Indicas and Sativas are for Dummies

Try Afghani and equatorial instead.
Indicas
Courtesy of Jimi Devine

There are a few eternal debates intertwined with cannabis at the moment. Are the criminal justice reform victories of legalization enough to call it a win with farmers’ struggles? Does Jimi smoke the heatest heat? Do the concepts of Indicas and Sativas make sense?

While you’ll have to search your heart for the answers to the first couple of questions, when it comes to indicas and sativas, I think it’s fair to say we can do a little better. And I offer not just the idea we can do better, but a solution.

I think we should move on to referring to cannabis as Afghani or equatorial. It’s a lot more accurate representation of what 99% of the marketplace consists of. If you’re the Ruderalis guy that needs to be offended by something, go back under your bridge nobody wants your pot.

I remember when that empowered young woman of color budtender got a lot of flack for a video where she highlighted how stupid the whole indica/sativa debate was. A lot of people that look like me, well not quite the blue eyes and curls but you get my drift, were really sad she made them feel like dumb dumbs. She got a lot of shit because of their sensitivities but was spot on. You can’t even find her original post anymore and I wouldn’t share to save her any more drama and bullying. Not that she needed saving, she was a spicy meatball.

But her struggle stirred something back up in me. I’ve dealt with the same frustrations she did. I was just a pinch more chipper about it.

I’ve been working at the Cannabis Buyers Club of Berkeley since 2009 and will still jump on the counter in the morning if an extra set of hands is needed due to a couple of callouts or whatever it may be. I turned off my frustrations early in my career on this subject. I would speak to the cannabis in four categories that were Indicas, Sativas, and hybrids leaning in either direction.

Eventually, I’d try and work a little education into the process because it all felt so bullshit.

“Hello, skinny handsome budtender. Can I get a pure sativa?”

“We making rope?!” I’d reply in a jolly reference to hemp.

When you talk about things like the Hippie Trail, Super Sativa Seed Club, and other stuff that backboned the early heatseekers’ genetics lines, a lot of it is going to fall into those major equatorial or Afghani. Even today, what’s the bulk of what we smoke? Just hybridizations of that stuff.

All these “indicas” we’re puffing on for the most part are of Afghan origin. Are there some high mountain kush phenos from the other side of the Pakistani border in the mix too for this discussion? Sure. But it’s most predominantly associated with Afghanis so it keeps it a lot more simple to just use that for the umbrella term.

As for everything else we smoke, you’ll find a lot of the genetics pools outside of the Afghani are coming from places generally close to the equator. The southern Indian city of Kanyakumari is about 560 miles north of the equator. The Thai beach town of Narathiwat is only 430 miles from the equator Even Tapachula, Mexico is only about 1500 miles from the equator.

But the system doesn’t always work, like in India. India is not far from the equator at its southern tip but the genetics it’s known for are coming from thousands of miles away in its mountain region.

It all seemingly makes sense right?

To help me articulate this great idea to the masses I knew I’d need mascots. So I created Equitorial Ed and Afghan Annie to help move the masses away from saying indica or sativa. Umbrella terminology tends never to be perfect. But in this case, I was generally satisfied with how much could be categorized within the scope of the characters.

We reached out to the Pot Prince of Bel-Air to get his take. In 1997 Todd McCormick, a medical cannabis patient and childhood cancer survivor, was arrested with 4000 plants. After serving his bid in the early 2000s he returned to the scene and in recent years has focused on preserving old-school genetics like Road Kill Skunk.

McCormick noted the question in itself is an excellent clarification that most people don’t understand but he prefers to use the term Northern to Afghani.

“The reason that I go with the word “Northern” rather than Afghani is because the Hindu Kush Mountains are freaking huge and only part of the Himalayas are located in Afghanistan,” McCormick said, “I believe that a lot of us use “Afghan” as the default genetic for all northern cannabis, but I think we are sorely mistaken.”

McCormack also spoke to the India part of the debate I brought up.

“All of the more northern varieties of cannabis from India, or dare I say Indica correctly, has the faster flowering broad leaflet, dense buds (to protect the seeds from cold), the characteristic is not only found in Afghanistan,” McCormick said, “In southern regions of India, which is still “cannabis Indica,” have the narrow leaflet equatorial/tropical, long flowering characteristic of loose spindly flowers (to be able to evaporate away high humidity) with a long flowering time.”

Keep an eye out for more great ideas from Jimi Devine in a future edition of WEIRDOS.

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10 comments
  1. So in your mind Afghani is sativa which gives you energy Focus creativity and Indi is indica which gives you couch lock the munchies and zero energy?

    1. I get what your saying but even using the terms you suggest still wouldn’t be accurate due all the cross breeding. Everything these days are hybrids. I got rid of the indica and sativa terms at my dispensary and started basing everything on terpene profiles. Its the terpenes that dictate an uplifting, relaxed or balanced feeling, not where it grows. In any case using the terms indica, sativa, Afghani and equatorial are only good terms for the grower not the consumer.

  2. I much prefer sativa but the Afgani reference reminds me that where our empire treads, our soldiers bring back local strains. Afghanistan is no exception.

  3. If sativas evolved closer to the equator you would think that they would require a higher temperature along with the longer flowering time. Yet all flower both indica and sativa thrive at 75F.

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