Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid: Get to Know Your Cannabis

The three most important words in cannabis are Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid. Maybe it's the first time you've heard those words. Or perhaps you know those words well. But are you sure you know what those words mean? This may come as a shock, but Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid doesn't mean what it used to.

The terms Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid are used to refer to the plant's growth structure and effects. But with the advent of cross-breeding, those terms have become less useful. Nowadays, they are more likely to describe the plant's effects than its appearance. So, if you're wondering what all the fuss is about, or if you want to learn more about cannabis, read on!

The Evolution of Indica and Sativa

Cannabis has evolved. Indica and Sativa were once landrace cultivars that existed unchanged for millennia. But in the modern era, cannabis breeders have taken control of evolution to create Designer Weed.

What is Designer Weed?

In the quest for the perfect strain, Indica and Sativa landraces have been cross-bred countless times with thousands of other strains by thousands of breeders to create the next big thing. Almost all the cannabis on the market today is a hybrid of Indica and Sativa.

Today, genetically pure Sativas or Indicas are like Black Rhinos — an endangered species close to extinction. As a result, almost every cultivar on the dispensary menu is a Hybrid by design. Some lean Indica, some lean Sativa, and some are more balanced Hybrids.

Then why does everyone still use the words Indica and Sativa?

Because they're ingrained in the culture. But more importantly, those classifications are a shorthand that describes what effects a cultivar may have and what affects someone is looking for. They are a kind of slang that enables us to communicate about cannabis. So don't quit on them just yet!

The Role of Cannabinoids and Terpenes

When it comes to the effects of cannabis, we must consider two key players: Cannabinoids and Terpenes. These are what actually create the effects of cannabis are the different cannabinoid and terpene profiles in a given cultivar. There are over 100 different cannabinoids and 400 different terpenes.

Cannabinoids are the active compounds in cannabis that interact with our bodies to produce various effects. The two most famous cannabinoids are THC and CBD, but there are many others, like CBG, CBC, and CBN.

Terpenes are aromatic oils that give cannabis its smell and flavor. They also have various effects on their own, which can be synergistic with cannabinoids. The most famous terpene is probably limonene, found in citrus fruits.

While most agree that these cannabinoids and cannabis terpenes influence each other in the "entourage effect," most experienced cannabis users can name only a handful of cannabinoids or terpenes. Moreover, no one knows precisely how they work together and interact with the human endocannabinoid system. Many of them have not even been researched yet. As a practical matter, that makes it a real challenge to choose a cannabis strain based on its cannabinoid and terpene profile.

The Movement Towards Chemovar

There's a growing movement in the cannabis industry to transition to "chemovar (" to distinguish cannabis cultivars by their individual cannabinoid and terpene content. It's the right idea, and we'll get there eventually. But not today. Today is about learning how to find the best cannabis strains for you right now.

Ultimately, we need to communicate. Indeed, these terms don't mean what they used to. When we say Indica or Sativa, we are not referring to the old landrace cultivars that were the original breeding stock of today's designer weed. But they are very useful slang that we use as shorthand that enables us to communicate about weed.

With that said, we'll jump into what Indica, Sativa and Hybrid strains are, their role in the cannabis plant, their effects, benefits, and other relevant information.

What is Sativa?

Cannabis Sativa is native to South and Central America, Africa, and Southeast Asia equatorial regions. The Sativa plant grows very tall, sometimes up to 18 feet, with long thin leaves. Sativa plants have a long flowering period — up to 16 weeks — meaning they take longer to mature than Indica plants. The buds are airy and light with a sweet smell.

The effects of Sativa are uplifting and cerebral. They are known to increase creativity, focus, and energy. They are also popular for their ability to relieve anxiety and depression.

However, to better understand how each cannabis strain works and affects the body, we'll look at the characteristics of Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid strains.

Characteristics Of Popular Sativa Strains

While it's impossible to generalize the effects of all Sativa strains, as each one is unique, there are some common characteristics among popular cultivars. To give you a better idea of what to expect from a Sativa, here are some of the most popular strains and their effects:

1. Jack Herer

This classic Sativa is a cross of Haze, Northern Lights #5, and Shiva Skunk. It gets its name from the famous cannabis activist, and author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes. Jack Herer has won numerous Cannabis Cup awards and is known for its clear-headed, cerebral high. It's also prevalent among medical patients because it relieves pain and stimulates appetite. While renowned as a Sativa, Jack is actually a 55% Sativa "leaning" hybrid.

Jack Herer is a clear-headed high that leaves consumers feeling creative and euphoric.

Cannabinoid Profile

THC-dominant (18% THC - Trace CBD - 1%CGB)


A delightful mixture of woody and piney scents with a hint of spices.

2. Super Silver Haze

This strain is a cross of Skunk #1 (25%), Northern Lights #5 (25%), and Haze (50%). It was bred by Green House Seeds and has won multiple Cannabis Cups (1997, 1998, 1999).

Described as an energetic and long lasting high, it's a fantastic morning smoke. The long-lasting body high and uplifting effects make you glide through high-stress levels.

Cannabinoid Profile

THC-dominant (20% THC - Trace CBD - 1% CBG)


With citrus and skunk, this is a strong blend of herbal and spicy flavors.

3. Sour Diesel

This is one of the most popular Sativa strains traced back to the early 1990s. It's a cross of Super Skunk and Chemdawg. Sour Diesel gets its name from its pungent, diesel-like smell and has become a staple in many people's cannabis routines. It's about as close to true Sativa as you can get at 90%.

Sour Diesel is known for its immediate effects and energizing properties. Some users report feeling cerebral and dreamy and find it social in nature.

Cannabinoid Profile

THC-dominant (19% THC - Trace CBD)


This strain offers a distinct diesel, pungent and skunky aroma.

What is Indica?

The Cannabis Indica landrace is indigenous to India, the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tibet. The Indica plant is a short, bushy plant native to the Hindu Kush mountains of India. They have wide, dark green leaves and are much shorter and bushier than Sativa plants. In addition, Indica plants have a shorter flowering period — around eight weeks — meaning they mature faster than Sativas. The buds are denser and heavier, with a sweet, earthy smell.

The effects of Indica are relaxing and sedating. In addition, they are known to decrease anxiety, relieve pain, and promote sleep. Indica strains are also popular for their ability to increase appetite.

Characteristics of Popular Indica Strains

As we saw with Sativa strains, Indica strains also have some common characteristics. These characteristics vary from strain to strain, but they generally offer a more relaxed high. Here are some of the most favored Indica strains and their effects.

1. Northern Lights #5

This Indica strain is a cross of Afghan and Thai landraces. However, Northern Lights is 95% Indica and 5% Sativa, about as close to pure Indica as it gets today. So the Sativa parent genetic played a very minor role in the #5 phenotype.

It's one of the most loved Indica strains known for its potent, relaxing effects. Northern Lights #5 has won multiple Cannabis Cups and is a favorite among growers for its short flowering period (around seven weeks).

Not only does Northern Lights have the ability to reduce stress, depression, insomnia, and pain, but it provides a user with a relaxed high. However, beware of those pesky munchies that come along with this strain- they can give you an insatiable appetite!

Cannabinoid Profile

THC-dominant (18%THC - Trace CBD - 1% CBG)


It offers an herbal, peppery, and citrusy flavor.

2. Girl Scout Cookies

This Indica dominant hybrid is a cross of OG Kush and Durban Poison. It gets its name from its sweet, earthy, and minty flavor. GSC is one of the most popular Indica strains due to its potent effects.

Girl Scout Cookies is known for its ability to relieve stress and pain. It also provides users with a feeling of euphoria and relaxation. However, be careful with this strain- it can cause couch lock if you smoke too much!

Cannabinoid Profile

THC-dominant (20%THC - 1%CBD - 1% CBG)


With a zesty combination of floral, citrus, and mint flavors, this strain is perfect for those who enjoy earthy tastes.

3. Grand Daddy Purple

This Indica dominant hybrid is a cross of Purple Urkle and Big Bud. It has a sweet grape and berry aroma with Indica effects that will leave you feeling relaxed and sleepy.

Some benefits associated with Grand Daddy Purple include pain relief, stress relief, reduction of muscle spasms and increased appetite. So if you are looking for a strain to help you wind down at the end of the day, this is a great option.

Cannabinoid Profile

THC-dominant (17%)


The combination of grapes, berries and violet produces an unforgettable fragrance.

What are Hybrid Cannabis Strains?

A hybrid cannabis strain is a marijuana plant resulting from the cross-breeding of Indica and Sativa plants. The goal of creating hybrids is to combine the best characteristics of each parent plant to create a new strain that has the best of both worlds. For example, some Indica strains are known for their relaxing effects, while Sativa strains are known for their energizing effects. By cross-breeding these two types of plants, growers can create a hybrid strain with Indica and Sativa qualities.

Most cannabis strains on the market today are hybrids, as it is very rare to find a pure Indica or Sativa cannabis product. So, when you see a cannabis strain that is Indica dominant or Sativa dominant, this simply means that the plant leans more toward one side of the spectrum than the other. For example, an Indica dominant hybrid may have 80% Indica genetics and 20% Sativa genetics.

Popular Hybrid Strains

Some of the most popular hybrid strains include:

  • Blue Dream
  • White Widow
  • OG Kush

Hybrid effects

Sine hybrid strains vary, and so can the indica-to-sativa ratio. For example, a 50/50 Indica to Sativa Hybrid may produce more balanced effects that are not too overpowering in either direction. However, Indica dominant strains may produce more relaxing effects, while Sativa dominant strains may produce more energizing effects.

When it comes to strains, there is no right or wrong answer, just a preference!

Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid: How Do I Pick?

The best way to pick a strain is by finding one that suits your needs. Are you looking for something to relax your mind and body after a long day? If so, Indica or Indica dominant hybrid strains might be your best option.

Alternatively, if you are looking for a strain to help you get things done and boost your energy levels, Sativa or Sativa dominant hybrid strains might be a better option. Ultimately, the best way to find the perfect strain is by trying out different options and seeing what works best for you

If you are new to cannabis, Indica strains are a great place to start, as they tend to produce more mellow and relaxing effects. However, for those who want to stay active and productive, Sativa cannabis strains are a great option. And for those who want the best of both worlds, hybrid strains are the way to go!

Choose Your Strain with Help from Panacea!

Here at Panacea, we are passionate about helping people find the perfect cannabis strain for their needs. Our staff is well-versed in cannabis strains and can help you find the Indica, sativa or hybrid strain that is right for you.

So, if you are unsure of where to start, be sure to stop by our dispensary and speak with a member of our team. We would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have and help you find the perfect cannabis strain for your needs!