Cannabis, Weed, Mary Jane, Marijuana, etc.. The flower we all know and love today goes by many names. Whatever you decide to call it, flower has been slowly becoming the go-to medication for many ailments in modern times.
Dating back as far as 500 BC, cannabis has been used medicinally as well as for religious ceremonies by numerous cultures.
What is Cannabis?
Cannabis is a plant from the Cannabaceae family. It shares lineage with other plants such as Hops and Hackberries. Though there is a massive variety of strains, cannabis can be classified into four groups. Indica, Hybrid, Sativa and Ruderalis. We'll explore more in-depth about each classification further down.
What are Indica, Hybrid, Sativa and Ruderalis?
These classifications describe the different physical traits of a cannabis plant. These were first classified by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus (Cannabis Sativa), French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (Cannabis Indica) and Russian botanist Dmitrij Janischewsky (Cannabis Ruderalis).
Cannabis Indica growth patterns are short, bushy, generally having shorter flower times (about 7 - 9 weeks due to higher chlorophyll concentrations) and have shorter wider leaves. The buds on this type of cannabis tend to be smaller and denser. These plants grew in the cool high altitude regions of the Hindu Kush Mountains. This included regions of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Morocco, India, and Nepal. Due to the climate, these cannabis strains were forced to grow shorter, bushier and with high levels of chlorophyll to collect adequate sunlight to survive.
There is controversy in the cannabis community about whether Indica provides a body high, though scientific evidence leads us to believe that this may not be the case. Though this may apply to some strains, other indica strains can provide heavy cerebral highs as well. Indica is still used widely in the industry to describe a heavy body high due to the simplicity it provides consumers when evaluating which medicine is right for them.
Cannabis Sativa growth patterns are tall (up to 3 meters tall), thin leaves, longer flowering times (10 - 16 weeks due to lower chlorophyll concentrations) and more spread out stems. The buds on this type of cannabis generally grow to be larger and looser. These plants grew in warmer climates with higher amounts of sun in regions such as Colombia, Mexico, Thailand, and Southeast Asia. Due to these climates, plants required lower amounts of chlorophyll in their leaves as to not be burned by higher levels of sunlight.
In the same case as Cannabis Indica, controversy about the type of high exists with Cannabis Sativa. These strains are thought contain a strong cerebral high due to high levels of THC. In the same was as Indica however, the effects of Sativa strains can often be strong body highs as well.
Cannabis Ruderalis is a more uncommon plant in the industry. These plants grow short with thick stems. Ruderalis grew in the northern regions of Eastern Europe, Russia, and Asia. As opposed to Sativa and Indica, Ruderalis is not a photoperiod (begins flowering due to shifting light period to 12 hours on 12 hours off) plant. Ruderalis is different in the fact that it will begin flowering automatically without changing the light period. The buds tend to be smaller on these plants.
Because of smaller buds and the inability to control when flowering occurs in these plants, commercial growers tend to shy away from using Ruderalis crossed strains (aka Auto Flower Strains). Due to the convenience of growing in small areas and the relative simplicity of not having to adjust photo-periods, Ruderalis crossed strains are quite popular for home growers.
As is apparent with the name, Hybrid is a mixture of both Indica and Sativa strains. Realistically, almost all modern day cannabis is some form of Hybrid flower. Due to the growing ingenuity of commercial growers, strains have been crossed immeasurable amounts of times to create the powerful, high THC strains that are widely available in medical and retail locations today.
Are strains today the same as the strains our grandparents had?
There has been a recent push to start reverse engineering cannabis lineage to find the original strains that modern day cannabis has come from. Due to the war on drugs, cultivators were forced to breed strains with lower amount of plant alcohol esters. These esters were responsible for the extremely pungent smells that cannabis became popular for in the past. Some strains were so strong you could smell them from quite a distance away. This created many issues for illegal growers for the obvious reason of risking being caught by authorities. Since growers had been forced into growing indoors to avoid being caught, these pungent odors had to be bred out.
Here's hoping that one day we can recover these amazing pungent aromas and reintroduce them into our modern cannabis strains.
There is much more about cannabis that isn't covered here, and much more we hope to continue to learn as more and more scientific research continues to come out.