Cannabis (Marijuana) Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica
Species: Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica
Common name: Marijuana, Hashish
The Cannabis species are annual, dioecious, herbaceous plants in the Cannabis genus, a species of the Cannabaceae family. Cannabis grows wild throughout many tropical and humid parts of the world including India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
It is accepted that there are two main species, Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. The cross-breeding of these two types has led to a wide variety of hybrid strains.
The distinguishing morphology between the two species.
The Sativa strains are tall, loosely branched and have long leaves with thin long blades. They are usually grown outdoors and can reach heights of up to 6 m.
The Indica strains are short, densely branched and tend to have broader, deeply serrated leaves and a compact and dense flower cluster. C. indica strains are the plants usually grown indoors.
Genetic factors dispose a plant to become male or female. The flowers of the female plant are arranged in racemes and can produce hundreds of seeds. Male plants shed their pollen and die several weeks prior to seed ripening on the female plants.
People have cultivated Cannabis sativa throughout recorded history as a source of industrial fibre, seed oil, food, recreation, religious and spiritual moods, and medicine. Each part of the plant is harvested differently, depending on the purpose of its use.
There are three main cultivar groups of cannabis that are cultivated today:
Cultivars primarily cultivated for their fibre, characterised by long stems and little branching.
Cultivars grown for seed which can be eaten entirely raw or from which hemp oil is extracted.
Cultivars grown for medicinal or recreational purposes.
The main active chemical in cannabis species is THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabional). There are three main forms of cannabis: marijuana, hashish and hash oil. Marijuana is the most common and least powerful form of cannabis, consisting of the dried leaves and flowers of the plant.
For more information on Cannabis visit: https://www.drugfoundation.org.nz/cannabis
Cannabis sativa plant
Cannabis sativa, scientific drawing from c1900
Cannabis flower with visible trichomes (fine outgrowths)
The cannabis bud
Underside of Cannabis sativa leaf, showing diagnostic venation
A dried bud, typical of what is sold for drug use.
A sack made from hemp fiber