When something is as stigmatized as cannabis was (and sometimes still is), matters such as specificity get overlooked.
Also, the cannabis plant has such a distinctive appearance that it’s easy to blanket. One could easily–and mistakenly–assume there isn’t much variety in the industry.
As one learns more about the plant, they’re often blown away by all the options. First and foremost, no strain mirrors the other. They all have varying cannabinoid compositions. Some are jampacked with THC, while others might be more rich in CBD, etc.
Some cannabis is flower. Other cannabis is edibles. You can also consume it as an extract or concentrate.
Really, the term “cannabis” is a broad encapsulation of a diverse world of applications and products.
No more is the above notion reflected than by the differences between indica and sativa. Specifically, your experience with cannabis will vastly differ depending on the type of subspecies or strain you consume.
Below, we’ll explore this topic in rich detail.
Cannabis Strains: The Big Picture
Different cannabis types vary in aroma, effect, and appearance. They are–as such–referred to via named variations known as strains.
Grown natively in various regions across the globe, cannabis has been cultivated to harness specific traits.
Examples of strains include something like Sour Diesel (due to it smelling like sour fuel). There’s also White Widow, named for the white resin coating the bud. Meanwhile, the heavy knockout effects of the 9-Pound Hammer strain result in its name.
The structural differences in each plant (and strain) are typically delineated as “sativa” or “indica” subspecies.
Crossbred cannabis strains are known as hybrids–the bulk of available cannabis on the legal market.
Thousands of cannabis strains exist in the world today, primarily due to the ability to create indica-sativa hybrids.
The strain you choose will vastly impact your experience.
So, it’s always worth considering what properties you prefer most in cannabis.
For instance, do you enjoy a more even THC-to-CBD ratio, or do you just want THC? Do you find pungent, earthy aromas more favorable? Do you seek a calming high or a stimulating, active high?
The above questions can go on for eons and be answered with your preferred strain or subspecies.
Indica buds are shorter, with bushier greenery. The leaves are stocky, chunky, and broad, growing faster than sativa while producing more buds per plant.
Native to Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Turkey, indica strains have also adapted to the Hindu Kush Mountains, thriving in their often harshly dry conditions.
Cannabis of the indica variety typically provides a relaxing effect–and, as such, it’s richer in CBD than sativa strains–while stimulating the appetite, aiding sleep, and offering pain relief.
Since indica strains are so relaxing, they should only be consumed at night when watching TV, listening to music, or before bed.
While we suggest speaking with a medical professional before dosing cannabis for therapeutic reasons, indica can help with insomnia, inflammation from arthritis, nausea, PTSD, etc. 
The origins of sativa include Central America, Southeast Asia, regions of Western Asia, and Africa. All these locations are hot, dry, and have long sunny days.
Tall, thin, and sporting leaves like fingers, sativa plants can grow up to two meters in height and require a more extended maturation period than other cannabis subspecies.
Since a sativa’s high tends to stimulate the mind, offering a splash of energy, it’s known primarily for reducing anxiety. It’s also–unsurprisingly–viewed as a “daytime” cannabis.
Generally speaking, THC levels vastly exceed CBD in sativa strains, so the pain-killing effects aren’t as pronounced but still present in many cases.
Medicinally, sativa strains are often taken to reduce mental fog and lessen anxiety. They also combat fatigue.
Hybrid strains mix sativa and indica, combining their aroma, effects, appearances, etc.
More than almost any singular subspecies, hybrids are made with intent–they aim to target specific effects, harnessing select strengths of sativa and indica strains.
Most often, hybrids are cultivated in greenhouses and farms. They’re primarily grown to amplify THC percentages. There’s always a unique THC-to-CBD ratio, depending on the grower’s goals.
Hybrids can help ease chemotherapy and radiation symptoms, or they can reduce stress and anxiety. It all depends on the grower’s intent.
You’ll find that hybrids are either indica or sativa dominant. They can also be an even balance of the two.
What’s most appealing about hybrids is how they can offer the best of both worlds. You can have one strain that simultaneously relaxes and stimulates, for instance, helping cannabis enthusiasts immerse themselves in entirely unique experiences.
Differences Between Indica and Sativa
Indicas have higher amounts of the terpene myrcene, a key contributor to the “couch-lock” relaxation effect synonymous with such strains. Conversely, a sativa is likelier to have more herbal, sweet terpenes (e.g., bergamotene and farnesene).
More technical details aside, the differences between the two are best encapsulated in the simplest terms. Indica is best for relaxation and vegging out. Don’t plan anything if you’re going to partake in such strains unless you need to make room in your schedule for melting into your couch.
A sativa is more suitable for socializing or partaking in activities like writing or playing music. Maybe enjoy a few puffs of a sativa joint before going somewhere for dinner or watching a movie at the theater.
Finding The Right Strain For You
What do you prefer from your cannabis experience? Do you like the idea of being stuck to your couch? Do you need to slow down from a high-octane lifestyle? In these instances, an indica strain is likely your best bet.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to enhance social outings or activities that require brainpower and engagement, choose a sativa.
Want a mixture of relaxation and stimulation? Then, you’ll likely relish consuming a hybrid strain. Such an effect could serve you well at a psychedelic rock concert, for instance.