Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid: Which Strain is Right for You? -

Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid: Which Strain is Right for You?

This post is part of our Best Dispensary in San Diego series, sponsored by Cannabist.

Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid–the botanical equivalent of choose-your-own-adventure. Weed enthusiasts might know the basics of what each strain means in terms of effects, but there really is a lot to understand about each cannabis plant variety. They all have their own properties and effects on the body and mind and produce diverse sensations. Needless to say, it’s essential to know the properties of each weed strain to help determine which products might be right for you. 

Lets deep dive into the fabulous realm of ganja strains, shall we?


What is a Marijuana Strain?

A marijuana strain is a specific type of cannabis that has been bred to have certain characteristics to help you achieve a certain state both physically and mentally. Characteristics that dictate strains include everything from flavor, aroma, to potency, and effects. There are three main types of strains: Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid.

It matters to grasp the distinctions between each because Indica and Sativa have dissimilar attributes that will induce a certain mood or mental and physical state. With one, you’ll feel more relaxed, sleepy, and chilled out, whereas with the other you’ll feel a surge of energy, creativity and inventiveness. Your appetite and other physical factors might vary as well. 

Indica vs sativa vs hybrid weed

Understanding Strain Effects

Cannabis plants are bred and genetically engineered into different strains. The primary factors that influence the effects of cannabis strains are in their appearance, smell, where they are grown, what dosage you are taking, what consumption method you are using, the setting you are consuming the cannabis in, and the cannabinoid profile. Oh, and your age, tolerance, and so on and so forth.

Please hold while we break down cannabinoids and terpenes to give you a more granular idea of the cannabis plant before we investigate the Sativa vs Indica vs hybrid effects. 


Let’s talk about cannabinoids! These are the chemical compounds found in cannabis that interact with our bodies’ endocannabinoid system. The two most well-known cannabinoids are THC and CBD, but low and behold–there are actually over 100 different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. 

Even newbies know that THC and CBD have very different effects on the body and mind, but let’s break it down further. THC is responsible for helping you achieve a high, causing euphoric sensations. THC can also provide pain relief and work as an anti-inflammatory.  CBD–also known as cannabidiol–is a non-psychoactive compound. While it doesn’t get you “high” in the same way cannabis does, it possesses a wide range of medicinal benefits–including anxiety reduction, soothing the nervous system, and treating physical and mental ailments such as seizures and chronic pain. CBD has also been proven to help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

Additionally, THC is still illegal under federal law in the United States, while CBD is legal as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC. THC is primarily found in marijuana while CBD is found in both marijuana and hemp. The recommended dosage for THC is much lower than CBD, as THC is more potent and CBD doesn’t contain psychoactive properties. 


But wait, there’s more! Let’s not forget about terpenes, which are found in the essential oils of plants. They are the aromatic compounds that give each strain its distinct smell and taste. They are responsible for scents ranging from fruity and earthy to that classic skunky weed smell we all know and…love? I don’t know, we will leave that opinion to you. All you really need to know is that the fragrance from the cannabis comes from whichever terpenes are present within the plant.

It is important to note that cannabinoids and terpenes are completely unrelated. In fact, terpenes work in tandem with cannabinoids to produce particular effects when interacting with our bodies. The terpenes in some cannabis strains can be more relaxing, while others can be more uplifting. In sum, terpenes are known to change the way cannabinoids such as THC and CBD interact with our brain.

Indica Cannabis Strains In-Depth

If you’re unfamiliar with weed, you’re probably still wondering what the difference is between Indica vs Sativa vs Hybrid strains. Follow along as we give you detailed information on each strain. You’ll finish this article feeling like an expert!

What is Indica?

Indica strains are best known for their relaxing effects. The main difference between Indica and Sativa and Hybridstrains is that Indica is often used in the evening–or when a cannabis user is getting ready for bed–to help induce sleepiness and relaxation, as well as pain relief. Unlike Sativa–which has lower CBD and higher THC content–Indica has higher CBD content and lower THC content. 

Other attributes that distinguish Indica plants include being shorter and bushier than Sativa plants, with wider leaves and shorter flowering time. Think of this as the mellow cousin, whereas Sativa is the hyperactive aunt.

Typical Indica Effects

Indica is great for helping cannabis users unwind, relax, and go into a state of sleepiness. When consuming Indica, you’ll notice a deep sense of relaxation in the body–ideal for relieving muscle tension and pain or tenderness. One major benefit of Indica is its ability to alleviate physical side effects associated with arthritis, fibromyalgia, and multiple sclerosis, as well as help with sleep disorders. If you have nausea or have experienced weight loss due to medical conditions, Indica is great as it supports appetite stimulation. 

Additionally, Indica can help with mood enhancement and provide a sense of elation and euphoria–a fine choice for those with depression, anxiety, or anyone who works in high stress environments. 

Indica Strain Origin

Origins of Indica can be traced back to India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, though there is evidence that the oldest cultivation of cannabis was found in 4000 BC in China. Other sources state that Indica’s true origin is in the Hindu Kush region of the Himalayas, though now it is grown and cultivated all over the world. 

Popular Indica strains include Granddaddy Purple, OG Kush, Northern Lights, and Hindu Kush. Pakistan Chitral Kush is said to be 100% Indica, grown in the wild in a Pakistani province. 

Sativa Cannabis Strains In-Depth

Sativa strains are best known for their energizing effects–mood uplifters, if you will. Sativa cannabis is recommended to help induce a creative state, as well as to enhance productivity and boost focus. As stated above, Sativa strains are known for their higher THC content and lower CBD content. 

What is Sativa?

Consider Sativa to be similar to an upper–the energizer bunny of the cannabis world. If Indica is the comfy couch, then Sativa is the trampoline. Consuming Sativa will make you feel like you’ve had a shot of espresso–sans the jitters or belly bloat. Sativa consists of high levels of limonene–a chemical found in citrus peels and other plants that is known to uplift the mood, fight obesity, relieve bronchitis, and other ailments.

The Sativa plant is typically a lighter shade of green than other plants, with an elongated, feathery appearance. 

Typical Sativa Effects

Known for its invigorating and creative effects, Sativa can help combat fatigue and boost energy levels. Consuming Sativa might leave you feeling extra imaginative, making it the popular choice among artists, writers, musicians, and other creatives. 

Focus and motivation are other positive effects of Sativa. Just to be clear, some people can function and maintain productivity while high, while others find it rather difficult to put their thinking cap on to solve problems. Understanding how productive you can be while under the influence of marijuana is important if you intend to consume Sativa in order to increase concentration and productivity. 

Another plus is appetite suppression, which is the opposite effect of Indica. If you’re hoping to avoid major munching while consuming cannabis, you might want to opt for a Sativa variety. 

Sativa Strain Origin

The origins of Sativa can be traced back to regions that sit near the equator, including Central America, Asia, and Africa. Specifically Mexico, Jamaica, and Thailand. The plant was first cultivated for its fiber, which was used to make textiles, paper, and other products, though the seeds and flowers of the Sativa plant quickly became bred, cultivated, and used for their medicinal and psychoactive properties. 

From this breeding process came THC strains with a very high potency. Matter of fact, Sativa was actually outlawed in the 20th century because of its psychoactive effects–which some worried would wreak havoc on society. Thankfully, we are seeing a turnaround with societal acceptance toward the drug due to its benefits on the mind, body, and soul

Sour Diesel is among the most popular Sativa strains, along with Purple Haze, Blue Dream, and Durban Poison. Strawberry Cough and Green Crack are two other hot commodities in the world of Sativa.

Indica vs sativa vs hybrid weed

Hybrid Cannabis Strains In-Depth

A hybrid strain is the most prevalent strain as it contains a balance of both Indica and Sativa. The cross-breeding of the Indica dominant and Sativa dominant strains produce a happy medium of relaxing yet creative effects. 

What is a Hybrid Cannabis Strain?

So you want to know what the difference between Indica, Sativa and a Hybrid high is? Hybrid strains tend to combine the revitalizing and inventive effects of Sativa with the calming and anti-inflammatory effects of Indica. As Hannah Montana would say, you get the best of both worlds.  

Typical Hybrid Strains Effects

Typical Hybrid strains and effects include improved focus, enhanced vitality, decreased anxiety, and reduced inflammation. Unlike Indica, which will make you feel relaxed and potentially sedated, Hybrid strains are great amplifiers for performance when engaging in certain activities. The difference between Indica and Hybrid mainly stems from Hybrid’s ability to counteract sleepiness with a surge of energy, but not to a point of over stimulation.

Hybrid Strain Origin

The Hybrid strain–which some may refer to as the love child of Indica and Sativa–is the ultimate genetic experiment gone right. A little bit of this, a little bit of that, and voilà–a cannabis strain for those with indecisiveness or ADHD. 

Cannabis enthusiasts and botanists began to cross-breed different strains of Indica and Sativa in order to create new, unique strains that combine the desirable traits of both strains. The earliest documentation of this type of cross-breeding dates back to the 1970s–the height of the hippie movement and Summer of Love, which–along with the Brotherhood of Love–was responsible for giving rise to cannabis culture in the U.S.

Some of the strongest hybrid strains out there include Bruce Banner, Chiquita Banana, though the most popular Hybrid strains include Pineapple Express, Blue Dream, Girl Scout Cookies, and Gorilla Glue. Remember that not all Hybrids are created equal–some might contain more CBD or THC and offer more pain-relieving effects, while other Hybrid strains might be better for aiding social anxiety or sad thoughts.

How to Choose the Right Strain for You

Deciding which cannabis strain is “best” is truly a matter of opinion. It’s kind of like choosing pizza toppings–it’s all about personal preference and what floats your boat might not be the same for someone else. If you prefer something that will boost drive and concentration, you’ll want to side with Sativa or a Hybrid. If you prefer relaxation or pain relief, you’ll want to go with an Indica or hybrid. 

Even though we’ve mostly mentioned the characteristics of Indica vs Sativa vs hybrid, there are perhaps over 700 versatile strains of cannabis that exist, and the possibilities are truly infinite. New strains are engineered and brought into existence each year, as botanists continue to experiment with crossing different strains and toying around with genetics to create the best there is.

Tips for Finding the Right Strain for Your Needs

Ask yourself what you want to achieve. Are you looking to party like it’s 1999, or simply unwind after a long day? Are you planning to smoke before a good night’s rest, or have a little wake and bake session? Do you have a song that needs writing, a painting that needs paint, or a guitar that needs strumming? Are you experiencing pain in part of your body? Start with why and go from there. Refer to our guide for which route to take.

Next, consider your individual tolerance level. Newbies–go easy on the dosage. Opt for strains with lower THC levels. Seasoned veterans–explore strains with varying levels of THC content, but still be aware of your limits. Understanding personal tolerance is a must!

Most importantly, take into account any specific medical conditions you have and any medications you currently take–these can both influence your experience and your reactions to the plant. If you have any uncertainty around which strain to choose, you can always consult with a medical professional or budtender to determine which will be most suitable for your needs. 

In sum, factors to consider when choosing a cannabis strain, including personal preference, desired effects, and medical conditions. 

Where to Buy Weed in San Diego

Where to Find Dispensary Deals in Utah

Is Marijuana Legal in Arizona?

People shopping for marijuana at a dispensary

How much weed can you carry California

With dozens of dispensaries in San Diego County, you can’t go wrong with wherever you wind up. However, dispensaries such as Cannabist in San Diego offer extremely potent, high quality flower buds in all types of strains. It’s like walking into a candy store for adults–but you’ll be getting more than just a sugar high off the product. See for yourself the dope selection and strain variety at this one-of-a-kind boutique weed supply store.

Now that you know the differences between Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid strains, you can determine for yourself which sounds like the best choice–or connect with a budtender at Cannabist for personalized guidance on product selections. We know that was a lot of information to digest, but hey–learning about cannabis is a fun and fascinating journey!