There are three main types of flower you will come across in a dispensary; sativa strains, indica strains, and hybrid strains. There is still much debate on how to identify sativa versus indica strains. However, scientists can agree on the morphology of the plant.
Sativa plants are taller than indica plants. They are loosely branched with long, narrow leaves as opposed to the densely branched and wide leaves on indica plants. Sativa plants can reach up to 20 feet and are best grown outdoors as opposed to indica plants which are better suited for growing indoors.
Indica and sativa plants create a different effect on their users. Sativa strains will be best for day use; they are uplifting and energetic. Indica strains are best at night to relax and calm down before going to bed. Indica strains create more of a body high and induce sleep. Although there is no scientific study to confirm these differences, most users will agree about the effects each strain creates.
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck was the French biologist that first classified Cannabis indica in 1785. He observed that particular marijuana plants from India were intoxicating and made amazing hashish. In contrast, traditional hemp crops more frequent in Europe had no mind-altering effect. Baptiste coined the name indica to characterize Indian cannabis from European hemp, known at the time as Cannabis sativa. During the 1800s, Cannabis indica was recognized as a therapeutic in Western medicine.
Scientists who have studied the differences between the two strains created some theories based on genetics. Two main compounds exist in marijuana plants; THC and CBD. THC handles the psychological effects of marijuana; CBD handles the physiological impact of marijuana. Indica plants have a higher THC concentration and less CBD. They are best for patients dealing with insomnia, anorexia, anxiety, PTSD, and nausea. Sativa plants have a higher concentration of CBD than THC and are best for patients dealing with migraines, headaches, and depression. Most dispensaries will also offer you hybrid strains. These strains are a mix of indica and sativa strains and reap the benefits of each.