what's the difference


The definition of sativa, hybrid, and indica have changed throughout the years. Initially, cannabis sativa and cannabis indica were plant science terms referring to plant genus and species. 

  • Cannabis Sativa L. described hemp plants found in Europe and western Eurasia, where it was cultivated for its fiber and seeds. 
  • Cannabis indica referred to the psychoactive varieties originating from the Hindu Kush mountains of India, where it was harvested for its seeds, fiber, and hashish production. 

Due to human migration, cannabis seeds were spread across the Middle East, Africa, and beyond where they developed distinct differences in their new, isolated homes. Each region where cannabis has grown natively or been uniquely cultivated has its own history and identifiable strains. These marijuana strains are known as Landrace strains and include Thai Stick, Acapulco Gold, and Hindu Kush. 

During this era of cannabis migration, the terms sativa and indica began to reference plant structures and features. A new plant classification was introduced in 1924 – Cannabis ruderalis. 

  • “Sativa” refers to tall, narrow-leaf varieties of cannabis, thought to induce energizing effects. 
  • “Indica” has come to describe stout, broad-leaf plants, thought to deliver sedating effects. 
  • “Ruderalis” plants are stalkier, with a smaller number of side branches and narrower palmate-shaped leaves, it’s naturally higher in CBD, and produces very little THC.

In the 1960s and ’70s cannabis breeders began transporting landrace strains and then bred them together to develop a wider range of genetic crosses. The motivations for this interbreeding stemmed from a desire for new effects, flavors, natural disease and pest resistance, larger yields, curiosity, or simply by accident. These crossbred cannabis strains created what we know as hybrid strains.









Today, the terms sativa, indica and cannabis hybrid are used less  to describe a plant’s physical features, but rather a plant’s effects on the user. This is because the majority of cannabis strains today are marijuana hybrids created as plant genetics are crossed time and time again.

So, when reading a marijuana dispensary’s menu it’s good to understand what they mean by sativa, hybrid, indica, and High CBD. 

What does cannabis sativa mean?

Sativas are believed to cause the “high” effects of cannabis. This is in reference to the head high and more euphoric effects. 

  • Invigorating, uplifting cerebral effects
  • Stimulates mind and senses
  • Improves focus/concentration
  • Increases energy
  • Uplifts mood

What does cannabis indica mean? 

Indicas are believed to cause the “stoned” effects of cannabis. This is in reference to the more physically and mentally relaxing effects like “couch lock”. A common saying to help remember these effects is Indica = In Da Couch. 

  • Physically relaxing and sedating
  • Relaxes mind and body
  • Relieves pain and nausea
  • Stimulates appetite
  • Reduces anxiety

What are cannabis hybrid strains?

Hybrid refers to a mixture of effects due to crossing a variety of cannabis plant types. Hybrid strains have been categorized even further to sativa dominant hybrids and indica dominant hybrids. 

  • Sativa dominant hybrid – Balanced effect with mood boosting effects and some relaxing physical effects. 
  • Hybrid – Effects balanced between euphoria and relaxation
  • Indica dominant hybrid – Balanced effect with more relaxing physical effects and slight mood boosting effects and some.

What is CBD?

High CBD are cannabis products that contain an appreciable amount of CBD. CBD is often associated with hemp CBD that can be bought at your local markets or online CBD shops. However in cannabis dispensaries, they are often referring to products that contain over 5% THC and at least 10% CBD. This can be helpful for those looking for physical and emotional relief with extremely low potential for the head high.