Sativa vs Indica vs Hybrid: What’s The Difference?

sativa vs indica vs hybrid

Sativa vs Indica vs Hybrid: What is a Strain?

Marijuana, whose Latin name is Cannabis, comes in 3 species or types: Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis (hybrid). For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the Sativa vs Indica varieties.

A strain is a term used to describe a naturally occurring or artificially bred combination of either of these two types ranging from a pure Sativa to a pure Indica with any ratio of both being referred to as a hybrid.

Early taxonomic distinctions between Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa began in the 18th century when differences between their structure and resin production were first noted.

The hybrid category was adopted later on, as growers began mixing genetics from different geographic locations.  So all of the fancy, colorful strain names that you will see on marijuana producer’s websites are really only either a Sativa, an Indica, or a hybrid of both which already simplifies and demystifies the selection process as we will see shortly.


indica vs sativa
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Cannabis Sativa



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The easiest way to tell sativa vs indica is to look at the leaves. A true sativa is a tall, scraggly looking plant with wiry stocks and thin leaves. In contrast, indica plants are short and bushy. Indica leaves are usually broad and full. Opposite from Indica plants, Sativa plants grow tall and thin, making them better suited for outdoor growing – especially since some strains can reach over 25 ft. in height.  Sativa strain types are known to produce an uplifting and cerebral high that is typically very energizing and stimulating. Sativa is known to make you laugh uncontrollably or engage in in-depth conversations about the meaning of life. These strains typically cause you to analyze the human experience and think creatively, which makes Cannabis Sativa very popular among philosophers, artists, and musicians. Some Sativa has even been found to enhance lights and sounds, making music, movies, and the rest of your surroundings more vibrant than ever before. Patients looking for the perfect morning medication or daytime relief could benefit from accompanying their breakfast or lunch with a vaporizer packed with a high-quality Sativa.

Cannabis Indica


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Indica plants typically grow short and wide. This growth pattern makes Indica plants better suited for indoor growing. The effects produced by Indica strain types are very relaxing and narcotic-like, typically providing a full-body, or “couch-locked” effect. India is perfect for those days spent curled up on the couch watching TV or surfing the web. However, most people use Cannabis Indica after a long day at work to relieve stress, provide full-body pain relief, and help them fall asleep at night. Indica strains are ideal for chronic pain, muscle spasms, anxiety, nausea, appetite stimulation, and sleep deprivation. Individuals who suffer from diseases like multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, lupus, sleep apnea and insomnia tend to benefit from the effects of Cannabis Indica.


There is a wide range of cannabis strains in between Indica and Sativa. These strains are known as “Hybrids” and show traits directly related to the genetics in its lineage.

Hybrids tend to fall somewhere in between the indica-sativa spectrum, depending on the traits they inherit from their parent strains. Hybrids can be broken down into three basic categories:

  1. Sativa-dominant Hybrids: Cerebral high with a relaxing body effect. Provides physical and mental relief.
  2. Even Hybrids (50/50): Ideal strains for people seeking a perfect balance of head and body.
  3. Indica-dominant Hybrids: These strains provide a full-body pain relief, with a relaxing head high. Recommended for nighttime use to go to sleep, or daytime relief from minor pain. These strains are perfect for patients who suffer from all types of autoimmune diseases as well as insomnia or depression.

We will talk more at length about how these varieties achieve such distinct results through THC and CBD ratios in future articles but as you can see, with the addition of just these three words to your medical marijuana vocabulary, you will open up the entire menu of medicines available through Canadian licensed producers.

For more information about marijuana legalization Canada please see our detailed article here.

sativa vs indica chart

The medicinal benefits of medical marijuana are discussed in more detail here, and there is even specific benefits for more serious health issues like cancer.


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