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Learning Terpenes, Indica, & Sativa

Updated: Mar 16, 2023

This article is brought to you by the new Cannabis Commerce + Chemistry Podcast.


In October 2021, Higher Learning LV conducted an exclusive interview with hemp entrepreneur Richard Rose. Rose, currently retired in Italy, remains active on social media and publishes The Richard Rose Report.

Rose has donated some training assets regarding the role of terpenes in determining if a cultivar, or strain, of cannabis or hemp should be considered sativa or indica. To learn more about the sativa, indica, and hybrid naming convention, listen to episode No. 1 of the Cannabis Commerce + Chemistry Podcast or read the following Higher Learning LV articles:

From our Facebook Group

The following tables and schematic were posted by Rose to the Understanding Cannabis with Higher Learning LV Facebook group on September 18, 2022, in response to a post about this article.

Terpenes & Indica vs. Sativa

Many experts and thought leaders claim that it is the aromatic terpenes that are produced by cannabis and hemp that determine whether a cultivar may deliver uplifting and cerebral effects and be labeled a sativa or whether it delivers relaxation and appetite stimulation and is best called an indica.

The following table from the Richard Rose Report provides insight regarding the most common terpenes present in cultivars of cannabis and hemp considered indica or sativa.

Image courtesy the Richard Rose Report

The following table applies the same type of terpene analysis to popular cultivars of cannabis. Typically, myrcene is cited as the most common terpene in cannabis and the one that is present in the largest quantities in many cultivars.

However, one testing laboratory on the East Coast of the United States reported that an analysis of its accumulated testing data revealed that beta caryophyllene, or BCP, was the most common terpene in its client samples, with myrcene taking second place.

Image courtesy the Richard Rose Report

This final chart provides the same data, but in graph form instead of as a table.

Image courtesy the Richard Rose Report

Higher Learning LV would like to thank Richard Rose and the Richard Rose Report for their kind permission to republish their insightful educational resources that help explain the role of terpenes in the popular naming convention of sativa and indica.

Are you a cannabis industry professional? Check out Higher Learning LV's Deep Dive Subscription that features dozens of long-form articles based on the latest peer-reviewed scientific research. Priced to accommodate personal and enterprise training budgets.

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