Cannabis Sativa

Cannabis Sativa, also known as ordinary or natural hemp, is a herbaceous, annual flowering medicinal and valuable plant that belongs to the hemp family and is one of three Cannabis species. 

Cannabis Species

There are countless different cannabis varieties worldwide, which differ in their properties in terms of growth habit, taste, yield, and effect. Nevertheless, they all belong to the Cannabaceae family, and you can assign them to one of the three main genera:

These varieties have origins in different climate zones; one can observe differences in appearance, flowering system, growth, habitat, taste, and effect.

However, you rarely find pure strains as breeders attempt to fuse the best traits of each species into new strains known as hybrid cannabis.

Physical appearance

The Cannabis Sativa plant grows between 2 and 4 meters; in optimal conditions, it can reach up to 5 meters in height, making it the tallest of the three cannabis species. Lush yields are the result of such tremendous growth. Depending on the variety, these specimens also have a more extended flowering period than Cannabis Indica.

The plant appears lanky with loose branches. The Sativa leaves are often light and long and resemble slender fingers; they are much narrower than the leaves of other species – the stereotypical representation of a cannabis leaf is C. Sativa.


Within the cannabis species Sativa, some researchers distinguish between two varieties:

  • Cultivated hemp (Cannabis sativa L. var. Sativa)
  • Wild hemp (Cannabis sativa var. spontanea Vav.)

The Sativa flowers after about 16 weeks. In contrast to the faster flowering Indian hemp, which is about twice as fast with an average flowering time of 6 to 8 weeks. The combined growth and flowering period can sometimes last up to six months. In many cases, it even grows by 200 to 300% during the flowering period. The cannabis plant dies after its flowering period.


Cannabis Sativa is cultivated for drug use and has wide-ranging medicinal uses. It is also used, among other things, as bird feed, for cooking (e.g., hemp seed oil), and for fiber production.

As an intoxicant

After drying the flower clusters and small leaves of the female cannabis plant, marijuana, commonly known as weed, is consumed. The extracted resin is processed into hashish. The cannabis species Sativa exhibits a more stimulating and psychedelic effect than cannabis Indica, producing a more sedative effect. The THC content of Sativa (the psychoactive compound) is usually much higher than other species.

As medicine

Although Sativa has lower levels of CBD than Indica, this species has been used for many health conditions and conditions. Like Indian hemp, it reduces (chronic) pain and cramps, cause muscle relaxation, has an anti-inflammatory effect, and helps with migraines and depression. Many sufferers highly value it as an anxiety and stress reducer. It can also be used effectively as an appetite stimulant after chemotherapy, HIV/AIDS treatment, or when feeling sick. Researchers report successful treatment of glaucoma and reduction of intraocular pressure.[1][2][3]

As food

The hemp oil is extracted from the hemp nut and is considered a nutritious food. The oil and nut contain more than 90% of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Hemp seeds produced for human consumption are high in protein, carbohydrates, and fats. The high fiber content and various valuable vitamins and minerals are among the ingredients of hemp.


Ordinary or natural hemp is known to have a very high THC and relatively low CBD content compared to Indian hemp. Therefore, it generates a noticeable intoxication, also called “high.” The stimulant often induces an energetic, inspiring state; one can describe the effects as creative and cheerful. Some users even speak of psychedelic, hallucinogenic experiences. Unlike cannabis Indica, which often induces drowsiness, Sativa promotes alertness and, in many cases, has a focusing effect. Consumption of C. Sativa can provide relief from depression as well as balance drive disorders.

Typical effects of Cannabis Sativa tend to be summarized as follows:

  • “cerebral high” is characteristic
  • increases creativity and has an inspiring effect
  • gives energy
  • reduces nausea
  • promotes concentration and alertness
  • has an appetizing effect


Initially, ordinary hemp came from countries around the equator, such as Thailand, Indonesia, Colombia, and Jamaica. Due to the short light periods and the dense vegetation, the plant has to fight for sunlight there – this explains its enormous size of two to four meters (in exceptional cases, even more).

Today, hemp can be found almost worldwide in temperate and tropical zones (cultivated and wild). Due to the centuries-long distribution by humans, the natural distribution area can no longer be precisely defined.

Differences between Sativa and Indica

There are no legal differences between the two types of cannabis, Indica, and Sativa. However, practice shows that the two differ significantly, whether in effect, physical appearance, or growth pattern. One can attribute the differences between these types of plants, particularly that cannabis can adapt to many different environmental conditions.

Below are the key differences between the Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa strains:


While the C. Sativa strain comes from equatorial regions such as Thailand, southern India, Mexico, or Jamaica, one assumes that C. Indica originates from Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Northern India, Nepal, etc.).

Physical appearance

Sativa flowers have a less distinctive smell than Indica flowers; as a rule, Sativa also becomes larger, although they are often lighter when dried (because of their lower density). Indicas have dense, heavy, fragrant buds (flowers) and appear very compact and stocky as a plant.


A significant difference between the two species lies in the length of their flowering period: Sativas take between 60 and 90 days to finish flowering; Indicas, on the other hand, usually flower faster (around 45 to 60 days).


The Sativa variety, i.e., the typical hemp, has adapted so well to the environmental conditions of tropical regions (the days are usually short in the tropics) that the plant grows and flowers simultaneously. This species increases in height during the flowering period; in many cases, it increases by 200 to 300%, sometimes even more. Although Indian hemp (Indica) grows relatively quickly in height, growth usually doesn’t get out of control. During flowering, the plant will increase by 50-100%.


You feel the typical “high” effect when consuming the Sativa: creativity, energy, and a psychedelic effect are significant. The Indica effect is often described with the characteristic “stoned” feeling; you feel this strain mainly physically. It has a relaxing effect both physically and mentally, but in higher doses, it can make you sleepy.

Hybrid Cannabis

Breeding new, highly potent strains with unique genetics and the best possible traits are the goal of many cannabis growers. By selectively crossing several types of cannabis, one can bring the best properties together: we speak of so-called hybrids.

Although the three cannabis species Sativa, Indica, and Ruderalis belong to different cannabis families, one can all cross them with each other. Medicinal potential, high THC levels, and the ability to thrive in specific growing conditions are just a few of the traits sought.

It means that many strains now share traits from multiple families. As a result, you can find solid and potent hybrids that increase the effect or yields and show the robustness and a lack of susceptibility to disease. The majority of cannabis strains on the market today are hybrids.



[1] NTP Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies of 1-Trans-Delta(9)-Tetrahydrocannabinol (CAS No. 1972-08-3) in F344 Rats and B6C3F1 Mice (Gavage Studies). In: National Toxicology Program technical report series. Band 446, November 1996, S. 1–317, ISSN 0888-8051. PMID 12594529.

[2] M. Guzmán, M. J. Duarte, C. Blázquez, J. Ravina, M. C. Rosa, I. Galve-Roperh, C. Sánchez, G. Velasco, L. González-Feria: A pilot clinical study of Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme. In: British journal of cancer. Band 95, Nummer 2, Juli 2006, S. 197–203, ISSN 0007-0920. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6603236. PMID 16804518. PMC 2360617 (freier Volltext).

[3] Clinical Studies and Case Reports