So, you would like to know more about the amazing cannabis plant? Your interests have been spiked and you’re keen to expand your knowledge. No, it’s not just a weed… that sweet tasting chronic cheese has a story and so do those fruity tooty aromas. Getting to know the ins and outs of cannabis genetics will take a lot more than one article, however, let's break it down for in digestible bits.
When you're sitting around a campfire passing around that sweet-smelling doobie you're bound to bring up the different cannabis strains you have rolled up, the genetic map of each cannabis strain. Not to mention what the future holds for cannabis as we know it. Where the cannabis plant and all its complexities are headed next?
Cannabis genetics have been categorized under 3 different headings, Namely Indica, Sativa and Ruduralis for a long time. However, today there is now a fourth genetic group, these are called hybrids, various combinations of these.
The 411 on cannabis
Cannabis is made of up to 480 different chemicals or compounds. The main, most popular chemical found in cannabis is called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). This chemical is responsible for the tickle of euphoria when you consume cannabis.
When suffering from anxiety or depression there will be different genetics that will help and those needing a creativity boost will need a slightly different combination of genetics. Today there are so many different strains for various different medical conditions. For example, according to some the best cannabis to smoke for back pain is strain called ACDC which has both THC and CBD. On average the strain with a high CBD and THC content always make for excellent pain relief. Blue widow which is a hybrid strain between white widow and blueberry is well known for its anti-inflammatory effects.
The higher THC strains will help for cramps and other pains like migraines and headaches.
Genetic map of cannabis
Cannabis is broken down into two different groups, mainly THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) and CBDA (cannabidiolic acid). Chemically derived from THCA and CBDA known as THC and CBD the two most prominent cannabinoids found in a living cannabis plant. Although there are hundreds of different chemical compounds, active and non-active found in cannabis there is still not enough research done to know exactly what they are and what effects they might or might not have.
What scientists have researched and what we do know is that THCA is a non-intoxicating compound found in living cannabis, when the plant continues to dry after harvest the THCA slowly turns into THC. Heat is used to expedite this process which is called decarboxylation. Scientists believe that THCA will play a big role in the world of cannabis healing in the near future.
THCA, THC, and CBD
A crystal form of CBD and THCA is now produced and chemically isolated to form crystalline. These compounds are very similar in molecular structure with rigid and crystal-like structures. When the process is done the compound looks a lot like crushed ice or crushed rock salt. This is the purest form of a cannabis compound that we can find today, nearly at 99.9 % pure and without any other raw plant material found. Being so pure the crystalline also has little to a very low aroma and taste.
Hemp plants usually contain less than 0.3 percent THC, these plants are higher in CBD and are mainly harvested for their textile qualities. Today more and more people are awake to the healing properties and CBD in hemp and cannabis plants.
THC and CBD have the exact same molecular structure, which is 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. These same molecular structures are just arranged differently which causes different effects on your body.
The endocannabinoids of our own body receptors are chemically similar to THC and CBD which means our bodies react to these chemicals. Neurotransmitters are responsible for relaying messages between the cells in our body. Some of these play a role in our bodies processing pain, stress, and sleep and many other bodily functions.
THC binds with specific cannabinoid receptors called receptor number 1(CB1), this causes a euphoric feeling leaving the consumer “high”.
CBD binds very weakly to this receptor (CB1) even interfering with the binding process of THC to CB1.
The origin of cannabis sativa
Cannabis sativa is a type of cannabis flower that affects us differently than that of a cannabis indica flower. It originates from eastern Asia, but it has been widely spread due to the cultivation and popularity of the sativa plant. It is a short light plant and mostly easier to grow indoors and outdoors than most indica dominant strains.
Cannabis sativa plants are usually tall and skinny, creating an airier bud at the end of the day. The leaves are also long and skinny. The flowering stage in most sativa plants is anywhere between 9 and 15 weeks. The optimal PH scale for these sativa plants is between 6.3 and 6.8 and the nutritional solution should stay between 5.2 and 5.8.
The sativa plants give the consumer a more cerebral high, some would say energetic and creative. This type of strain helps with motivation and appetite.
The origin of cannabis indica
Cannabis indica is from the cannabaceae family, these species include about 170. They are grouped into 11 different genera, these include hops and celtis(hackberries) which is by far the largest of all genus containing almost 100 species.
the cannabis Indica plant has many uses. Which includes harvesting the fibers for cloth. Indica strains produce large amounts of THC which gives you the euphoric (high) feeling. Great for medicinal and recreational use, and very popular all around the world.
The cannabis indica plant produces larger broader leaves than the sativa plants. These broader leaves are harvested and used for the production of charas (handmade hashish from India and Jamaica).
Typically Indica plants are known to give the consumer more of a “body-stoned” feeling and less of head-high as compared to Stativa strains. Indica is known for the relaxation of the body and is great for pain relief and insomnia just to name a few.
Indica plants tend to grow shorter and bushier, yielding shorter fatter leaves.
At the end of the day, there are many differences between cannabis Indica and cannabis sativa. Namely flowering times, the type of smoke, bud density, the structure of plants and leaves but most of all odor and effects.
Some strains that fall under the indica category are northern lights and OG Kush.
The origin of Rudaralis stains
The word ruderal in the plant world means growth despite the plants' environments and habitats that are affected by human influence. Many people believe ruderalis to be of indica descendant that evolved to grow in the northern hemisphere where ruderlais originated.
Specifically, Russia, central/ northern Europe, and Asia have these harsher, shorter light climates. Rudaralis is used by botanists to describe a hemp plant that escaped human cultivation and survived the natural environment found in these parts of the world.
The start of breeding and where it began
Today we want to refine and combine the genetics of two different breeds of cannabis pant. When we breed a new strain of cannabis plant we usually it is usually a hybrid, mixture between indica and sativa strains.
Breeding cannabis plants are usually to produce stronger cannabis plants. Also to combine positive aspects of certain strains. It is also used to help copy certain characteristics like higher yield, potency, and aroma just to name a few.
When we breed with different strains it is important to trust and know the suppliers of your seeds. Otherwise, you are working with unknown soldiers, which could lead to carrying very negative DNA like hermaphrodite genes, etc. it is always best to know exactly what strain you are working with and the potency thereof.
A very good example of a hybrid strain is super lemon haze which is a combination of super silver haze and lemon skunk. The breeder liked certain characteristics of both these strains and decided to combine them. You would need a male of one strain and a female of the other strain, allowing the female to be pollinated by the male. Once the female is pollinated it produces seeds that have both DNA of both strains present.
Breeders say that it is often the female genes that are more prominent in the seeds produced after breeding. So it is a good idea to find the female of the plant you would want most present in your newly bread strain.
It would be wise to pick a male that compliments the traits of the female cannabis plant. Nat Pennington is the CEO of Humboldt Seed Company which has been breeding cannabis for over 20 years. This is the type of seed company that can be trusted for cannabis breeding seeds.
Future cannabis strains and what we can expect
The future of cannabis lies within the medical kingdom and the positive effects that it will have on our society and how they manage disease and life. With new technology, we can pinpoint the different strains that affect certain parts of our brain. One day soon we will grow cannabis specifically for menstrual period pains or even an overwhelming migraine.
Breeders are now concentrating n creating and breeding hybrid strains that are much higher in CBD than THC. Eliminating the psychoactive compound in cannabis we could help people understand the positive medical effects of cannabis.
Although there are millions of people that enjoy cannabis for THC alone. Breeders have managed to create strains that ooze with THC and strains that keep you calm and relaxed during a stressful situation. Today we also have many ways to consume cannabis, not only smoking t through a joint or bong. Capsules are now popular with CBD or THC oil, with the right amount of dosage the patient simply swallows before bed.
A good example of a strain that produces a large amount of THC (25%) is Ghost OG. It is said that the original DNA of OG Kush has been passed down by growers through this strain. Many different strains have been bread from it like Banana Kush and Rare Dankness #1. Caked with a layer of trichomes and THC, and potent smell of lemon pine cleaner. (that’s a good thing)
Let us know your thoughts on the topic, where cannabis originates from where it's going and what you would lie more information on.
Peace and Love