Indica v.s. Sativa
What does it mean to you?
Cannabis Indica (Formerly Sativa)
Morphology: Taller (>1.5m) than their short and stocky Afghanica cousins, with sparser branches and less dense buds/flowers.
Physiology: Longer flowering time, between nine and fourteen weeks. Minimal frost tolerance with a moderate production of resin.
Chemistry: Much greater THC than CBD and other cannabinoids, this leads to the “head high” many users report.
Cannabis Afghanica (Formerly Indica)
Origin: Central Asia (Afghanistan, Turkestan, Pakistan)
Morphology: Shorter (<1.5m) than Indica strains with dense branches with wider leaves, and much denser buds/flowers
Physiology: Shorter flowering time, as little as seven to nine weeks. Good frost tolerance with high resin production. Afghanica strains can be susceptible to mold due to how dense the buds and branches are.
Chemistry: More variable than Indica strains. THC is often still the predominant cannabinoid but some strains have 1:1 ratios and some may have even higher CBD than THC.
Cannabis Sativa (Formerly Ruderalis)
Origin: Usually feral or wild. From Europe or Central Asia.
Morphology: Variable, depending on origin.
Physiology: The flowering time is short and variable, many varieties exhibit autoflowering traits (flowering independently of sun cycles). Moderate frost tolerance with relatively low resin production.
Chemistry: More CBD than THC. Prominent terpenes include caryophyllene and myrcene, giving these strains a floral flavor and scent.
Psychoactivity: Usually lacking.
This new nomenclature should come to replace the old system, because it is grounded in the actual genetics of the plant and is scientifically sound. Despite that, it is likely that this new naming scheme will face resistance from cannabis users and those in the medical cannabis industry who will have become used to decades of convention firmly establishing an inaccurate taxonomy.
This is reminiscent of the Brontosaurus, a dinosaur that never existed but we were all taught in school that it was real (they’re even in Jurassic Park), or the former 9th planet of Pluto (now a ‘dwarf planet’). Sometimes science gets it wrong and it is up to modern scientists with better methods, like McPartland, to correct our old mistakes.
The difficult part will be getting mass acceptance of his newly proposed taxonomy. What seems likely is that a split may develop between academics and laymen, with academics adopting the new system and laymen continuing to adhere to the old system, at least for a few more years.
Perhaps in time C. afghanica, C. indica, and C. sativa will come into the vogue, but that largely depends on the willingness of the medical cannabis industry to adopt this new system and thus pass it on to the patients and growers. But it seems unlikely that the cannabis industry would wholeheartedly jump on board, given the risk that this new nomenclature could confuse patients who may be used to seeing only “indicas” and “sativas” on the shelf.
Time will tell.