Beginner

BEGINNER

Introduction to Cannabis sativa

Plant taxonomists have had the historical responsibility of organizing and naming all plants found on our planet.  For us to call all plants in the group of plants known as Cannabis by the name Cannabis sativa, is the simplest way to refer to the 22 varieties of Cannabis species.  Cannabis belongs to a family of plants called the Cannabaceae family.  This family includes the plants that produce hops or the Humulus plants, as well as the Celtis or Hackberry trees.

Cannabis, like many other types of plants, is dioecious.  This means that the flowers on the plants produce either male or female flowers.  There are instances where both male and female flowers are found on a single plant.  Such a plant would be called monoecious, or more commonly – hermaphroditic.

The Cannabis plant can grow up to 12 meters in height due to its woody and robust stems and branches.  The roots of average plants can be anywhere from 30 cm to 3 meters deep.  Cannabis leaves always occur in odd numbers with as many as 13 leaves coming out of a single branch.

The majority of Cannabis plants are green although many varieties can have streaks of purple, red, or yellow.  These changes in colour can sometimes be due to frost, but are usually characteristics of a specific strain of Cannabis.

Plant taxonomists have had the historical responsibility of organizing and naming all plants found on our planet.  For us to call all plants in the group of plants known as Cannabis by the name Cannabis sativa, is the simplest way to refer to the 22 varieties of Cannabis species.  Cannabis belongs to a family of plants called the Cannabaceae family.  This family includes the plants that produce hops or the Humulus plants, as well as the Celtis or Hackberry trees.

What are cannabinoids?

Think back (for some of us, a long time back) to chemistry lessons in school.  There are all sorts of molecules (groups of atoms connected by covalent or ionic bonds) that are called organic molecules.  Organic molecules are molecules that are mostly composed of Carbon, Oxygen, Hydrogen, and Nitrogen.  Think of what you and I or any animal is composed of: DNA, protein, fat, and carbohydrates are all examples of organic molecules.

You may also remember from chemistry class a type of molecule called an aromatic hydrocarbon.  A hydrocarbon is any type of molecule that is composed of carbon, and water – H2O.  Aromatic molecules are unique because they have carbon atoms arranged in a specific pattern, that when drawn, form a hexagon or honeycomb pattern.  These molecules are responsible for most of the smells we sense, but ring structures are also important in things like DNA, fatty acids, and proteins.

Cannabinoids are a group of organic molecules that contain aromatic hydrocarbon rings, and long chains of carbon and hydrogen molecules called methane or CH3.  They are called cannabinoids because they are primarily found in Cannabis plants.  The two main cannabinoids are called cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (∆9-THC, or more commonly just THC).  While THC and CBD receive the most attention when we talk about cannabinoids, more research is being conducted on the importance of the minor cannabinoids such as:

  • Cannabinol (CBN)
  • Cannabidivarin (CBV)
  • Anandamide (AEA)
  • Cannabichromene (CBC)
  • Cannabigerol (CBG)
  • Tetrahydracannabivarin (THCV)

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