Sativa vs. Indica vs. Hybrid Strains – Which to Choose?

Beginner’s Guide to Cannabis Strains: Sativa, Indica, or Hybrid?

Walk into any dispensary, and you’ll see containers of cannabis flowers marked with an “S,” “I,” or “H.” If you’re new to the cannabis scene, you might not know what these letters mean. Let’s take a closer look at the cannabis strains available today.

Three species of cannabis plants grow around the world: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. Sativa and indica species are useful for medical and industrial purposes, while the ruderalis species is generally disregarded.

While pure indica and sativa landrace strains exist, the majority of the buds you find in dispensaries will be hybrids, a mix of the two species. Different cannabis strains will vary in their appearance, taste, smell, and effects. In addition to choose the right strain for you, the quality & freshness of the weed is just as important. Once you decide on which strain is right for you, review the characteristics of high-quality marijuana to be sure you are getting the best possible experience from your mail order weed.

When you buy weed online from Online Dispensary Canada, you can always trust that your marijuana will be fresh & of the highest-quality, but it’s always good to know what to look out for. While all our cannabis comes in vacuum-sealed packaging, make sure you keep your weed fresh after opening it to maintain its ‘dank’ quality.

Comparing the Effects & Benefits of Sativa, Indica, & Hybrid Weed

Now that cannabis prohibition has ended in Canada, more and more studies confirm earlier research on the medicinal benefits of this remarkable plant. Cannabis is slowly emerging from the black market, and exciting new strains and products flood the country’s legal dispensaries. With all of the choices available these days, it can be a challenge to find out which type of cannabis product is right for you. 

Let’s take a look at the different types of cannabis strains, their benefits, and general effects.

Cannabis Sativa

Love Potion Sativa BC Bud

Eastern cultures have used cannabis plants for centuries, but the western world didn’t identify cannabis until the 1700s. In 1753, a Swedish botanist named Carl Linnaeus first identified Cannabis sativa and conducted a study of the plant’s properties.


Cannabis sativa plants can grow up to 20 feet tall. They have strong, fibrous stems and slender fan leaves. Sativa buds tend to be sparsely distributed compared to indicas. Sativa plants are native to Southeast Asia, Mexico, and Colombia.

Effects and benefits

Many herb-lovers prefer purebred sativas for their energetic high, which produces alertness and aids in creativity. In general, cannabis sativa imparts a cerebral rush, making sativa strains better suited for daytime use. Keep in mind that terpene profiles will change the flavor and effects of each strain.

Medical practitioners typically prescribe sativa-dominant strains for patients who can benefit from its uplifting effects. Sativa can be especially effective for the treatment of conditions such as:

  • Depression: Laboratory studies found that cannabinoids in Cannabis sativa may have antidepressant effect.
  • Fatigue: Clinical studies suggest that cannabinoids like THC act on the endocannabinoid system to speed up metabolism and increase energy.
  • Adult-onset ADHD: According to a report published in the peer-reviewed journal, PLoS One, cannabis may be therapeutically useful for treating ADHD in adults.
  • Glaucoma: Several studies, including research published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, assert that cannabinoids found in sativa plants lower the intraocular pressure associated with glaucoma.

Popular sativa strains

  • Trainwreck: Comprised of 90% sativa genetics, Trainwreck is a potent blend of Mexican and Thai sativas with a touch of Afghani indica. 
  • Durban Poison: This pure sativa strain comes from the South African city of Durban.
  • Sour Diesel: Lemony terpenes combine with 90% sativa genetics to create this uplifting strain.
  • Maui Wowie: Originating in Hawaii, Maui Wowie is a classic sativa strain that is popular for its energetic effects and fruity flavor.
  • Acapulco Gold: One of the most sought after cannabis varieties, Acapulco Gold is a sativa landrace strain cultivated in the mountains of Guerrero, Mexico.

Cannabis Indica

Cannabis Indica originated either in Afghanistan or the Asian subcontinent. Indica plants weren’t identified in the west until French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck noticed that these plants were distinctly different from sativa varieties.


Unlike sativas, indica plants are short and bushy with dense foliage and flowers. Indicas have broad, dark-green fan leaves and typically only grow about 3 or 4 feet tall. Cannabis Indica is native to cooler climates with shorter growing seasons.

Effects and benefits

Landrace cannabis indica is famous for its relaxed body buzz, often referred to as the “couch-lock effect.” Now that the scientific community is becoming more aware of the properties of cannabis terpenes, many researchers suspect that the terpene, myrcene, is mostly responsible for the lethargic effects of indicas. Although it is not always the norm, cannabis indica is better suited for nighttime use.

Medical marijuana patients can benefit from indica species for a variety of conditions, including:

  • Chronic pain: A study conducted at Rutgers University found that individuals using indicas for chronic pain had fewer cannabis use problems, suggesting that the species is more effective than sativas for ongoing painful conditions.
  • Anxiety: Clinical research indicates that Cannabis indica has anxiolytic effects. 92% of participants in a 2019 study, published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, reported a decrease in anxiety symptoms with indica use.
  • Insomnia: A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that medical cannabis patients preferred indica varieties for the treatment of insomnia.
  • Appetite stimulation: Numerous studies, including a 2002 report published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, show that THC increases appetite in animals and humans.

Popular indica strains

  • Master Kush: This 90% indica-dominant strain combines a relaxing effect with high-THC euphoria. 
  • Northern Lights: This pure indica variety comes from Afghani and Thai origins. Northern Lights is a parent strain for Shiva Skunk and Super Silver Haze cultivars.
  • Gas Indica: Named after its diesel finish, Gas is a pure indica cultivar that promotes mellow relaxation. The strain has a fresh pine scent with a slightly citrus flavor.
  • Blueberry: This popular indica-dominant strain harkens back to the 1970s and won the 2000 Cannabis Cup award for Best Indica.

Indica is famous for its relaxed body buzz, often referred to as the “couch-lock effect.” Now that the scientific community is becoming more aware of the properties of cannabis terpenes, many researchers suspect that the terpene, myrcene, is mostly responsible for the lethargic effects of indicas. Cannabis indica is better suited for nighttime use.

Medical marijuana patients can benefit from indica species for a variety of conditions, including:

  • Chronic pain
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Appetite stimulation

Hybrid Strains

Hybrid cannabis strains blend both sativa and indica to create a distinct cultivar. Hybrid strains can be indica-dominant, sativa-dominant, or balanced. Cannabis hybrids have different effects depending upon their relative sativa or indica dominance and their terpene profiles.

Popular hybrid strains

The majority of cannabis strains you’ll find are hybrids, including:

  • Jack Herer: This sativa-dominant hybrid received its name after the cannabis activist who wrote the iconic cannabis book, The Emperor Wears No Clothes.
  • Super Silver Haze: This cross among Northern Lights, Skunk, and Haze won the Cannabis Cup three years in a row. Super Silver Haze is a favorite for alleviating stress, nausea, and lack of appetite.
  • Wedding Cake: Containing a whopping 25% THC, this cross of Girl Scout Cookies and Cherry Pie seems to work particularly well for stubborn conditions like chronic pain.
  • White Widow: One of the most famous balanced hybrids, award-winning White Widow is approximately 50% sativa and 50% indica.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what to look for when choosing a cannabis strain. Different strains affect each person in a unique way. Our friendly e-budtenders at Online Dispensary Canada will be glad to help you find out which strains will be best for your needs, or check out our cannabis products for sale to browse for yourself.