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Indica vs. Sativa: What’s Right for You?

February 18, 2017


Louis C.K. has a great stand up routine where he talks about smoking marijuana with some of his fans after a show in Kansas City, because, you know, what else is there to do in Kansas City? When the 20 something year-old fans invited the inexperienced marijuana smoker to join them in a nearby parking lot, he quickly realized that “they’ve been working on this shit like it’s the cure for cancer.” While the rest of his company were taking their usual modest drags, Louis took “big, 1970s, jean jacket, Bad Company hits” and ended up turning into the stereotypical paranoid stoner we’ve all come to know and fear. He blames his age for his irrational paranoia but what if there’s another reason why he reacted so badly?


In his uniquely hilarious way, Louis nailed it spot on when he said that we’ve been working on marijuana like it’s the cure for cancer. Without a doubt, the marijuana of today is much stronger than it was in his heyday. The marijuana industry has traded in its jean-jacket, Bad Company cannabis for biochemically engineered, mass produced, medical grade marijuana. After many years of not smoking, it’s no wonder that Louis’ adverse reaction occurred.


While the strength of marijuana certainly plays a role in our reaction to it, many people fail to recognize the role that strains play in their reaction to the drug.  When most people buy or use marijuana, the strain of the product is rarely, if ever, brought up or discussed. If you ask most smokers what type of weed they prefer, most will answer “The green kind.” Public knowledge of marijuana’s different strains and their effects is surprisingly low, even if strains play a huge role in how we react.


There are two basic categories of marijuana: indica and sativa. Comparing the two is like comparing The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Democrats and Republicans, or Pepsi and Coca Cola: once you pick a side, you’re on it and there’s no going back. Part of the reason why some people experience adverse reactions to marijuana is because of the strain they smoke. Yes, Louis’ inexperience with marijuana definitely contributed to his paranoid and hilarious experience but I think the strain of the weed, too, played a huge role in why he, and others, react the way they do.


Let’s explore the difference between indica and sativa so that you can make your marijuana decisions wisely and with a better understanding of how the type of weed affects the way you react.





Think of the indica smoker as the “stoner on the couch.” Indica users largely experience feelings of soothing, calming, and the so-called body-high, making it great for night-time use. This body-high is due to the high amount of the THCA synthase enzyme in the plant. THCA synthase converts CBG into THCA, which then becomes THC when heated. The plant itself has larger leaves than the sativa plant and is shorter and more dense, making it more suitable for indoor farming facilities.


Indica strains are used to relieve a wide array of problematic symptoms, including anxiety, insomnia, pain, and muscle spasms. Some popular indica strains include Northern Lights, Grandaddy Purp, and Hindu Kush.




If you’re ever in a lengthy discussion about the meaning of the universe and you utter “Just, like, open your mind, man”, odds are you’ve been smoking some sativa. Sativa users are the creative, energetic types that use their mind to explore all that the world has to offer. The effects of sativa cannabis include uplifting or energetic feelings, psychoactivity, and a “head high”, which make it more suitable for day-time use.


Sativa’s effects, too, can be traced to its genetic makeup. Sativa’s high amount of the CBDA synthase enzyme allows for the production of more CBD compared to indica plants. Sativa plants are also taller, have narrower leaves, and are better suited for outdoor growing.


Many disorders and symptoms can be relieved by using sativa marijuana. Symptoms such as depression, ADD, fatigue, and mood disorders can all be mediated through a sativa’s affects. Sativa’s downside, however, is that it may cause paranoia and restlessness in some users (sorry Louis).



There’s a weed out there for everyone; it’s just a matter of choosing the right one for you. Most of the products in today’s market are hybrids that have elements from both indicas and sativas. Some hybrid strains are sativa dominant and others are indica dominate. Finding out what’s right for you depends on your personality, mood and what you’re looking for. Unfortunately for Louis, I think he should try to stick to indica.

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