Sources Cited:
Piomelli, Danielle and Russo, E. B. “The Cannabis sativa Versus Cannabis indica Debate: An Interview with Ethan Russo, MD” Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research Vol. 1, No. 1, 14 Jan 2016,
Mcpartland, John M. “Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica versus ‘Sativa’ and ‘Indica.’” Cannabis Sativa L. - Botany and Biotechnology, 2017, pp. 101–121., doi:10.1007/978-3-319-54564-6_4.

Wayne Schwind:  Sativa and Indica do not equal effects. This is a video explaining why.

This is a clip from a Science of Cannabis podcast we did with Emma Chasen. If you don't know Emma, she graduated from Brown University, a degree in ethno-botany, has been working in the cannabis industry in multiple roles for quite a few years now, and now consults and is an educator in the industry. So we pulled this clip to explain what exactly Sativa and Indica mean, and if you're trying to predict effects when buying a cannabis product, what you should be looking for to get the experience you want.

Here's that video, and at the end, I'm going to include more resources, the scientific papers that we cited covering this information, another video, and another link where you can learn more about this if you're interested. Here's Emma Chasen.

Wayne Schwind:  Can you kind of break down those different strains - Sativa, Indica, and maybe even the names - and let consumers know maybe what they should be looking for? Or what they should be weighting their decisions on, because of the strain, so they're a little more informed about what those actually mean?

Emma Chasen:  Definitely. Yeah, one of my favorite topics - debunking this, this Indica-Sativa myth, because it is a problem when people are using these names to really find predictability and consistency in their effects, and then they don't get it. That, that is inexcusable in my opinion, because we do have something else to look for, which is the cannabinoids and the terpenes.

And so, for those who are unfamiliar - Indica and Sativa, they are terms that, when they were originally created, they were defined by the way that the plant grew. And so they only talk about plant morphology: Indica growing really short and bushy, having broader leaves, having denser flowers; Sativa growing really tall and skinny, having loose flowers, skinny leaves. And then there's also this Hybrid classification, when the Sativa and Indica have been crossed. And so you have a plant with that mixed morphology, maybe it's medium height, maybe it has broad leaves but loose flowers, whatever it may be.

At no point when these terms were created, and they were created in the 1700s by fathers of modern taxonomy, at no point did these philosophers, did these kind of new scientists smoke or consume this Sativa or Indica and make note of like, "Whoa, I'm feeling really energized off this Sativa!", or "Oh, man, I'm totally in da couch from this Indica." There's no account of that.

And so to be in this place now, where the, the industry has kind of adopted these terms to correlate to consistent experience is nonsensical. It doesn't make sense. They're two completely different definitions. Plant morphology, the way that a plant grows, does not determine the way it's going to make you feel. And even at one point, if at one point in history, these plants did correlate to consistent experience, they don't anymore. And that is because everything on the market currently is a genetic hybrid. Everything has been crossed so many times that we are now left with this really incredibly diverse gene pool within cannabis, which is awesome. It makes for really strong plants. And that is, that's because we have or, or are now coming out of this century long prohibition where all the breeding that was done. I mean, there was no scientific legitimacy with it.

Wayne Schwind:  Yeah. So when a consumer - you know, there's cannabis and then inside of cannabis, there's a lot of different types and there's all these chemical compounds. For a consumer that's new, what are like the main categories of compounds that make up the cannabis plant that would interest us or why humans like to consume them? Like what are those beneficial parts or inside of cannabis?

Emma Chasen:  Yeah, so when we talk about cannabis now, we're typically talking about quote, unquote "drug cultivar cannabis". So the plant that has THC dominance, or at least a measurable concentration of THC in there - THC being the main cannabinoid found most abundantly in the cannabis plant, the cannabinoid that gets you high, but that also has many medicinal properties behind it. And that is part of a larger group of secondary compounds called the cannabinoids - so THC, CBD, many other minor cannabinoids. And then there are also terpenes in there as well. Terpenes being the aromatic compounds found in all plants. They give plants their smell, but they also do correlate to some physiological effects. And really, when we talk about terpenes in cannabis, we think that they're the ones responsible for determining the differing effects between strains or genetics, if it's going to be energizing or relaxing.

Additional Resources, Wayne Schwind:
Some resources if you're interested in learning more - right below this video, we have links to the scientific papers that we cited, covering what Sativa and Indica mean exactly, and how it doesn't correlate to the effects you might experience.

If you're interested in learning more about terpenes individually and how they may affect you, or what terpenes you should look for in your cannabis products, at the bottom of our website in the footer, we have a link that says "Terpenes" where we've listed some of the most common ones, and the predicted effects that they might have for most people that consume them.

The thing about Terpenes and cannabis experiences is, everybody's body is different. So certain terpenes are predicted to make most people feel this way, but that might not be you. So we have another video diving deeper into how people's bodies are different and talking about the active compounds in cannabis right here on our FAQ page. So go check that video out if you want to learn more about the active compounds in cannabis.

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