UNDERSTANDING THE MISUNDERSTOOD: Introduction to Cannabis
Updated: May 4
Source: Lemur Legal
Ganja, weed, dope, cannabis – these are just a couple of names used for marijuana, which has become a very hot topic in these days. However, when we take a closer look into our history books it quickly becomes clear that marijuana is nothing new and that people have been using is for thousands of years. Cannabis is one the world's most cultivated plants, which can be found everywhere from ancient China to Europe.
It is very interesting to observe how this magnificent plant is so well known yet so little understood. A plant that was able to spread around the world and then suddenly became banned practically in every state of the world. That's why I decided to write a series of blog posts about cannabis, starting with the basics about the plant that still storms the spirits.
Technically, Cannabis is the genus name of plants belonging to the Cannabaceae family. As already mentioned above the plant can be found all over the world as it can be cultivated in any conditions. It is believed that it originated somewhere in Central Asia and it is a species of flowering plant that contains more than 480 chemical compounds. For over 6000 years it has been used as a food, a fiber, a medicine and a recreational drug. We differentiate between male and female cannabis plants, a very important distinction, since only the female cannabis plants provide the very much valuable buds.
Taking a closer look of the genus Cannabis reveals that includes three subspecies, namely Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Ruderalis. Curious what are the main differences? Well, read on.
Cannabis Sativa (C. sativa) usually grows tall and has narrow leaves. This type prefers sunnier climates, ideally around of equator in order to get the much desired 12 hours of sunlight per day. If grown in the right environment C. sativa can produce very high yield. Probably many of you know this type of Cannabis due to its ability to produce high amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (or better known as THC, which causes both psychoactive and physical reactions; basically, THC is responsible for the “high” feeling), while having lower concentrations of cannabidiol (CDB, which is a naturally occurring substance used in products like oils and edibles to impart a feeling of relaxation or calm). The effects of C. sativa are typically uplifting and focused on the mind, however due to its strong effects it can also induce anxiety and paranoia in some people.
Cannabis Indica (C. indica) derives from the regions in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan and the plant tends to grow in at high altitude on mountainous terrain. Compared to C. sativa, it grows short and stocky with broader leaves. C. indica usually contains less THC than C. sativa, however this doesn’t mean that the amount of THC in plants of this kind is low per sé. On the other side, C. indica generally has higher amounts of CBD than C. sativa. If the effect of C. sativa is elevating, C. indica is more known for its sleepy and relaxing effects.
Last but not least, Cannabis ruderalis (C. ruderalis) tends to grow in places with significant disruption due to human activity, which means that you can often find this type of plant growing near roadsides and farmland. It is thought to originate from central Asia and was then moved to Russia and Central Europe. Obviously, C. ruderalis can grow in relatively cool or even cold climates and it can start flowering regardless of the light cycles. Compared to C. sativa and C. indica it grows short and it contains little if any THC, however there is some CBD present in it. Due to these characteristics some consider C. ruderalis a kind of European hemp. Furthermore, because of the lack of concentration of cannabinoids in the plant, it tends not to have major direct medical uses, however the plant has important uses for breeding and growing. Most commonly, C. ruderalis has been crossbred with C. sativa and C. indica in order to reduce the amount of time and space needed to grow marijuana and these types of crossbreeding can also help with the growing of cannabis in colder climates.
Although cannabis is a plant that causes fiery debates on both sides, there are still many misconceptions present connected to its use. Nobody can say what the future will bring for cannabis, but if we judge the future by its past, we can say that this plant will play an important role in medicine, agriculture and industry.
I would like to conclude the article with a dozen of surprising facts about Cannabis and I invite you all to stay tuned for the next articles in the series of Understanding the Misunderstood, in which I will tell you more about CBD, medical cannabis and many more.
12 surprising facts about Cannabis
1. Cannabis and hops (what beer is made of) are botanical cousins.
2. Researchers discovered that chocolate produces some of the same reactions in the brain as marijuana.
3. First ecommerce transaction ever was cannabis.
4. Human breast milk contains cannabinoids.
5. Bob Marley was buried with his Bible, his guitar and bud of marijuana.
6. Marijuana is about 8000 years old.
7. Vanity Fair used to advertise hashish candies as harmless remedies (back in 1862).
8. The most expensive joint was shaped like an elephant tusk and cost 24.000,00 USD.
9. You could be allergic to marijuana.
10. The first two drafts of the United States Declaration of Independence were written on paper made from hemp.
11. In 2009, a man has set the world record in smoking the greatest number of marijuana joints - 115.000.
12. The name marijuana comes from a Mexican slang term for cannabis and is believed to have derived from the Spanish pronunciation of the names Mary and Jane. (The two names were also common Mexican military slang for a prostitute or brothel.) Marijuana came into popularity as a name for cannabis in the U.S. during the late 1800s.