Indica Vs Sativa: What Are The 5 Differences

When browsing strains at dispensaries, you will notice that marijuana is often broken up into three main groups: Sativa, Indica, and Hybrids. Across the board, all types of cannabis stem from two distinct groupings of strains: Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica.

Indica Vs Sativa

There are a number of ways to differentiate the two. Sativa comes from regions with more tropical climes, like Thailand and Mexico. The plant itself is tall and thin, with leaves similar in description—long and skinny. Sativa plants impressively have the potential of growing up to 25 feet, making them more suited for outdoor growing environments.

Indica plants hail from the Hindu Kush Mountain range in central Afghanistan (and yes, this is where many kush strains get their nomenclature). The Indica plants can withstand extreme temperatures, including freezing cold winters and blistering hot summers. They grow quicker than their Sativa counterparts, clocking in yields at 6-9 weeks, in comparison to Sativa’s 10 to 16 weeks. Additionally, Indica strains often yield more cannabis than their Sativa counterparts. However, despite their ability to withstand greater seasonal temperature variation, their short growth height makes them more suitable for indoor growing.


In terms of smoking effects, Sativa strains are prone to inducing a “head high”,  its effects are more cerebral. It increases creativity and alertness. As a result, Sativa strains are often suggested for daytime smoking, as they bode well if you’re engaging in physical and social activities. In terms of medicinal effects, Sativa is generally recommended for combatting depression or fatigue.


On the other hand, Cannabis Indica is infamous for “couch-lock”, that feeling of melting into the couch, since its effects often produce a “body high.” As such, this strain caters towards those craving a mellow, relaxing experience, so it’s best suited for nighttime smoking (just like having a glass of wine). For these reasons medicinal patients suffering from pain or insomnia should veer towards Indica strains.


There are also Hybrids, crosses between these two groupings. Hybrids are great for beginners, who might not know how cannabis makes them feel, or know how they want cannabis to make them feel. Hybrids can also be great for medical cannabis patients who are going to be using the product regularly and need “balanced” effects they can tolerate all day long.

Indica Vs Sativa Truth Time

The truth of the matter is, that although rumors and myths often perpetuate that smoking indicas give you a couch lock and smoking sativas give you more energy, these are just myths. You can’t truly use the indica vs sativa genetics to determine anything other than how the plant grows. When consuming cannabis you should instead look at how that specific type made you feel, not whether it’s an indica or sativa. Also, as growing cannabis becomes more and more popular and legal, these indica vs sativa lines get blurred, and you end up having many more hybrids. 

Indica Vs Sativa Importance In Grows

The reason these terms still exist, and still are used are mostly for grow operations. It’s important for the grower of the cannabis to understand if the cultivar they are growing is an indica vs sativa because they need to know how long the grow cycle is going to be, and they need to know how tall they can expect the plant to be. Sativa plants have the potential to get up to 25 feet, so if a grower is planning on growing a sativa cultivar, they need to know to give it enough head room so it doesn’t hit the lights. Indica’s are shorter, but more bushy, so the grower will need to know to give those plants more room around the base, but they can confidently grow indoors knowing they can give the plant the height it needs.

Proof That Indica Vs Sativa Is A Myth


Don’t believe us that it really doesn’t matter whether a plant is an indica or a sativa? Here are two concrete examples where the cannabis type is identified, and its effects are opposite of what you expect.

Charlotte’s Web

This sativa would leave you thinking you’re going to get a good head high and have a lot of energy. You would be very upset if you purchased this thinking that because this cultivar is mostly known for a relaxing uplifting feel, leaving you happy and sleepy. It’s high in CBD and low in THC, and will put you to sleep after consuming it.

Jesus OG

This indica plant most likely will make you think you’re going to go to sleep, or enjoy that long movie on the couch, but instead it gives you an upper feeling. You’re going to feel relaxed, focused, and happy, so instead of watching that movie, you’ll probably end up cleaning the kitchen. 

What’s Right For Me?

I know, we probably shattered every bit of confidence you had about cannabis with this information and now don’t know what to do in a dispensary, but worry not! We have you covered.

Trust Your Nose

When looking for cannabis, trust your sense of smell in order to find a kind that’s going to be right for you. For example, typically cultivars that smell sweet or lemony are going to give you a head high and make you feel more up.

Ask Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Your budtender is there to assist you in finding something that’s going to work for you, so just ask questions and they’ll be happy to help.

Do Research Ahead Of Time

A quick look online can help you find what you’re looking for in order to give you the effect you want. There’s plenty of online resources you can take advantage of in order to learn about what cannabis plant is going to work best for you, so use it!

Test And Review

If you’re still uncertain about what you want to get and how it will make you feel, buy a small sample of each cannabis type at the dispensary, take it home, and try each one out on different days and record how it made you feel. Then you can go back to the store and buy what gave you your desired effects.

Did you learn something new about the differences between indica vs sativa plants? Was there something we missed? Let us know in the comments! 

Have more questions? Contact one of our expert cannasultants today!