Are There Different Types of Pot (Cannabis / Marijuana)?
Cannabis (pot) is a single plant genus, but selective breeding and hybridization of the Indica and Sativa species has produced many unique strains. Strains have different amount of specific organic compounds each affecting human physiology differently.
FACT: Most strains in the U.S. are Indica / Sativa hybrids. However, short of doing a genetic test of the strain and comparing it to those native to East (Sativa) and Central Asia (Indica), there is no way to know which species is more “dominate” in a specific strain. Enough generations of selective breeding of either could produce any combination of the organic compounds found in both.
Is There a Difference Between Indica and Sativa?
The species of cannabis that humans consume are Sativa and Indica. From a genetic perspective there is so little difference between these species that some argue that they are in fact a single species. Indica and Sativa species evolved in different parts of the world, exhibit unique physical characteristics, and different ratios of organic compounds.
Without getting too deep, “Indica” plants express genes that result in higher THC to CBD ratios and “Sativa” plants express genes that result in higher CBD to THC ratios.
Sativa, Indica, and Hybrids According to Culture
The terms “Indica” and “Sativa” have been adopted by growers and consumers alike to indicate whether the high experience is Relaxing (Indica), Euphoric (Sativa), or a combination (Hybrid). For consumers, the important thing to understand is what type of high someone is referring to when they use these terms.
- Sativa is uplifting, energetic, psychedelic (head high), and a good choice for day use.
- Indica is relaxing, calming, body high, and a good choice for nighttime.
- Hybrid can be any variation of the above. It is grown by combining an Indica and Sativa strain. Hybrid doesn’t describe simply mixing two already grown Sativa or Indica plants.
This video discusses the most common differences one can expect with Indica, Sativa & Hybrid.
Example: A “Sativa dominant Indica-hybrid” likely gives an energetic psychedelic buzz, while taking enough edge off. A “pure Indica” is likely to be good for relaxing after a long day.
TIP: A good way to remember the difference is “Indica” is “in da’ couch”, as in a good Indica will give you “couch lock”.
Understanding Strains of Pot
There are also strains (sub-species) with names like “Blue Dream” and “OG Kush”. The same strain can be grown in different places at different times leading to wildly different results. Joe can grow one Blue Dream strain in Colorado, and Jane can grow another Blue Dream strain in Washington. Both may have different THC counts and effects. This is usually true for different soils and whether a plant is grown outdoors or indoors under grow lighting. Essentially, what a plant produces chemically is as much about nature (genes) as it is about nurture (environmental conditions).
Organic Compounds Found in Cannabis
Cannabis plants contain several different organic compounds called cannabinoids. The most well known are THC are CBD, but at least 85 different cannabinoids are found in cannabis. Cannabinoids are chemicals that act on cannibinoid receptors in the nervous system and immune system. They all have very similar molecular structures and breakdown into others if exposed to heat or UV light. Until recently research has been limited, so the effects most cannabinoids is yet to be determined.
- THC is the cannabinoid that makes one feel “high”. It causes muscle relaxation, pain reductions, increased appetite as well as reduced nausea, but it is also associated with paranoia and short-term memory loss. It is actually the result of drying out. Drying and burning cause THC-A to convert to THC. When THC is exposed to air for long periods of time it oxidizes and converts to CBN.
- THC-A is not psychoactive, but some research reports benefits as topical pain reliever and to reduce symptoms associated with auto-immune disorders.
- CBN causes sleepiness and reduces the effects of THC and it is probably the actual cause of “couch lock”.
- CBD have been found to have a host of medical benefits without inducing a high. There is also some evidence that CBD content may also counteract the negative side-effects of THC (like risk of psychosis, paranoia, and short-term memory loss).
- CBC is the second most abundant in pot. It is an anti-depressant, improves neurogenisis (brain cell growth), relieves pain, and has anti-microbial properties.
Terpenes are also found in cannabis. These are not unique to cannabis, but they also affect human physiology and usually have pungent odors. These compounds are responsible for different tastes and smells attributed to different strains of pot.
Male V. Female
Male pot plants have very low THC and aren’t typically used to get high. Both plants produce THC, but the highest concentration occurs in female “buds” (the flowering non-stem part of the plant). The main purpose of the male plant is for breeding, although it has other useful purposes. Its hemp is considered to be “finer”.
FACT: Pot has many uses outside of recreation and medicine, one of the most notable is “hemp”, a fiber with many uses. A third species, Cannabis Ruderalis, is also referred to as hemp. It has no psychoactive use.
Does Pot Have Medical Uses?
Empirical data shows that pot has a large range of medical applications, but as well as a range of negative side-effects. These effects of only a few cannabinoids have been researched. A lot of medical marijuana is bred to be high CBD because until recently it was the primary cannaboid researched to ascertain medicinal benefits.
Keep in mind, despite medical benefits, pot is still illegal in parts of the world. You can’t overdose on pot, but like any other mind-altering substance there are risks of addiction and operating heavy machinery. Get help with addiction here.
You Can’t Patent a Plant, but You can Fight a War Over One
While the medical benefits are debated, we can’t ignore the fact that “you can’t patent pot or hemp”, the implications of that for the pharmaceutical industry and other industries, and the fact that pot helps fuel “the war on drugs” overshadow the debate on legalizing cannabis. That said, even governments are coming around to the idea that pot is worth studying medically.
10 Medical Marijuana Industry Facts.
FACT: Although pot is still a schedule I drug, it can now be studied better due to new legislative changes in the US, which included some state (not federal) legalization and this legislation.
What Kind of Pot Makes People Paranoid?
Not all pot induces paranoia. That is essentially a myth, but persons at risk for psychiatric disorders (like schizophrenia) may be particularly susceptible. Studies have shown benefits the benefits of isolated THC and CBD for treating schizophrenia. This indicates that paranoia is caused by one of the many cannabinoids not yet understood by science. In states like Washington, where pot is legal on a state level, people can choose the specific strains and/or eliminate or limit paranoia using higher CBD content.
What Kind of Pot Gives You the Munchies?
All pot sets off neural triggers that tell your brain that you are hungry. It also heightens olfactory senses making you taste and smell more acutely. You aren’t hungry when you smoke, you just think you are, and that is what we call “the munchies”. The THC that is stimulating the brain’s natural endocannabinoid system, which helps to control emotions, memory, pain sensitivity and appetite.