Cannabis? What is that? Is Industrial Hemp Cannabis? Is your CBD made from pot?
Taxonomists – the people in lab coats who decide the scientific names of plants based upon perceived differences.
Picture a balding, frazzled guy leaning over a marijuana leaf with a large magnifying glass saying, “I think this is Cannabis Sativa, or, maybe its Cannabis Indica, or – wait! – could it be both?”
I know – sounds silly, but it is in fact pretty much the situation. That’s why we get questions like the ones above.
Well, it’s all Cannabis. That’s really everything you need to know – whether its THC or CBD, it comes from Cannabis. No reason to complicate it, but we do.
Some taxonomist say there are three ‘chemotaxonomic’ (big word, but you get the idea) variations in Cannabis – one high in THC (think ‘pot’), one high in CBD and one in the middle, other taxonomists say there are five variations, and so on . . . . *
Active consumers of THC will tell you there are far more variations, each with meaningfully different psychotropic effects. These variations have specific names and devotees, based upon what they believe to be the emotional state induced by that particular plant. None of these names would be recognized by a taxonomist, of course, but the Pot smoker will arm-wrestle you to exhaustion defending the differences.
Confusing? Actually, not so surprising in a plant family that has been heavily cultivated, cross-bred and hybridized over and over again, imported, exported, both revered and banned, for centuries, for its medicinal, recreational and spiritual uses. Expect a lot of variety.
As a case in point, coloradoCBD is produced from the award-winning BaOx™ seed (pronounced “box”) a high-CBD seed developed by industry pioneer Ben Holmes. Ben combined an inbred Hindu Kush line and the Otto male that had been used to create the Otto II hybrid seed. It is, in its origin, pure Indica. But, while all this might be useful information for a hemp farmer, it is of absolutely no value at all to you, the consumer.
So, what is the bottom line? Read the label for what’s in the bottle – how much CBD, and what else? – and get the lab report to back it up – how much CBD, how much THC, any pesticides? – and if these two things don’t tell you what you need to know, buy something else that does.
Here is an excerpt from an interview with Ethan Russo, MD, a leading expert in this field. Dr. Russo concedes there are a number of known varieties, but that this, by itself, tells you nothing useful. He calls it all ‘total nonsense” and strongly argues for laboratory reports as the only meaningful way a consumer can know what they’re getting.
The Cannabis sativa Versus Cannabis Indica Debate: An Interview with Ethan Russo, MD
CCR: How do you think one could address the sativa/Indica dichotomy in a scientifically sound manner?
Dr. Russo: Since the taxonomists cannot agree, I would strongly encourage the scientific community, the press, and the public to abandon the sativa/Indica nomenclature and rather insist that accurate biochemical assays on cannabinoid and terpenoid profiles be available for Cannabis in both the medical and recreational markets. Scientific accuracy and the public health demand no less than this.
CCR: Some users describe the psychoactive effects of Cannabis Indica and sativa as being distinctive, even opposite. But are they really? Beyond self-reports from users, is there any hard evidence for pharmacologically different species of Cannabis?
Dr. Russo: There are biochemically distinct strains of Cannabis, but the sativa/Indica distinction as commonly applied in the lay literature is total nonsense and an exercise in futility [emphasis ours]. One cannot in any way currently guess the biochemical content of a given Cannabis plant based on its height, branching, or leaf morphology. The degree of interbreeding/hybridization is such that only a biochemical assay tells a potential consumer or scientist what is really in the plant. It is essential that future commerce allows complete and accurate cannabinoid and terpenoid profiles to be available.
* The debate continues. Some espouse Cannabis as a single species, while others describe up to four: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis Indica, Cannabis ruderalis, and Cannabis afghanica (or kafiristanica).