Smoking marijuana carries long-term risks like addiction. Crystal Cox/Insider
Weed is traditionally classified into three main categories: indica, sativa, and hybrid.
But rampant interbreeding has rendered these distinctions almost completely meaningless.
Also, different weed strains aren’t regulated, adding another layer of difficulty to categorization.
If you’re new to cannabis and deciding which kind is best, you’ll probably come across a few buzzwords: indica, sativa, and hybrid.
For manufacturers, these terms indicate how the plant should look. For consumers, they depict how the weed is supposed to make you feel.
However, there’s one problem with all of this: Experts are discovering that these distinctions between the effects of sativa, indica, and hybrid weed strains may not be so clear cut anymore.
Indica vs. sativa
“‘Indica’ and ‘sativa’ were used to distinguish between cannabis varieties based on physical characteristics,” says Jeff Chen, MD, MBA, Founder of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative and Cofounder and CEO of Radicle Science. “But at some point, popular culture began attaching distinctions in the effects from consumption of indica versus sativa, despite no evidence of this.”
Therefore, when you come across a list of different strains at your local dispensary, it’s entirely possible that the Aloha sativa strain will energize you more than the Liquid Butter indica. Or that a weed marketed with a higher percentage of THC will give you a stronger high. But it’s also not a guarantee.
A 2015 study analyzed 494 samples of 35 different strains of cannabis, all labeled as either indica, sativa, or hybrid. The researchers found that the chemical make-up between many indica and sativa strains was not distinct enough to differentiate the two. Furthermore, the study found that the amount of THC in any given strain can vary greatly, suggesting that you should not equate specific strains with specific amounts of THC.
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