Cannabasics: Compound Interest

Cannabasics-Compound Interest

Cannabasics- From Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to Cannabidiol CBD to Terpenes, cannabis cultivation and consumption is expanding.

The idea that Indicas and Sativas deliver noticeably different and identifiable effects is one that is deeply ingrained into cannabis culture. Whether you’re talking about a habitual consumer or a first-timer, chances are this is the first question they ask when trying to choose between thousands of potential strains. While there is some merit to categorizing cannabis strain in this way, and there are certainly some differences between the two, it is by no means the only (or most important) factor to consider.

So what’s the difference between THC and CBD, really?

In many ways, whether a strain is Indica or Sativa dominant is more relevant to the cultivator than the consumer. Typically, Indicas tend to be shorter and squatter, with broader leaves and denser buds. They also have shorter flowering - and therefore growing - cycles. This, along with their strong and recognizable smell (consider how so many kush strains and hybrids have a similar nose), partially accounts for their widespread popularity when recreational cannabis was still illegal. A plant that grows faster, smells stronger, and commands a higher price - sounds good right?
Sativa strains, on the other hand, tend to be spindly, with narrower leaves and a longer growing cycle. Sativas are what have been historically associated with terms like cerebral, creative, uplifting, energizing, and so on. This is also where many people will start to look for something more fruity or citrusy, as opposed to the earthiness often associated with Indicas. So is using “Indica” and “Sativa” as a way to categorize different strains usefully? Sure, it’s a convenient way to break down strains into easily identifiable categories. And yes, many people will adamantly defend the idea that they have noticeably different effects. That being said, there is a much better way to think about strains and their effects on your mind and body: compounds.

THC, CBD, and Terpenes

In the past, THC was the only compound in cannabis that you ever really heard talked about. It was the be-all and end-all of determining potency and quality. THC level, along with the Indica or Sativa label, was all most people needed to choose a strain or decide if something sounded right for them. With the advent of medical marijuana, CBD began to share the spotlight. In broad strokes, THC (intoxicating) is responsible for the ‘high’ we feel, while CBD (non-intoxicating) is prized for its uses as an anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, pain killer, and so on.

Typically, strains that are high in THC tend to be low in CBD and vice versa. While there are more strains than ever that strike a balance between THC and CBD, most strains you come across will be either THC or CBD dominant. Generally speaking, THC dominant strains will appeal more to the recreational consumer, and CBD dominant to those seeking medical benefit without an associated high.

More recently, terpenes have become a subject of study and discussion, and these wonderful little compounds are fascinating. A terpene is essentially an aromatic oil, present in just about any plant with a smell. It might sound crazy, but there really is some scientific reason behind strains smelling like lemon, or blueberry, or gasoline, or pine trees. They are also present other consumer products like wine and beer and provide many of the same flavor profiles there that they do in cannabis. What many people don’t consider is that these terpenes very likely also affect our minds of bodies, and are responsible for much of what we experience after consumption. Terpenes are also a major reason why thinking purely in terms of India or Sativa
is very limiting, as they can occur in varying quantities in either. Just a few examples are:

- Limonene; uplifting and mood-enhancing (think lemon or grapefruit)
- Myrcene; sedating and relaxing (think mango or hops)
- Alpha and Beta Pinene; alertness (think pine or rosemary)
- Linalool; relaxing (think lavender)

So what does this mean for you, the consumer?

What we’re getting at is the idea that Cannabis strains should really be looked at in terms of their compounds, and not in terms of Indica or Sativa + THC. Two strains may both be, for example, Indica dominant and ~18% THC, but affect you very differently. Thinking in terms of THC, CBD, and terpenes acting in concert provides a much fuller and more accurate picture of what you can expect from a given strain. There is a wealth of literature available to read on the different terpenes, and you can go much more in-depth about THC, CBD, and other compounds, and we encourage you to do some research! You might be amazed at how close you can pinpoint your desired effects.

So the next time you’re browsing through or in your local shop, instead of simply saying you’d like an Indica, shift your focus and reap the rewards. Now that’s compound interest.


Stay Lifted,

Your Buds at InstaLeaf

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