Want to chill? Why indica cannabis strains might be right for you

Blackberry Kush
Blackberry Kush | Photo: David Downs

The modern cannabis menu is a head-spinning experience of information overload. We continue to break things down and explain them to you on GreenState with this article on one of the three main types of cannabis flowers: indicas. At the most basic level, indicas tend to have more effects on the body while sativas can have more cerebral effects. But what do you need to know to get a higher level of education on indicas? Here are the essentials of indicas:

What are indica types of cannabis?

Indicas are one of the three main varieties of cannabis sold today. They tend to provide primarily body buzzing “stoned” effects. One memory trick for the differences between indicas and sativas is the phrase “indicas equal in da couch.” Popular indica and indica hybrids include Cookies, Afghani and Grand Daddy Purple.

Why should I care about indicas versus sativas?

Consider indicas and sativas as opposite ends of the cannabis spectrum. While cannabis is an extremely complex flower, when you simplify and categorize strains based on these two extremes, you can begin to understand what effects each strain should generally offer based on where it falls on the spectrum. The indica-sativa naming system is a form of folk taxonomy that’s being replaced by a more quantifiable system, but it continues to be used because it’s useful.

Who are indicas right for?

Indicas are picked by people who want to try and treat stubborn insomnia, as well as folks trying to manage body pain or stress.

What do indicas look like and how does it differ from sativas?

When compared to sativa plants, indica flower buds are more dense, dark, resinous and pungent. Out in the fields, indicas tend to grow easier, faster, shorter and fatter in stature. The leaves of indicas tend to be wider and broader with a deeper color and the buds themselves are more plump, dense and often more robust. Indicas evolved for the short, hot punishing summers of the Himalayan foothills where they flower fast before the fall monsoon season.

VIper Cookies | Photo: David Downs
Viper Cookies | Photo: David Downs

What are the most common types of indicas to shop for?

There are several families of indica and indica hybrids, the most popular of which are Kushes, Cookies, Purples and Afghanis — all indica strains that exhibit the typical indica looks and effects. But more often than not, you are likely to find an indica dominant hybrid like the legendary Blueberry strain or the highly coveted Zkittlez strain.

What medical effects do the most common indicas have?

Indicas primarily affect the body and can cause pain relief and drowsiness. Patients report using indicas to manage pain relief, insomnia, anxiety, stress and lack of appetite.  

Why do people say the indica vs sativa dicohtomy is not valid

Indicas and sativas are often mislabelled or counterfeited. They are also intensely hybridized, which muddies the distinction. And then people can have different reactions to indicas and sativas than the standard effects. Cannabis remains commercially classified and sold under three varieties: sativa, indica, and hybrid —a combination of the two. Scientific research could yield a new, universally accepted and standardized system, but the folk taxonomy will persist for decades to come.

Cadillac Purple | Photo: David Downs
Cadillac Purple | Photo: David Downs

Where do indicas come from?

Pure indica landraces can be traced back to the continent of Asia, especially in the Hindu-Kush area (Afghanistan, Pakistan, North India, South China). These landraces occur naturally and adapt to a particular region, over a long period of time, without any external influences.

How do I learn more about indicas?

Go out and try some good indica strains for yourself. You can learn about specific strains and their traits by visiting review sites like Medical Jane and Weedmaps. If you’re old school and want to really study up on indicas, books like Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany and The Cannabis Encyclopedia are good reads. Another great visual resource is to watch documentaries of the Strain Hunters expeditions. This crew has been breeding and tracking down some of the most famous strains from all over the world – discovering and preserving landrace indicas straight from the source.

Dan Michaels is the author of “Green: A Pocket Guide to Pot” (2017)