Cannabis and The Climate

written and photographed by Alexandra Arnett @calyx.alex

If anyone has ever grown a cannabis plant or two, you know that they require a lot of love and can be a lot of work. There are both genetic and environmental factors that influence how a plant will develop and what it will look like. It is commonly known that the difference between “indica” and “sativa” varieties is the morphology, but somewhere down the line, it became misconstrued into describing the effects.  

Cannabis has two main subspecies, Cannabis sativa subsp. Sativa and Cannabis sativa subsp. indica. The domesticated varieties of these subspecies include: Cannabis sativa subsp. sativa var. sativa (Broad-leaf hemp or BLH), Cannabis sativa subsp. sativa var. chinesis (Narrow-leaf hemp or NLH), Cannabis sativa subsp. indica var. indica (Narrow-leaf drug or NLD), Cannabis sativa subsp. indica var. afghanica (Broad-leaf drug or BLD). If you’d like to read more about the indica vs sativa debate, you can do so here, but today we’re going to focus on Cannabis sativa subsp. indica var. indica (Narrow-leaf drug or NLD) and Cannabis sativa subsp. indica var. afghanica (Broad-leaf drug or BLD). These are the “drug varieties” of cannabis with moderate to high levels of THC. Plants within the narrow-leaf drug category are what some consider to be the standard morphology of a “Sativa” and plants within the broad-leaf drug category would be considered to have the morphology of an “Indica.”

Cannabis morphology is largely based on the genetic origins of the plant. Certain plant adaptations occur in cannabis due to certain climates that they develop in. This is why many Afghani/Hindu Kush strains can have purple shades to them—because they evolved in colder mountain climates, they genetically adapted to their climate by producing more anthocyanins. These plants are also shorter and bushier than other varieties due to their adaptations to colder climates. Through selective breeding of these purple genetics, we have strains today like Sirius Black from Oregon Breeders Group. In the case of your “sativa” narrow-leaf drug varieties, the plants are typically taller and the leaves less dense due to the hotter climates they developed in and adapted to. Next to genetics, the weather is one of the most important factors. The colder the weather, the more stressed the plant can become if it is not native or adapted to the climate. If the climate is too hot, the plant can get burnt by the heat. 

The cannabis plant comes in many shades, such as greens, reds, and purples. Much like chlorophylls give plants and leaves their green color, flavonoids like anthocyanins give plants their orange, red, pink, purple, blue, and even black colors. To begin, flavonoids are consumed by humans through fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods and drinks. Anthocyanins are a specific group of flavonoids. This group of flavonoids includes over 400 different kinds of anthocyanins. Just a small fraction of the anthocyanins you may see expressed in the cannabis plant include cyanidin, delphinidin, malvidin, pelargonidin, peonidin, and petunidin.

In addition to providing color to the plants, flavonoids and anthocyanins have shown to have both neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties (Weston-Green, 2019). This is among the many reasons that people recommend using whole-plant extracts and concentrates like RSO and tinctures to aid in certain medical conditions. In particular, the cannabis plant also contains two specific flavonoids, Cannflavin A and Cannflavin B. Most recently, researchers have looked at their potential to help fight pancreatic cancer. Although the research is still new, it is something to keep an eye on in the future (Moreau et al., 2019).

References

McPartland, J. M. (2018). CannabisSystematics at the Levels of Family, Genus, and Species. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, 3(1), 203–212. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2018.0039  

Moreau, M., Ibeh, U., Decosmo, K., Bih, N., Yasmin-Karim, S., Toyang, N., Lowe, H., & Ngwa, W. (2019). Flavonoid Derivative of Cannabis Demonstrates Therapeutic Potential in Preclinical Models of Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer. Frontiers in oncology, 9, 660. https://doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2019.00660

Weston-Green, K. (2019). The United Chemicals of Cannabis: Beneficial Effects of Cannabis Phytochemicals on the Brain and Cognition. Recent Advances in Cannabinoid Research, 83–100. https://doi.org/10.5772/intechopen.79266  

Customer’s Guide to Cannabis

written by Alexandra Arnett

The Cannabis sativa L. species is a member of the family Cannabaceae. Around 27.8 million years ago, a split occurred within the Cannabacea family developing into Cannabis L. and Humulus L. Cannabis has been used for thousands of years either as medicine, food, for fibers and even in religious ceremonies. Many of the early reports of cannabis use indicate it can cause psychosis-like symptoms, including visions, but this is extremely speculative as it was mostly observed in religious ceremonies and/or ritual practices. 

Though the Cannabis sativa L. species has been around for over 10,000 years, botanical and chemical research and classification of the plant has only occurred within the last few centuries. 

 The “L” indicates who first published the classifications, and in the case of cannabis and Humulus, or hops, it is Carl Linnaeus. Linnaeus is also considered the Father of Taxonomy and published Systema Naturae in which he classified over 7,700 plant species.

Now, when cannabis was first classified and popularized in the early 60s, it was mistakenly noted that “indica” and “sativa” were relevant in terms of the physiological and psychological effects. However, this was never indicated by those using cannabis and the botanists certainly were not ingesting them to find out. This is where the confusion really sets in; with the re-popularization of cannabis in the early 90s, the terms indica and sativa were suddenly being used to describe effect rather than morphology and origin. These terms have no bearing on how a certain strain will make you feel. Instead, the chemical makeup of terpenes is what influences the effect of a certain strain. 

The term “sativa” is Latin for cultivated, which is why it was used to name the variety of the Cannabis L. species Cannabis sativa. The term “indica” was for the region, India, in which they first found a specific variety of the species. Cannabis L. contains two main varieties, Cannabis sativa subsp. sativa and Cannabis sativa subsp. indica. Furthermore, within these subspecies, there are several varieties:

  • Cannabis sativa subsp. sativa var. sativa (Broad-leaf hemp or BLH)
  • Cannabis sativa subsp. sativa var. chinesis (Narrow-leaf hemp or NLH)
  • Cannabis sativa subsp. indica var. indica (Narrow-leaf drug or NLD)
  • Cannabis sativa subsp. indica var. afghanica (Broad-leaf drug or BLD)

Cannabis sativa subsp. sativa varieties are what we call hemp, which is simply cannabis with a lower THC content, and is better for crafting fibers and other materials. Cannabis sativa subsp. indica varieties account for the “drug” types that helped develop the cannabis we have today. However, this is not to say that these four varieties never crossed paths and mixed genetics. If isolation of the plant varieties were the case, we would not have the cannabis we have today with the varying ratios of cannabinoids and terpenes. 

In today’s market, most cannabis “strains,” or cultivars as the scientific community likes to say, are hybrids of the various cannabis genetics. Landrace strains are another variety of cultivars that have not been crossed with any other genetics since its discovery. Due to the perseverance of some breeders and activists such as Ed Rosenthal and seed banks such as Sensi Seeds, strains that are considered “landrace” are available nearly everywhere. One of the most popular landrace strains is Durban Poison, which hails from the Port of Durban in Africa. Others include Hindu Kush, Afghan Kush, Lamb’s Bread, Acapulco Gold, Nepalese Kush and Chocolate Thai. These landrace strains have been cultivated by the native populations and have been used for centuries. Many of these landrace strains are best grown in climates similar to their place of origin. This can be achieved through indoor and greenhouse grows if the outdoor climate is not ideal for that particular strain.

In order to obtain the cannabis we have today, breeders have been crossing genetics and developing a wide array of strains, each with their own unique profile. Cannabis profiles include cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. There are over 113 cannabinoids, including THC, CBD, CBN, CBG, THCV, CBDV and now THCP and CBDP. Various cannabinoids play a role in the psychological and physiological effects of cannabis. In addition, there are over 200 terpenes that can be found in cannabis. Terpenes contribute to the scent, effect, look and taste of cannabis. Flavonoids found in the cannabis plant include cannflavin A, cannflavin B, cannflavin C, vitexin, isovitexin, apigenin, kaempferol, quercetin, luteolin and orientin. These flavonoids contribute to the colors and tastes of the cannabis plant to create the combinations that we are familiar with. For example, the purple color that certain cannabis strains produce is due to a flavonoid called anthocyanin! In addition, this flavonoid is an anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and antioxidant.

Overall, one should not rely solely on cannabinoids or strain names to help determine what strain is best for them. The best test is the smell test: your nose knows better. The more you enjoy the scent of a cannabis strain, the more likely you are to enjoy the effect. Although, be aware that high THC content and certain terpenes such as pinene and terpinolene can cause anxiety. Training your nose to sniff out those terpenes can help you choose the strain with little to none of those terpenes. Pinene has a scent like pine while terpinolene has a gassy/tart scent. 

References

McPartland, J. M. (2018). Cannabis Systematics at the Levels of Family, Genus, and Species. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, 3(1), 203–212. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2018.0039

Chugga Chugga, Let’s Get Trainwrecked: Strain of The Month

words by Skyla Patton

School has arrived with a bang, and suddenly we’re waist  deep in the craziness of fall term. Deadlines, new classes and the scramble for time has everyone feeling overwhelmed. Week two and already we want to retreat to bed waving a white flag. Don’t worry, it’s not time to burn your syllabi and throw in the towel yet. Relaxing with a half gram of hybrid is a great way to ease your mind and take a well-deserved break: Trainwreck is here to take you away.

Famous in the marijuana world, Trainwreck is a tasty, sativa-heavy hybrid that lives up to its name. Almost instantaneously, a  euphoria of motivation and uplifted energy hits you (you guessed it, like a train). This insta-high is a unique quality that is not typically found in most hybrids. Trainwreck is the bubbly love child of Afghani indicas and Thai or Mexican sativas.Their happy marriage creates a powerful high that can sustain you through those deadlines while steamrolling any extra stress or tension. This strain is ideal for a cool autumn walk, spicing up date night or adding inspiration to a creativity sesh. Trainwreck is pretty much a big snuggly hug  — are you sold yet?

A Northern California native, this hybrid has an earthy, almost minty aroma with a slight hint of lemon. At first glance it may just look like your average bud, but a microscope will reveal fiery orange stigmas (the little fuzzy hairs) and deep specks of purple hidden close to the stem. Trainwreck is highly renowned for its incredible uplifting qualities and is often used to treat PTSD, common anxiety or chronic pain.

The high will allow you to relax and forget your worries without totally incapacitating you to your netflix— unless that’s where you want to be. It also is known to help with a lack of appetite or stomach nausea. Be prepared for the after effects, though: this strain burns quickly and effectively for a long-lasting high. Reports say that once the euphoria trickles away, you will be ready for pajamas and the best nap of your life.

 

Quiz: Which Strain Are You?

It’s Saturday: are you getting ready to celebrate the weekend, or prepping the snacks for Netflix and chill?

Celebrate: Would your friends say you’re the life of the party, or more of the “mom friend”?

  • Life of the party: Munchies – hard pass, or give you all the snacks?
    • Oh my gosh, I’m starving: Indica
    • No thanks: Sativa
  • Mom friend: What’s your ideal way to unwind?
    • A nice drink on ice: Hybrid
    • A solid afternoon nap: Indica

Netflix: When you’re high, what’s your go-to activity?

  • Clean the whole house: What’s your preferred smoking tool to use?
    • Bong/pipe rip the best: Hybrid
    • Joints are the only way: Sativa
  • Watch ALL the TV: What tunes are always playing during your smoke sesh?
    • Rock and roll, dude: Sativa
    • Acoustic, something mellow: Indica

Sativa: You like to take a few puffs, and then go get stuff done – you’re a sativa! Smoking is a quick pick-me-up for you to really feel accomplished and carpe all the diems. You’ll be caught organizing the kitchen or doing some homework with strains like Sour Diesel, Green Crack, and Alaskan Thunder.

Indica: It’s time to just, like, totally chill out bro – you’re an indica. Smoking with you is all about laying back, relaxing, and having a good snack bowl ready to go. The weekend is finally here and your pre-rolled joints and Netflix queue can’t wait to get started. Indicas can be found inventing new food combos and napping with strains like Northern Lights, Purple OG Kush, and Afghani.

Hybrid: Not too hot, and not too cold – you’re a hybrid. You don’t wanna feel like you have too many responsibilities, but lazing the day away isn’t quite your style either. Take a good rip, relax a little bit, and enjoy the day with a nice high. Catch hybrids writing in their journal or taking a walk through the park with strains like White Widow, Pineapple Express, and Ghost OG.