If you’re up to date with mainstream cannabis news, you already know that predicting the effects of different strains based on the sativa-indica classifications of cannabis is just erroneous. There’s no correlation between cannabis plant types and typical effects that consumers seek in their flower. Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid labels are extremely popular and one of the most common ways consumers discuss their cannabis preferences, so we don’t blame you at all if this is news to you. Indica strains are widely believed to induce more calming, full-body, and sedative high, sativa strains are commonly thought to give the user more invigorating, uplifting, and head-focused effects. But in all honesty, the only people that should really care about Indica and Sativa classifications of cannabis are botanists — not average consumers. So how do you move past this inaccurate system and what measurements should you use to predict the effects of your strain? Continue reading to find out.
Moving Past the Sativa-Indica Classifications of Cannabis: Opinions from ExpertsDr Ethan Russo, one of the most esteemed cannabis researchers and former Senior Medical Advisor for GW Pharmaceuticals, a pharmaceutical company whose cannabis-derived drug was recently approved by the FDA, blows the sativa-indica classification wide open. When asked about the common system of predicting cannabis effects, Dr. Russo said:
“There are biochemically distinct strains of Cannabis, but the sativa/indica distinction as commonly applied in the lay literature is total nonsense and an exercise in futility. One cannot in any way currently guess the biochemical content of a given Cannabis plant based on its height, branching, or leaf morphology. We would all prefer simple nostrums to explain complex systems, but this is futile and even potentially dangerous in the context of a psychoactive drug such as Cannabis.”In essence, the sativa-indica classification of cannabis should only be used to discuss the plant’s height, branching, leaf morphology, and geographic origins. In other words — everything that botanists or cultivators typically care about.
Predicting the Effects of Cannabis Are Largely Dependant on Their Terpene ContentLet’s get back to our example of predicting the effects of one’s weed. For example, indica dominant strains are believed to have a clear pattern of making people feel drowsy, which is often referred to as the “couch-lock” effect. In response to that specific instance, Russo explains:
“The sedation of the so-called indica strains…is attributable to their myrcene content, a monoterpene with a strongly sedative couch-lock effect that resembles a narcotic.”The terpene “myrcene” is responsible for the tranquilizing effects of cannabis, but that doesn’t mean that all indica-dominant strains will result in a full body melt. For example, a sativa strain with a high myrcene content will likely produce similar effects. On the other hand, when a terpene like Limonene is prominently present, it will cause you to experience the aforementioned invigoration.
Other important predictors of cannabis effects include:
- The strain’s cannabinoid profile
- Your body’s unique chemical makeup
- Your tolerance to THC
- The dose of THC in a single serving
- Consumption method