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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.

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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


are typically relaxing, perfect for unwinding, enjoying a film or music, napping, or just contemplating life.


are invigorating and can boost productivity. They’re ideal for physical activities, task completion, cleaning, and anything requiring concentration. 


offer a balance of indica- and sativa-like effects. 

Horn Creek Farms

Cannabinoids and Terpenes

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.

Cannabinoids Explained

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.
  • CBD (cannabidiol) is a non-psychoactive compound.
  • CBG (cannabigerol) is also non-psychoactive. Users often report a mentally-focused effect, contributing to clarity.
  • CBDv, CBN, CBC, among others, are minor cannabinoids.

Understanding Terpenes

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: 


beta-myrcene, is one of the most common terpenes found in cannabis, contributing to a significant portion of the plant’s aromatic profile. It is also prevalent in other plants such as hops (which are used in beer brewing), thyme, lemongrass, and mangoes. It’s generally thought to produce a ‘couch-lock’ effect, contributing to the relaxing and sedating sensations often associated with indica strains of cannabis.


beta-caryophyllene, is a unique terpene that is commonly found in cannabis as well as in a variety of other plants. It’s present in black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, and even in the leaves of the tropical copaiba tree. What sets caryophyllene apart from other terpenes is that it’s capable of interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Specifically, it can bind to CB2 receptors, much like cannabinoids themselves. Preliminary studies have suggested that it may have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.


Limonene is a prevalent terpene in nature and is particularly abundant in citrus fruits, which is the source of its name. You’ll find it in lemons, oranges, grapefruits, limes, and other citrus fruits, giving them their distinct citrusy aroma. In hemp, limonene is one of the more commonly found terpenes, contributing to the aromatic profile of many strains. It’s known to promote a general uplift in mood and attitude, which is why strains with a high presence of limonene are often recommended for stress relief.


Terpinolene is a terpene found in a variety of plants including conifers, apples, cumin, lilacs, tea trees, and a number of citrus fruits. Its aroma is complex, with a unique combination of floral, citrus, and herbal notes, and often a hint of pine. In hemp, terpinolene is often found in smaller concentrations compared to other terpenes. It’s noteworthy that strains characterized by a terpinolene-dominant profile are relatively rare, but when present, it contributes to a lively, uplifting effect, often associated with sativa-dominant strains.

Horn Creek Farms

A Case Study

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.

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