We’re here to answer any burning questions you might have about Cannabis. If there’s anything we’ve missed, please let us know!
Cannabis is an annual, dioecious, flowering herb. Dioecy refers to species of plants that have female and male flowers on different plants. That means that there are female and male Cannabis plants, although it’s not unheard of for one plant to exhibit both male and female traits!
Why does this matter? It’s only the female flowers that produce flower buds, which is the part of the plant that we harvest to smoke or consume in other ways. The other parts of the plant (often called “trim” because they’re what’s trimmed away from the flower buds) can still be used, but they have lower levels of active THC.
This is also where the term “flower” comes from!
Depending on who you ask, Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica are either two separate subspecies of Cannabis or they’re entirely different species altogether. Clearly, C. indica and C. sativa have very distinct traits.
Cannabis sativa originated in warm equatorial areas of the globe. The plants are taller and lankier, while also having narrower leaves. The “high” produced by C. sativa tends to be more energetic and creative than that produced by C. indica, making it better suited to daytime use. The mind tends to remain more active and focused with C. sativa.
Cannabis indica, on the other hand, originated in more mountainous regions. The plants are hardier and easier to cultivate in temperate regions (like here in Portland, Oregon). C. indica plants are also shorter and bushier than their C. sativa counterparts, with large thick leaves. The “high” produced is more of a full-body high, with sedative and pain-relieving properties. As a result, C. indica tends to be better suited to nighttime use.
Hybrids of C. sativa and C. indica are also very common. The two varieties have been crossbred for many years, resulting in countless strains that possess unique genetics and lineages. Some of these offshoots may display sativa tendencies while producing more of an indica high, for instance.
Cannabis ruderalis is the informal name for smaller varieties of Cannabis that grow wild throughout parts of Europe and Asia. There is some debate over whether C. ruderalis should be considered its own species/subspecies or if it’s a wild form of C. sativa. Regardless, it’s extremely rare to find in North America markets.
But, that’s only some of the cannabis information to consider.
Cannabis plants contain many different compounds. At least 85 of the produced compounds are cannabinoids, which affect the cannabinoid receptors in our brains. Of all of these, the two that are produced in the highest quantities are tetrahydrocannabinol (AKA- THC) and cannabidiol (AKA- CBD).
THC is the primary psychoactive cannabinoid present in cannabis. The level of THC in cannabis varies from strain to strain and is also greatly affected by environmental factors. While many strains have been bred for their potency, it requires an expert hand for a plant to reach its full potential. Products with higher levels of THC are sought after because of THC’s intoxicating nature.
CBD, on the other hand, is not psychoactive. Rather, CBD is responsible for many of the medicinal effects of cannabis. Through different breeding and extraction techniques, there are now many products on the market that contain high levels of CBD while having little or no THC.
That’s it for the basics, but there’s so much more: What are terpenes? What are edibles and how do I choose?