Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on December 24, 2022

With a myriad of cannabis strains, different medical cannabis products, and a lot of other cannabis products, going to the dispensary for the first time can be a rather confusing experience. For the newbie user, all this variety can make the task of choosing a strain a hard one.

If you were looking for an explanation of the basics when it comes to the types of cannabis strains and their effects on cannabis users, look no further. In this article, we’ll discuss all the different cannabis types, including Indica, Sativa, Ruderalis, and hybrid, dive into their psychoactive and sedative effects, as well as go into more detail about how terpenes give weed its flavor and aroma. 

So, without further ado, let’s get into all the different weed types.

Sativa, Indica, Ruderalis, and Hybrids

There are two main species of cannabis from which the cannabis plant originates: Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa, which vary from one another by their appearance, as well as the effects they give on users. Recently, a new strain with a lower THC content found its way on the medical marijuana market called Cannabis Ruderalis. Apart from these three strains, growers have also cultivated hybrid strains which are a mix of the two major species (Sativa and Indica). 

Even though each strain has different effects on users, this largely depends on the users’ tolerance levels, the method of consumption, as well as the potency of the strain. To explain this better, let’s go over each strain separately and see how they differ.

Cannabis Indica

The cannabis Indica strains originated in mountain terrains near Afghanistan, more specifically in the Hindu Kush region, which is why a lot of Indica strains have the term “Kush” in their name. Indica plants have a shorter and bushier appearance with rounder and darker leaves as a defense mechanism against the harsh climate.

These strains have a higher ratio of THC to CBD which is why this type of weed is rather strong. It has sedating, euphoric, and relaxing effects on users and produces a “body high,” or a “couch-lock” feeling which is why Indica strains are often used as “nighttime strains” by people who suffer from insomnia as well as anxiety and inflammation issues.

Popular Indica strains include:

  • Blueberry;
  • Blue Cheese;
  • Bubba Kush;
  • Girl Scout Cookies:
  • Granddaddy Purple;
  • Grape Ape;
  • Northern Lights;
  • Purple Punch;
  • White Rhino.

Cannabis Sativa

The origin of cannabis Sativa plants is indigenous to Asia, equatorial regions, and their warmer climate. For that reason, cannabis Sativa strains grow tall and lean with long thin leaves. This marijuana strain requires about 11 hours of darkness and a lot of sunshine throughout the day.

Compared to cannabis Indica, Sativas have lower levels of THC, but higher levels of CBD. These strains give users uplifting and energizing effects which is why they’re mostly used in the morning or in the afternoon, and some users even claim that they boost their creativity. 

Sativas give a “head high” which is why a lot of people with depression and anxiety turn to this strain in order to uplift them. Sativas may also relieve some symptoms of ADHD and have become an alternative medication for this condition, though you should always consult with your healthcare provider before you make any changes to your medication routine.

Popular Sativa strains include:

  • Amnesia Haze;
  • Durban Poison;
  • Green Crack;
  • Jack Herer;
  • Sour Diesel;
  • Strawberry Cough;
  • Super Lemon Haze;
  • Super Silver Haze.

Cannabis Ruderalis

The strain that was discovered the latest is cannabis Ruderalis and it was first found in southern Russia. Compared to the two other species, it’s shorter and has large leaves and thin stems. This strain is autoflowering, which means that it will flower regardless of the light conditions since it starts flowering after 3-4 weeks after germination. Compared to other strains, cannabis Ruderalis isn’t used as much for recreational purposes, but rather to produce medical marijuana on account of its low THC content.

Hybrid Strains

Hybrid strains are cultivated via the cross-germination process between two strains of cannabis so the new strain can get both the effects of the Sativa and the Indica. Nowadays, most of the popular strains are hybrids (they can either be Sativa-dominant or Indica-dominant) and we rarely find a pure Sativa or pure Indica in dispensaries. The appearance of hybrid strains depends on the dominance of the parent strains, so its look differs. 

Popular hybrid strains include:

THC, CBD, Terpenes, and the Effects They Have On Users

The effects cannabis has on users are a result of the cannabinoid compound as well as the terpene profile. Let’s explain.


The cannabis plant is made up of over 500 chemical compounds and the most important among them are the cannabinoids. These compounds interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system which is how they produce their unique psychological and physiological effects. Cannabinoids are secreted by the trichome glands which are found on cannabis flowers, so the more trichomes cannabis has, the more potent the strain is.

 Even though there are a lot of cannabinoids present in weed, the two most important include:

  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of the most abundant cannabinoids which produces psychoactive effects in users. In smaller quantities it can improve mood, while consuming larger doses of THC can lead to sedation, dizziness, delusions and hallucinations, even anxiety and paranoia.
  • Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most abundant cannabinoid in the cannabis plant. It’s a non-intoxicating compound that relieves pain, decreases inflammation, and helps with a lot of different medical conditions. Cannabis products that are mostly made of CBD produce fewer side effects compared to those with a high THC content.


Terpenes are the second most popular compound in the cannabis plant and all plants in general, and they give weed its recognizable aroma and flavor. Similar to cannabinoids, terpenes interact with the body and produce beneficial effects. Terpenes are found in the cannabis plant, but also in lavender, pepper, oranges, berries, pine trees, and other plants. Terpenes are secreted by the same glands that produce cannabinoids which are the trichomes, or resin glands.

There are a lot of terpenes present in different strains of cannabis, though the most popular ones include:

Final Thoughts on Weed Types

After taking a look into the main species of cannabis plants as well as the most important compounds they’re made up of (cannabinoids and terpenes), you’ll find it much easier to pick a strain you want to try the next time you go into a dispensary. If you’re still unsure about your choice, you can always talk to your budtender who is trained to give you suggestions about different weed strains and their effects.

If you’re interested in using marijuana for a medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider about acquiring a medical marijuana card if weed is legal where you live, so you can choose a strain that best fits your needs.

Finally, consume marijuana responsibly and don’t go over your tolerance level, or you risk experiencing some of the side effects that come from abusing weed such as drowsiness, paranoia, anxiety, bloodshot eyes, munchies, and others.

A passionate advocate for the benefits of cannabis. Fraser Horton, who has a background in botany and a strong love of nature, has spent years researching how cannabis affects the body and mind. He established Leaf Nation in 2020, where he has devoted himself to educating people about the legalisation of marijuana and its safe and responsible use. Fraser is committed to highlighting cannabis’ potential for improving wellness and working to dispel the stigma associated with its use.


The information presented on this page is provided as a public service to aid in education and is derived from sources believed to be reliable. Readers are responsible for making their own assessment of the topics discussed here. In no event shall Leaf Nation be held reliable for any injury, loss or damage that could happen if using or abusing drugs.