As medical marijuana legalization continues to gain traction throughout the United States, the plant’s genetic complexities are starting to be understood a lot better. Today, medical marijuana is cultivated into specific strains that target the individual needs of millions of patients.


Since the days that early ancestors of the human race took the cannabis plant and started breeding like-quality strains with one another, hundreds of specialized strains have been formulated by scientists to yield unique medicinal properties that target specific illnesses. In the wake of the original breeding of similar cannabis plants all of those centuries ago, two main classifications are still recognized to this day. These two types of medical marijuana plants are known as Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica.


Long before scientists started engineering hundreds of unique strains of medical marijuana, the first recorded use of the cannabis plant dates back to an early civilization of people that lived in what is now known today as Egypt. Back then, the sturdy and thick roots, leaves, and flowers of what were indigenous species of the cannabis plant were used for various everyday needs. Centuries before the invention of plastic and polyester, cannabis was that go-to when creating rope, fabrics, and textiles.

From there, ancestors of the human race noticed that some versions of cannabis had a different texture than others. These early civilians started separating different forms of cannabis from one another so that they could breed varieties of the plant that shared common qualities.

During this separation process, early ancestors noticed that certain variations of cannabis had psychoactive abilities. Upon this realization, they started pairing those common strains together. At the time, humans had no idea that they were creating plants with more tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the compound within marijuana that gives you the high feeling. So in turn, ancestors breeding these plants together lead to even more potent psychoactive plants being born. So, be sure to send a mental thank you (or prayer) to your ancestors because this is how the world ended up with present day marijuana.

Under today’s laws, a plant that contains more than 0.3% of THC concentration is legally classified as marijuana. Anything with a lower concentration may be legally classified as hemp. This journey now leads you to present day.


All forms of cannabis derive from the Cannabaceae family. This classification of plants currently boasts 170 species, and has a range of 11 different genuses. Just like the Cannabaceae family is broken down into distinct classifications, its genuses are as well. The cannabis genus is comprised of hemp and three types of marijuana.

One genus of marijuana that is the lesser known than the rest is Cannabis ruderalis. Cannabis ruderalis is sort of the red-headed stepsister of marijuana because the plant is very middle-of-the-road in terms of its therapeutic and psychedelic abilities. This genus boasts a very low level of THC concentration. Therefore, cannabis ruderalis is not grown for recreational use.

Although low levels of THC may be the case for cannabis ruderalis’ psychoactive abilities, the genus’s cannabidiol (CBD) content does give the plant healing properties. Therefore, it may be used as form of medication. However, cannabis ruderalis tends to take backseat to the other two more well-known genuses of marijuana.



Cannabis sativa marijuana plants grow very tall. At times, cannabis sativa can surpass 20 feet when they reach their maturity in 10 to 16 weeks. Sativa has a tendency to thrive in warmer climates. To combat the hot rays of the sun, the plant evolved to create long branches with light green leaves to shade the cannabis from burning.

What separates sativa from its sister plant, Indica, is the type of high it gives your body. Sativa tends to be a more social bud. Its effect on the cannabinoid receptors throughout the central nervous system (CNS) is one of alertness. Those who use sativa tend to open up their creative flow. If you are looking to go out and chat the night away with friends and family, then cannabis sativa is the bud for you.

Any strain that is classified as a sativa is an effective choice of medical marijuana to combat:

Low Levels of Serotonin (Neurotransmitter responsible for mood, sleep, learning, and appetite)


Unlike Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica strives at higher altitudes and when the weather is cooler. Due to the colder climate, indica plants keep their warmth by remaining shorter. Maxing out at around 4 feet, the plant sprouts bushy, dark green leaves. It’s sort of when you bundle up and huddle together when you are cold. Maintaining its short height and bushy, dark leaves will ensure that the indica plant remains the proper temperature for optimal plant growth.

On a recreational level, indica has a more sedative effect on the body. Many medical marijuana enthusiasts refer to the strain as “in da couch,” due to the lethargic effects of the plant. That’s what makes indica breeds a strong sleep-aid and stress reducer. These qualities are the reasons why indica a more suitable candidate for those who experience high levels of bodily pain.

Indica breeds are commonly used to:

Alleviate Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
Combat Lupus
Decreased Nausea
Increase of Appetite
Higher Levels of Mental Relaxation
Boosted Levels of Dopamine (A neurotransmitter that elicits feelings of happiness)


Sometimes people want the best of both worlds. That’s why today’s medical marijuana scientists took a page out of the ancient human’s playbook and started mixing strains together. If you are looking for a high that has you chatty but you don’t feel like leaving the couch, don’t fret. Thanks to science, there is a strain for you.

Hybrids are a happy medium and can be specialized to suit any and all of your needs. In speaking to your budtender, they can find the right compromise for just how outgoing you feel like being. Some concentrations can carry a ratio that is 50-50 indica to sativa. Others can lean a little more toward sativa than indica, while there are strains that do vice versa. Thanks to the groundwork done centuries ago, researchers today have invented so many strains that can suit your needs perfectly.

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta – “Weed”

How To – “Grow Like a Pro”

Deep Purple – “Smoke On The Water”


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