Indica and sativa: chemistry expert debunks the long-held cannabis stereotypes

Originally published at: Indica and sativa: chemistry expert debunks the long-held cannabis stereotypes | Boing Boing


So the terpenes, hundreds of psychoactive and non cannabanoid amounts just line up equally in plants that flower for 8-10 weeks, and those that flower for 14-18 weeks?

Just picking one of the many differences between the phenotypes (which are rather arbitrarily applied, Indicas would be plants from northern India/Pakistan/Afghanistan, everything else is Sativa, or cultivated).

The expression of those terpenes and Cannabanoids is certainly quite different IMHO.


agree with Dr. Wise, it’s in your head.
i like both sativa and indica strains. i can’t tell that they affect me all that differently. what i do find different is in what i call an inertia effect: if i am actively doing something - gardening, working in the shop, cutting a new print block - i feel more engaged with that actuvity whether i smoke an idica or a sativa. opposite is also true (for me) that if i am comfy on the couch listening to some music or streaming a movie, i will be comfy and high and enjoying it all.
any more, i buy various strains based on a terpene flavor profile that i like independent of indica, sativa or hybrid. then it gets ground up and all mixed together in a large container to be rolled into cones and smoked when it is possible (i.e. i’m not going driving or boating).
of course this is all anectodal, highly personal and subjective. in other words - YMMV.


This is similar to the GMO question in that the core of the question isn’t ever really addressed (selective breeding ≠ genome altering/splicing).

Are two identical molecules identical when harvested from different plants? Well, of course they are, that’s how molecules work.

Are different strains going to produce varying levels of them in varying ratios to each other? Of course, just as their leaf shape, color and branching structure will likely be different.

Is some or even all of that attributable to breeders selectively identifying and selecting for those traits based on the assumptions of what “sativa” and “indica” expressions should be like? Almost certainly.

Does that mean it’s all in your head? Well, literally yes, but as a wise man once said, “Just because you’re paranoid don’t mean they’re not after you.”


I conk out no matter what. :man_shrugging:

Tired Good Night GIF


Which is the one that makes you really f$%kin high?

(I’m tempted to try that one out at the dispensary but I bet they’ve heard it a million times.)

With regard to “Is cannabis addictive?” It has long seemed to me that there are two sources of addiction: physical and psychological. Physical addiction is what she’s describing as “use disorder.” Psychological is where one forms a habit, which can be smoking weed, chewing gum, or turning on the radio upon getting home. Either or both can occur, i think, and either can be hard to break.


i don’t think we are discussing addiction here at all, so i fail to see your point.
if you are here to interject “drugs bad. cannabis is drug.” then you lost me.
thanks for playing, but no thanks.


It’s similar to alcohol: it’s not how strong it is, it’s how much of it you consume.

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Watched a good bit of the video, seems more what she is saying is that the names aren’t much use, not that different effects aren’t possible from diferent cultivars.


“We’ve replaced umop_apisdn’s marijuana with McCormick’s oregano leaves. Let’s watch and see if they can tell the difference!”



I’ve only tried THC once (so far), a low dose edible since it was my first time. I know my sweetie wouldn’t have given me a placebo, but I couldn’t definitely say it really did anything to me. Giggly? Sure, but I’m often that way. Sleepy? I don’t get enough sleep anyway. Relaxed? I was enjoying quiet time with someone I love and there was lots of cuddling involved. (I did get a little spacey, but again, I sometimes get that way when I’m falling asleep!)

I also completely failed to turn into a stark raving lunatic, paint myself purple, or drop out of gainful employment and/or college. Looks like “Reefer Madness” lied to me. Shocking, I know.

I’ll have to try again with a little stronger dose. :smiley:


good advice, comrade.
i feel sure that elevation had much to do with your experience there - as you stated - but IANADoctor. good that you knew what was happening, even if it may have been intense.
first time i had dispo edibles was in AZ and i bought a 50mg espresso-date brownie, not knowing what 50mg (thc) would be like. it was sooo tasty! but the rollercoaster ride that followed was wildly intense and not pleasant. however, i knew this would not end me and “riding it out” was the only option. i have since come to learn that 10mg is just right for me and have learned ways of countering that over dosing effects by doing things like eating chunks of pineapple, fresh orange or some other strong fruit to take your mind off the weirdness. others i have known suggest biting down on a peppercorn when it gets really bad. never been there, but i keep it in the “Rx kit”.


She’s great and accurate. My wife is a Cannabis sommelier and made the point that the two terms are still useful in that they describe characteristics of the high a particular plant will give you.

It might not be a true scientific statement to say that Indicas should be smoked if you’re wanting to sleep and Sativas if you’re about to do something active - but it is a useful way to describe what to expect from a strain.

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I posit the theory that it is the taste not the chemical composition that determines sleepiness or creativity.

Talk amongst yourselves.

Possibly this Nature study, which said:

Sativa- and Indica-labelled samples were genetically indistinct on a genome-wide scale […] we hypothesize that Cannabis growers and breeders have been assigning labels to cultivars primarily on the basis of aroma profiles and purported effects, rather than genetic ancestry

So yeah, the names can no longer be relied on to tell you anything at all about the strain’s genetics.

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Your advice of “start low, go slow” holds for everyone at any altitude. Rinse and repeat until you know your limits.

I don’t know the elevation where you live, but I would think the abrupt transition to 9.280’ after a grueling week with little sleep predisposed you to a more intense experience, especially given the 15 year tolerance break. I think most people who partake have at least one experience of unexpectedly landing in the stratosphere. I’m glad you didn’t fall down stoned off your balcony!

Here in CO, this happens to locals in Denver as well as tourists who go higher to ski or ride. Locals who don’t smoke for a while get overwhelmed as easily as flatlanders. As noted, it’s usually with edibles. Usually.

As a peak bagger, I’ve literally been the highest person (x2) in a number of western states, including CO (14,433’) and Mt. Rainier (14.410’). Partaking at the trailhead, on breaks, and at the summit is commonplace in some circles. Our peer group has not found much effect on our ability to summit or descend, even with glaciated peaks like Rainier. No accidents or injuries on any trip I’ve been on. While the argument could be made that THC tolerance is higher based on consistent use at altitude, the former has never seemed influenced by the latter, even on my first 14er in 2002.
Beer, on the other hand, performs exactly as expected. Drink back at the car, not on the summit.

YMMV. Clearly, everyone is an island when it comes to pharmacodynamics, whether at sea level or not.


Try telling that to a metallurgist about alloys: “all the main components have overlapping concentration ranges, so there’s no functional difference between these grades.” You’ll be laughed out of the room. The conclusion might or might not be true but it certainly doesn’t follow from the stated premise when the data and the claimed effects are both so multidimensional.

Add in the frankly enormous number of ways two plants or cells can store, tag, bind, or modify the same compounds and it just becomes even more clear how odd of a conclusion this chemist is drawing. A vidalia onion has higher wt% sugar than an apple or a can of coke, but what 's that got to do with interactions with taste buds, perception of sweetness, or emotional reaction to biting into it?

YARN | Mmm. Onion. | Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015) - S02E03 Kimmy Goes to a Play! | Video clips by quotes | b77e28ea | 紗


Yes, edibles are indeed a very different beast. There is also a vast difference 'tween homemade and store-bought manufactured ones. The former offers no clue how powerful one’s cookie or brownie, etc may be. The latter tells you how many mgs of The Good Stuff each package and individual piece contains. A 10 mg gummi intensifies my buzz if I’ve already smoked some. 20-30 mg is what I take when I want to sleep V soundly and soon. My BF, who is not a large mammal, can ingest 50 mg and go off to work w/no problem.




Disclaimer: I live in Detroit, MI where both medical and recreational ganja are poifeckly legal.


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