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What You Need To Know About Marijuana

Cannabis is used for a number of medicinal and recreational purposes.

There’s three types of Cannabis: Sativa, Indica and Hybrid.

Sativas are known for their “head high,” an invigorating, energizing effect that can help reduce anxiety or stress and increase creativity and focus. Cannabis sativa is found primarily in hot, dry climates with long sunny days. These include Africa, Central America, Southeast Asia, and portions of Western Asia. Sativa plants are tall and thin with finger-like leaves. They can grow taller than 12 feet, and they take longer to mature than some other types of cannabis. Because of its stimulating impact, you can use sativa in the daytime. Three popular sativa strains are Acapulco Gold, Panama Red, and Durban Poison.

Indicas are typically associated with full-body effects, such as increasing deep relaxation and reducing insomnia. Cannabis indica is native to Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and Turkey. The plants have adapted to the often harsh, dry, and turbulent climate of the Hindu Kush mountains. Indica plants are short and stocky with bushy greenery and chunky leaves that grow wide and broad. They grow faster than sativa, and each plant produces more buds. Because of its deep relaxation effects, indica is better consumed at night. Three popular indica strains are Hindu Kush, Afghan Kush, and Granddaddy Purple.

Hybrids are the result of crossbreeding cannabis sativa and cannabis indica. Hybrids are typically grown on farms or in greenhouses from a combination of sativa and indica strains. The appearance of hybrid strains depends on the combination of the parent plants. Many hybrid cannabis plants are grown in order to increase the THC percentage, but each type has a unique ratio of the two cannabinoids. Farmers and producers select hybrids for their unique impacts. They can range from reducing anxiety and stress to easing symptoms of chemotherapy or radiation. Popular hybrids include Pineapple Express, Trainwreck, and Blue Dream. Depending on the predominant effects of the hybrid, it can be used daytime or nighttime.

Many have moved away from the using “Indica”, “Sativa” and “Hybrid” and started classifying the different “strains” or as “chemovars” (chemical varieties):

Type I: high THC

Type II: THC/CBD combined

Type III: high CBD

Chemovars are distinguished by their individual cannabinoid and terpene content. This “cannabinoid profile” will provide information to help determine which chemovar is best. These compounds are what determine the chemovar’s overall effects.

Cannabinoids: Cannabis plants contain dozens of chemical compounds called cannabinoids which are responsible for producing many of the effects of cannabis use.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis plants. It’s responsible for the “high” or state of euphoria associated with cannabis use. Levels of THC have been increasing as growers try to create hybrids with a greater concentration of the compound.

Cannabidiol (CBD): CBD is non-impairing or non-euphoric. It doesn’t cause a “high.” However, it may produce many physical benefits, such as reducing pain and nausea, preventing seizures, and easing migraine.

Cannabinol (CBN): CBN is used to ease symptoms and side effects of neurological conditions, including epilepsy, seizures, and uncontrollable muscle stiffness.

Tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCA): THCA is similar to THC, but it doesn’t cause any psychoactive effects. Its potential benefits include reducing inflammation caused by arthritis and autoimmune diseases. It may also help reduce symptoms of neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease and ALS.

Cannabigerol (CBG): CBG is thought to help reduce anxiety and symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression.

Terpenes: Another naturally occurring compound in the cannabis plant.The terpenes present directly affect the plant’s smell. They may also influence the effects that specific strains produce.

Potential side effects and risks:

Although cannabis use is often associated with potential benefits, it can also produce unwanted side effects. This includes: Dry mouth, Dry eyes, Dizziness, Anxiety, Paranoia, Lethargy, Increased heart rate, Decreased blood pressure. Smoking or vaping cannabis can irritate your lungs and airways. This may lead to coughing and respiratory problems.

Oral cannabis preparations, such as gummies or cookies, are less likely to affect your overall respiratory health. However, though the effects are felt more slowly, ingested cannabis, especially THC, produces stronger psychoactive effects that can last for hours and in some people, days.

When you’re looking for the right cannabis product for you, keep these considerations in mind:

Know what you’re trying to achieve.

Understand your tolerance.

Consider your medical history.

Decide on a desired consumption method: Each technique for consuming cannabis has benefits and drawbacks. If you smoke or vape cannabis, you may feel effects more quickly, but it can irritate your lungs and airways. Gummies, chewables, and foods may be easier to tolerate, but the effects take longer, and they may be much more potent than inhalation.

Legality: Cannabis isn’t legal everywhere. A few years ago, all cannabis products were illegal in most parts of the United States. Today, many states have legalized cannabis for medical or recreational purposes, or both. Before you attempt to purchase or use cannabis, you should know the laws for your state. Keep in mind that cannabis is still illegal under federal law. If you don’t know the laws where you are, you could face legal consequences.


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  • Cannabidiol (CBD): Pre-review report. (2017).

  • Cannabis and cannabinoids (PDQ) — health professional version. (2019).

  • Cannabis (marijuana) and cannabinoids: What you need to know. (2019).

  • ElSohly MA, et al. (2016). Changes in cannabis potency over the last 2 decades (1995–2014): Analysis of current data in the United States. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2016.01.004

  • Food and Drug Administration. (2018). FDA approves first drug comprised of an active ingredient derived from marijuana to treat rare, severe forms of epilepsy [Press release].

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