If you’ve spent any time around cannabis, you’re probably familiar with the terms indica and sativa. These words were first used to distinguish between two types of cannabis plant: The short, bushy and highly psychoactive indica, and the taller, treelike, and generally stimulating sativa.
These terms are useful, up to a certain point. But there are limitations: For one thing, due to widespread cross-breeding, most cannabis plants are actually hybrids of the two types. This raises an important question: Are there even any 100% sativa strains to be found?
The answer is: Sort of. In today’s post, we’ll share what we know about hunting down pure sativa strains, and how you can get the best results possible from your cannabis experience!
100% Sativa Strains: A Pipe Dream?
The terms indica and sativa first came into use in the 18th century, when European botanists wanted to differentiate between two plants they knew were related (but looked quite different from one another). The tall hemp plants grown primarily in Europe and Eurasia for fiber and seeds were given the name “sativa.”
“Indica” plants, on the other hand, were native to India and Central Asia, where they were prized for their powerful psychoactive properties. Sativas were generally tall and tree-like, while indicas were squat and bushy with densely bunched, short leaves.
This information was useful for botanists and plant breeders, but less so for those interested in the cannabis plant’s medical and euphoric attributes. While it was generally believed that sativas had an uplifting and energizing effect on our bodies and minds—with indicas tending to be more relaxing, even sleep-inducing—these purported effects were, of course, highly subjective.
What’s more, because the genetics of cannabis have become so intermingled over centuries of breeding, it’s reasonable to ask: “Is there a pure sativa strain?” Lucky for us, a few years ago, some curious minds embarked on a clinical study aimed to answer that very question.
Is There a Pure Sativa Strain? The Evidence
As we hinted earlier, much of the early study of cannabis plants centered on the physical appearance of the plants themselves. But in 2015, a group of researchers took a deep dive into the genetics of the plants. In part, their goal was to determine if there’s such a thing as a pure sativa. Separating cannabis from its close cousin, hemp, the study found that that hemp—which contains only trace amounts of the intoxicating cannabinoid THC—more closely resembles indica cannabis than its original botanical name, sativa.
More confusing yet, the study underscored something many clued-in plant growers have been pointing out for years: That the designations assigned to cannabis strains have only a moderate correlation with their genetics. In other words, some plants described as a “pure sativa” may well contain a significant proportion of indica genetics!
That said, we’ll continue to use the terms “indica” and “sativa” as a way to help guide our customers to the best possible choice. Why? If we believe a particular strain delivers mainly heavy body-centered effects or mainly stimulating cerebral effects, using these terms can be simplifying. That said, we also suggest you get familiar with the concept of cannabinoids, the major “active ingredients” in cannabis and the ones most responsible for its medical (and relaxing euphoric) effects.
You can look forward to more information from us in the coming months about these important all-natural compounds. Until then, we invite you to read a little bit more about Mission Dispensaries. If you have any questions about pure sativa (or, for that matter, pure indica) strains, just ask! We’re always here to help.