Know What Your Smoking? Difference Between Sativa and Indica

WSJ Team January 11, 2011 16

At one point or another in someone’s pot smoking career the terms “indica” and “sativa” will most likely present themselves.  Most people would immediately be hit by confusion as to what exactly these terms actually mean.  Upon reading further, you will become well versed about what is meant when using these terms, its contextual significance, as well as the difference between the two.

Indica and sativa are both strains of the cannabis weed, commonly referred to as marijuana.  The difference between the two lies not only within its plant structure, but also its chemical properties as well.  The sativa plant grows thinner, taller, and its leaves have a smaller span.  The light green color of the sativa plant’s leaves indicate less chlorophyll and more yellow pigments in order to protect the plant from intense light.  Temperate varieties are darker green.  Sativa plants can grow remarkably tall, some even reaching a soaring height of up to twenty feet.  This type of cannabis typically takes between ten to sixteen weeks until it fully matures.  Sativas are known to give off a far more pungent aroma than that of an indica, but yields significantly less flowers per plant. The marijuana buds are long and thin, far less densely populated than the indica, although much longer in length. The stoma of the leaf, the underside, may give off a dark orange color in a warmer climate, while in a cool climate may possess a purple tinge.  When smoking a sativa the high is very cerebral. You get a rush of energy and a buzz in the body, a great way of getting work done without being sucked into your couch.   The sativa high is thought of as being uplifting and optimistic.  It is also said that since sativas contain a very high THC content, they are best for dealing with certain pain symptoms.

The indica variety is a short plant that typically does not reach over eight feet in height.  Its marijuana leaves are usually dark green and have short, wide fingers.  As the plant matures the grower is more quickly able to spot a dash of purple in the deep green leaf.  Upon maturity, one would expect short branches, laden with thick and dense marijuana buds that mature about four weeks earlier than sativa buds.  It is recommended that this type of bud is grown in a cooler environment to invoke intense coloration of the buds.  Indica strains are known to give off a stinky smell.   Its smoke is very thick, which could catch the novice smoker off guard and induce fits of coughing.  The indica strains possess a relaxing body high that allows the user to gain a sense of his or her environment, rather than deep thought or analysis of the experience. Indicas are great for relaxation purposes, stress relief, and for an overall sense of serenity and tranquility.  Others say that indicas can sneak up on you.  What they mean by this is that it will hit you all at once and put you straight to sleep.  For this reason, the indica variety is commonly used to treat insomnia.  Indica strains are common in areas such as India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other surrounding areas due to their extremely variable weather.

Various other strains can be produced by crossing indica and sativa strains.  Now, next time you treat yourself to your next strain of weed, put a little more thought into exactly what you want.  Eventually try a pure indica, a pure sativa, and a 50/50 crossbreed to see if you can see the difference in the high.  You will be pleasantly surprised!

Thank you for reading,

The Weed Street Journal Team


  1. ChronicMike November 11, 2011 at 10:29 PM - Reply
  2. NorCal December 27, 2011 at 5:27 PM - Reply

    sativa- mind high
    indica- body high
    hybrid- mixture of both (can range from sativa or indica dominent)

    • Rohit April 7, 2012 at 4:15 AM - Reply

      Does anyone know if there will be seeds vilaaable? Or maybe clones? i ve never been to a hempcon and am curious if there is going to be actual legal advice for the grower. as the laws are very vague and extremely unclear as to really how much you can or cannot grow and what paper work you need to grow on a descent scale to provide for medicanal clinics as well as myself. thanx and really looking forward to the event.

  3. The Kbus January 19, 2012 at 3:24 AM - Reply

    Sativa is that laughing grass. Makes everything funny or makes you think unusual thoughts.

    Indica is that be careful. If you wanna zone out and chill, it’s the bud for you.

  4. Matt B. January 27, 2012 at 7:51 AM - Reply

    Big question , im getin ready to start smokin again . And the last couple of times I have ive gotten overly paranoid . Almost said im not going back to smokin . So I wanna know that it must have been a sativa , right ? Because my heart beat was fast it was a head high so im gonna smoke a pure indica strain and see what happens. I gotta get off the white dope and need to kick back and enjoy life again . Any ways thanks for your time .. Can u recommed a gd indo strai

  5. AmyBTwisted January 30, 2012 at 8:47 PM - Reply

    So, Sativa would be more to chill out the thoughts like the racing brain and of course even have some fun and Indica would be for say physical pains?
    That’s what I want to know. Which strain would I want for my Fibromyalgia and which would I use for racing thoughts and anxiety.
    I need to know what to look for.

  6. Pops Williams September 5, 2012 at 4:33 PM - Reply

    what is the difference between the buds. for example if someone was to purchase an amount from a local Herbal recreation distributor how would we know which strain it is by looking at it?

  7. mindash December 9, 2012 at 11:08 AM - Reply

    for me its always been like this

    indica= wow i don’t wanna move and cant feel my body and brain is the dumb.

    sativa on the other hand= MUST STAND! MUST WALK! MUST KEEP MOVING AT ALL COSTS!! OMG MY BRAIN IS GOING A TRILLION MPH!! and if i smoke to much im far more likely to exp anxiety and or panic attacks

  8. Jordan December 14, 2012 at 2:51 PM - Reply

    I can definitely tell the difference in the high from these two varieties. I’m not sure I buy it when budtenders try to convince us that “this strain makes you feel like writing poetry” or “this strain makes you feel like you want to get up and ride a bicycle” and all these other specific results. It’s not very scientific at all. Not yet, at least. Sativa for daytime and indica at night though. That’s where it’s at…

  9. Aventien January 17, 2013 at 7:19 AM - Reply

    Sativa before a game of S.K.A.T.E—“You get a rush of energy and a buzz in the body”
    Indica after a game of S.K.A.T.E—” great for relaxation purposes”

  10. Maggie August 30, 2013 at 6:55 PM - Reply


    The information is clear and concise.

    Does any one have the name of pure type of sativa or indica to buy and where?

  11. Matt March 6, 2014 at 11:38 PM - Reply

    Sativa is a head high and indica is a body high. sells sativa and indica domain names for further information.

  12. Laura Foxworth June 26, 2016 at 5:56 PM - Reply

    Is this what the folks here in Georgia are calling loud? Daily smoker so mine is called mid now loud unaffordable

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