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Sativa vs Indica. What's the Difference?

Cannabis has only been legal in Canada for three years or so, so you can be forgiven for not knowing the difference between different strains and species; most of us aren't botanists.
1-2  Cannabis Weekly Strain 411 Sativa vs Indica
Sativa vs Indica. What's the Difference?

Plants are complicated! Scientists and stoners have spent decades breeding and cross-breeding different types of cannabis, but for simplicity today we'll focus on the two main components: THC and CBD.

It can be a very important thing to keep in mind when you're comparing cannabis strains; their content of THC and CBD. You can't really talk about sativa and indica comparatively without addressing chemical contents and their effects.

What Does CBD do?

CBD acts on the brain’s serotonin receivers and acts as a feel-good chemical, helping elevate mood. However, research is underway to investigate how CBD does this, as the exact method is unclear. CBD has also been used to treat anxiety and PTSD disorders, as well as insomnia. It can create a more “body” high, lending more to relaxation and restful sleep.

What Does THC do?

THC is what causes the actual “high” that everyone talks about. It's more of a “head” high. THC is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, and the culprit for the sillier or incredibly odd behaviours. THC can affect your mood and the part of your pain that processes pain. You might find other sense or emotions somewhat modified by THC.


Cannabis strains of the sativa category are more suitable for use during the day. Sativa strains will usually boost serotonin appetite, overall mood and learning. Sativa strains aren't likely to put you to sleep or help you relax, they're a bit more about producing the happy chemicals in your brain. Sativa strains will excite you.


Indica are breeds of marijuana that tend to have a higher CBD content than Sativa strains. Indica strains tend to be used for pain relief and a relaxing high. Breeds of indica produce a very strong body high. Indica proves to be a great pain reliever, but it tends to be the more sleepy-strain of cannabis.

Hybrids and New Creations

Growers have been trying to lay claim to the best strains for generations, now we're trying to cross-breed each plant to make something infallible. Each indica or sativa plant has its own profile, whether it was for effect or flavour.

What May Help You The Most...

Ultimately, we're still researching the effects of marijuana. Yes, it's obviously recreational for a lot of us, but the medical benefits of both THC and CBD are undeniably significant. And some of the effects will simply come down to body chemistry! Whether you're looking to have yourself a fun night out or trying to manage chronic pain, it would be a big mistake to write marijuana out of the equation.

CPC-logoThis story was made possible by our Community Partners Program. Thank you Revive Cannabis for helping to expand local news coverage in Alberta. Learn more.
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