What Is Cannabis?
4 min

What Is Cannabis?

4 min

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in what strain to buy that we forget about the fundamentals of cannabis. Fortunately, we've put together the ultimate beginner's guide. So, whether you're a novice or just fancy a little bit of a reminder, we've got you covered.

Cannabis goes by many different names: ganja, bud, marijuana, pot—the list goes on. Whatever you refer to it as, there's certainly no denying the popularity of this stimulating, aromatic, and flavourful green powerhouse.

But what is cannabis? While it seems like such a basic question to ask, with many people not giving it so much as a second thought, have you ever had questions about the history of cannabis? Or why it has the effect it does? Well, wonder no more. We look to cover all of these points and more so you'll be a little more clued up the next time you enjoy your favourite strain.

History of Cannabis

History Of Cannabis

So, where did it all begin? Long used for spiritual, recreational, and holistic purposes, the relationship between cannabis and humans dates back well over 5,000 years.

There are three main types of cannabis. These are sativa, indica, and ruderalis. All have slightly different geographic origins, different morphology, and different effects, too. However, all three subspecies are believed to originate in Asia. With many different cultures using the plant for their own means, it is difficult to pinpoint an exact date or catalyst behind cannabis use as a whole.

There is strong evidence to suggest the ancient Egyptians were some of the earliest adopters of using cannabis for physical and mental well-being. China also discovered its usefulness, utilising it in over 100 ways by 100 AD.

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As time progressed, rules and regulations were introduced, and cannabis faced outlawing fuelled by scare tactics, racism, competition, and misinformation. It’s only in recent years, as more research has taken place, that cannabis has become more widely accepted.

Today, attitudes towards cannabis have relaxed considerably, especially when you consider how bad things used to be. With more and more research being conducted, cannabis continues to find its way into more and more industries, not to mention clinical settings. Currently, people in parts of Europe, Canada, and the US can pick up cannabis from a coffeeshop or dispensary with ease. However, this doesn't mean that cannabis is still not a controversial subject. Still, the future looks more promising than ever.

Compounds in Cannabis

Compounds In Cannabis

To many people, strains of cannabis will appear remarkably similar with no discernible characteristics. However, there are some very stark differences between individual cultivars. This is essentially down to their chemical constituents. While there are potentially over 480 in the plant, a select few are largely responsible for exerting effects in humans.

The most common compound found in cannabis is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). This is the primary psychoactive constituent in the plant. Ingestion of this compound induces the characteristic “high” cannabis is known for.

The second most common compound in cannabis is CBD (cannabidiol). Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive, but it still interacts with our body to a beneficial degree. While CBD strains are available, it is common to find high levels of CBD in supplements, oils, and even drinks.

What Are the Effects of Cannabis?

What Are The Effects Of Cannabis?

THC is more or less synonymous with the psychoactive effects of cannabis. But, there are other factors to consider as well. The terpenes (aromatic compounds in cannabis) also contribute to the effects of a given strain, though they’re most known for their scent and flavour.

For a long time, it was believed that the effects of a strain were dictated by whether it was indica or sativa. Indicas were thought to have more relaxing effects, whereas sativas were more energising. While this is true to some degree, it actually has more to do with the bounty of chemical compounds within the flowers. This means you may come across stimulating indicas or couch-locking sativas, depending on their lineage and chemical composition. Moreover, most modern strains are hybrids of both indica and sativa, offering the best of both worlds.

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While the experience can vary, these are the effects typically experienced under the influence of cannabis:

  • Euphoria: This is the uplifting, almost ecstatic feeling weed can provide.
  • Relaxation: Most strains are relaxing to some degree, with certain ones being extremely soothing.
  • Increased appetite: Cannabis can stimulate the appetite or give you “the munchies”.
  • Heightened sensory perception: Colours appear brighter, food tastes better, and some claim music sounds richer while high.

Cannabis Consumption Methods

Cannabis Consumption Methods

The most common method of cannabis consumption is smoking, with many users opting to roll joints. There are numerous other options to consider as well. The popularity of vaping has skyrocketed in recent years, in part due to more health-conscious users who do not want to inhale smoke—but also because there are affordable, high-quality vaporizers on the market.

Another popular way to consume cannabis is in edible form. Less is definitely more with this method, as it can initially be slow-acting, but is also long-lasting. Now, everyone is familiar with weed brownies and cookies. But did you know you can make your own edibles with considerable ease? From refreshing ice creams to tasty teas, it’s really not that difficult.

Other ways to consume cannabis include tinctures—a mixture of cannabis and alcohol that is administered under the tongue and then swallowed—and oils, taken the same way. There are also creams, capsules, cosmetics, and more to consider.

However you're looking to enjoy your cannabis, there's definitely a method that will be suitable for you.

How to Acquire Cannabis

How To Acquire Cannabis

In the past, it was extremely tricky to get a hold of some high-quality cannabis. With the introduction of dispensaries and good old coffeeshops, acquiring cannabis is thankfully an easier task than it used to be—at least for some. By talking to the staff at either type of establishment, you can get some good recommendations on the right product or strain for your needs and wants. So don't be shy when visiting; you'll be surprised by just how helpful they can be.

But a visit to a shop isn't your only option. You can always try your hand at growing your own strains at home. Gone are the days of needing a huge growing space and round the clock maintenance. By picking up some autoflowering seeds, you can save time and avoid issues with lighting or space. Whether indoors or outdoors, autoflowers are bound to flourish.

It may seem like a daunting task at first, but there is nothing quite like the process and reward of growing your own cannabis. Everyone remembers that first taste of their own cultivated crop.

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So there you have it; a whistle-stop tour of all things cannabis, to give you a few answers to some of those burning questions. All that's left to do is go out and enjoy cannabis in a way that suits you. Whether that's with a relaxing indica after a long day or some sativa before a run on the trails, the possibilities are endless with this green wonder.

Adam Parsons
Adam Parsons
Professional cannabis journalist, copywriter, and author Adam Parsons is a long-time staff member of Zamnesia. Tasked with covering a wide range of topics from CBD to psychedelics and everything in between, Adam creates blog posts, guides, and explores an ever-growing range of products.
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