For a long time, “marijuana” was a word you said under your breath. It wasn’t something that people openly discussed. Now, dozens of states have medical and recreational cannabis programs. This has thrust the marijuana plant into the spotlight. We can now have a more transparent and open discussion surrounding this amazing plant’s biology and history.
Before diving into the cultural relevance and history of marijuana, it’s important to know the plant itself. While the marijuana plant isn’t overall complex, understanding the biology that’s made this plant so controversial is a critical part of education.
The biology of the marijuana plant is fascinating because it truly impacts a user’s experience.
The cannabis plant can be grown indoors or outside, but the optimal growing conditions remain the same; a mildly humid climate and aerated soil are essential for maximized growth.
On a basic level, the marijuana plant has four main parts: the roots, stem, fan leaves, and flower.
What is the marijuana plant known for, biologically?
Interestingly, the flower, which contains psychoactive THC, is only produced by the female cannabis plant. Regular marijuana seeds will contain a 50:50 split of male and female seeds; a grower wouldn’t know which plants are male or female until the plant sprouts and begins to grow. Nowadays, however, commercial growers can purchase feminized seeds, which guarantees their crop will be all female, and therefore, bud-producing.
There are two types of marijuana plants, which are known as strains.
The leaves of the Cannabis sativa plant are a light green color and tend to be long and thin. Additionally, the buds on this strain are wispy and long, and can contain a red-orange color.
The leaves of the Cannabis indica are a dark green color and tend to be broader. The buds on this strain are denser and can feature dark purple or even deep blue coloring.
Each of these strains creates flowers that have a unique cannabis experience. For example, the Cannabis sativa flower is known for its “energetic high,” while Cannabis indica flower is associated with a “relaxing” high.
Additionally, these strains can be bred and blended to create cannabis strains with varying terpene profiles, which allow consumers to cater their cannabis experience even further.
Marijuana impacts each person differently.
First and foremost, it’s critical to recognize that each person’s endocannabinoid system reacts to and processes marijuana differently. This system of CB1 and CB2 receptors is vast and is present in many bodily systems. The balance, or lack of balance, in a person’s endocannabinoid system, impacts how marijuana consumption will affect them.
It’s equally important to recognize that numerous factors impact the effects of marijuana. Here are just a few:
Additionally, how marijuana is consumed impacts its effects. A person who inhales marijuana flowers may have a different experience than a person who vapes or dabs marijuana concentrates. Consuming marijuana edibles can also lead to a different experience.
To outline some of the potential effects of marijuana, we must turn to THC. This cannabinoid is known for its psychoactive effects, or “high.”
Some common effects of marijuana use include:
These are just a few of the effects that marijuana can have. A person may feel one, a combination, or entirely different side effects of using marijuana.
Marijuana has been planted, grown, and cultivated on this planet for thousands of years. It has a deep cultural history, which permeates societies and religions and even crosses borders.
The oldest written record of marijuana comes to us from the early 3rd century BCE. Authored by Emperor Shen Nung, the book was titled Pen Ts’ao or “The Herbal.” The book covered traditional Chinese medicinal techniques and mentions cannabis on numerous occasions while discussing teas and salves.
In ancient India (2000 BCE), there’s evidence of cannabis to prepare ritualized tinctures for religious purposes.
Pliny The Elder, a 1st century CE naturalist in the time of the ancient Roman Empire, discusses the cultivation of cannabis. Later on, in the 3rd century CE, the Roman dream interpreter Artemidorus differentiates between hemp and marijuana from the perspective of dreams.
For thousands of years, marijuana has played varying roles in different societies. It’s clear, however, that most places and cultural institutions don’t go untouched when it comes to historical marjuana cultivation and use.
In the United States, marijuana has a complicated history. While significant legislative progress has been made, marijuana still has many opponents.
Despite the ties that the founding fathers had to hemp, the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act began the tumultuous relationship between the United States and marijuana. This law placed tough restrictions on the cultivation of hemp and placed a hefty tax on cannabis products (THC products).
In many ways, this law was in response to the 1936 film, “Reefer Madness,” which acted as a warning to parents across the United States. The film depicted high school students and “what could happen” if they fall into the marijuana trap; from accidents to addiction and death, marijuana was depicted as a life-ruining narcotic.
Decades later, in response to social unrest and marijuana use during and following the 1960s and the Vietnam War, The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act was passed in 1971. This law classified substances, and specifically marijuana, by schedules based on the threat to public health. Cannabis became a Schedule I drug, alongside heroin. This classification meant that no research on cannabis could be funded or conducted and that no therapeutic potential would be explored.
This legislation led to years of political debate, a biased prison system, and a society of individuals who were unable to use marijuana products for personal use.
While the marijuana plant may be known for its psychoactive compounds, marijuana contains much more than THC. The fact is, there are dozens of non-psychoactive but beneficial cannabinoids in the marijuana plant.
CBD (Cannabidiol) is one of them.
Research suggests that CBD may have a variety of beneficial effects. While CBD isn’t approved by the FDA, and more research is necessary to understand this cannabinoid’s therapeutic potential, research appears to be promising.
For marijuana and the dozens of cannabinoids it contains, who knows what will be discovered.
The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the Schedule I drug classification. This, along with the growing number of medical and recreational programs across the United States, allows for more research into these amazing cannabinoids.
Founded in Colorado, Infinite CBD is proud to be at the forefront of the CBD movement. We’re dedicated to supporting local and organic hemp farmers, and committed to creating the purest CBD products available.