Psychology Wiki
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Rosales
Family: Cannabaceae
Genus: Cannabis

Cannabis indica
Cannabis ruderalis
Cannabis sativa

This is one of several related articles about cannabis. Cannabis deals with the biology of the genus Cannabis. Cannabis (drug) is about marijuana, hashish and related drugs. Hemp is about cultivation and non-drug uses. See also Hemp (disambiguation).

Cannabis is a genus of flowering plant that includes one or more species. The plant is believed to have originated in the mountainous regions just north of the Himalayas in India. It is also known as hemp, although this term usually refers to cannabis cultivated for non-drug use. As a drug it usually comes in the form of dried flowers (marijuana), resin (hashish), or various extracts collectively referred to as hash oil.


The genus Cannabis was formerly placed with nettles in the family Urticaceae or with mulberries in the family Moraceae, but is now considered along with hops (Humulus sp.) to belong to the family Cannabaceae. Whether the different strains of Cannabis constitute a single species (Cannabis sativa L.) or multiple species has been a contentious issue for well over two centuries.[1][2]

Cannabis is well known for having two discrete sexes (being dioecious), and it is reasonably rare for plants to show the level of sex differentiation seen in Cannabis. It is traditionally (albeit contentiously) divided into two subspecies, sativa and indica, each divisible into a cultivated and a wild variety.[3] Cannabis sativa male plants show evidence of selection for traits that enhance fiber production and seed-oil (for fuel) but the female plant produce seeds (for food) and flower buds that can be used as a psychoactive substance because it has higher levels of the psychoactive delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), whereas Cannabis Indica was primarily selected for drug production and has relatively higher levels of cannabinoids (CBD) and Cannabinol (CBN) than THC, which have proved efficacious in the treatment of various chronic diseases (Cancer, AIDS, Glaucoma, Multiple Sclerosis, Brain Tumors etc.).

Botanists Richard E. Schultes and Loran Anderson also conducted taxonomic studies of Cannabis, and concluded that sufficient evidence exists to support recognition of three species, Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica Lam., and Cannabis ruderalis.[4][5][6] According to their species descriptions, C. sativa is tall and laxly branched with relatively narrow leaflets, Cannabis indica is shorter, conical in shape, and has relatively wide leaflets, and Cannabis ruderalis is short, branchless, and grows wild in central Asia. This concept was embraced by cannabis aficionados who commonly distinguish narrow-leafed "sativa" drug strains from wide-leafed "indica" drug strains.

A recent study of genetic variation in Cannabis supports recognition of C. sativa and C. indica as separate species, although the existence of a third species, "C. ruderalis", is less certain. This study assigned hemp (fiber/seed) landraces and feral populations from Europe, central Asia, and Asia Minor to C. sativa. Cannabis indica includes both narrow-leafed drug (NLD) and wide-leafed drug (WLD) strains, as well as southern and eastern Asian hemp strains and feral Himalayan populations[7]. In 2005 a DNA study of the variation in Cannabis according to the DNA in their mitochondria and chloroplasts was conducted. The results showed three distinct "races" of cannabis. In central Asia the THC-rich indica predominated, while in western Europe sativa was more common. In India, south-east Asia, Africa, Mexico and Jamaica the rasta variant predominated. It looks similar to the sativa subspecies, but generally contains higher levels of THC. NewScientist. Despite their genetic differences, different subspecies of cannabis can be easily crossbred [8] Due to confusion about the origin of cannabis species, nomenclature is a bit misleading.  Cannabis Indica is actually a subspecies of Cannabis Sativa.  The original name for what we commonly refer to as Indica is Cannabis Afghanica.[Cannabis: A History, Picador; Reprint edition (May 12, 2005) ISBN-10: 0312424949]

Cannabis is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Ghost Moth and The Nutmeg.


The plant name cannabis is probably of Semitic origin. Probably Hebrew.

Hebrew קְנֵה בֹּשֶׂם qěnēh bośem > קַנַּבּוֹס qannabbôs > Greek κανναβις kannabis > Latin cannabis > English

The Hebrew Bible mentions 'cannabis' in Exodus 30:23 where God commands Moses to make a holy oil of myrrh, cinnamon, cannabis (qěnēh bośem) and cassia to anoint the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle (and thus God's Temple in Jerusalem). The Hebrew Bible also mentions cannabis four more times in Isaiah 43:24, Jeremiah 6:20, Ezekiel 27:19 and Song of Songs 4:14.

The Biblical Hebrew term for 'cannabis' qěnēh bośem literally means 'reed of balm' and refers to the aromatic resin that the cannabis plant exudes - qěnēh (the noun construct form of qāneh) means a 'reed' or 'cane' and bośem means 'balm' or 'aromatic' resin.

This Biblical Hebrew term for 'cannabis' is often mistranslated as 'calamus', following an ancient misunderstanding in the Greek Septuagint translation. The Hebrew Bible was written across centuries well up to the 5th Century BCE. However centuries later, by the time the Septuagint was written around the 2nd Century BCE, the archaic Hebrew word for 'cannabis' qěnēh bośem appears to have already abbreviated into the later Hebrew form qannabbôs, which is attested in Post Biblical Hebrew literature. Thus, the Septuagint did not recognize the Hebrew expression 'reed of balm' and mistook it to refer to some unidentified plant. As a dynamic equivalent, the Septuagint rendered it as 'calamus' (Greek kalamos), which indeed is a 'balmy' (scented) reed. The calamus plant was known in Greek mythology and processed into an aphrodesiac. Even so, the original Hebrew term qěnēh bośem is an archaic form of the word qannabbôs and means 'cannabis'.

The Scythian term cannabis probably derives from a Semetic origin as well. Sara Benetowa of the Institute of Anthropological Sciences in Warsaw is quoted in the Book of Grass as saying:

The astonishing resemblance between the Semitic kanbos and the Scythian cannabis lead me to suppose that the Scythian word was of Semitic origin. These etymological discussions run parallel to arguments drawn from history. The Iranian Scythians were probably related to the Medes, who were neighbors of the Semites and could easily have assimilated the word for hemp. The Semites could also have spread the word during their migrations through Asia Minor.

Likely, the name 'cannabis' was known from the Semitic merchants who sold this commodity throughtout the ancient trade routes of Southeast Asia.

Comparing the English word hemp and the Greek word kannabis shows that the word came down from the Common Indo-European language. Words like kanapish for "hemp" occur in some Finno-Ugrian languages. It is likely that, soon after agriculture started, hemp as a cultivated plant spread widely, carrying its name with it. Source of Rus. konoplja, Pers. kanab, Lith. kanapes "hemp," and Eng. canvas and hemp.


Cannabis is a plant and therefore production is relatively easy. The main distinction in production is whether it is grown indoors or outdoors, with other distinctions involving specific growing methods or materials.

Indoor cannabis production sometimes takes the form of "grow-ops" (i.e. growing operations) which are often suburban houses that are modified to become hydroponic hothouses. This often entails stealing electricity to power the grow lights and irrigation systems, and the heat and moisture often ruin the house as a living quarters. Immigrant families are often given housing at grow-ops in order to give the appearance of normalcy to the house to avoid reporting by neighbors. Law enforcement trying to detect grow-ops often look for unusual electricity consumption and also will use thermal imaging of rooftops to see if the house is hotter than expected. A collateral problem to grow-ops is that they are often done in rented houses, ruining the property of the landlords.

Outdoor cannabis production is typically done in plots hidden in forested or jungled remote areas. The forest services in many jurisdictions known for cannabis cultivation have active programs scanning for cannabis plots. In some cases the plots are so large that controlled fires are used to destroy the crop.

Once harvested, the cannabis is separated (into leaves, stems, seeds and buds) and cured to create smokable marijuana, or pressed to create hashish.

Production phrases

See Wiktionary Appendix of Cannabis Slang.

  • Indoor is cannabis grown indoors. Generally, indoor cannabis is more aesthetically pleasing than outdoor because of the protection it gets inside, though there are obviously exceptions as this depends on a number of factors.
    • Hydroponics (often abbreviated to "hydro") is a method of growing where the plants are grown in water and a medium routinely flushed with nutrients. Some growers use fish aquariums housing feeder fish, whose waste provides the necessary nutrients. This technique, known as Aquaponics, is still very uncommon.
    • Aeroponics is a relatively recent and somewhat experimental cultivation method related to hydroponics, in which no medium is used and the roots are directly exposed to air saturated with water and nutrients.
  • Outdoor is cannabis that has been grown outdoors. Generally has a better boquet and taste than indoor, some extremely potent strains in this class do exist.
  • Organic simply refers to the use of organic growing methods (including fertilizer, medium, and pest-control), which can also be used for hydroponic setups. (If inorganic pesticides were used during the flowering phase of the plant's life cycle, then the smoked buds will sometimes pop and crackle, emitting bursts of sparks due to the chemicals present in the pesticides.)

Cannabis trade

Certain types of cannabis that are unique to a particular area, such as Maui-wowie from Hawaii, may be shipped great distances due to popularity and demand. On the Pacific coast of the United States, a cannabis "superhighway" of sorts exists, along which most exotic strains are traded, anti-cannabis laws are relatively relaxed or are not as actively enforced, and large numbers of growers reside. At the northernmost end of this "highway" is Alaska, which is associated with "northern lights" and "Alaskan thunderfuck". Further south is British Columbia, home of the famous BC bud, which comes in a wide array of qualities and forms. South of British Columbia is Washington state, home of the annual Hempfest and an extremely high number of local growers, and a popular place for importing large quantities of high-quality cannabis. At the southernmost end is Mexico, which, although mainly known for low-quality cannabis, facilitates the trade of highly potent strains from southern Mexico and Central America into the United States.


Cannabis is generally sold by weight, with the smallest quantity being a gram or an eighth of an ounce (3.5 grams). Most commonly a local grower will give cannabis to a distributor, who then weighs the crop into a certain quantity (varying by area and demand) and sells to other distributors. Cannabis can be distributed in many steps through this loosely-hierarchical method, with the price per weight often going up at each level.

Specific terms regarding the sale of cannabis and their meanings can vary widely between areas and users, with some being more common and generally understood than others. For more, see Wiktionary Appendix of Cannabis Slang.

See also

External links

Further studies


  1. Template:AnbEmboden, W. A. 1981. The genus Cannabis and the correct use of taxonomic categories. J. Psychoactive Drugs 13: 15–21.
  2. Template:AnbSchultes, R. E., and A. Hofmann. 1980. Botany and Chemistry of Hallucinogens. C. C. Thomas, Springfield, IL., pp. 82–116.
  3. Template:AnbSmall, E., and A. Cronquist. 1976. A practical and natural taxonomy for Cannabis. Taxon 25: 405–435.
  4. Template:AnbSchultes, R. E., et. al. 1974. Cannabis: an example of taxonomic neglect. Harvard University Botanical Museum Leaflets 23: 337–367.
  5. Template:AnbAnderson, L. C. 1974. A study of systematic wood anatomy in Cannabis. Harvard University Botanical Museum Leaflets 24: 29–36.
  6. Template:AnbAnderson, L. C. 1980. Leaf variation among Cannabis species from a controlled garden. Harvard University Botanical Museum Leaflets 28: 61–69.
  7. Template:AnbHillig, K.W. 2005. Genetic evidence for speciation in Cannabis (Cannabaceae). Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 52: 161-180.


This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).