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Cannabis 101: A Guide to Cannabis Strains

Cannabis strains, or Marijuana stains, are a genus of psychoactive plant in the Cannabaceae family. They have been used the world over in various forms for thousands of years. In fact, as far back as the Neolithic Age, Cannabis was cultivated into ropes and fabrics. It is unclear when it was first used for medical purposes, however, historians have found archeological evidence of Cannabis being used by the Romanians as far back as 3500 BCE.

Different types of Cannabis Strains

There are several species of cannabis, each with their own unique genetic makeup. The commonly accepted top four species are Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, Cannabis Ruderalis and Hybrids. Hybrid strains are a crossing any combination of the three Cannabis species. In fact, in some cases crossing upwards of four strains to the desired results. Cannabis Ruderalis doesn’t produce cannabinoids in as much abundance as its counterparts. As a result, it is mostly found in textile production. It does contain minimal amounts of THC and higher levels of CBD, but not enough that the effects are noticed when used. However, it is often used to cross breed with other strains to change their genetics. Ruderalis is an auto-flowering species, unlike Sativa or Indica which require pollination. Crossing either of these strains with Ruderalis can help increase yields while decreasing growing cycle times.

Cannabis Sativa

Sativa Strains are generally more associated with their cerebral properties. Because of their low CBD to THC ratio, the effects of these strains are much more mental than physical. The high limonene and pinene terpene profiles* don’t just give Sativas their signature scent, they also promote an uplifting and euphoric experience.

Sativa strains trace their origins to the tropical climates of Southeast Asia. These plants grow tall and lean, in some cases over 12ft, and have long finger like leaves. Sativas produce long and fluffy buds, with a bright green complexion, and often characterized by fine red hairs.

Additionally, most of these strains have easily recognized aromas of pine and citrus. This is as a result of their high pinene and limonene terpene profiles*. These strains often take much more time to mature than Indicas or Hybrids.

Health Benefits of Sativa Strains

The use of Sativa strains commonly has a profound impact on mood and mental state. The high THC content of these strains causes powerful mind-altering effects, and provide a truly psychoactive experience. They are ideal for boosting energy, while increasing focus. Additionally, Sativas can enhance creativity and motivation in some users.

Much like their Indica counterparts, Sativas are also excellent at combating mental illnesses. They are ideal for treating depression and feelings of anxiety. Unlike their Indica relatives, Sativas don’t usually cause feelings of heavy sedation. This makes them excellent for use in social situations. Sativa strains boost overall mood as well as creativity. Because of these factors, daytime use is most commonly associated with Sativa strains.

Cannabis Indica

Indica Strains are generally more associated with relaxation and relief than Sativas or Hybrid’s. They typically have a higher CDB to THC ratio than their Sativa counterparts, making them ideal for medicinal purposes. Additionally, Indicas usually contain a high myrcene terpene profile*, which aids in rest and relaxation.

Indica Cannabis Strains trace their origins back to Hindu Kush mountain ranges along the Afghan-Pakistani border. They offer a very mellow and relaxing experience. These plants are easily recognizable, usually with thick leaves and a dark purple or blue complexion. Their buds are often dense and resinous, with a strong skunk-like aroma.

These characteristics come as a result of their growing environment. Indica plants grow lower to the ground in bunches, allowing them to combat colder, harsher growing conditions. Additionally, these plants generally grow much faster than Sativas and produce more buds.

Health Benefits of Indica Strains

There are many different medicinal benefits to Cannabis, none more present than in the Indica Strains. Like many other strains they are excellent for pain relief, and as a result, for helping increase mobility. These strains are also great for combatting nausea, while increasing appetite. This makes them ideal for those going through chemotherapy or similar treatments.

It’s no secret that Indicas are an excellent way to increase inner peace. They provide extremely relaxing and calming effects. They also promote deeper and healthier sleep patterns. As a result, the use of Indicas help those suffering from insomnia or other sleeping issues. Because of these effects, people trend to associate Indicas with nighttime use. Indicas are quickly becoming a widely accepted method of reducing anxiety and depression. Finally, their soothing effects are known to have great impact on those suffering from ADHD and even PTSD.

Hybrid Cannabis Strains

A Hybrid strain refers to any combination of Cannabis Strains. These strains offer more balanced Cannabis effects. Additionally, they make it much easier for Cannabis users to customize their experience. As a result, they appeal to a much wider spectrum of Cannabis users. By combining the invigorating and energizing effects of a Sativa with the pain relieving and muscle relaxing effects of an Indica, these strains can offer the best of both worlds.

Although mother nature has done most of the work for us, modern day strains are mostly a project of design. The cross breeding of any plant species involves the same basic processes, and Cannabis is no exception. For instance, to cross breed plant strains, female plants must receive pollen from their male counterparts. Out in the wild this happens naturally, however, usually only between the same strains of Cannabis.

In creating new and exciting Hybrids, growers carefully select their parent strains and breed them in a controlled environment. By doing so, they can dictate which traits from each strain will end up combined in the final product. The seeds from these plants will then become First Generation Hybrids.

Choosing a Hybrid Cannabis Strain

Indica dominant, Sativa dominant or true Hybrid, there are unlimited possibilities and combinations to choose from. This can seem overwhelming at first, so it’s always good to do plenty of research ahead of time. Understanding your needs will make your eventual decision easier. Above all, consider what you’re using Cannabis for.

For instance, if you need pain relief but aren’t looking for heavy sedation, Sativa dominant Hybrids might be right for you. If you’re looking to relax without the added psychoactive effects, try using an Indica dominant strain. It is important to remember that not all strains affect all people the same way. Hybrid’s provide the opportunity to combine the specific desired effects of cannabis for each individual user. Once again, it is important to understand what your desired effects are beforehand. As a result, you will be able to custom tailor an experience that is right for you. 

         *See – Cannabis 103: A Guide To Terpenes


  1. Kimberly Holland (2019) “Sativa vs. Indica: What to Expect Across Cannabis Types and Strains” Healthline. Available at https://healthline.com/health/sativa-vs-indica#overview (Accessed January 16, 2021)
  2. (2019) “Understanding Cannabis: Sativa vs. INdica vs. Ruderalis” Cannabis Markey Cap. Available at https://www.cannabismarketcap.io/blog/understanding-cannabis-sativa-vs-indica-vs-ruderalis
  3. Christelle M. Andre, Jean-Francois Hausman and Gea Guerriero (2016) “Cannabis Sativa” The Plant of the Thousand and One Molecules” National Centre for Biotechnology Information. Available from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4740396/
  4. “Cannabis” “Cannabis Sativa” “Cannabis Indica” “Cannabis Ruderalis” Wikipedia. Available from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabis https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabis_sativa https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabis_indica https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabis_ruderalis

1 thought on “Cannabis 101: A Guide to Cannabis Strains”

  1. It can be so hard to pick the right strain, some indicas make my mind race and some sativas straight up put me to sleep, I usually just smoke blends, or hybrids I guess, so that I at least know it’s gonna be more of a balance of effects. Still, it’s good to know more about the differences between the two, a nice little history lesson to boot.

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