Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid: Rethinking Weed | State Green

In recent decades, consumer-facing cannabis has evolved faster than a Pokemon on Rare Candy. An industry that used to rely on flavor and color to indicate quality and effect has moved on to using a botanical nomenclature such as indica vs sativa vs hybrid.

These terms come from the plant’s original botanical taxonomy. In their original forms, this also indicated the effect the flowers would have, but the descriptors may no longer apply.

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Indica vs sativa vs hybrid: pictures of plants in different life stages
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Neurologist and medical researcher Dr. Ethan Russo, whose research sparked initial interest in the role of terpenes in the plant, discussed the terminology in an interview with Cannabis and cannabinoid research.

There are biochemically distinct strains of cannabis, but the sativa/indica distinction commonly applied in lay literature is complete nonsense and an exercise in futility, Russo explained.

There is currently no way to guess the biochemical content of a given cannabis plant based on its height, branching or leaf morphology.

So if the effects of cannabis have nothing to do with indica and sativa, how come the indications have become so widely used?

Indica vs sativa vs hybrid

Cannabis sativa was registered for the first time Plantarum species by the botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1573 to describe the type of cannabis plants then widely grown in Europe. The plants grew tall with long leaves. At one point in history, the flowers of a sativa plant were believed to give people energy, especially when they were depressed or uninspired.

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A little over two hundred years later, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck coined the term cannabis indica to describe a chemovar that had just arrived in Europe from India. These indica plants grow shorter and fatter than sativas, with thicker fronded leaves. Dried indica flowers were believed to induce relaxation that relieves stress.

After hundreds of years of crossbreeding, the term hybrid permeated the lexicon in the early days of medical cannabis. Hybrid strains often have parents from different ends of the indica sativa spectrum. The appearance and growth of plants depends on the parentage and the effects vary as well.

Buy cannabis – indica and sativa

For years, the marijuana strain has reigned supreme at the dispensary counter. Indica strains were coveted for relaxation and sleep, with the term indacouch used all too often. Sativa strains have been compared to a cup of coffee and have been simplified to be called uplifting and euphoric.

Indica vs sativa vs hybrid: Cannabis plant on a yellow background with shadows

Consumers looking for a body high were steered towards indicas, and sativas were recommended for those looking to focus or get creative. This rule of thumb has become widely accepted to the point where cannabis brands were planning packaging around the distinction that Dr. Russo believes should be out of practice.

The terms indica and sativa should be eliminated from the cannabis industry as they in no way reflect the taxonomy (botanical classification) or biochemical profile of the plants in question, Russo told GreenState.

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When research reached experiential knowledge of the plant, many questioned the importance of separating cannabis strains into indicas and hybrids. However, the shopping experience has become so reliant on monikers, many are wondering how quickly the industry could break out of the current status quo. And when terminology dies, what will replace it?

At this point in plant genetics, nearly all products are hybrid cannabis. There has been a push within the cannabis industry for brands to label products with specific strains, terpene profiles and cannabinoid content. Sativas and hybrids of all that are not relevant.

The role of terpenes

Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in the cannabis plant along with many other plants, even some insects. The combination of multiple terpenes gives cannabis and plants like lavender and rose their distinct smells.

The terpene content is also thought to play a role in the effects of cannabis use. While research is still ongoing to figure out exactly how, anecdotal evidence implies there is a connection.

Many sativa strains have high concentrations of limonene, a terpene that could impact brain health. On the other hand, many cannabis strains labeled as indica contain copious amounts of relaxing terpenes such as linalool and pinene.

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Dr. Russo believes terpenes and plant chemistry should be the focus of attention at the counter.

The preferred approach to describing commercial cannabis chemovars would be to specify the cannabinoid and terpenoid contents in detail, preferably with an accompanying certificate of analysis (COA) on the same material, Russo described.

While most weed shops can present a certificate of authenticity when a customer requests it, few do. Also, many consumers are simply not mentally prepared for a chemistry class from across the dispensary counter. Simply put, it’s hard to express the depth of a cannabis chemovar in a cannabis sales interaction.

In response, some brands have chosen to market experience-based products. Brands like Heylo in Seattle, Washington clearly label cannabinoid and terpene content, but also display bullet points of what it feels like to experience its products.

“We Here you arenerding on the chemistry of cannabis, but ultimately we will help consumers find the right product for them,” shared founder and CEO of Heylo Lo Friesen, “That depends on what kind of cannabis experience the consumer is looking for. Our extraction method keeps the extract as close to the plant as possible to deliver the complex chemistry produced by the cannabis plant. Our brand highlights this unique chemistry to encourage consumers to do so Here you areok beyond THC and find the unique cannabis experiences that other cannabinoids have to offer!

This marketing tool is well received over the counter as budtenders attempt to stop relying on outdated terms to explain the side effects of consuming specific strains.

The industry is ready to go from indica to sativa to hybrid, but it’s not as easy as pushing a button. Education is needed to guide consumers to the right products without the nomenclature.

“Through our commitment to education, we have been able to help consumers connect the dots between the chemistry of cannabis and the experience,” Friesen said. “This is further validated by consumer feedback. While we offer insight into the experience of each product shown on the packaging, we also recognize that every body is different and will experience cannabis in a slightly unique way.”

Teaching the average American about terpenes and their role in the plant will take time (think years). With ongoing education at every budtender interaction and product touchpoint, the tides will slowly turn to tagging weed with chemistry on an age-old botanical taxonomy.

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