Often you will see cannabis strains classified in one of three categories: indica, sativa, or hybrid. You’ll sometimes see these classifications of cannabis be represented to contain certain medicinal or psychoactive properties. It used to be believed that indica strains produced a body-buzz, and feelings of sedation or relaxation while sativa strains produced a more cerebral, energetic, and uplifting high. We now know that this is not accurate and terpenes are more likely to cause these nuances.
There are no proven patterns in THC content, CBD content, or terpene content with respect to sativa or indica strains. Both cannabis designations could have high or low cannabinoid content and can exhibit both similar and different terpene profiles. Leafly.com has obtained lab sourced data to compare the average abundance of THC and CBD in an array of sativa, indica, and hybrid strains. On the same page, they also present data of terpene quantities of 8 common terpenes. For the most part, both sets of data did not have a significant difference. There was a slight difference with terpepinolene which was found in higher quantities in certain strains of sativa and hybrid strains.
The difference between the two cannabis designations deals with the plant’s taxonomy and physiological differences. Indica cannabis plants are shorter, have broader leaves, have shorter flower cycles, and are more suited for colder climates with a shorter season. Sativa cannabis plants are taller, have narrow leaves, have longer flowering cycles, and are better suited for warm climates. The indica, sativa, or hybrid designations might be useful for growers or plant scientists interested in growth needs, flowering times, or genetic lineage. When discussing strains outside of growers or plant scientists it is more useful to reference the terpenes. The belief that cannabis plant morphology is related to the plant’s psychological effects brought a distinct chemical composition is an outdated myth. Without double blind studies investigating both classifications to mitigate any placebo effects, I suggest that the commercial cannabis industry refrain from using the indica, sativa, and hybrid verbiage with consumers.