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Cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug globally, its best known and most popular form being marijuana. Used for millennia as a medicinal element, it is currently mainly used as a recreational drug or as an auxiliary method in the fight against the effects of certain ailments.
But we have to keep in mind that there is not only one type of marijuana but rather that both nature and human action have caused the existence of hundreds of varieties. In this article, we will learn about some of the types of marijuana that exist, as well as their basic characteristics.
Cannabis as a psychoactive substance
Cannabis is a substance with psychoactive properties. Along with its derivatives, including marijuana, it is part of the group of psycholeptics.
It is a type of substance that produces alterations in psychic activity and perception.
Cannabis use tends to produce an increase in activation and a feeling of euphoria at first, then leave the consumer with a relaxing effect (being used by many users in order to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress ).
It also causes the sensation of hunger and has antiemetic and anticonvulsant effects and even reduces the sensation of pain, having analgesic effects. Disorientation and altered consciousness may appear, and in some cases, hallucinations may even appear.
Cannabinoids are extracted from the cannabis plant, which has different varieties. In practice, the derivatives of this plant receive different names depending on which part of the plant they come from, or how the consumed product is obtained.
We speak of marijuana when the consumed element is the leaves and stem of the plant, being as a general rule consumed in a smoked form (although sometimes it is also ingested orally, as occurs with those known as "marijuana cakes" or in the form of marijuana) of infusion.
Main types of marijuana
As we have said, there are a large number of marijuana variants, depending on the plant from which the leaves and stem are obtained.
Regardless of its origin, there are other factors that can alter the types of marijuana that exist, such as the amount of light that the plant requires, the type of flowering that it has (it can be a regular, feminized, or auto-flowering plant) or the time of year in which it is obtained.
An example is a time it is harvested or the amount that each variety requires. For example, purple marijuana is produced due to the accumulation of certain substances during sudden changes in temperature.
Below we indicate the three main types that can be found naturally, from which the hundreds of varieties that currently exist have been hybridized and elaborated through artificial selection.
1. Cannabis sativa
Originally from countries with a tropical climate, cannabis Sativa is one of the best-known varieties of the cannabis plant. In fact, the typical leaf that people usually imagine when talking about marijuana is usually of this variety.
We are facing one of the most consumed types of marijuana, generally coming from South America or Asia. They are usually tall plants, being the most frequent to see in outdoor plantations.
It stimulates appetite and physical and social activity, causing feelings of euphoria. In many cases, its consumption is also associated with the presence of hallucinations and may increase the possibility of triggering psychotic episodes and even contribute to the manifestation of disorders such as schizophrenia.
2. Cannabis Indica
Of Asian origin, it is one of the types of marijuana that can be found naturally, especially in countries like India or Pakistan. This variety has an intermediate size, and also has much wider leaves than other varieties.
Regarding the type of effects, the indica variety usually has a slightly narcotic effect more linked to physical relaxation and analgesia, having a high content of cannabidiol or CBD and low in THC.
This variety is the one that is usually medically indicated, being frequently used in the treatment of pain caused by different diseases, as well as for its anticonvulsant and relaxing effects.
3. Cannabis Ruderalis
In countries such as Russia or Siberia, a third natural variety can be found, cannabis ruderalis. This plant, although sometimes considered a variety of cannabis Sativa, has the peculiarity that it has great resistance and the ability to flower regardless of the level of light. It is often used in hybridization to create other varieties.
Small in size, it is low in THC and high in CBD, so its effects are more relaxing than activating, and it is sometimes used medicinally.
The three previous varieties of cannabis and marijuana can be found naturally. However, based on them, the human being has been creating different varieties in order to obtain different effects or increase resistance or proliferation, through artificial selection in nurseries and plantations.
The type of effect obtained in each case depends on the type of hybrid that has been created and its origin. That is why this category is much more heterogeneous than the previous ones since the combinations and crossing of genes make the variety of products obtained very wide.
Uses and risks of marijuana
As mentioned above, marijuana use has very different uses. Its effects, together with the social perception that it does not cause as many adverse effects as other drugs, means that despite being an illegal drug it is consumed frequently by a large part of the population.
The recreational use of different types of marijuana can be harmful, especially when consumption is high and frequent. It is usually used as an element that helps to relax or to obtain a feeling of well-being.
Although dependence on this substance is not common, requiring almost daily consumption, and withdrawal syndromes have not generally been described, it is not uncommon for situations of intoxication and abuse to appear.
Delusions and hallucinations (especially in the case of the Sativa variety), disorientation, flashbacks or even reactions opposite to those that the substance should produce (depression and inhibition in the case of the Sativa and agitation and anxiety in the indicia) are phenomena that can occur after prolonged consumption and/or in high quantity.
The so-called amotivational syndrome has also been described, in which extreme passivity appears, decreased ability to judge, apathy and demotivation.
However, if used medically this substance is also a relief for many people suffering from various disorders. Since it stimulates the appetite, they have been used on occasions to combat anorexia and weight loss secondary to other diseases (such as AIDS), as well as to relieve problems such as fibromyalgia or pain caused by cancer, or discomfort associated with some of his treatments.
Its anticonvulsant effects are also interesting, as it can be used to regulate different types of seizures. You can even see some cases of individuals with Parkinson's whose tremors have been reduced and even temporarily eliminated during the action of the drug.
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- Moore, T.H.M.; Zammit, S.; Lingford-Hughes, A.; Barnes, T.R.E.; Jones, P.B.; Burke, M. & Lewis, G. (2007). Cannabis use and risk of psychotic or affective mental health outcomes: a systematic review. The Lancet. volume 370, 9584; p.319-328.
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