When it comes to marijuana, gone are the days of dirty hippies growing a few pot plants in hiding, for fear of “the Man” coming to confiscate them. Nowadays, with the slow, methodical process of re-legalizing pot (it was legal before Prohibition), it means that marijuana is becoming two parts science, and one part art form. Nowhere is this more evident than in the increase of cannabis hybrid strains, which blend the two different types of plants: Sativa and Indica. To better understand the reason for hybridization, we must first understand the difference between the two original strains.
Deep within the desert country of Afghanistan lies the birthplace of the Indica strain of cannabis. It was first discovered and cataloged back in the 1700s. If you’ve ever heard anyone refer to pot as Kush, the reason for this is that the region is called the Hindu Kush. Due to the harsh climate, the plants develop much more resin than other strains, which can create a much more potent and calming effect. The plant itself is bushier, and has much thicker leaves than other varieties, and is suitable for growing indoors. The effects of Indica are relaxation and calmness, which consumes the whole body. The image of the stoner just lazily sitting on the couch are most likely due to the effects of Indica. This cannabis strain is used to treat insomnia and anxiety.
Found mostly in equatorial regions, the Sativa plant has a much different look and feel than Indica. While the latter is short and bushy, Sativa is tall and thin, with much spinier leaves. Whenever someone pictures a marijuana leaf, it’s usually a Sativa. This cannabis strain is much different than Indica, in that it has a more uplifting, energetic feel to it. Users of this strain report feeling much more creative and robust; a far cry from the mellow vibes of the Indica. This sativa cannabis strain also thrives in outdoor climates, so this is better suited for farming, rather than hydroponics.
When it comes to creating cannabis hybrid strains, there is a whole market out there for hybrid species. Utilizing the two core components of the plant, cannabinoids and terpenes, one can create a new species that can have the mellowing effects of Indica, but allows the user to be still active. There are countless varieties of cannabis hybrid strains being grown, each with their own unique qualities and flavors. As marijuana becomes more and more mainstream, we could see a future where most plants are born in a lab, rather than grown in a field.
As the market for marijuana continues to grow, more and more effort will be put into crafting and hybridizing plants, maximizing potency, duration of effects, and minimizing any long-term damage. For now, the future of pot is looking tasty.