Originally published for Inside The Jar on March 25th, 2020
Walk into most cannabis stores and the first question a budtender will ask is: “are you looking for a sativa or an indica?” The two names have become shortcuts for describing the type of high a consumer is hoping to experience. Sativa is synonymous with energizing and uplifting feelings, while indica is regarded as having chilled and spacey effects. But if a cannabis scientist walked into a dispensary on their day off for a little recreational research and heard that question, they would likely roll their eyes.
It has become common knowledge in the world of cannabis research that the indica and sativa naming convention is a semantic distinction without a scientific difference. In 2015, University of British Columbia botanist Jonathan Page studied the DNA of 81 cannabis “strains” that were self-identified by the growers or distributors as either indicas or sativas. They found that they were almost genetically identical, and many were mislabeled.
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