The term indica was coined in 1785 by French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. Sativas and hemp varieties were already known, but this species seemed distinct. Lamarck noted that the plant produced a physically pleasant and intoxicating effect.
In 1753, Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus completed Species Plantarum, which listed all known flora of the time. He combined all marijuana plants under the heading Cannabis sativa, but Lamarck updated the entry three decades later by adding Cannabis indica.
Although these names have stuck, their true meanings have eroded. Sativa means “cultivated” in Latin, while indica means “of India.” With increased cannabis legality, growers, breeders, and consumers have attached common effects to each classification. Sativas are typically believed to be mentally uplifting, while indicas are said to produce relaxing physical sensations.
Scientists stress these generalizations can be woefully inaccurate. Some indica strains are energetic, while certain sativa cultivars are relaxing. Hybrids can be anything in between. As a result, the category of cannabis might not be the best benchmark of the effects you can expect.
Some scientists still regard indica weed seeds as a subspecies of the thin-leaved sativa cultivars. It seems likely the cannabis species evolved in the arid and unforgiving landscapes of Morocco, Afghanistan, Turkey, India, and Pakistan.