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Updated: Jan 1

The two main types of cannabis, sativa and indica, are used for several medicinal and recreational purposes. Sativa has primarily an energizing effect, while indica has a relaxing effect and can help you sleep.

Things to consider

Some people in the cannabis industry have moved away from the terms “indica,” “sativa,” and “hybrid,” instead classifying the different “strains” or, more correctly, “chemovars,” as:

  • Type I: high THC

  • Type II: THC/CBD combined

  • Type III: high CBD

More and more, the cannabis industry is moving away from the term “strains” and using chemovars (chemical varieties), since the word “strain” is often used to refer to bacteria and viruses.

What should you look for to understand strain effects?

The often-applied rule of thumb is that sativa is more invigorating and energizing, while indica is more relaxing and calming — but it’s not that simple.

Individual plants produce varying effects, even among the same type of cannabis. It all depends on the plant’s chemical composition and the growing technique used.


Cannabis plants contain dozens of chemical compounds called cannabinoids.

These naturally occurring components are responsible for producing many of the effects — both negative and positive — of cannabis use.

Researchers still don’t understand what all of the cannabinoids do, but they have identified two main ones: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

Less common compounds include:


A great deal of attention is paid to the amount of THC and CBD in a given type of cannabis, but researchTrusted Source suggests that terpenes may be just as impactful.

Terpenes are other naturally occurring compounds in the cannabis plant that may influence the effects that specific types produce.



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