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There’s a lot of buzzwords and misleading statements surrounding cannabis, and if you’re even remotely familiar with cannabis, you’ve probably heard of the terms “indica” and “sativa.”

What “Common Knowledge” Says

Indica (or “in-da-couch”, as it was explained to me) has more sedative, relaxing body effects. Sativa was the uplifting head-high type that provides energy. So if I was looking for cannabis for the daytime or socializing, I would look for a Sativa strain. Then at the end of the night a tasty Indica strain would sing me to my slumber.

These two classifications obviously comes with mixed results for consumers, and it leaves one to wonder what to expect from a “hybrid” strain. In addition, there is no science to backup these claims whatsoever. For this and other reasons, we don’t use these terms here at Project Hemp Flower, and it’s time that the industry leaves the indica/hybrid/sativa classification myth behind.

Where Did the Terms Come From?

The words “sativa” and “indica” come from the first dissent of the original classification of the plant (which was simply Cannabis Sativa). In 1785, after discovering a “new” type of cannabis in India, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck suggested a new classification of the cannabis plant, ultimately based on the differences between narrow leaf and broad leaf varieties.

Indica and sativa cannabis plant leaves

Beyond specific landrace strains, you would be very hard pressed to find a true sativa or indica anymore, and technically, all varieties in use today are actually hybrids. This is especially true of hemp flower which requires a lot of cross breeding in order to control cannabinoid levels

Does the Plant Type Dictate Effects?

There are many components of cannabis which, taken together, dictate effect, and whether the plant is indica or sativa is not part of that equation. The real determining factors are the terpene, cannabinoid, and to some extent, flavonoid profiles.

While terpenes are found in many plants, cannabis has a unusually high levels of them (up to 3% or more, but generally between 1% – 2%). Lavender, for example, gets its scent in part from the terpene Linalool. The sweet fruity taste of mangoes is partly because of the terpene Myrcene. Caryophyllene gives black pepper some of it’s kick. All of these terpenes plus many others can be found in cannabis strains, and when mixed together, can create a very unique aroma, flavor, and effect.

Limonene (C10,H16) molecule

While the science on exactly what terpenes create what effects isn’t quite complete yet, and no one terpene guarantees any specific result, we have enough anecdotal evidence to infer certain things. For example, cannabis that is higher in Limonene, Pinene, or Humulene have a more uplifting effect (what people use to attribute to sativas). Strains with higher levels of Myrcene, Linalool, and Caryophyllene would have the sedative Indica effects. 

But is that all there is to it?

Well, no. The plant’s cannabinoids, which are proven to stimulate the brain through our endocannabinoid system (interestingly enough, we know that all animals also have this same system). Cannabinoids such as CBD, THC, CBG, CBN, etc. may all have some medical benefits and most have psychoactive effects. These cannabinoids, combined with the terpenes (and flavonoids), ultimately dictate effects.

This combination referred to as the entourage effect, which is simply the combination of these various parts mixing and being introduced to the system. And, as you can imagine, the vast amount of possible combinations is the primary reason it is challenging to classify the effects properly, and clearly shows the indica/hybrid/sativa classification is not only lacking, but actually completely false.

There is still a lot of research that needs to be done in order to more fully understand how humans and cannabis intermingle. Fortunately a lot of archaic roadblocks to research are finally falling away along with cannabis prohibition. As this continues, new avenues to research various cannabinoids and terpenes are opening up, and the future of this research looks very promising. We will be following it all very closely, and will provide you with the most accurate information possible in order to help you be a more informed consumer.

Terpene profile of “The Wife” from Sacred Valley Farms

Here at Project Hemp Flower, we only sell product that has passed a full panel. Part of this full panel is a terpene test, so on every product we sell, you can look at the terpene profile yourself and start to learn what works for you.

To see our products and look at a real terpene profile, click below!


  1. Andrew Filippone
    February 1, 2021 at 8:01 pm

    Id like to speak with the author. I came here looking to make some purchases and knowledge now I just want to chat with the author. I politely and strongly disagree with the indica/sativa “myth”. I’d sincerely love to have a friendly chat about it. I can provide sources if necessary.

    • Brandon Jackson
      February 2, 2021 at 9:39 am

      I’m listening. Please source away, I would be interested in reading more about it.

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