What is Cannabis? Cannabis 101

What Is Cannabis?

Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants found within the Cannabaceae family. Three different species fall into the Cannabis genus. They include; sativa, indica, and ruderalis. These species of plants contain at least 113 discovered cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in cannabis plants acting on cannabinoid receptors found within the human body.

Two of the most well known cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). THC is an intoxicating constituent which produces a ‘high’ in marijuana users. CBD, on the other hand, is a non-intoxicating compound.

Cannabis sativa

Cannabis sativa leaf
Cannabis sativa leaf

Cannabis sativa is a species of plants originating in eastern Asia. C. sativa has been cultivated for thousands of years and its purposes for cultivation include; fibers, food, recreation, and medicine. This species tends to have a lower percentage of THC and higher percentage of CBD. Two of the most popular sativa plants are hemp and marijuana.

The Plants of Cannabis sativa

The main difference between the hemp and marijuana is the amount of THC they contain. Marijuana plants contain more than 0.3% THC, and hemp contains 0.3% or less THC. According to the 2018 Farm Bill, any cannabis plant that contains more than 0.3% delta-9 THC can no longer be considered a hemp plant. It is important to understand that hemp is federally legal as long as it is grown in accordance to all US regulations (2018 Farm Bill).
To learn more about these laws and the 2018 Farm Bill: Click Here

Cannabis indica

Cannabis indica leaf
Cannabis indica leaf

Cannabis indica is the second species that originates in the Indian subcontinent. Typically it contains larger amounts of THC which often allow it to be used more for recreation. Although high in the intoxicating compound THC, it’s uses range from recreational activities and medical prescription drugs. Users of C. indica often experience a “body-high” which aids in pain management and insomnia.

Cannabis ruderalis

Cannabis ruderalis leaf
Cannabis ruderalis leaf

Cannabis ruderalis is the lesser known species. It is native to Eastern Europe. Discovered in 1924, ruderalis is often debated whether or not it should be considered its own species or a subspecies. It’s growth is typically found in the wild, but recently farmers/growers have brought it indoors to introduce new hybrid strains.

It rarely grows over two feet in height and has lower levels of THC than it’s counterparts. Many scientist consider ruderalis a subspecies to sativa as it resembles hemp plants in a handful of ways.

Differences Between Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica

Height and Size

Indica plants tend to grow shorter and bushier than sativa. Indica plants also have short leaves with wide blades whereas sativa plants have long leaves with thin blades. Ruderalis is the shortest variation as it rarely grows over 2 feet in height.

THC and CBD Levels

Cannabis indica tends to have higher levels of THC compared to CBD whereas sativa tends to have lower levels of THC compared to CBD. Recently, new strains have been breed to have 1:1 ratios or higher of CBD to THC.

When used as a drug, sativa strains carry more of a cerebral high or “head-high” which aids in alertness and creativity. Cannabis indica carries more of a “body high” assists muscles and the body aside from the head.

What Are the Uses For Cannabis

Although cannabis-based FDA approved drugs exist, we are unable to speak about medical uses and cannabis period. We encourage you to learn more about it on your own as we are not allowed to do so ourselves.

Recreational Uses

Recreational marijuana is typically used in one of two ways, smoking it and eating it. No, we don’t mean eating the marijuana plant. When we talk about eating it, we mean that users create a butter infused with THC in order to obtain a high when baked into desserts.

CBD does not have any intoxicating properties, so users don’t normally use Cannabidiol for any recreational reasons. Since THC affects the mind and body in so many different ways, cannabis containing high percentages of THC has become one of the most widely used drugs in the history of the world.

As of the publication of this post, it is currently legal to possess recreational marijuana in eleven US states. The laws in each state are slightly different, but generally speaking each state allows anyone 21 or older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana.

Current support for recreational marijuana lingers around the 60 percent approval mark. Medical marijuana has an even higher approval rate of 91 percent. Although recreational marijuana may seem ‘fun’ to users, a recent survey suggests that only 16% of users use marijuana “just for fun”. 37% cited they use it to relax, 19% say they use it for pain relief, and 10% say they use it to become more social.

Stalks of each species of Cannabis

The Bottom Line

Cannabis is a genus of plants often referred to as marijuana or weed. It is broken down into three different species. These species are ruderalis, indica, and sativa.

The legalities are extremely confusing due to contradictory laws and multiple different classification of the plants.

THC and CBD are the most commonly occurring cannabinoids in cannabis plants. THC is intoxicating, but CBD is not. CBD products are growing in popularity due to the media and recent lifted legal restrictions. Products containing high levels of THC are still federally illegal, but state laws are swiftly changing.

There is no medical advice in this post. Nothing you read should be taken as professional medical information. Please consult a doctor if you’re looking to start any type cannabis product.


Hyde, Will. “What Is Ruderalis?” Leafly, 4 June 2015, www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/what-is-cannabis-ruderalis.

Cresco Lab. “Indica vs Sativa.” Cresco Labs, www.crescolabs.com/indica-vs-sativa/.

Davis, Kathleen. “Marijuana : Facts, Effects, and Hazards.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 1 Aug. 2018, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/246392.

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