The cannabis plant is a globally growing angiosperm. Many varieties of the cannabis plant exist. The variety of the plant is determined by the percent content of its chemical constituents. All varieties of cannabis plants contain a class of molecules unique to its genus, these are referred to as cannabinoids. It is these chemicals which are used to determine the variety and ultimately the appropriate, or inappropriate, use for the plant. The sativa species of the genus cannabis is used for the production of the economically important item; hemp products. The indica species is used mainly for medicinal and narcotic purposes. It is this product of the cannabis plant, hemp, which has numerous uses. .
There are over 400 known chemicals in the cannabis plant. The two most important chemicals, however, are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the psychoactive chemical found in resin secreted around the flowers, seeds, and topmast leaves. On the other hand, CBD, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid and actually inhibits, to a certain extent, the effects of THC. .
The genus cannabis contains three species; Cannabis sativa, C. indica, and C. ruderalis. The percent composition of cannabinoids in the plant determines its variety. The sativa species is produced commercially for its high strength fiber and quality seeds. C. sativa plant is classified as having a THC concentration below 0.3% and a CBD concentration above 0.5%. C. indica is the variety produced for its medicinal and psychoactive qualities. C. indica contains greater than 0.3% THC and less than 0.5% CBD. All varieties of cannabis contain different amounts of cannabinoids.
Cannabis sativa, commonly referred to as hemp, has been cultivated and grown for thousands of years. It is a utilitarian plant, that is, it has many uses and functions. It is grown for the strength of its fibers and even for its seeds.