Cannabis is a complex plant that contains over 400 chemical compounds, some of which are responsible for producing psychoactive, intoxicating and therapeutic effects when consumed. The cannabis plant has been cultivated and used by humans for at least 6000 years for a wide variety of purposes.
The two main categories of compounds that cannabis produces are cannabinoids and terpenes. Cannabinoids interact with human’s endocannabinoid systems and can produce varying effects. THC (or TetraHydroCannabinol) is the most common cannabinoid and is responsible for most of the plant’s psychoactive and euphoric effects. CBD (Cannabidiol) is the second most prevalent cannabinoid and is associated with a plethora of therapeutic and recreational benefits. Terpenes are the aromatic compounds of cannabis that contribute to smell, flavour and even felt effects of the plant.
Sativa and Indica are both varieties of the cannabis plant. The difference between these plants is their growing patterns and physical appearance. Sativa-dominant cultivars typically produce tall, narrow, light green leaves. In comparison, Indica strains are typically shorter in stature, have darker, broad leaves and thicker stems.
Strains are usually classified in one of three ways – sativa, indica or a balanced hybrid. The stereotypical belief is that sativas are more energizing and “in your head”, while indicas are more relaxing and “in your body”.
Many studies point to the Sativa/Indica distinction being outdated and irrelevant when it comes to felt effects and consumer purchasing decisions. The combination of terpenes and cannabinoids is a much better indicator of the effects that a particular chemovar will produce. Depending on how the plant is grown, the same seed can produce a wide range of outcomes and effects. Cannabis is a unique plant and the same strain can be wildly different batch to batch.
Therefore, we believe that in the future “sativa” and “indica” terminology may remain but they will be re-defined as groupings of terpenes and cannabinoids. For example, “sativa” strains (those that are typically associated with uplifting effects) may have a certain constitution of pinene, limonene and terpinolene while “indica” strains (those typically associated with relaxing effects) could be associated with linalool, beta-caryophyllene and myrcene.
The science is continuing to develop. Stay tuned for updates.