What is the Cannabis Sativa plant?

Read Time: 7 minutes, 53 seconds

When you’re first shopping for cannabis, understanding the different strains and product types at your disposal can be a little intimidating. However, when it comes to cannabis flower, there are essentially two major varieties that you will come across: Indica and Sativa

At Supreme Cannabis, we know that Indica and Sativa may not be the best way to classify cannabis cultivars. The chemical composition of the plant (terpenoid and cannabinoid percentages) are a much more accurate way of gauging the potentiality of a specific cultivar. However, the Sativa/Indica distinction is relevant when it comes to growing patterns and genetic lineage.

In this overview, we will cover the basics of Sativa, including the history of use, the effects and how Sativas differentiate from Indicas.

What is Sativa?

Sativa is a species of cannabis. Physically, the Sativa plant is noted for its height, narrow leaves, and long flowering cycles. While Sativa-dominant flower is well-known to cannabis enthusiasts and cultivators today, this was not always the case. In fact, for centuries, people grew and used cannabis without knowing which specific variety they were consuming.

The Origins of Sativa

Little is known about the earliest days of Sativa cultivation, but we do know that the plant is indigenous to East Asia. In addition to its natural healing properties, cultures throughout history have used cannabis as part of spiritual ceremonies.

Additionally, the Sativa plant is particularly well-equipped to create products unrelated to cannabis consumption, like clothing and hempseed oil. In fact, Sativa plants were one of the first plants to be spun into industrial fiber about 10,000 years ago. These varieties of  Sativa plants, containing less than 0.3% THC, are commonly known as “hemp”.

7ACRES Jack Haze

Landrace vs Hybrids

Sativa cultivars can be classified as either landraces or Sativa-dominant hybrids.

Landrace strains are cannabis cultivars that are indigenous to certain areas of the world and grow naturally in those regions. Landraces are essentially the building blocks for all of the cannabis genetics and strains that are available today. Sativa landraces include strains like Thai, Durban Poison, Acapulco Gold, Panama Red, Colombian Gold and Lambs Bread.

Sativa-dominant hybrids are strains that have been bred using two or more cultivars. Every Sativa-dominant hybrid can be traced back to a landrace as their original “parent” strain. Popular Sativa-dominant strains include Haze, Sour Diesel, Green Crack, Strawberry Cough, Jack Herer and Maui Wowie.

Why is Sativa Used?

Like all cannabis, Sativa-dominant plants have a wide range of uses. Obviously, it can be consumed for its psychoactive effects. However, its uses go far beyond what most people would expect. Let’s take a look at some of the most common (and a few uncommon) uses for the Sativa-dominant cannabis:

Medical Treatment

Cannabis has been used for different medical treatments for years and there is still a lot we have to learn about its effects on the body. That said, doctors currently prescribe medical cannabis for a wide range of symptoms and conditions including Multiple Sclerosis, chronic pain, anxiety, inflammatory bowel disease and insomnia.

Spiritual Experiences

Though not as well researched as some of cannabis’ medical properties, spiritual experience is a common reason for consumption. For centuries, different cultures and religions have used cannabis for rituals and ceremonies, as well as personal spiritual growth.

Recreational Use

Finally, recreational use is perhaps the most common reason for cannabis consumption. Recreational consumers seek the intoxicating effects and cerebral “high” that the plant produces.

Industrial Fiber

As previously stated, Sativa varieties known as hemp have been used in the creation of industrial fiber for centuries. In addition to clothing, this fiber can be used to produce paper, paint, food, and animal feed, among other things. Hemp is particularly useful in this regard, as it has one of the fastest-growing cycles of any plant.

Sativa Seeds

The seeds of the Sativa plant can be used to produce hemp seed oil, which has many potential uses. Hemp seed oil is beneficial for cooking, as well as the production of paint. For farmers or bird enthusiasts, the seeds work as a cheap and natural form of bird feed. Hemp seed oil is also consumed by humans for a variety of health-related benefits.

Jack Haze

There are numerous ways to consume cannabis, though not every method will yield the same results.

How is Sativa-Dominant Cannabis Consumed?

There are numerous ways to consume Sativa-dominant cannabis, though not every method will yield the same results. Let’s take a look at how Sativa-dominant cannabis can be consumed and how each form of consumption is unique:

Traditional Smoking

Smoking is one of the most common ways to consume cannabis strains. You can smoke dried Sativa flower using a wide variety of devices, including pipes, bongs, joints, and blunts. You can purchase many of these items at a cannabis storefront or head shop. While smoking is a popular way to consume cannabis, it is important to remember that any sort of combustion can have an adverse effect on the lungs over time.

Vaping

Vaporizing has become a popular way to consume cannabis flower, without the need for potentially harmful smoke and combustion. While the jury is still out on whether or not vaping is safer than smoking, there is evidence suggesting that vaping does not create tar in the lungs like smoking can. Dried herb vaporizers can be purchased at your local head shop or cannabis storefront.

Edibles

Though edible cannabis products will not officially be legal in Canada until late 2019, they are still a viable option if you are willing to do the cooking yourself. Edibles usually have a longer onset period (up to 2 hours) before the psychoactive effects are felt. The intoxicating high from edibles typically lasts much longer than the effects from vaporizing or smoking dried flower.

Topicals

Topicals such as infused oils, creams, and lotions will not be available in Canada until late 2019. Topicals are generally used for their localized, pain-relieving effects. Most forms of topicals do not have the same psychoactive effects as other forms of cannabis consumption because these products cannot penetrate the blood-brain-barrier.

Concentrates

Sativa-dominant cannabis strains can be used in the creation of concentrates and extracts. Sativa concentrates can be solvent-based or solvent-less and come in a large array of forms including rosin, shatter, hash and wax.

7ACRES Jack Haze

Effects of Sativa-Dominant Cannabis Consumption

Cannabis affects everyone differently. However, there are some commonly reported psychoactive, subjective and physical effects from consuming Sativa cultivars.

Psychoactive Effects

The psychoactive effects of Sativa-dominant cannabis vary for each individual user, however, the chemical process is the same in every case. Cannabis affects the levels of several neurotransmitters, including dopamine and norepinephrine. These changes, in turn, can cause changes in conscious perception, euphoria, relaxation, introspection, amplified sensuality, and increased libido. Anxiety and panic attacks can also occur among consumers when dealing with cultivars that contain a high THC content.

Subjective Effects

In addition to the more universal psychoactive effects of cannabis consumption, there are also a few more subjective effects that are common for many consumers. These include increased appetite and increased enjoyment of food and drink. Many also report feeling a distorted sense of time, with time generally slowing down or feeling as though it has stopped. Sativa-dominant cannabis can also reportedly produce a rush of energy, ideas and perceptions. Finally, with higher doses, some users report instances of dissociation and even mild hallucinations.

Physical Effects

For most people, the physical effects of cannabis consumption are virtually the same regardless of whether it’s a Sativa or Indica strain. Users will experience dry mouth, an increased heart rate, dry or red eyes and muscle relaxation.

Terpene

Some consumers tend to associate Indica-dominant strains with high CBD levels and Sativa-dominant strains with high THC levels, although this classification is largely incorrect.

The real distinction between the effects felt by consuming Indica and Sativa strains are the result of terpenes – the aromatic compounds found in cannabis. The bright and fruity terpenes that are abundant in Sativa-dominant strains are often associated with uplifting, energetic effects. Terpenes associated with Sativa-like effects include Pinene and Limonene.

Cultivation of Sativa

Sativa plants are widely available around the world and can be cultivated in most hot, dry climates. That said, temperatures above 30°C or below 13°C can slow growth and lead to lower levels of THC. This is only an issue with outdoor cultivation of course. Thankfully, many cannabis cultivators grow their product indoors via traditional soil growth, hydroponics, or aeroponics.

In addition to stable temperatures, Sativa plants require ample light, water, humidity, and nutrients. When it comes to the lighting environment, Sativa plants can grow with either real or artificial sunlight. If artificial light is used, it is best to mimic the natural day/night cycle, by providing approximately 16 hours of light alternated with 8 hours of darkness. These times may differ depending on the quantity and cultivation process.

The frequency that Sativa plants must be watered depends on several factors and can vary greatly. The Sativa plant requires a delicate balance, as under-watering can cause wilted leaves, while over-saturation can lead to bacterial growth. Generally, it is best to wait until the soil has dried completely between each watering.

Though very high humidity could lead to over-saturation, Sativa plants usually grow better in humid climates. This is due to the fact that dry conditions slow photosynthesis, thus slowing plant growth. As a result, certain dry climates are not ideal for outdoor cannabis cultivation.

Finally, Sativa plants require plenty of nutrients to grow. This can usually be accomplished using a mixture of natural soil and commercial fertilizer. Cultivators must experiment with their cultivation conditions in order to find the best ratio for their plants.

In Canada, many cultivators choose to grow their product in indoor facilities to prevent climate-related damage to the plants.

What is Ruderalis?

You have probably heard of Indica and Sativa, but did you know that there is a third type of cannabis known as ruderalis? The underdog of the cannabis world, botanists still argue over whether ruderalis qualifies as a separate species of cannabis, or if it is really just a subspecies.
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