Sat. Apr 20th, 2024

Major Differences between the Cannabis Strains 

Cannabis produces numerous tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) strains. These strains are commonly known by many other names, including ‘sub-species,’ ‘cultivars,’ and ‘strains.’  

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a cannabis grower, user, or trader. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with all the plant’s THC-producing strains. As you shall find, the various cannabis strains differ in aspects like growth rate, maturation period, yield volume, and overall effects on the body.  

In this article, we focus our attention to the three most common cannabis strains by offering a side-by-side comparison across them. 

Introducing the Three Most Common Cannabis Strains 

The three most common THC strains include cannabis sativa, cannabis indica, and cannabis hybrids.  

Before we explore the difference between the three delta variants, let’s start by understanding what each one of them constitutes. 

What Is Cannabis Sativa? 

Cannabis sativa is the most common THC-producing strain worldwide. The strain is particularly high in delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol and low in other THC isomers – delta-8 and delta-10. 

What Is Cannabis Indica? 

Cannabis indica is the second-most popular cannabis strain. The strain gained widespread recognition from around the mid-21st century, primarily for its therapeutic potential. Indicas are lower in delta-9 but higher in delta-8 and delta-10 than sativas. 

What Is Cannabis Hybrid? 

Cannabis hybrid isn’t a distinct strain. As the name rightly implies, it’s a blend of two different strains.  

The general rule for a strain to be considered a hybrid is that it must contain sativa and an indica. However, in rare cases, hybrids may also comprise two sativas or two indicas.  

Differences between Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Hybrid 

1. Origin 

All cannabis plants trace their origin in Central Asia, particularly in the Indo-Persian region. Specific archaeological findings also point to cannabis usage in the Far East.  

However, this isn’t necessarily true for hybrids. Many cannabis hybrids originate in the laboratory. These strains result from selective breeding procedures aimed at achieving specific phenotypic and genotypic characteristics.  

Hybrids could also develop spontaneously by natural means. For instance, a pollinating agent may carry pollen grains from the anthers of a cannabis sativa and deposit them in the stigma of a cannabis indica. The resultant flowers, and by extension seeds, would contain hybrid properties. 

2. Nomenclature 

The term ‘sativa’ refers to “things that are cultivated.” It’s unclear when the word was first associated with cannabis. But it must have been adopted when the plant was first described as a domestic crop.  

Indica, on the other hand, is Latin or Greek for India. The term resonates with the specific Asian region where indica varieties came from.  

Lastly, as already indicated, hybrids are basically a blend between sativa and indica.  

3. Height 

Cannabis sativa strains are generally taller than their indica counterparts. Sativas typically achieve a height of 8 – 12 feet at maturity. If subjected to optimal growth conditions, sativas can grow to a towering height of 20 feet. Mature indicas are usually 2 – 4 feet tall.  

There’s no standard height for cannabis hybrids. That’s because these strains blend the features of sativas and indicas. Hybrids can achieve any height from 2 – 20 feet, depending on whether they’re sativa-dominant or indica-dominant.  

Does cannabis height matter?  

Height is crucial when determining the strain to add to your garden. Shorter plants are ideal for stealth growers. You can have these plants in your backyard without the next neighbour knowing you’re cultivating weed.  

On the other hand, taller strains would be ideal if growing cannabis among other equally-tall trees. That way, you won’t have to worry about your weed plants being sunshine-deprived. 

4. Size 

Cannabis sativas typically produce sparse foliage and light-green, thin-fingered leaves. The converse is true for indicas, whose foliage is usually dense and dark green.  

Hybrids can produce anything between sparse and light-green leaves to dense and dark-green ones.  

Does cannabis size matter too? 

Dense foliage strains are better suited at preserving moisture than sparse foliage ones. However, dense foliage requires regular trimming to prevent moisture-related diseases, particularly during colder and/or wetter seasons.   

5. Growth Rate and Maturation Period 

Cannabis sativa strains are quicker off the ground than indica strains. In other words, sativas get so tall so fast.  

However, sativa strains stay longer in their vegetative growth phase before transitioning into flowering. This ultimately slows down their maturation period.  

For comparison, most cannabis indicas are ready for harvesting around three months after germination, while sativas may take up to 5 – 8 months.  

Hybrids can mature as fast as the fastest-growing indicas or as slow as the slowest-growing sativas. It all depends on the dominant strain in them. 

6. Cannabinoid Profile 

As already indicated, most sativas are higher in delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol than other common THC isomers. These strains also tend to be considerably lower in cannabidiol (CBD). 

THC and CBD are the most popular cannabinoids in cannabis. The two compounds differ in their overall effects on the body.  

Tetrahydrocannabinol is generally stimulating. It’s the compound responsible for most of weed’s psychedelic effects. Therefore, sativas are most effective at combating fatigue and poor mental concentration. These strains may also help address nausea and inappetence.  

However, note that the various THC isomers hit differently. Delta-9 is the most potent, hence delivers the strongest high. Delta-8 and delta-10 follow in that order. 

Cannabidiol, on the other hand, is generally sedating. Since indicas are considerably high in CBD, these strains are most effective against stress, anxiety, and insomnia. You may also administer indicas for pain relief as well as for treating depression and mood swings. 

Hybrid strains can offer the best of both worlds. 



The continued advancements in cannabis research have translated into a constant emergence of new cannabis strains. Whichever strain you choose, endeavor to understand its physical characteristics, therapeutic benefits, and psychedelic potential. 

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