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  • Writer's pictureAshley Slimak

Indicas, Sativas, and Hybrids—How Do I Choose the Right Strain?

Updated: Jul 14, 2023

When you enter a medical marijuana dispensary, you will be met with a seemingly endless supply of options. With walls lined by jar after jar of dried flower, patients can be left wondering how to choose.

Every strain of marijuana will have a slightly different effect. This is thanks to a unique mixture of compounds found within termed phytonutrients. These include things like THC, CBD, other cannabinoids, terpenes, and more.

In order to help patients, most dispensaries will group similar strains into one of three categories: indica, sativa, or hybrid. The idea is that strains in each group will have effects more similar to one another than to the strains in the other groups.

So, what do these distinctions mean? Understanding the differences can help you choose the best medical marijuana for your personal needs.

What is the Difference Between Indica and Sativa?

Many years ago, way back in the 19th century, biologist Jean Baptist Lamarck believed that cannabis could be broken into two species: Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. His theory held that these two species evolved separately and therefore acquired distinctive traits and effects.

According to Lamarck, sativa plants were tall with narrow leaves and indica plants were short with broad leaves. But the more relevant part of this theory for medical marijuana patients is the distinction based on biological effects.

Indica strains were said to make you relaxed and tired, while sativa strains were said to be more uplifting, boosting your mood and enhancing social interactions. Hybrids would then be a genetic mixture between the two with effects that fall somewhere in between.

There is one problem with this method—scientifically, it isn’t true. Botanists now understand that the different strains of marijuana are not two separate species. What’s more, what a plant looks like will not predict how it will make you feel.

While we now understand that this distinction isn’t based on accurate science, it has not stopped its use in medical marijuana dispensaries. Which begs the question, why is it still being used?

The first reason is that it’s helpful. Rather than having a long list of every strain with detailed information, dispensaries can categorize strains into three simple categories. The second is that the indica/sativa distinction has been around for decades and is often cited by marijuana aficionados. It is so deeply ingrained in cannabis culture that it would be tough to stop using it now.

When to Use an “Indica” vs a “Sativa”

Now that you understand the history of this difference and why it is still used today, we will outline the way that you can use these labels to help direct your choices.

Try a product labeled “indica” when you would prefer a calming effect. This can be helpful for insomnia, pain, and anxiety. It is a great option for when you do not need to work or socialize.

Opt for a product labeled “sativa” when you would like to avoid excess fatigue. Uplifting “sativa” strains are useful when you need to work, socialize, or do chores.

If you are having trouble deciding, talk with a dispensary employee as they can walk you through what to expect when using certain strains. This description is often the most indicative of what you can truly expect.

Additionally, CBD and THC ratios are a good way to choose the best marijuana strain for you. Your doctor can help you determine the ratio of CBD to THC that you should look for when making your medical marijuana selection.


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Arkansas Marijuana Card Doctors

If you are an Arkansan suffering from one of these 18 medical conditions you may be eligible to treat your ailment with medical marijuana, which includes both THC and CBD products.

Click here to learn more about what Arkansas Marijuana Card's state-certified medical marijuana doctors can do for you, or give us a call at (844-249-8714) and our friendly support team can walk you through the entire process, and set you up with an appointment.

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