hour or more for their medication to kick in, vaporizing or smoking indica strains of marijuana offers them immediate relief. Among the conditions for which indicas are frequently used are:
People with conditions such as multiple sclerosis often experience painful spasms in the muscles throughout their bodies. Those who don’t wish to deal with the side effects of traditional pharmaceuticals often turn to indica-dominant marijuana strains instead.
Cannabis sativa is valued for its uplifting effects, providing a very different experience than cannabis indica. Like indica, however, the effects of all sativa strains are determined by the different levels of cannabinoids and terpenes, making some strains incredibly stimulating and others gently invigorating.
Cannabis sativa comes from warmer parts of the world, such as Southeast Asia and Central and South America.
The general perception is that it provides a more energizing and creative high, though it can prompt anxiety in some people. Sativa can also be helpful for people with depression, headaches, nausea, and appetite loss. Sativa plants tend to contain more THC than CBD.
Again, it is important to note that some scientific researchTrusted Source negates these claims. Some sativa plants may be energizing while others may not. The same goes for indica strains.
While indica is known for causing a physical high, sativa is famous for its “head” high that is felt mostly in the brain. This makes sativa strains a bit more hallucinogenic than indica. It also means that while the brain may feel high, sativas do not cause the sluggish body high that sends indica consumers to the couch. Sativa strains are often recommended for people who need a burst of creativity or productivity to get things accomplished. Due to its stimulating qualities, people with anxiety disorder are often warned against consuming strong sativa strains of marijuana.
Medical Uses of Sativa Strains
Just like traditional medications are used for specific purposes due to their varying effects, different marijuana strains can target the symptoms of various medical conditions. Here are some of the diseases and ailments that sativa strains are often used to treat:
While the effects of cannabis sativa feel very stimulating to most, they can actually be calming to people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In fact, many people use sativa as a non-pharmaceutical treatment for ADHD. They find that it slows their minds down and helps them focus on tasks for long periods of time.
In the world of cannabis, the recreational and medical experience isn’t all or nothing, energizing or sedating. Rounding out the primary three types of marijuana is an infinite array of hybrid cannabis strains. These combine characteristics and effects from various indica and sativa strains to create hybrid strains that offer the best of both worlds.
Both growers and nature have created hybrid forms of both Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica throughout the long history of humans’ use of cannabis.
People bred hybrids, for example, to make plants that grow more quickly, improve yield, and balance out the energizing and calming effects.
Hybrid Cannabis Effects
There is no one set of effects from hybrid cannabis. Because hybrid strains combine sativas and indicas, the results will depend on which strains were chosen to be bred together. Some hybrid strains can be extremely high in THC, while others may have lower percentages of THC and higher concentrations of CBD. Meanwhile, a varying range of terpenes help round out the effects of each individual strain.
Growing Hybrid Cannabis Plants
Hybrid strains can also be helpful to growers who want the effects of one strain and the physical characteristics of another – an energizing sativa-style strain that’s small enough for an indoor grow area, for example. Breeders may also want to cross a high-yield indica strain with a sativa strain that’s more resistant to heat.
Achieving these results doesn’t happen overnight, however. It takes time and diligence through a process known as “back-crossing.” This involves breeding the same strains together over generations until the grower consistently knows what features to expect from the resulting hybrid. Breeding hybrid plants truly does provide the best of both worlds in terms of cannabis strains.