There’s quite a bit of debate over whether true indica or sativa cannabis strains even exist in their purest forms anymore. There’s also quite a bit of back and forth over which strain is best for recreational use, medicinal purposes, and overall function. However, most of the debate centers on personal belief and not much scientific evidence. If you’re still deciding which side of the argument you’re on, there are dozens of factors to consider.
Indica, sativa, and hybrid strains of cannabis differ in some ways, and many people have very different reasons for using certain strains.
One of the first things to consider is how and why you plan to use the product in the first place. Many people believe there are differences in these strains that help them function better for recreational purposes or medicinal purposes. Other things to consider when choosing a strain and a product include dosing, time, effects, consumption, and cost.
You also want to factor in concentration levels of critical components in the cannabis plant, impacting how the product works, especially for each individual. The more concentrated and purer a product is, the more you can likely expect to pay. There are more than 100 different compounds in a cannabis plant, and those compounds can be removed and adjusted to create certain effects. Those compounds also tend to behave differently when they’re added to edibles instead of users smoking them in their natural form.
These days, there are countless edibles on the market, and they come in hundreds, if not thousands of different varieties. You can find chocolates, cookies, gummy candies, and even drink mixes on the market today. When you combine all of those options with the different strains of cannabis out there today, the possibilities are practically endless. When you narrow the choices down, there is a belief that some strains function better in edible form, and others are best in flower form.
The History of Indica
Indica plants are often grown naturally in areas of the world with subtropical climates. The origin of this strain is most likely from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, and India. The plants thrive in these warm regions because, over time, they’ve adapted to the harsh conditions of areas like the Hindu Kush mountains.
Indica plants tend to grow faster than sativa plants, and they typically produce significantly more buds than other strains. A typical indica cannabis plant will reach maturity somewhere between 45 and 65 days. For sativa plants, the maturation process takes about 100 days.
Perhaps the most common theme among indica plants is the belief that these will provide relaxing effects and are best used for bedtime or just taking a break from the day. These strains are more often associated with what’s known as a “body buzz.”
History of Sativa
Sativa plants have their origins in Central and South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. These plants thrive in hot, dry climates and are distinguishable by their longer, thinner leaves and taller buds. Some sativa plants can grow taller than 12 feet, and they take about 100 days to reach full maturity compared to 45-65 days for indica plants.
Many people say they choose sativa strains of cannabis to achieve a “head high.” The common belief among growers and users is that sativa strains are more energizing than indica strains, and they are better for daytime use and getting things accomplished.
Cannabis plants contain more than 100 compounds called cannabinoids. The two major compounds we hear about in consumer cannabis products are CBD, or cannabidiol, and THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. As far as cultivators are concerned, indica strains will usually feature a higher level of CBD cannabinoids compared to the level of THC. Sativa plants typically have a higher level of THC compounds compared to CBD compounds, which is the opposite composition of an indica plant.
Finding 100 percent pure indica or sativa strains is relatively tricky these days, mainly because of the prominence of cross-breeding plants. What you’ll typically find are hybrid products that are either indica-dominant or sativa-dominant rather than pure forms of the strains. In reality, this information is much more beneficial to those who cultivate and grow cannabis than those who use the products for recreational or medicinal purposes.
What Are Edibles?
The answer to that question may seem simple, but in fact, it’s quite complex. When you think of edible cannabis products, you may immediately think of fruit-flavoured gummies and hard candies infused with cannabis extract of some sort. In reality, there are so many edible options out there today, including drink mixes and products you can use for cooking.
Edibles are foods, drinks, and capsules having a cannabis extract, which typically contains high levels of THC, the psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant. There are many products out there that have almost no THC and instead are infused with CBD compounds from the plant, which do not get you high. These products are available at dispensaries across Canada, but they can also be made right at home.
If you’re trying edibles for the first time, don’t let yourself feel overwhelmed. There are so many edibles on the market, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of products, but there are a few things you’ll want to look for when you start your search for the perfect product.
You should start by looking for dosing information, including dosing recommendations on the product. Edibles can have doses ranging from 0.5 mg, a microdose, all the way up to 100 mg.
Microdose products are an excellent option for a first-time user or if you’re a casual user who isn’t looking for an epic high. Microdose products start at 0.5 mg, and they’re commonly used in the world of medicinal pharmacokinetic purposes. In recent years, these products have grown in popularity among the scientific world, even getting approval for use in drug development studies involving human subjects.
By its official definition, a microdose is designed to be at 1/100 of the expected pharmacological dose provided.
Your physiological makeup will impact how each of those doses affects you, so if you’re new to the world of edibles, start low.
As with any cannabis product, your experience may be quite different than what other people experience with the same or similar product. Some people may notice the effects of an edible can appear in as little as 20 minutes after consuming, but other people may notice it takes one, two or even three hours to feel the full effects.
Edibles not only take longer than inhaled cannabis to reach your bloodstream and, eventually, your brain. Depending on the size of your dose, the effects of edibles can last anywhere between two hours and eight hours. If you’re looking for a longer-lasting experience, edibles will be a better option compared to cannabis flowers or concentrates. Those products can produce effects that last for roughly an hour or two before most users notice it wearing off.
Again, if you’re trying edibles for the first time, start with a small amount and wait at least an hour before increasing your dose.
How Edibles Are Made
Most edibles on the market today incorporate THC or CBD through a fat source, such as butter or oil, or extraction with distillate or isolate.
The distillates infuse the majority of the cannabis candy edibles available today, like hard candies and gummies. This chemical process helps separate the cannabinoids in the plant, leaving just one main compound behind. Because this process creates an almost pure-THC or pure-CBD product, these edibles can be much more potent than those made through other methods.
The distillates also remove the terpenes from the cannabis plant, which are the compounds that give cannabis that distinct smell and flavour. Products made with this method typically don’t have either of those features.
Full-spectrum edibles contain a huge range of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. These products use cannabis-infused butter or oil that has been slowly heated over a long period. The lengthy process helps protect many of the compounds in the cannabis plant. Most often, cannabutter and other similar fats like cannabis-infused oil are used in baking edibles like cookies and brownies, which you can buy pre-made or make right at home.
If you’d rather make your own edibles with the extract of your choice, you can make cannabutter or cannasugar right at home.
Indica Vs. Sativa Edibles: Does It Matter?
Whether your edibles are distillates or full-spectrum will likely impact the experience more than whether the product is indica or sativa. The main difference between the two strains is the THC to CBD ratio, which can affect the way you feel after consuming infused edibles.
The common belief is that indica cannabis plants tend to give users a more relaxed and calm feeling, and sativa plants are more likely to induce feelings of euphoria and make users more energetic. There isn’t much science out there defending those beliefs or arguing against them, but each person may find they react to each strain differently. Some users also say these strains will produce those expected effects if they’re smoked rather than ingested in the form of edibles.
Just like with cannabis flower, many cannabis-infused edibles on the market these days are actually a hybrid strain. The indica to sativa ratio can vary quite a bit in edibles, the same way the THC to CBD ratio can change from product to product.
The majority of products, including cannabis flowers and edibles, are a hybrid of some type. You may see labels that denote “indica-dominant” strain, meaning the ratio of indica to sativa will lean toward the former. Some products will feature a major dominance of one strain or the other, for example, 90 percent indica to 10 percent sativa. That may be about as pure as you’ll find as far as commercial products go these days.
When it comes to choosing a specific strain for edibles, keep this in mind. Edibles tend to produce more potent effects than if a user inhales the cannabis. When you consume cannabis edibles, there is a much different process that happens inside the body to produce that “high” feeling. These products have to travel through your stomach, where the liver absorbs them, and then pushed through your bloodstream before reaching your brain. Not only does that process take much longer than smoking cannabis, but the effects can also be more intense by the time the compounds reach your brain.
If you haven’t noticed any effects after about an hour, start by having a snack to speed up your digestion process before adding more cannabis to the mix. If you reach two hours with no effects, you can start to up your intake of edibles, a little bit at a time.
With that in mind, choosing a strain for your edibles may all come down to what time of day you plan to use them and what you’re hoping to achieve. Many users find that even if the edible is an indica strain or an indica-dominant product, the edible still tends to produce effects that more closely resemble a sativa strain.
Even after considering all of the potential factors that separate indica and sativa strains, your body plays the most significant role in what you’ll experience.
Deciphering between indica and sativa is perhaps more valuable for cultivators and growers than for users since almost everything you find on the market today will be some version of a hybrid.
The cannabis-infused edibles market is growing, and that trend will continue as more countries legalize cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes. In 2020, analysts estimated the global edibles market at about $2.9 billion, and by 2027, they expect that number to surpass $9.2 billion at least.