When I first started budtending, I was very much of the "if it messes you up it's what you want" persuasion. I still very much dwell in that area but as I have had the opportunity to try a ludicrous amount of different strains and crosses, I can much more accurately get to the effect I'm looking for in most cases. Some strains I know for sure will effect me in a specific way, whereas some strains still baffle me and I need to do more pretend research on, all strains just making me wish I could test individual cannabinoids by themselves, But after all of this, I needed a way to explain the generalized effect of strains beyond the Indica Sativa Hybrid model, as there are plenty of cases where just those labels alone were either not accurate enough or in some cases even opposite. We recently got a Sativa strain that is under no circumstances effectually useful as a Sativa, and I would never sell it as such. A lot of categorization happens based on the physical makeup of the plants that are grown, as you can't necessarily know what a plant is really going to result in outside of how it has ended up in previous batches.
The use of Indica Sativa and Hybrid in a consumer context is also essentially a curse. I cannot even begin to count the number of people that have come in not even ever having smoked weed adamantly telling me that they don't want Indicas, they hate them and they only want Sativas because someone told them all Indica strains would put them to sleep. This is understandable as these past two years have really opened up a lot as far as open experimentation and research, which can only continue to climb. But even so, the average customer is probably still going to tell you that they don't want Indicas, or that Sativas make them too paranoid or sometimes even that Sativas put them to sleep and they can ONLY smoke hybrids, which is generally all nonsense.
Even just going by my dispensary alone, we have always had Indica strains that are very energetic in addition to the more downer strains, and plenty of Sativas that I would never recommend for people to go out and do stuff on, more prone to relaxation and calmness. I have had a hard time really trying to narrow down how to describe the effects of different strains in a way that I can keep them all straight in my head and avoid being constantly thrown off by new weird crosses. So after much deliberation, I came up with the following three categories: enhance, debilitate, and normalize.
Enhance strains are generally more applicable to Sativas and Sativa leaning hybrids, but are not limited to that by any means. Any strain that modifies your mental or physical feelings in a way that pushes you forward or helps you focus or even body high that reduces muscle pain could fall under this category, Enhance strains can come in many different ranges of strength as well, some lower THC strains being very beneficial for cerebral effect. These strains are generally more recommended for going out and doing things, mental expansion and creativity channeling, among other positive effects. The body high side of enhance strains I have also found to be a little more like lifting body high, losing a few pounds of weight in your extremities, good for all kinds of outdoor kinds of adventures. Enhance strains can also carry with them a heavy drop effect once they have worn off, as enhancement can't be permanent and you must eventually go back to normal you.
Debilitate strains come in two main types for me, strains that are very heavy on the body high and knockdown potential, and strains that make you stupid. I am a huge fan of strains that make you stupid, me stupid, what have you. I avoid a lot of enhance strains as I feel like there is rarely as much change in my headspace, sometimes getting a little more tangential than usual but that is rarely something I'm looking for, as anything more going on in my head just pushes me more towards just getting too distracted to function, whereas strains that knock me down mentally make me more able to enjoy the present rather than spiraling through my thoughts. Intense heavy body high as opposed to the enhance strains lifting body is also a preference for me, again because I want to be knocked down. While these strains can be often attributed to Indicas, the dumbing strains I have found are generally closer to hybrids, usually resulting from an interesting strain cross.
Normalize strains are interesting because they vary from person to person, as you may find that an Enhance or a Debilitate strain may actually knock you down or pick you up to normal. Most CBD strains that I have tried fall into this category, as they are generally just relaxing and relief heavy, without actually being too down. Some people associate CBDs with going to sleep or tiredness, but I don't really agree in any context. Normalize strains are more along the lines of getting you to a nice average space that you want to inhabit, rather than pushing you too much in any direction, similar to how people will take antidepressants or Adderall, things like that.
But these three categories are fairly fluid, really only getting assigned to strains that I think fully embody these ideas. Still if you go into a store and ask for something that fits one of these contexts, I guarantee you will have a much more productive conversation with your budtender. They may even be able to find you something much closer to what you need rather than just assigning you the Indica or Sativa of the day because you told them you couldn't smoke one or the other. I recommend you always take your drug research seriously, and try to move away from the traditional genetic classifications of weed. The sooner we start to move away from these ideas the sooner we can really advance into growing strains that do the same thing every time.
Save your stickers, keep a journal, whatever works for you, I encourage you to do it. Learning is the best aspect of this industry right now, as much as everyone else would have you believe it is money.
Money is not what we're working for.