Is there a difference between sativa vs indica edibles?
With more and more Canadians embracing cannabis than ever before, the weed market is experiencing a renaissance. Every day, more innovative and interesting cannabis products are entering the market to appeal to the different needs and wants of cannabis users and consumers, and one of those products are sativa and indica edibles.
For a long time, the cannabis community has used the terms indica, sativa, and hybrid to describe the type of experience you can expect from a certain strain. However, these markers have only ever been used to describe strains, not edible products.
Today, with sativa vs indica edibles available for purchase almost everywhere, the question still remains: is there a difference between sativa vs indica edibles?
Can sativa edibles make you more energized and focused? Will indica edibles help you relax and go to sleep? Is there any truth to any of these claims or is it all just marketing?
For answers to all these questions and more, keep reading!
What’s the Difference Between Sativa and Indica
Around the world, most cannabis consumers and even non-consumers will be familiar with the terms sativa and indica.
Hybrid strains exist somewhere between the two extremes of this spectrum, with their effects depending on whether the strain is indica-dominant or sativa-dominant.
While this classification system has been used throughout the world for decades, some scientists argue that this system is outdated and wrong.
One researcher, Dr. Ethan Russo, argues in “The Cannabis sativa Versus Cannabis indica Debate: An Interview with Ethan Russo MD” that terms like “indica”, “sativa”, and “hybrid” strains have no scientific evidence behind them.
He argues that the only way to be more informed about what kind of effects one can expect from a specific strain is to have a full biochemical test done.
In the report, Dr. Russo says that separating the plants into categories like “cannabis sativa,” “cannabis indica,” and even “cannabis ruderalis“is unproductive. Instead, he argues that they should be grouped into similar cannabinoid groups.
Examples of these would be “THC dominant,” “CBD dominant,” or hybrid types, which would then give the consumer an idea of the effects that they may feel.
In fact, in another study published by Dr.Russo five years before he conducted his interview, he argues that it’s the interaction between weed’s terpenes, its cannabinoids, and other plant compounds that create what he calls “the entourage effect.”
So really, there is no distinction between indica, sativa, and hybrid plants except as slang terms used to describe personal, anecdotal experiences that a strain might give you. The actual effect of the strain itself boils down to its strain-specific terpenes and cannabinoids and not because it’s a sativa, indica, or hybrid plant.
How do Edibles Work?
So, now that we know the difference between sativa vs indica strains, let’s explore how edibles work.
We all know that weed can’t be enjoyed “raw.” Weed by itself doesn’t even have THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid responsible for getting us high, within its leaves. Instead, it has THCA, the acidic version of THC.
THCA has plenty of its own benefits and effects, but it doesn’t get us high. When weed is dried, cured, and decarboxylated, the THCA is converted into THC through heat. When we inhale weed smoke or vapour, the THC can enter our system through the lungs and bind to the body’s endocannabinoid system.
When you eat a weed edible, the THC enters into our digestive system instead. Once it’s digested, the liver begins producing an enzyme that breaks down THC into 11-hydroxy-THC, a powerful metabolite.
11-Hydroxy-THC, also known as 11-OH-THC, is able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier much quicker and easier than regular THC, which explains why edibles are almost always much more powerful than people anticipate.
This process is also why it takes cannabis edibles so long to kick in, because not only do they have to begin being actively digested, but your liver needs to jump in and start that crucial conversion.
Sativa vs Indica Edibles – Is There Any Difference?
Taking into account Dr.Russo’s research, and the fact that the overwhelming majority of cannabis edibles do NOT contain terpenes or any other cannabinoids except CBD and THC, we can confidently say that there really is no difference between sativa vs indica edibles.
However, we will say that cannabis extraction and edible creation technology are always improving. Anecdotally, we know that some cannabis manufacturers stick to using one strain for their ‘indica’ edibles and use a different one for their ‘sativa’ edibles.
Does this have a measurable impact on the experience that their edibles can provide? Well, that’s up for the consumer to decide! Still, scientifically speaking, the lack of evidence and testing done in the face of sativa vs indica edibles leads us to believe that there is no difference between the two.
Whether you’re eating an indica edible or a sativa edible, it’s safe to assume that the experience will be more or less the same!
What Should You Watch Out For?
While there is no demonstrable difference between cannabis edibles made with indica strains and those made with sativa, there absolutely are some conditions and perceptions that can influence your experience with most edibles.
Your tolerance will be a large factor in how you perceive the effects of the products you consume, regardless of if they’re sativa edibles, indica edibles, or even hybrid edibles.
Another strong influence on the experience is the expectations of the person consuming the edibles.
Whether the edibles were homemade or commercially produced is another element to the equation, and sometimes, even the time of day can play into how the effects are experienced by the consumer.
Understand Your Tolerance
Consuming cannabis, especially edibles, whether for medical purposes or recreational purposes, has a much different effect than most people expect.
While someone may be able to smoke gram after gram of heavy-hitting strains like strawberry cough, OG Kush, or Durban Poison, they may be at the mercy of their own metabolism when consuming indica and sativa edibles of even mild doses.
Slow and methodical dosing is essential for a pleasant edibles experience. Too often will a new consumer be excited to try an edible, but disappointed that it’s not taking effect as quickly as that bowl, so they take more.
Even small doses can be monumental in effect for those that aren’t expecting it! Especially if your cannabis tolerance is low.
Most people consuming cannabis products have certain expectations set for them by long-term users and experts within the cannabis community.
Most people are led to believe, often by their friends, that sativa strains tend to have chemical components that are more uplifting and cerebral, while indica strains are often seen as having the chemical compounds and THC percentage that leads to deep relaxation and help with chronic pain relief.
Unfortunately, the evidence largely shows this is not a demonstrable conclusion.
While it is accepted that some cannabis strains lead to a heavier body high than others, the perception of the user will help determine whether they feel enjoyable recreational effects or potentially negative effects.
To predict the actual effects of cannabis on the human body would require a biochemical assay to look at the overall THC content in relation to other important cannabinoids, as well as crucial terpenes like myrcene and limonene.
To put it bluntly, cannabis users are more likely to experience an effect that they have a preconceived disposition to.
In other words, if someone were to get a brownie that says it was made with one of the many strains of indica, they would generally be excited to eat that brownie and have it sit them down for a nice couch lock.
Since they were expecting that result, it would be the result that they experienced most noticeably.
The same goes for folks that like their wake & bake sativa plants, and when they consume a pack of gummy sativa edibles, they are most likely going to experience the heady, cerebral, motivating high that they were initially seeking.
Homemade Goods May Be Inconsistent
If you are the type to buy or make homemade edibles, be aware that making your own edibles from indica and sativa strains may still yield inconsistent results and varying effects.
This can happen for many different reasons, including something as simple as the uneven distribution of infused butter in the cannabis product.
Edibles infused with popular indica strains may not have the same effects as the flower or extracts from those indica plants, just as the effects of sativa edibles may not have the same effects as sativa flowers or extracts made from popular sativa strains.
Consuming Edibles To Start Or End The Day
There is anecdotal evidence that the time of day, and the resulting energy state of the consumer, can significantly affect the perception of the edibles’ effects.
Having a small dose in the morning when you’ve just woken up and gotten the oil circulating, so to speak, is more likely to get you amped for your day and ready to face it with an ear-to-ear grin.
On the other end of the spectrum, taking the same dose at night, after a full day’s work when you’re just depleted in every sense, is more likely to have your personal OS power down right on the couch.
Sativa vs Indica Edibles? No Real Difference
While the science seems to indicate there isn’t much difference in products labelled sativa edibles versus indica edibles, there do seem to be some indications that the THC ratio and presence of other cannabinoids and important terpenes play a bigger role than we realize.
While people will likely use this two-strains dichotomy for some time to come, at least you know better and can enjoy your products accordingly!