What Is Cannabis? Your Comprehensive Guide to the Marijuana Plant

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For thousands of years, the famous marijuana plant known as cannabis has been used for treating a variety of ailments.

Chinese Emperor Shen Nung, also known as the Father of Chinese Medicine, documented its usefulness. He wrote about its ability to treat conditions like gout, malaria, and rheumatism.

In 1545, cannabis made its way to the western hemisphere, where Spaniards were importing it to Chile for its fibrous qualities.

Cannabis grows in all parts of the world. The cannabis strain Ruderalis can grow in northern climates, like Russia, where there is less light.

It’s an auto-flowering plant, which means it flowers as a result of age, not light conditions and schedules.

There is so much to know and learn about the cannabis plant, like where compounds like CBD and THC are derived.

Do you want to learn all about this amazing plant?

This cannabis guide covers everything there is to know about this hemp and marijuana plant.

More About the History

Cannabis wasn’t only notorious in Ancient China. Ancient Greeks and Romans, the Middle East, and Northern Africa were all fond of the many benefits of the cannabis plant.

When cannabis made its way to the Americas, people used it for many things, including rope, clothing, and paper. While very similar to marijuana, hemp is more fibrous and is an excellent material for making textiles.

Hemp ropes proved to be durable, despite salty, wet environments on the ships.

In the 1900s, cannabis showed up as an ingredient in lots of medicines. However, it was a small concentration compared to the high concentration of opium and cocaine.

The United States Pharmacopeia listed marijuana from 1850 to 1941. It was prescribed for many conditions, such as nausea, labor pains, and rheumatism.

It was also used recreationally.

What Is Cannabis?

Cannabis is a plant. It has a stiff upright stem, glandular hairs, and divided serrated leaves.

Within the cannabis family of plants, there is cannabis Sativa, cannabis Indica, and cannabis Ruderalis.

When the buds are harvested and then dried, you’re left with the part of the plant that people smoke.

Some people refer to cannabis as weed, pot, and herb, amongst other things.

People consume it recreationally and medically, as it’s known for its calming, relaxing, and focusing effects.

Hemp vs. Marijuana

Hemp is a member of the cannabis Sativa plant, whereas marijuana is a member of the cannabis both the Sativa and Indica plant.

Hemp has considerably lower concentrations of THC, the well-known cannabinoid that’s famous for its ability to make people “feel high.”

The difference in THC levels is one of the reasons why marijuana has had more of a negative reputation over the years.

Hemp plants are defined as any cannabis Sativa plants that have 0.3% or less THC. On the other hand, marijuana plants are defined as cannabis Sativa plants that have more than 0.3% THC content.

Even though a cannabis plant with 0.4% THC content would be deemed a marijuana plant, that concentration still wouldn’t be enough to cause “psychedelic effects.”

Marijuana and industrial hemp are used for different reasons. As a result, selective breeding has resulted in the two varieties being different in their appearance.

Most compounds, like THC, found in cannabis plants are of the highest concentration in the flower part of the plant. Thus, the more flower, the better. Selective breeding has led to marijuana plants being both bushier and shorter than hemp plants.

Industrial hemp plants have been mostly bred for their fiber, which is found in the stalks. Thus, hemp plants are skinnier and taller than marijuana plants.


What Are the Cannabinoids?

THC is arguably the most well-known compound found in cannabis plants. THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol.

CBD is, without a doubt, the second-most well-known compound found in cannabis plants. CBD stands for cannabidiol.

Cannabis plants host over 100 different components, or cannabinoids. While experts don’t fully understand them all, the benefits of CBD and THC are well-known.

THC is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis plants. It’s responsible for the “high” that most individuals associate with the cannabis plant.

CBD is different than THC in that it is NON-psychoactive. It won’t get you “high.” It’s often used for a variety of ailments and pain, which we’ll discuss in a minute.

Even though CBD has been used medically for thousands of years, modern experts are still tapping into and trying to understand the effectiveness of the cannabinoid fully.

What Is the Chemical Structure of Cannabis’ Cannabinoids?

Both CBD and THC cannabinoids have the same molecular structure. They both have 30 hydrogen atoms, 21 carbon atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms.

Because of a small difference in the way the atoms are arranged, it causes different effects on the mind and body.

Every person has endocannabinoids in their body already. Because they are similar to cannabinoids THC and CBD, it allows for your cannabinoid receptors to interact with those compounds.

Neurotransmitters in your brain are released when they interact. They send messages between cells and play roles in your body for things such as immune function, anxiety, sleep, and pain.

What Are the Benefits of THC and CBD?

There are many benefits to using CBD or THC.

CBD is used to treat several conditions, such as:

  • Inflammation
  • Seizures
  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Psychosis and other mental disorders
  • Migraines
  • Depression
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Anxiety

THC is also used to treat a variety of ailments. Some of those are:

  • Muscle spasticity
  • Pain
  • Insomnia
  • Glaucoma
  • Low appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea

You don’t have to “get high” to reap the benefits of THC. While some cannabis strains have high quantities of THC, some have just enough to enjoy some of the benefits without getting high.

Particularly when it comes to cannabis oil, you’ll see many options for how many cannabinoids are present and whether or not there is any THC.

What Is Cannabis Oil?

Cannabis oils are extracts from cannabis plants. When they’re unprocessed, they contain 100 plus active ingredients from the plants.

The balance of those ingredients, however, depends on the specific plants from which the extracts are derived.

Oil extracted from hemp plants typically has a much higher quantity of CBD and lower concentrations of THC. Oil extracted from other plants will contain significantly more THC.

Most oils for medicinal use contain high amounts of CBD and much lower, if any, amounts of THC.

Full-spectrum oil contains all of the cannabinoids. Because many researchers believe you receive the highest benefits from oil that contains ALL the cannabinoids, full-spectrum products offer what people call “the entourage effect.”

CBD Isolate oils contain ONLY CBD. These are perfect for people who are worried about a drug test at their job and want to eliminate ANY chance for THC to show up in their results.

Broad-spectrum products contain all the cannabinoids but without the presence of THC.

Is It Difficult to Grow Cannabis?

Growing cannabis is exciting, but it can be difficult for the novice. Typically, it takes a couple of cycles for growers to get the hang of things.

Except for cannabis Ruderalis plants, cannabis plants require lots of TLC to grow to their best potential.

Strict lighting requirements, temperature and humidity needs, feeding and watering, and several other stringent planning necessities make growing cannabis plants a fascinating yet demanding job.

How Is Cannabis Used?

Cannabis is and has been used in many ways for thousands of years.

We discussed smoking the buds or flowers of the plant. We talked about oil, but how do people use it?

Some people opt to ingest it, whereas others use salves and balms to rub onto pain and stress areas on their bodies.

It’s popular to vape cannabis. While it’s technically better for you than smoking flower, you have to make sure your vape cartridges don’t contain harmful additives that turn into carcinogens when you smoke them.

Many people eat edibles, which can contain high quantities of CBD, THC, or BOTH.

This Marijuana Plant Has History and Value

Cannabis is a fascinating species. It’s been around for thousands of years and has had to adapt to many different environments.

While hemp has predominately been used for textiles, it’s also used to create medicinal products today.

The marijuana plant has successfully helped patients and users with things like trouble sleeping, anxiety, and pain.

While there have been periods in history when the benefits of these plants haven’t been accepted, it’s regaining it’s beneficial and powerful presence all across the world today.

Do you want to learn more about this amazing plant and all things pertaining to it? Check out some other articles in our blog or contact us with any questions!