Terminology

The following definitions will be used in this project:

Cannabis: Derived from the Greek for \”fragrant cane.\” A dioecious, hardy, wind-pollinated herb with telltale serrated leaves. For this study, \”cannabis\” refers to either the whole plant or all psychoactive preparations of the plant (i.e. marijuana, hashish, edibles). It is native to Central Asia, and evidence exists for its domestication by humans (early Chinese) as early as 10,000 B.C. Humans have used its two commonly recognized species, sativa and indica, as food, fiber, oil, medicine, and psychoactive drugs. Spread around the world by human activity and trade, and bred into many different varieties (some 2,000 varieties of drug plants alone) cannabis has the largest geographic range of any crop.

    Cannabis indica: Generally darker-colored than c. sativa, this species is divided into narrow-leaf and broad-leaf varieties. Narrow-leaf varieties were originally adapted to tropical regions and can grow up to about a dozen feet tall; broad-leaf varieties were originally adapted to high-altitude environments and grow shorter and bushier. When flowering, all female indica plants produce a sticky resin that helps trap pollen from male plants and protects the flowers from UV rays. The resin contains psychoactive levels of THC, making indica the species from which all varieties of modern drug cannabis are derived. Indica varieties have been cultivated for potent marijuana and hashish for thousands of years.

    Cannabis sativa: A tall-growing species with serrated leaves that are generally light green, it is primarily grown for fiber, seeds, and seed oil; feral varieties can also grow in patches in the wild. It is also divided into narrow-leaf and and broad-leaf varieties. Almost all varieties of c. sativa contain only trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive ingredient in drug cannabis.* They do, however, contain other cannabinoids that humans have used medicinally for thousands of years.

    Edible(s): A general term for all cannabis-infused food products. THC is soluble only in fat, so it is usually infused using butter or other oily ingredients.

    Hashish, hash: Dried cakes of resin taken from c. indica plants.

    Hash oil, hash concentrate, \”wax\”: Viscous, highly concentrated (>30 percent THC) drops of resin that when smoked or eaten produce a stronger mind-altering experience than smoked flower.

    Hemp: Common name for c. sativa.

    Marijuana: The dried, resin-coated leaves and flowers of c. indica or a cross. A.k.a. weed, dope, pot, grass, herb, mary jane, kind, sticky green, the chronic, muggles (Louie Armstrong\’s favored term), etc., etc. (Since 1937) The officially adopted term for drug cannabis by politicians, law enforcement, medical professionals, and the media, it is used more sparingly within modern US cannabis culture.

    Schedule I substance: The \”Most Wanted\” list of the US Drug Enforcement Agency. Under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, a \”Schedule I\” substance must fit three categories:

    1. The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
    2. The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
    3. There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision

    The list of Schedule I drugs currently includes Cannabis, heroin, LSD, DMT, psilocybin mushrooms, ecstasy, peyote (mescaline), and others. Examples of lower scheduled and less restricted drugs include cocaine, opium, morphine, and methamphetamine (Schedule II), and anabolic steroids and barbituates (schedule III).

    Sinsemilla (Spanish: \”seedless\”): Seedless cannabis flowers, first developed in India where they are called \”ganja.\” During cultivation, male plants are removed before releasing pollen so females continue to produce more resinous flowers, making the product much more potent than seeded varieties. Growers reproduce seedless varieties by planting cuttings of a \”mother\” plant.

    THC (Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol): One of about sixty chemical compounds unique to the Cannabis genus, THC is the principal psychoactive compound in indica resin. When ingested by humans, THC binds with chemical receptors in the brain known as CB receptors. Bonding between THC and CB receptors triggers the release of dopamine, a mood-enhancing chemical, and is responsible for symptoms that often include euphoria, increased appetite, increased or decreased anxiety, short-term memory impairment, dry mouth and eyes, and sleepiness.

    *For about the last 30 years, it was commonly thought that drug varieties of sativa existed (an older version of this page actually said so). As I\’ve come to find, this mislabeling is the result of the Cannabis breeding that went on in the 1970s and 1980s. Breeders, primarily in the Western U.S., began crossing narrow-leaf, tropical indica strains with newly introduced, broad-leaf indica, searching for a shorter plant that could be more easily concealed and could flower in harsh, temperate climates. By that time, the narrow-leaf indica varieties breeders had access to almost certainly contained some sativa genes, as a result of earlier indica plants crossing naturally with hemp plants. Some of the crosses between narrow-leaf and broad-leaf indica thus inevitably displayed sativa-like coloring and physical characteristics, leading the breeders to mistakenly label some of their new plants as \”sativa-dominant\” hybrids. The resin from these plants tended to produce a decidedly different high than more indica-looking crosses, and so out of convenience the breeders launched the well-known indica/sativa dichotomy used to describe the plants today.

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