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Marijuana has been used medically and recreationally for millennia. Initially, it was used medically and spiritually, and it’s been around for over 12,000 years. It is said to have originally grown in the dumping grounds of prehistoric hunters. (1) In more modern history, however, the plants of Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa have been around since the 18th century. Cannabis hybrids are a pretty new invention, but we’ll get into all of that later.
This guide will help you to understand the different types of weed available to you, let you know their differences, and help you figure out which one might be the best for you.
How did the classification process start? The classification of marijuana has been a thing for quite some time. Scientific differentiation between the indica and sativa plants began in the late 18th century. Primarily, the taxonomic differences were focused on structure and resin. The original classification was made by French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in 1785. (2)
The French biologist noted that some of the cannabis plants had an intoxicating effect. In contrast to the hemp crops, the ones observed by Lamarck were later named indica to separate cannabis of Indian origin from those found in Europe.
In modern times, since 1970, cannabis has been categorized into three types. Cannabis can either be sativa, indica or ruderalis. These three categories of weed all have distinct differences and unique characteristics, and they can each be used in a variety of wonderful ways. More recently, however, we have developed hybrid strains of marijuana. Hybrids are, as you might imagine, a mix of genetic strains combined together to create unique characteristics, appearances, and effects.
Types of Marijuana
Marijuana is used for medical purposes all across the country, and in some states recreational use is legal too. There is a huge variety of effects weed use can have, both physically and mentally. Most of these effects are positive, but don’t be mistaken – there are certainly negative effects, too. The most common and consistent effect, however, is that it provides a relaxed and calming effect for the user. Weed may help you combat stress and relieve pain and inflammation, among other things.
The basic reactions of weed include dry mouth, an increase in blood pressure, and an increased appetite. Positive reactions include a relaxed state of being, physical pain relief, and a heightened sense of smell, touch, taste, and hearing. There are, of course, negative reactions as well that some people may find unpleasant. Weed can cause paranoia and anxiety for the user, and some may experience a lack of motivation while using it.
There are many different types of weed (referred to as strains), but the three key categories you need to keep in mind when looking for what weed will be best for you are sativa, indica, and ruderalis. There are also hybrid strains. Hybrid simply indicates the mixing of seeds from different plants and strains with the intention of creating a strain of weed that combines the best parts of the plants into one versatile and dynamic strain.
Indica is believed to have originated from the Hindu Kush region near Afghanistan. It is most commonly found above a latitude of 30° N in countries like Nepal, Lebanon, Morocco, and Afghanistan.
The indica plant can be identified by its short and bushy appearance. It also has a shorter maturation cycle than sativa and generally produces heavier yields. Indica and sativa also tend to have different flavor profiles.
Indica strains are generally the most commonly used for medicinal purposes. This is because it primarily affects the body, and it can be instrumental in providing pain relief and reducing inflammation. It can also be used to help improve your sleep, and it has been used in many states where medical cannabis is legal to help people who have trouble sleeping.
Users can expect a relaxing and calming effect. It can also make users sleepy (hence why it is given to people who have trouble sleeping) and hungry (it can be used to increase your appetite). Indica strains are typically seen as being more suitable for nighttime use. This is because it is more relaxing than its sativa counterpart, which offers a more invigorating effect.
Indica strains are generally high in CBD. CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning that users will not get “high” from it. It is also what allows it to have so many medical uses since it instead offers therapeutic effects. If you aren’t familiar with CBD, Healthy Hemp Oil has information on CBD and a CBD buyers guide to help you decide which CBD product is best for you.
Some examples of the top Indica strains include Purple Haze, Northern Lights, and Granddaddy Purple.
The sativa plant is generally the most popular plant consumed for recreational use. This plant grows quite large, reaching up to 15 feet in some cases. While it is not a thick plant, many growers like it due to how tall it can grow. It has a longer maturation cycle than indica plants and tends to produce lower yields.
The sativa plant offers a more heady experience than its indica counterpart. Sativa is often described as uplifting and energizing and is said to be excellent for boosting creativity. As such, it can also be very effective at combating low mood and attention disorders. Furthermore, the energizing effects of sativa strains mean that it is said by many to be great for morning or afternoon use.
However, sativa is typically high in THC (which gets users “high”), and so, unlike indica strains, which have a more balanced level of CBD, it isn’t often prescribed medically and is more commonly used recreationally. It can sometimes be used to combat the problems mentioned in the previous paragraph, and it is still used in Ayurveda medicine. (3)
Some of the most popular sativa strains include Sour Diesel, Jack Herer, and Lemon Haze.
The Cannabis ruderalis plant is less common than its sativa and indica cousins, and it’s most likely the one you’re the least familiar with. The plant generally reaches a maximum height of two feet tall, but its leaves and branches tend to be quite dense, which gives the ruderalis plant a bushy appearance.
The plant is mainly grown up north because its flowering cycle begins early. Since the cold season hits earlier in the north, it is the ideal choice for many growers. Modern ruderalis hybrids usually begin to flower between 21 and 30 days after the seeds have been planted, regardless of the light cycle. This is why most ruderalis hybrids are attributed as “autoflowering” strains.
It isn’t as popular as sativa or indica because it lacks the same psychotropic effects found in those plants. This is mainly because it has naturally low concentrations of THC. It is often used by breeders and cultivators looking for a genetic source for marijuana hybrids, because of its ability to grow in colder climates and its “autoflowering” qualities.
In today’s market, most strains you’ll find will be a hybrid of some sort. Breeders will carefully cultivate their plants to create the best hybrids possible, taking aspects from different plants and strains and combining them together for greater and more varied effects. As such, there are a huge amount of hybrid types, and more are being developed every day. Instead of marijuana plants falling into one of the above categories, they now more often range across a wide variety of them.
Different hybrids contain different advantages, of course, and the idea of combining strains is to try to match all of the positive qualities of various strains into one plant.
There are many reasons to combine strains together. Some of the benefits growers gain by making hybrid plants include specific flowering cycles, different concentrations of cannabinoids (more specifically, the ratios of CBD and THC), or even just cosmetic choices, like appearance and aroma.
What users can expect from hybrid strains depends on the balance of plants. Sativa dominant hybrids, for example, typically provide more mental relief and combat stress and anxiety, paired with a relaxing feel that can be helpful for managing minor pain or discomfort. Indica dominant hybrids, on the other hand, generally provide considerable relaxation effects and can be ideal for moderate pain relief or for helping people sleep right through the night.
Some popular examples of hybrid strains include Sour Diesel, Trainwreck, and Blueberry.
Understanding The Difference Between Weed Strains
While they come from the same plant family, indica and sativa are as different as they come.
- Growth period – While indica plants tend to have a high yield with faster growth, sativa plants take much longer to grow and mature.
- THC and CBD content – When dried and prepared, sativa plants tend to provide higher THC levels with lower CBD. Indica is the opposite, presenting lower THC levels with higher CBD content.
- Effects – The different CBD-THC ratios in these plants naturally leads to different effects. Indica is more often associated with feelings of mental and physical relaxation, reduced nausea, and increased appetite. Sativa is more likely to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, and increase focus and creativity. While both may help with pain, sativa is shown to reduce chronic pain, while indica reduces more acute pains.
- Neurotransmitters – Indica is known to increase dopamine, the neurotransmitter in charge of the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Sativa increases serotonin, which helps to regulate mood, learning, sleep, and anxiety.
- Time of day – While you can certainly use either strain whenever you want, indica is more suited to nighttime use thanks to its relaxing, sedative effects that may help to promote more restful sleep. Sativa may be better suited to daytime use as it can keep you more calm, focused, and level-headed.
Marijuana Plant Genders
Male and Female
Weed plants have genders? They sure do! Marijuana plants can be either male or female. Male plants are easier to identify after they mature. Racemes (small flower stalks) begin forming towards the base of its flowers, and pollen will be released when the flowers open. When the flowers open, the plant releases airborne pollen which sticks to and is absorbed by the pistils of the female plant. Male plants generally develop sooner than females, which makes identification easier.
Like the male plants, female plants also produce racemes. Female plants, however, are a blend of tiny pistils and calyces (calyx). In each of the calyces, there is an ovule, which acts as the receptor for the pollen from the male plant. The pistil will get pollen stuck to it, which then gets pushed into the calyx, and the fertilization process begins. Like in all cases of reproduction, the resulting seeds will end up with genes from both parents.
Although rare to occur naturally, plants may exhibit both male and female sex organs. These plants can, in fact, perform fertilization themselves, which can be extremely useful to breeders. It doesn’t occur frequently in nature but has evolved as a self-preservation device for the species.
Not all hermaphroditic plants are the same, however. They can fall into three categories. They either have a high volume of male flowers, a high volume of female flowers, or an equal volume of both. Typically speaking, plants that have a higher volume of female flowers are most useful to breeders. This is because those kinds of hermaphrodite plants are genetically female, so their pollen can be used to fertilize female plants and produce feminized seeds.
Many growers aren’t looking to pollinate their female plants, however. This is because, in unpollinated plants, more energy is devoted to producing cannabinoids – instead of being used up on reproduction organs and seed production – and buds of greater value to the grower and the consumer.
Unpollinated plants will have more sugar, THC, and much denser flowers, as well as a better fragrance. This is ideal, especially for medicinal purposes, where the efficiency is very important for patients who are in need of the active ingredient. Sinsemilla is often considered a better experience for both recreational and medicinal users.
Knowing the differences between strains and plant species is key to understanding how weed can improve your life. There are a vast amount of ways that marijuana can positively impact your world and improve your everyday quality of life. From the calming and pain management effects of indica strains to the invigorating impact of sativa, discover how weed can fit into your life.
Understanding which kind of weed is right for you is extremely important. There are many different types available to you, and each can help you in different ways. Hopefully, this guide has helped you make that important decision or helped educate you on what you need to be aware of. Know your needs and know your options. Weed could be the remedy you’ve been searching for.