Indica Vs Sativa Vs Hybrid: Hemp 101
Indica, Sativa or Hybrid
Many buyers want to know if our flower cultivars are Indica, Sativa or hybrids. The technically correct answer is that all cultivars are so hybridized that the question really isn’t answerable. What buyers are really looking for is a prediction of effects.
Indicas are considered to be physically relaxing – an evening, after work vibe. Sativas are thought to be uplifting with heady highs that pair well with socializing and creativity. Hybrids are of course a blend of the two. Given that effect predictability is the goal, we try to describe cultivar effects as sativa-like or Indica-like.
Using these descriptors is preferred because it is easy. But the effects have more to do with cannabinoids and terpenes, in combination with the wide variety of endocannabinoid receptors in individuals.
Sativas, often associated with uplifting and energizing effects, naturally evolved in hot, humid environments. Their tall and slim structure is a survival trait, helping them avoid excess moisture absorption. Due to their tropical origins, these strains have a lengthy growth and flowering period, taking advantage of the warm weather that extends well into the late season.
Indicas, on the other hand, are generally considered calming and relaxing. They originate from colder, northern climates, and thus, have evolved to be short and bushy to adapt to their environment. They have a shorter growth cycle, allowing them to be harvested before the onset of harsh, cold seasons.
Each strain of Cannabis possesses a unique chemical makeup that interacts differently with every individual. The same strain could have varying effects on different people.
The effects of a strain are more accurately determined by examining its blend of cannabinoids and terpenes rather than relying on the simple indica/sativa/hybrid model. However, this model can provide a general idea of a strain’s effects, though it isn’t definitive.
Using the Indica, Sativa, Hybrid Method
If indica and sativa descriptors aren’t the most reliable predictors of effects, what is?
The effects of different cannabis strains can be better determined by their combination of cannabinoids and terpenes, the chemical compounds they contain. These compounds work together to produce the entourage effect, contributing to the sensation of being high.
The cannabis plant comprises hundreds of chemical compounds with unique effects. The key ones are cannabinoids. THC and CBD are the most prevalent cannabinoids and are primarily responsible for cannabis’ therapeutic and recreational effects.
- THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the compound most associated with cannabis—it’s what gets you high, and provides relief from symptoms like pain and nausea.
- CBD (cannabidiol) is a non-psychoactive compound known to alleviate anxiety, pain, inflammation, and several other medical conditions.
- CBG (cannabigerol) is also non-psychoactive. Users often report a mentally-focused effect, contributing to clarity.
- CBDv, CBN, CBC, among others, are minor cannabinoids
If you’ve ever used aromatherapy for relaxation or stimulation, you have a basic understanding of terpenes. These aromatic compounds are produced by many plants and fruits, including lavender, oranges, hops, pepper, and, of course, cannabis. The glands that produce THC and CBD also secrete terpenes, which give cannabis its diverse aroma, such as berries, citrus, pine, and fuel.
The most common terpenes found in hemp flower include:
In 2021, Horn Creek’s Sour Space Candy won the prestigious flagship ‘Credible Cultivar’ award at the Cultivation Classic. The The Cultivation Classic might be the most rigorous and data-based cannabis competition in the country. Dr. Adie Rae analyzes and plots data generated by 150 judges and independent laboratories. The Credible Cultivar is given to the flower that provides the most consistent and consistently pleasurable effects. Sour Space Candy was the first non-THC flower to even place in this category, let alone win.
Sour Space Candy is a classic cultivar from Oregon CBD. It has 16% cannabinoids, mostly CBDa with less than ½ % CBD and THC. Terpene content is very broad, with over 10 terpenes between .1 and .2%. The most significant terpenes are beta caryophyllene, beta myrcene and Ocimene ranging between .3% and .7%. If you enjoy the effects of Sour Space Candy, you might experiment with cultivars that present a similar terpene profile.