“Are you looking for an Indica or a Sativa?” That’s a question that gets asked a lot in stores, and it used to seem helpful. But, as we dive down the cannabis wormhole, we’ve quickly discovered how little we actually know about this wonder plant. So what’s changed?

It used to be that we’d break cannabis into two main strains: Indica and Sativa. We generally thought that Sativa was more likely to be uplifting and cerebral and played well with creativity, being social, and exercising. Indica was described as the ultimate chill out buddy. We believed that stronger varieties relaxed you before sending you off into dreamland while hybrids were said to be the best of both worlds.

It’s the Chemicals

That was then. Now we’ve realized that cannabis is a lot more complicated than that. When it comes to predicting what effects a strain will have, Indica and Sativa aren’t great ways to tell what you’ll feel when you get your blaze on. What is a great indicator is the chemical composition of the bud in question. In an interview with The Stranger, board-certified neurologist and one of the country’s leading cannabis researchers, Ethan Russo, said, “You cannot tell the effects a plant will have based on its shape—the shape of its leaflets, its size, or how tall it is. What we really should be homing in on is the chemical composition of the plant.”

The major players in cannabis composition are cannabinoids (duh) and terpenes. While we all know and love THC, the macdaddy of all cannabinoids, we’re learning more and more about how the other 112 (and counting) cannabinoids influence our high. Higher concentrations of terpenes and rare cannabinoids like CBC, CBG, and THCV can all have a huge impact on the way a product makes you feel. So if you’ve ever had an Indica that’s left you amped to the max or a Sativa that’s left you stumbling around like a baby deer, you’re not alone!

What this Means for Recs

Even though we know that the great Indica/Sativa divide is overblown, customers are used to asking for product with these guidelines. So what’s a budtender to do? One way to overcome this misunderstanding is to recommend something that’s “Sativa-like” or “Indica-like” help them out by using concepts they understand but usher them down the path that’s right for them. Or we can go a bit farther and ask what kind of effect they’re looking for. Do they just want to get some sleep? Are they looking for a nice even creativity boost? Or do they just really want to clean their apartment? There’s a product for everything; we just have to know how to steer’em toward the best effect.

Have you run into issues navigating the great Indica/Sativa divide? How are you handling this issue when you’re handing out recs? Let us know in the comments!