Basic Cannabis Information
Cannabis is an annual, dioecious, flowering herb. Dioecy is a term used in botany to refer to species of plants that have female and male reproductive structures 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 characteristics!
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 a significantly lower concentration of active ingredients. This is also where the term “flower” comes from! Cannabis comes in so many different forms that it’s sometimes important (especially for dispensaries like us) to specify what type of product we’re talking about, in order to avoid confusion.
Sativa vs. Indica
Depending on who you ask, Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica are either two separate subspecies of Cannabis or they’re completely different species altogether. Regardless, C. indica and C. sativa have clearly distinct characteristics.
Cannabis sativa plants originated in warm equatorial areas of the globe. The plants are normally 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 additional 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. The combinations are endless.
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.
THC vs. CBD
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 cannabinoids, the two that are produced in the highest quantities are tetrahydrocannabinol (commonly abbreviated as THC) and cannabidiol (common abbreviated as CBD).
THC is the primary psychoactive cannabinoid present in cannabis. The concentration of THC in cannabis varies from strain to strain and is also greatly influenced by environmental factors. While many strains have been bred for their potency, it typically requires an expert hand for a plant to reach its full genetic potential. Products with higher concentrations of THC are highly 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. CBD is commonly used for insomnia, nausea, and anxiety. 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.