Whether you are new to cannabis or a seasoned dispensary patron, you have probably heard of sativa and indica varietals – the cannabis plant’s flower offerings. You have your upbeat Sativa’s, your sleepy Indica’s, and hybrids that are a mix of those effects. While categorizing cannabis is standard practice at dispensaries, how helpful and accurate is this practice?
Much is still unknown in the world of weed. While we always need to be careful about the claims we make as an industry, we do know some things with confidence. We can confidently say that every commercially available variety is a hybrid. Science has made these facts available to us through genetic and chemical analysis. Whether a cannabis plant grows tall with thin fingered leaflets like sativa or short and bushy with wide fingered leaflets like an indica, it is a hybrid. Whether or not a particular strain makes you feel uplifted or makes you feel tired, it is a hybrid.
Why is the cannabis industry clinging onto outdated terminology when it comes to something as fundamental as explaining the flower menu? The answer is rooted in over 30 years of debate among botanists about the taxonomy of this complex plant. Cannabis Sativa was first identified by Linnaeus and refers to an industrial hemp type from Europe with no THC content. Lamarck discovered a variety he named ‘Indica’ during his travels in India – it had thin leaflets and possessed intoxicating qualities, but what’s interesting is that it would be called sativa today! Eventually researchers found skunky smelling broad leaflet varieties growing across Central Asia near the Hindu Kush Mountain range – referred to as a variety of the subspecies indica, afghanica (what the industry calls an indica). Modern hybrids shouldn’t be referred to as any of these categories, but it’s important to know the reality behind cannabis speciation – all intoxicating cannabis high in THC descends from the subspecies, Indica. People will continue debating on how to best classify cannabis; one thing we can all agree upon though…it’s truly remarkable just how diverse cannabis really is!
There are many different approaches to selecting cannabis. At GoodFire, we encourage folks to use their senses. While everything is a hybrid, that doesn’t mean cannabis is a total guessing game. Engaging your senses – look, smell, and when possible, touch – and good record keeping of your experiences will allow you to more reliably find cannabis that works for you without any of the hype and buzzwords that have shaped cannabis purchases for decades. As the cannabis industry continues to come out of the underground, and more research is conducted, it is important that we revisit old habits that deserve scrutiny. The practice of how we refer to and categorize cannabis is an old habit worth revisiting.