Sometimes when browsing a menu of tantalizing cannabis products, an important question is imminent: what kind of high do I want to get today? For the seasoned cannabis user, the decision is often based on the current mood, or the events that will follow that decision. Maybe a project is due, a party to go to, or maybe there is a looming sadness that can only be cured by some dank nugs. Whatever the scenario, the seasoned smoker knows where to go. However, what if you’re not so seasoned, though? What if a marijuana menu is an overwhelming catalog of confusion? In this blog, I’m going to explain the difference in Indica and Sativa, what in the world a hybrid is, and how your next cannabis decision can be informed and deliberate to maximize your experience,
Indica or Sativa: A Foundation in Science
I think it is important to first understand that cannabis is a plant. Specifically, a genus of flowering plants in the family Cannabaceae. When speaking scientifically, we use the term “cannabis” to refer to ALL products from the plant cannabis sativa. This can range from the physical to the chemical. Of which, the cannabis plant contains about 540 different chemical substances.
This brings up another important differentiation. When does one use the word cannabis versus marijuana? The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a department of the National Institute of Health, says, “the word “marijuana” refers to parts of or products from the plant Cannabis sativa that contain substantial amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the substance that’s primarily responsible for the effects of marijuana on a person’s mental state. Some cannabis plants contain very little THC. Under U.S. law, these plants are considered “industrial hemp” rather than marijuana.”
Great. We now know when to use cannabis, and when to use marijuana. We are going to continue referring to products that, in fact, contain substantial amounts of THC. So…
The Chemical Basics
As previously stated, the cannabis plant contains about 540 different chemical substances.
From these 540, several main chemical substances are responsible for the “effects” you feel from smoking or ingesting marijuana. These substances are:
THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis plants. It’s responsible for the “high” or state of euphoria associated with cannabis use. Levels of THC have been increasing as growers try to create hybrids with a greater concentration of the compound.
CBD is non-impairing or non-euphoric. It doesn’t cause a “high.” However, it may produce many physical benefits, such as reducing pain and nausea, preventing seizures, and easing migraine.
Cannabinol (CBN) is used to ease symptoms and side effects of neurological conditions, including epilepsy, seizures, and uncontrollable muscle stiffness.
Tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCA) is similar to THC, but it doesn’t cause any psychoactive effects. Its potential benefits include reducing inflammation caused by arthritis and autoimmune diseases. It may also help reduce symptoms of neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease and ALS.
Cannabigerol (CBG) is thought to help reduce anxiety and symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression.
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