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What is cannabis?
Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants that includes three separate and distinct varieties, Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica,and Cannabis ruderalis. These three sub species are indigenous to Central Asia, and South Asia. Cannabis has for 1000’s of years been used for making hemp fibre, for food, for medicinal purposes, and as a recreational drug. Industrial hemp clothes and materials are made from Cannabis plants which have been selected to produce an massive amounts of fibere. To satisfy the UN Narcotics laws, industrial hemp varieties have been created which contain very low levels of THC (one of the psychoactive compounds that gives the “high” associated with smoking cannabis. The psychoactive product often called marijuana is the dried flowers of plants selectively bred and modified to produce high levels of THC and other psychoactive compounds such as CBD. Various extracts such as hashish and hash oil can also be produced from the plant.
Cannabis sativa is one of the subspecies of the cannabis genus. A Cannabis sativa plant can have a THC/CBD ratio 4-5 times that of Cannabis Indica, that is to say sativa strains have high levels of THC and in comparison low levels of CBD. The Plants are generally tall and slender characterised by narrow serrated leaves and loose spear-like flower clusters that can be extremely resinous. Sativa cannabis plants can often reach 2-3 metres in height and will have longer flowering times, taking between 10 and 14 weeks to reach full maturity.
Sativas are well known for their cerebral high and primary effects that focus on the mind and emotions.
Cannabis indica is a short and stocky genus of the cannabis genus which is thought to have originated in the Hindu kush mountain range of central Asia. Due to to the short harsh summers and variable weather cannabis indica strains have to finish fast often reaching maturity after 8 weeks of flowering and pack on huge flowers and buds which are covered in resin. Indica strains are much shorter and stockier than sativa strains generally being around 1 metre in height.
Indica strains have a CBD/THC ratio that can be 4-5 times higher than sativa strains. This means that Indica strains have much higher levels of CBD than sativa strains. Indica strains are often used in the hindu kush region for the production of hashish and hash oils. Indica strains are well know for their medical benefits due to their narcotic and sedative effect.
Cannabis Ruderalis is a sub species of cannabis that originates from central Asia and is much shorter than cannabis sativa and cannabis indica. Ruderalis has developed in very harsh climates and begins flowering according to life cycle rather than photo period unlike the sativa and indica varieties. This means that ruderalis plants will begin to flower after 3-4 weeks from germination unlike the sativa and indica sub specie which need to receive less than 12 hours of light per day to begin flowering. Because of these reasons Ruderalis has been described as ‘auto flowering’.
Ruderalis has very low levels of THC and CBD and has little recreational use but various breeders have crossed ruderalis with indica to create autoflowering strains with higher levels of THC and CBD while retaining the autoflowering trait.