Understanding Cannabis

Understanding Cannabis: Indica versus Sativa

There are hundreds of different strains available in Missouri’s legal market, and it can take even the most experienced user years to find the strains that achieve the desired results.


Each cannabis strain gives the consumer a different experience, as strains are genetically unique and contain different cannabinoid and terpene profiles. Just like snowflakes, no two strains are exactly alike! Strains also have different smells and tastes based on the terpenes in their unique genetic makeup.


All cannabis plants come from the family of Cannabacae plants, under the genus name Cannabis Sativa. This is a deceptive name as there are two different types of species of cannabis: cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa. Indica and Sativa are the two terms consumers are used to hearing when describing different strains of cannabis, and each type has specific effects.

Cannabis Indica

Indica plants grow short and bushy with big, wide leaves and small internodal spaces. Indica plants tend to produce bigger, bushier buds as compared to Sativa plants and are known as high-yielding, easy to grow plants with a 7-8 week flowering time.


Cannabis from the indica species is well known for its sedative and relaxing effects. Many consumers equate indicas with a “couch-lock” high that leaves the consumer feeling mellow and sleepy.


Indica strains are intended more for consumption at night due to their sedative effects. Indicas are also excellent at reducing stress and anxiety and are generally recommended for medical patients due to their pain-relieving properties.


Indica strains tend to be higher in CBD and lower in THC compared to Sativa strains. For patients looking to take advantage of the calming properties of CBD in a strain that’s not as potent, indica strains or Indica dominant hybrids may be the appropriate choice.

Diversity Oriented Outreach

Cannabis plants grow tall and tree-like, with large internodal spaces and large thin leaves. Sativa strains are more appropriate for environments with longer growing seasons as they have an 8-10 week flowering time and may not fully mature in colder climates. Sativa plants tend to have smaller yields, as compared to indica strains, and the buds are usually smaller and less dense.


Cannabis from the Sativa species is well known for its uplifting and energizing effects. Other effects may include euphoria, happiness, mood-enhancement, and stress relief. Sativa strains may not be appropriate for patients with serious anxiety issues as they may enhance anxious feelings.


Sativa strains are great for daytime use as they are uplifting and energizing. Many consumers report that sativas enhance creativity and stimulate artistic endeavors.


Sativa strains tend to be higher in THC due to longer flowering periods. Additionally, Sativa strains tend to have far less CBD content and may not be the best choice for individuals looking for relaxation and relief from anxiety.

Choosing the Right Strain

As cannabis has been genetically bred for generations, it is difficult to find “pure Sativa” or “pure Indica” strains. Most modern-day strains are a “hybrid” of Indica and Sativa genetics and have properties of both species. Therefore, strains are generally expressed as an Indica dominant hybrid or a Sativa dominant hybrid strain, rather than a straight Indica or Sativa.
Choosing appropriate strains to try can be difficult, but working with a qualified budtender can make all the difference. Budtenders have extensive knowledge about cannabinoids and terpenes and will be able to direct their customers to the best strains to try. The rest is up to the individual consumer as they go through a process of trial and error to determine which strains produce the desired effects.

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