Weed 101: Sativa vs. Indica - What's The Difference And Which Is Better?

Are you smoking indica or sativa? Here's why it matters and what the difference between the two is.

Cannabis. Weed. Ganja. Charas. Hash. Pot. Marijuana. The devil's lettuce. Jazz Cabbage. It's known by many names and consumed in many forms, but the one thing most people can safely agree on is that weed is just great has a multitude of uses.

Parts of the cannabis plant are used to create medicines (CBD oil), hemp-based cloth, and to treat a range of disorders. In India, recreational use of cannabis is strictly prohibited under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. But there are exceptions to this, which we'll cover in this story.

Different strains of cannabis are used to create different medicines and products. The three species of cannabis are Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, or Cannabis Ruderalis.

These are further categorized into thousands of strains.

Today we'll explain what you should know about these, and we'll also dispel some common myths and misconceptions around the different types of marijuana.


In 1753, botanist Carl Linnaeus, in his book, Species Plantarum, which documented every known species of plant at the time, identified marijuana as JUST one species of plant - Cannabis sativa. There were no two strains, it was just the one type, according to him.

Cannabis indica was discovered by biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in 1785, when he was given marijuana specimens from India.

On the basis of physical characteristics like the thickness of the plant's bark, the shape of leaves, and the height of the plant, Lamarck felt that this plant should be categorized differently from Cannabis sativa. Thus, he coined the species Cannabis indica.

"They categorized them into two types back then because hemp was an industrial resource - for fibre and medicine alike. Hemp and cannabis were often used interchangeably. The amount of hemp fibre you'd get from indica and sativa would vary because they're both different sizes. These categories served a purely economic purpose back then."
Raghav Priyadarshi, CEO, Savikalpa

At some point in the history of marijuana's use, this classification which was based on appearance and economics extended to also mean different effects that each strain had.