If you know anything about different types of cannabis strains, you’ve probably heard the terms indica and sativa tossed around. Considered by some to be the most important way to distinguish between different types of marijuana, they’ve been in use for literally hundreds of years, at least by botanists.
But here’s an inconvenient fact: While many cannabis fans agree that it’s possible to categorize the various effects of indica and sativa strains, the truth is that most types of marijuana are actually hybrid strains. This begs the question: What is the best way to categorize these strains in order to understand their hybrid effects?
Fortunately, we think we can help. As a family of dispensaries now spanning three states, we’re experts in helping our customers get the very most from marijuana, whatever their goals may be. So with that in mind, let’s dive in and try to make sense of the world of hybrid marijuana.
What Are Hybrid Strains? An Introduction
As we hinted a moment ago, the terms “indica” and “sativa” were first used by botanists to distinguish between two general types of cannabis: The short, bushy, and highly psychoactive indica plants, and the taller, treelike, and stimulating sativa plants.
These terms are useful, to a point. But as an article in the storied cannabis magazine High Times details, growers here in the United States have been creating hybrid marijuana strains for decades. Due to the many years of cross-breeding, a majority of cannabis strains today are actually combinations of indica and sativa, containing hybrid genetics. How do we disentangle them?
We can start by understanding the classic subjective effects associated with indica and sativa strains, and then reformulating them based on what kind of hybrid marijuana they are (more on this in a moment).
In general, sativas are characterized as imparting an uplifting and energizing effect on our bodies and minds. By comparison, indicas tend to be more relaxing, even sleep-inducing, imparting what many understand to be the “classic” high experience.
These effects are, of course, somewhat subjective since everyone experiences cannabis differently. But knowing that there’s at least a baseline, we can move into a more nuanced understanding of hybrid genetics.
Hybrid Strains: Medical and Recreational Benefits
Of course, hybrid strains aren’t fundamentally different from any other type of cannabis. But what’s particularly useful about them is their ability to impart a range of subjective effects that are distinct from those we’d expect from a pure indica or sativa.
For instance, we already know that the cannabinoid THC—in addition to imparting the marijuana plant’s distinctive “high”—can help treat several types of pain, as well as potentially reducing insomnia. The THC in indica strains, sativa strains, and hybrid strains is the same molecule, of course. What’s different is that based on their proportion of indica or sativa genetics, each of these strains will impart different subjective effects.
How can you tell what you’re getting? In general, hybrid strains are labeled with terms such as “indica-dominant hybrid” or “sativa-dominant hybrid” to help guide you. In the next section, we’ll describe how those might play out on an experiential level.
What’s Better: Hybrid or Sativa or Indica?
Is one type truly “better” than the other? That’s a very personal question. But below we’ll share three major classifications of hybrids, and how you might use them to achieve specific subjective effects (or harness them for sustainable, effective relief from chronic symptoms and conditions):
While these strains contain hybrid genetics, they contain a greater share of sativa than indica. Look for an uplifting and creatively stimulating experience, tempered to some degree by indica effects, such as a body-centered high and relaxing sensations.
As you’d expect, these hybrid strains tend to be more relaxing than energizing. Those looking to tame chronic symptoms such as muscle discomfort or anxiety may find they offer long-lasting relief without the potential sedation of a pure indica strain.
Of course, calling any hybrid “true” is misleading, as one hybrid strain isn’t “more” hybridized than another. But in this case, we’re referring to a relatively even balance of indica and sativa effects—you may also see these strains called “balanced hybrids.” These hybrid strains are a great starting point for those who’d like to take advantage of the best qualities of indicas and sativas without straying too far into either camp.
Popular Hybrid Strains at Mission
As we’ve been hinting, some of the most famous cannabis strains are hybrids. Blue Dream, Gelato, White Widow, and Pineapple Express are all well-known examples, and there are countless others hitting our dispensary shelves each week.
With locations in Illinois, Massachusetts and Michigan, our knowledgeable staff would be more than happy to share with you the hybrid strains we currently have in stock. Of course you can always peruse our live online menus from the comfort of home, too!
You can also look forward to more information from us in the months ahead about different types of cannabis and the effects they impart. Until then, we invite you to read a little bit more about Mission Dispensaries. And if you have any questions about hybrid strains, just ask! We’re always here to help.