Cannabis Myth #7: Sativas & Indicas Have Different Effects

I was rather astonished yesterday to see CBC NewsNet’s claim on TV that people are unlikely to get high from Indica plants, so this myth is up next for de-bunking. It is the particular combination of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other chemicals in the bud that determine its effect, not the exact genetic ancestry of the strain.

We commonly group Cannabis as Indicas or Sativas. Indica has a reputation for a calm, mellow effect, while Sativas are known for their motivational, creativity-boosting high. But the CBN that causes the mellow feeling and the THC that creates the euphoria can actually occur in plants of either species. In fact, scientists are not even certain that these are different species.

The prevailing sentiment is currently that there are 3 species in the cannabis genus: sativa, indica, and ruderalis. Indicas and Sativas produce cannabinoids, so they are the focus of recreational and medicinal consumption. While these plants can grow wild, they tend to require a fair bit of tending to flourish and specific environmental conditions to produce more cannabinoids instead of seeds.

Plant classifications originally looked at the plant themselves, with leaf shape and density, and plant height and shape driving the groupings. Recent DNA testing, however, does not support these categories. Some say that indica is actually a subspecies of sativa. Others say that they are just different strains or breeds, not different species at all. For those who are interested in the nuances of cannabis classifications, Subscribe to the LoveMJ blog where an upcoming post will go into more detail.

For most users, these semantics are irrelevant. What does this scientific debate actually mean to the common user?

We cannot use Indica VS Sativa to predict the effects of different buds.

If a breeder produces 100 seeds from one plant under controlled conditions and distributes those to 100 different growers, each grower can still make decisions, like when to harvest, that can influence the production of cannabinoids. So we need to know a lot more than the genetics of the plant. Instead, focus on cannabinoid levels and terpene profiles.

Treat your cannabis like a fine wine: you would not expect a merlot from France to taste like one from Australia. Even different merlots from France can seem very different. So pay attention to who grew the plant, the type of buds that they favour, and the variations in potency rather than whether the plant claims to be an Indica or a Sativa.

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