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Buyers Guide Part 1: Ending The Sativa Indica Myth

Updated: May 10, 2023

A competent understanding of California's retail cannabis market is hard to come by these days. Many of the most widely held beliefs about cannabis are unfounded and in need of an updated explanation for the retail shopper. I'd be much less concerned with numbers, percentages, and assumed effects and focus instead on the types of products (I do NOT recommend vape cartridges), and how they are made, grown and extracted. I will give some general pointers and advice for shopping and deciding on products in the amazing, but overwhelmingly misleading world of retail cannabis.

Rather than shopping for cannabis based on outdated modes of prohibition rhetoric, its time consumers reach a better understanding of the marketplace. But, there's really, nowhere to turn to find information about modern hashish and rosins that the average consumers are most in need of. It took a good year of trial and error with the switch from live resin to live rosin, learning a lot the hard way in 2018. I figured the product was so new that very few if any were truly familiar with the intricacies of consuming solventless products, which was clearly confirmed during daily trips to dispensaries around the Bay Area. It didn't take long before I was explaining the products, then the tiers, and of course storage to the stores and bud tenders carrying 710 Labs. I excused this since the products are quite unprecedented, only to realize the gap in retail cannabis knowledge is truly profound. I wrote this for everyone else that has the same questions I did about hash, and shopping in the regulated retail cannabis industry.

#1 Sativa or Indica... Try It All.

While science has debunked the genetically unidentifiable myth of Sativa or Indica years ago, it remains the top concern to almost every retail customer. I've paid little to no attention to these terms for a decade now. I've heard of company policies and gag-orders against using the words. For all of modern cannabis, "landrace strains" have been bred and crossed leaving a hybridized genetic for almost every strain available today. Having been crossed at some point, or not, science cannot detect or distinguish indica or sativa genetics, and the terms should have died right then and there. Unable to scientifically distinguish sativa or indica, it would be nothing short of false-marketing for a brand to claim their product is one or the other. But, if you do not believe in science and think the Earth is flat, there are still more than enough reasons to forget about the words (sativa and indica) when shopping for retail cannabis. in the effects.

Even using the terminology sativa or indica to describe the effect or high produced, rather than the genetic itself, would be an overly simplistic, binary, assumption that does no justice to the intricate variances of cannabis' effects. It's a lazy way to generalize a product without an honest take. Since the vast majority of budtenders never try the products they sell (an issue deserving an article by itself), the terms sativa and indica have become the lingo of corporate marketing and professionalism every hash-head should fear. The high is far more nuanced than this earlier understanding allows, as modern cannabis strains are well-rounded in the effects they produce. Very rarely will a certain variety of cannabis either be extremely uplifting or extremely heavy, but otherwise the highs are often comparable.

Opposite Effects

We have seen the opposite effect from a strain labeled sativa or indica too many times to take the words seriously anymore. Proving the subjective and individual experience cannabis causes, our prior understanding of cannabis is no longer valid or adequate to describe weed. Don't let indica or sativa labels steer you away from trying certain strains and products as the effects are so subjective and open to interpretation that you just might find a new favorite.


For most of the industry's products, the Sativa or Indica labels are laughable considering the products are made from cannabis distillate devoid of the terpenes and cannabinoids, which when present determine cannabis' effects. Edibles are mainly made from this cannabis distillate, stripped clean of terpenes and cannabinoids. Most cartridge companies use this ultra-purified THC-a distillate and mix in "food-grade, non-cannabis derived terpenes" for flavor and smell. Heavy Hitters is one to use non cannabis terpenes in their cartridges, yet continue labeling products as sativa or indica anyways. It's a pretty bad joke to see the industry steered by marketing ploys, that prey upon the misinformed. Even using the cannabis communities own terminology to manipulate consumerism.

Misleading Rhetoric

This misleading rhetoric blasted across the cannabis industry does not benefit customers and is intended solely a marketing angle to increase consumption. Weed by itself is no longer good enough, unless you have fifty different kinds to choose from and never get to try them all. And yet, somehow with thousands of different varieties, they are all supposed to fit neatly into two specific categories of effect? I think not.

For cannabis flower and hash the highs vary, but for most of the edible and vape products, they all contain the same distillate that lacks the terpenes and cannabinoids that would cause either an upward or downward kind of high. You get the shell of a high missing all the best substance. So, while you shop, decipher the marketing trends and find solventless products and methods that work for your needs.


1 Comment

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