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Reader Question about Indica and Sativa

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Reader Question about Indica and Sativa

In response to the article The Difference Between Indica and Sativa, Ray in Washington writes:

Looking back to the daze of five-finger lids for $10 in the late ’60s, I always knew there was a difference, but until recent years never really knew just exactly what that difference was.

In hindsight, as kids we would smoke pot because it was the “cool” thing to do, but I also realized that smoking pot has always helped me cope with the stress of having to deal with everyday society.

You see, I’m a first generation immigrant/refugee to the United States, and I’ve always felt somewhat inferior growing up to those around me. Pot helped me with my self-doubt. These days as an adult of 55+, I smoke to help keep me focused and on track.

I’ve been diagnosed with having Hep-C (thanks U.S. Army), so I treat myself as a medical patient. My only issue is why it’s so damn difficult to find a strain of 100 percent sativa? I know what my body/head craves, and it’s the sativa – as I said, it keeps me energized, focused, and on track. I don’t need an indica strain as I’m already laid back enough.

I’m told that the reason I can’t find 100 percent sativa is due to it being difficult to grow. If that’s the case then how do they get the various strains/varieties? I don’t buy it. Could you possibly shed some more light on the reason why?

Thank you,




If only it were as simple as indica vs sativa! A good way to understand the complexity of that question is to read Michael Pollan’s “The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s Eye View of the World.” Humans have genetically engineered wild plants through cultivation so much over time that it is really hard to find a “pure” anything.

As you would read in “Botany of Desire,” apple varieties have been bred into a huge offering of sizes, shapes, textures, tastes and colors. But, as early back as the 1800s, apples were bitter, small and only had one real use — alcohol. Johnny Appleseed is well known as a philanthropist, but in all likelihood he was probably spreading apple seeds because back on the 19th century American frontier apples weren’t much good for anything but making alcoholic cider. Maybe Johnny was really just a drunk with some ingenuity.

The point is, it is hard to say if any marijuana we have available for sale in the United States is actually ever pure indica or pure sativa, in all likelihood everything that is purchased or grown in any state is a hybrid. Political pundits and commentators alike regularly comment that today’s marijuana is nothing like the marijuana grown in the mid-20th century. That’s because it is not.

When marijuana was still mainly imported to the United States, it was far less bred than it is today. Sativas came from South American countries like Colombia and Peru because that is where they originated on the planet. These plants are adapted to lots of light and consistently warm temperatures. They grow very tall, which makes them hard to grow indoors, which is where most cannabis must be grown to hide the garden. It is difficult to grow a pure sativa in a typical indoor garden.

The domestic grow-your-own movement was started in the ’70s, in part due to the publication of “Marijuana Grower’s Handbook” by Ed Rosenthal, the first book of its kind, who suggested in the first edition’s introduction that home growing was the only way to stay safe from paraquat-tainted cannabis grown south of the border.

Americans began breeding plants domestically and over the years thousands of new strains have been created to meet whatever desires the breeder wants. Cannabis today really isn’t the cannabis of the ’70s.

Due to prohibition, there has been no real scientific data to document strain qualities and there is nothing in existence on the web that accurately classifies strains using real science. Cannabis strain names are largely marketing and it is unlikely that, say, Blue Dream purchased in Los Angeles would be chemically identical to Blue Dream purchase in Denver or Seattle. That’s because we are still using street drug names to classify cannabis.

Cannabis testing labs, such as the Werc Shop in Los Angeles and Green House Seeds in the Netherlands have begun terpene profiling, which is the most accurate way to classify strains and their effects to date.

So, while the labels “indica” and “sativa” do help classify strains and allow consumers to make certain distinctions, they should not be considered the only consideration patients take in choosing medicine. If you are in a state where you have safe access to cannabis, find a good budtender who will take the time to discuss your options with you and take notes about the effects of different strain so you can bring that knowledge back to your budtender, who relies on your feedback to help other people make the best decisions for them.

In the future, I hope to see a more scientific way of distinguishing cannabis effects by strain so that patients can find the perfect medicine, but that is the best we can do now in prohibition America.



  1. Amie meza

    February 14, 2014 at 11:40 am

    I know some people that refuse to smoke outside…. Oh I need some advice in harvesting and trimming , storing …

  2. Mrs. X

    January 31, 2014 at 7:05 am

    April-you need to try CBD oil (google Rick Simpson oil). The THC gives marijuana it’s “psychoactive” effects, but certain strains have lower amounts and that would work best for you.

    Great article. I use mainly Blue Dream for my pain during the day, and then switch to an indica based strain mid-evening. I found that I had to experiment a lot to find the best strains for my condition, but it is totally worth it!

  3. Cherie

    January 29, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    I like reading about the American dream of being able to bye buds legally, It is said its still going to take 10 years for the bill to be heard in Government here,let alone pass if it gets past, Hoping it does, But now its getting so hard to find anyone who will part with any weed, in my small town everyone is paranoid as its illegal, And no-one wants to risk selling it any longer. It’s getting depressing to Smoke weed, That is very sad the world has already come to this. #wishedihadaoz

  4. Marty

    January 29, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    I would like to know,
    A. Does Canna-butter come in different strengths ???
    B. Who makes the “KIVA” canna-butter meaning, the BEST ???
    C. Is there a better chocolate bar better then Kiva ???


    • Lynsey

      January 29, 2014 at 7:50 pm

      Yes they make canna butter in different strengths. Idk where u live but here we have it up to 800mg. 🙂

  5. Daniel

    January 29, 2014 at 8:32 am

    “Sativas came from South American countries like Colombia and Peru because that is where they originated on the planet.”
    Are you sure about that?

  6. nacky

    January 29, 2014 at 6:44 am

    ray i wish we could talk about hepc. i had it too and i am completely cured. i was lucky i had 2a and it responded to the medication. pegasus and ribovirin. pretty sick taking the cure, but it worked- ten or twelve years ago. i don;t know if cannibis will help you much, but it may ease your nerve especially ingested. good luck, i heard stories about the USA using those guns to inject drugs and the splash back went from soldier to soldier. stupid huh? seems like they should have figured that out.

  7. james slaughterbeck

    January 29, 2014 at 4:35 am

    I’ve heard some things about the oil killing cancer cells…would like to know more about this and if it’s true what strain and how a person would administer it and purchase it, I live in Indiana, thank you

  8. Rock Cowles

    January 28, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    In the early Eighties in Chicagoland we smoked some stuff we called Happyweed. Very nice, warm, mellow happy, giggly buzz with no drowsiness, harshness, or burnout. I imagine it was a pretty strong Indica, unlike what we were used to.

  9. linda

    January 28, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    Not sure if this is the place for this but i suffer from fibromyalgia and i have heard mj helps ppl alot..what strain would help with pain the most?

    • Kidkudro

      January 28, 2014 at 9:01 pm

      Hi linda, to answer your question, Yes cannabis is greatfor treating fibromyalgia. The best things you can do if medical marijuana is available to you and is going to be your choice of medication is to just try different strains, everybody reacts different to different strains. Once you find a strain that gives you the best relief you can relay that to your bud tender so they can better serve you with the proper meds. Also try strains with high CBDs and Low THC, there are a lot of studies coming out on the benefits of cannabidiols (CBD) ability to significantly reduce inflammation and muscle spasms without the psychoactive effects.

    • Monkey Lyn

      January 29, 2014 at 11:31 am

      Buddah’s Sister is supposed to be good for Fybro, but honestly the blue dream or a heavy sativa dominant hybrid works best for me but I also am in the early stages of Parkinson’s and it helps a lot with the spasms and shaking.

    • Pam Miller

      January 29, 2014 at 7:13 pm

      My daughter has it too – in all 18 spots and never an hours relief. She swears that indica is the best – otherwise its morphine. Wish it wasn’t so expensive!!

    • Lynsey

      January 29, 2014 at 7:57 pm

      I have fibro and use marijuana for it. I have smoked for years and recently have been trying things like waxes, honey oil with a vapor pen, and I have found that they help me with pain, and a lot with my RLS if u suffer for that, I highly recommend trying them. I have been able to come off the narcotics I had been on to over ten years. They have the different strains in both wax and honey oil. I personally use the hybrid. But try them all and see what works best for u. Good luck!

  10. April

    January 28, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    I hate the feeling of being high, i get a fuzzy head and cotton mouth so bad i want to vomit. But, i suffer from chronic and crippling pain. I don’t want to take pills is there a hemp alternative that will help me cope?

    • Monkey Lyn

      January 29, 2014 at 11:33 am

      Have you tried the new patches? The CBD patch works great for pain and the THCa does as well with NO high and it lasts 6-8 hours.

    • Frank

      June 25, 2014 at 10:44 pm

      BUILD YOUR TOLERANCE….you have to build up your tolerance to the RSO. You have to go through a couple sessions of getting high….but once you pass that threshold, your intake rises and so does the benefits. You start off slow and build up your intake. This way you do not get STONED.

  11. scotty

    January 28, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    I was wondering why i can never sleep after smoking cannabis. I have too litteraly wait 2+ hours before i can pass out. All bud makes my heart race, the lower the grades the less it will race. Doesnt matter if it is sativa, indica, or dabs I can not sleep after smoking. Please help, been like this my whole life.

  12. Ryan

    January 28, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    I was wondering what type of medication Ruderalis isbi know its a rare Russian cannabis plant however that’s all I know

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