Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid: Do They Produce Different Highs?

Welcome to the world of legalized marijuana. Instead of finding a “hookup” to obtain some bud, you can simply visit a marijuana shop. Upon entering one of these establishments, you’ll be immersed in a world of options including “indica,” “sativa,” and “hybrid.” For the average Jeff Spicoli, the choices can be overwhelming. The days of simply buying some bud to get high have been replaced with the idea that you can choose your type of high. But can you, really?

Indica vs. Sativa

The common misconception is that indica plants will give you a sedated effect, while sativa plants will energize you. Meanwhile, hybrids are believed to be a mixture of calming and energizing. However, the effects of a plant vary based on many factors such as growing technique, weather, soil composition, and chemical composition. Seeds from the same plant that are grown differently can create different highs.

The term “sativa” was originally used for non-intoxicating hemp plants that were cultivated for the fiber and seeds. Now the term is used for a tall indica species with narrow leaves. While the “indica” term originally referred to a plant in India commonly cultivated for hashish production, it now refers to short, broad-leaf plants. 

So when you visit a dispensary and see sativa and indica, you’ll know the physical description of the plant that bud came from — but not necessarily the type of high you’ll get.

Cannabinoids and Terpenes

‌If you truly want to know what type of high you’re going to get, you need to look at the cannabinoids and terpenes. Cannabinoids are the chemicals found in cannabis plants. Many different cannabinoids have been identified, and researchers still aren’t sure what they all do.

Most likely you’ve heard the acronyms THC and CBD being thrown around a lot lately. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the chemical in the cannabis plant that’s responsible for the “high” you get. Cannabidiol (CBD) is linked to medical benefits such as pain and nausea reduction, seizure prevention, and migraine relief.

When you think of your perfect bud, you might think beyond the high and consider the smell and taste of it. This is where terpenes enter the conversation. Terpenes are a variety of compounds responsible for the bud’s smell and taste. They’re used in aromatherapy and can also act as an antidepressant.

Some of the more common terpenes include: 

  • Myrcene: herbal, with a very calming “couch-lock” effect
  • Pinene: pine, calming
  • Caryophyllene: peppery, neutral
  • Limonene: citrus, energizing
  • Terpinolene: fruity, very energizing

‌The combination of cannabinoids and terpenes can trigger different receptors in the brain, thus creating different highs. So can you truly “choose your high” when you buy your bud? The simple answer is yes. However, you’ll need to know more than whether the plant is a sativa or indica. Be sure to ask about the cannabinoid and terpene content, too. 

For more information, you can speak to one of the professional budtenders at the Campfire Cannabis dispensary in West Boylston. 

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