Cannabis indica is an annual plant in the Cannabaceae family. A putative species of the genus Cannabis, it is typically distinguished from Cannabis sativa.
Cannabis indica may have a CBD:THC ratio 4–5 times that of Cannabis sativa. Cannabis strains with relatively high CBD:THC ratios are less likely to induce anxiety than vice versa. This may be due to CBD’s antagonistic effects at the cannabinoid receptors, compared to THC’s partial agonist effect. CBD is also a 5-HT1A receptor agonist, which may also contribute to an anxiolytic effect. This likely means the high concentrations of CBD found in Cannabis indica mitigate the anxiogenic effect of THC significantly. The effects of sativa are well known for its cerebral high, hence used daytime as medical cannabis, while indica are well known for its sedative effects and preferred night time as medical cannabis.
In 1785, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck published a description of a second species of Cannabis, which he named Cannabis indica. Lamarck based his description of the newly named species on plant specimens collected in India. Richard Evans Schultes described C. indica as relatively short, conical, and densely branched, whereas C. sativa was described as tall and laxly branched.Loran C. Anderson described C. indica plants as having short, broad leaflets whereas those of C. sativa were characterized as relatively long and narrow.Cannabis indica plants conforming to Schultes’s and Anderson’s descriptions may have originated from the Hindu Kush mountain range. Because of the often harsh and variable (extremely cold winters, and warm summers) climate of those parts, C. indica is well-suited for cultivation in temperate climates..
Broad-leafed Cannabis indica plants in India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan are traditionally cultivated for the production of hashish. Pharmacologically, C. indica landraces tend to have a higher cannabidiol (CBD) content than C. sativa strains.Most commercially available indica strains have been selected for low levels of CBD, with some users reporting more of a “stoned” feeling and less of a “high” from C. indica when compared toC. sativa. The Cannabis indica high is often referred to as a “body buzz” and has beneficial properties such as pain relief in addition to being an effectivetreatment for insomnia and an anxiolytic, as opposed to sativa’s more common reports of a “spacey” and mental inebriation, and even, albeit rarely, comprising hallucinations.Differences in the terpenoid content of the essential oil may account for some of these differences in effect. Commonindica strains for recreational or medicinal use include Kush and Northern Lights.
A recent genetic analysis included both the narrow-leaflet and wide-leaflet drug “biotypes” under C. indica, as well as southern and eastern Asian hemp (fiber/seed) landraces and wild Himalayan populations.