We all have our favorite strains, and the symptoms we personally choose to alleviate with the all-natural alternative that is cannabis. But even as folks tout our top picks and wax poetic on the wonders of this plant, it’s not uncommon for many people to know very little about the origins of this healing plant. So, where does cannabis come from?
Origins of the Cannabis Plant
A member of the plant family Cannabaceae, the cannabis plant’s native habitats are central Asia and India. An annual flowering herb, cannabis was originally thought to have only one species – cannabis sativa (from which industrial hemp and many medicinal strains were derived). More than 30 years later (in the late 18th century), Cannabis indica was identified in India, though it was noted to be less useful as a fiber, and more psychoactive. This makes sense, considering industrial hemp is bred from Cannabis sativa plants, not indica.
Different Plants for Different Regions
The two species noted above are in fact two of the three most widely agreed upon by scientists. It’s possible there are other species of cannabis hiding out there – or that a strain already identified will someday be determined to be a separate species all-together, but at this point, most accept this three-species breakdown as fact.
Many people know the basic differences between indica and sativa, though the idea that indica has less THC than sativa is highly contested, with some people stating the opposite, and others completely dismissing the idea that the two species can be broken down in this way.
Regardless, Cannabis indica is native to regions of Asia and India that generally have harsher, windier climates, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nepal. This could explain why they tend to be shorter and heartier in general, as well as their tendency toward thicker coverings of resin, which offer protection in native environments.
Cannabinoid concentrations as well as growing conditions, terpenes, and more determine the effects a certain strain will have on a patient, but typically, people choose indica strains to treat symptoms like chronic pain and insomnia; they offer more of a “body stone”, physical effect.
Know indicas are your bag? Then check out these great strains:
Cannabis sativa harkens from more temperate, equatorial regions such as Mexico, Thailand, southern India, and even Jamaica. Because they face fewer difficult conditions, sativa tends to grow taller and thrives in warm climates.
Sativa strains are popular with those looking for more of a mental high – something to brighten mood or ease symptoms of depression, for instance. Renewed energy is also an effect of more sativa-dominant strains.
Our top sativa picks:
This third type of cannabis is less known in medical and recreational circles because it carries less in the way of medicinal or even recreational benefits – it’s more like industrial hemp in this way. Rather, this Russian native offers its offspring one specific, helpful trait (without much altering the cannabinoid content granted by the other parent): it makes a strain automatic. Because Ruderalis grows in the cooler climates and shorter summers of Russia, it stays small and flowers quickly, without relying on a certain number of daylight hours.
Some scientists believe Ruderalis could be an early hybrid of indica or sativa, but either way it deserves a mention for the part it plays in bringing us easy-to-cultivate auto-flowering cannabis seeds!
You’ve got the species down,
now learn about feminization!
“What Are Feminized Cannabis Seeds?”
The History of Marijuana
The history of marijuana as a medicinal plant goes back to the 29th century B.C., with references from an ancient Chinese emperor who mentioned a variety of therapeutic purposes, and that the plant possesses a balance of yin and yang qualities.
A book in the Hebrew bible mentions cannabis being used as an anointing oil, and Egyptians back in the 1200 BC used it for inflammation and glaucoma … they were obviously on to something!
There are references like this all throughout history – and all over the world – leading right up to the threat of fines for states not growing industrial hemp in the 1700s. For a detailed breakdown of this fascinating history, check out this timeline from ProCon.org, which lays out lots of cool information.