The terms “sativa” and “indica” have been used for as long as I can remember to reference the subjective effects produced by cannabis flowers. When someone is talking about a sativa strain, it is commonly understood that they are referring to strains that are uplifting, energetic, motivating, and social. If someone is classifying a strain as an indica, they mean that it is sedating, calming, and has full body sensations. “Hybrid” strains are then known to be ones that manifest some kind of mosaic of uplifting and sedating effects.

The Indica-Sativa dichotomy is referenced in almost any conversation related to cannabis strains, by beginner users, seasoned vets, medical suppliers, back alley dealers, and by cannabis enthusiasts young and old. Although, only in the past year or so have I realized how incorrect these classifications are when it comes to describing the effects of cannabis. Intuitively, after being able to try more and more strains, I realized that they all fall somewhere on a spectrum of what we know as indica to sativa, and anything with “pure” genetics on either ends of the spectrum is harder to find.

Researching further, I came to know that the classifications of cannabis sativa, indica, and (the lesser known) ruderalis are actually botanical descriptions based on the morphology, or the physical appearance, of the plants. Therefore, most of the time, these terms are describing what the plant looks like when it grows, and not how it feels when you inhale it.

Cannabis Sativa is tall with delicate leaves. Most strains that are described as Sativa will make you feel energized, focused, and creative. But there are some sativa strains that could give you a full body buzz, and make you feel calm or even spaced out.

Cannabis Ruderalis are rarer plants that are used for their genetics, but are not usually smoked on their own. Their genes are commonly found in strains referred to as sativa “landraces”. Ruderalis possesses a unique trait known as “autoflowering,” which means that it can flower regardless of the amount of sun its get, and hence, is able to grow wild in certain climates.

Cannabis Indica is short with broad leaves. Most strains described as Indica will make you feel relaxed, hungry, and mellow. But there are some indica strains that could give you a boost of energy, stimulate you creatively and even help you focus.

Below is a graphic poem series that ended up neatly coming together to describe the prototypical behaviors related to cannabis Sativa, Ruderalis, and Indica.







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