Some cannabis consumers don’t know the first thing about the strains that exist or what their individual effects are, nor do they care, so long as they get high. But it pays to know what you’re buying, and how it might affect you, especially if you depend on cannabis for its medicinal qualities or you prefer a certain type of high over another. For example, if you have problems with anxiety, some cannabis can make you feel even worse, while others may provide relief and relaxation. It’s important to know what you’re doing and what to expect before you give cannabis a try.
You've most likely heard these terms before – but do you know what they mean? Cannabis is classified into two species: Indica and Sativa (don't worry, this science lesson has a point). In addition to those two, you can also have "blends" of the two in various proportions which are called Hybrids.
There are many differences between the anatomy of the two species: the way they are grown, how long they take to flower and more – but one of the most important differences are the chemicals they produce, and what that means for consumers of those products. Below is a more detailed explanation of the 3 which should bring it to light.
Most Known for: Having a physically sedating effect on the body.
Often chosen for: Quiet occasions, pre-sleep consumption, low impact activities at home. Looks like: Short, stocky plants with broad leaves.
Origin: India (although emerging research has suggested it may have actually originated in Afghanistan).
If you were to look at an indica cannabis plant, you would notice that it is rather short, with broad, dark green leaves. If you were to touch it and compare it to a sativa plant, you would find that it is has a lighter feel than sativa. Chemically, indica plants contain more cannabidiol (CBD) and less tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the psychoactive compound in cannabis that gives consumers a euphoric high – compared to a sativa plant. The main terpenes in indica cannabis are myrcene and linalool. All combined, these characteristics produce a relaxing and sedating effect.
In fact, indica cannabis strains are highly popular among those who struggle with insomnia and other sleep problems. They have been shown to be more effective at helping insomniacs sleep than THC-dominant sativa strains. This is part of the reason why indicas are considered “couch-lock” strains. Once you partake, you’re going to want to kick back and relax for a while, if you don’t doze off.
It should come as no surprise, then, that indicas are also known for their anti-anxiety effects, and their ability to produce a greater sense of well-being in consumers. It should be noted that it has become increasingly difficult to find pure indica cannabis strains. Most of the cannabis on the market consists of hybrid strains, a crossbreed of indica and sativa genetics, and most contain high levels of THC.
Most Known for: Cerebral effects.
Often chosen for: Physical activity, social gatherings and more active occasions.
Looks like: Tall, lanky plants with skinny leaves.
Origin: Regions close to the equator (Colombia, Mexico, Thailand).
If you want to feel uplifted, energetic, or you struggle with depression, then a sativa cannabis strain might be for you. Sativas have positive effects on pain, nausea, and inflammation, particularly intestinal inflammation. In animal studies, sativa has been shown to prevent and reduce the painful effects of colitis. This happy-go-lucky type of herb stimulates appetite, making it an excellent natural medicine for people with digestive problems and cancer-related anorexia. Additionally, research suggests sativas can be useful for helping people with spasms and muscle disorders, including multiple sclerosis, as well as for those living with the side effects of chemotherapy.
Sativas are known for sparking creativity and boosting energy. And if you’re in a blue mood, it can give you an uplifting, euphoric high – perhaps much more so than indica – thanks to its higher THC content, along with the terpenes pinene and limonene. Sativa strains are less likely to have a sedating effect because they contain lower levels of myrcene, too.
If you spend eight hours a day staring at a computer screen and come home exhausted to a family that needs your attention, a little sativa may give you just the boost you need.
Hybrids can inherit traits from both parent strains. Hybrids can be either Indica or Sativa dominant in their genetic makeup and effects. Each component can add something different to the overall experience. Strains can be created that allow the various properties of the two parents to combine with each other and create something different from either of the two strains on their own.
What Should First-timers Do or Know Before Trying Cannabis?
With the sea of information available online, it can be hard to navigate the world of weed — especially if you are a newbie. And, oftentimes how and where you consume your bud can affect your outlook on smoking the plant in the general.
No, you can’t die from an overdose of cannabis. But if you’ve never consumed cannabis before, then it’s impossible to know how it might affect you. Some people become very anxious and paranoid when they first consume cannabis though, fortunately, it’s only temporary. So, lighting up for the first time at a rave might not be a wise decision. Make sure you are with at least one person you trust when you try cannabis for the first time – someone with a calming presence who will not try to talk you into getting even higher if you have a negative reaction, or simply find the experience overwhelming. In other words, don’t consume cannabis for the first time with sketchy people.
Start low and slow, and know your tolerance
The first time you consume cannabis, you’ll want to take it easy. You don’t want to wolf down a huge brownie or do dabs. If you become a regular consumer, you’ll eventually probably graduate to heavier-hitting pieces. But at the beginning, start off with a small bowl (pipeful) of bud, or have a hit or two from a joint. Anything stronger, and you could wind up having a negative experience, instead of a fun and enlightening one.
Do your research.