As Missouri begins the process to legalize medical cannabis, Missourians will want to learn more about the plant and its varieties. While it is often portrayed as a singular plant, marijuana taxonomy is varied. In fact, despite thousands of years of cultivation by mankind, marijuana science is still working to classify the plant into a fully accepted taxonomy. Is the marijuana plant a single species with many variations? Or, are these plants several distinct but closely related subspecies? As the laws and restrictions surrounding the plant are loosened, botanists and medical scientists have more autonomy to study the plant’s genetics to better classify it.
The scientific community has generally accepted three main varieties of the cannabis plant: Cannabis Indica, Cannabis Sativa, and Cannabis Ruderalis. Each have their own unique medicinal properties and uses.
Understanding Medical Marijuana Varieties
The cannabis plant is an annual flowering herb, with varieties that can range in height and size. It is predominantly dioecious, which means that the plant has unique male and female individual organisms. It is the female portion of the plant that produces the flower that most would associate with marijuana; although various parts of the plant have other uses such as textiles, food stuffs, and biofuels.
Initially cultivated in South Asia, the indica strain of the cannabis plant is known for its broad leaves and thick, bushy growth. The flowers of the indica plant often mirror the plant itself, wide and bulky with very dense buds. The indica strains are very hardy, well suited to some of the harsh growing conditions of South Asia.
The marijuana and related products that are cultivated from the indica strains often carry a high THC content, creating potentially potent benefits with a range of advantages for patients. These varieties are known to provide very effective pain relief as well as an excellent sleep aid. Indica strains also act to stimulate appetite.
Given the high THC content, this plant often produces an all over high, often called a body buzz. Indica strains are often relaxing and calming.
Sativa is a varatial that grows tall plants with long and slender leaves. The flowering buds on these plants tends to be long and cylindrical. The sativa plants originate from the equatorial regions on the planet, where the growing season is hotter.
Known as a “daytime” medicinal, this varatial has often been referred to as energetic and euphoric. Sativa products lack the sedative effects often associated with indica strains, and instead offer uplifting stimulation for its users. These strains offer relief for headaches and nausea, as well as eye pressure and anxiety.
The ruderalis strain is another form of cannabis that originated in Eastern Europe and parts of Russia, so it is far more acclimated to colder climates. As the smallest strain of the cannabis species, ruderalis has not been used in commercial settings on its own very regularly. Instead it is typically cross bred with Sativa strains to create plants that are more hardy and flower more quickly.
More often than not, cannabis plants are cross bred to create new strains that incorporate many of the beneficial qualities of each strain. These hybrids are bred to be more insect resistant and offer higher yields as well as greater medicinal properties. Marijuana is a complex plant with endless possible strain combinations, and as the industry evolves, so will advances in cannabis medicinals.
For the latest in the science and legal changes to medical marijuana in Missouri, stay tuned to the Robust Medicinals website.