A Recent Study Sheds Light On Cannabis Genetic Labeling

A Recent Study Sheds Light On Cannabis Genetic Labeling


Cannabis strain names are a relatively new phenomenon considering how long humans have consumed cannabis for medical and/or recreational purposes.

Humans have made use of the cannabis plant for thousands of years, yet it wasn’t until in recent decades that cannabis strain names started to pop up.

It’s unknown when legendary strains like Acapulco Gold, Maui Wowie, and Columbian Red were first given their name, however, it’s a safe bet that the reason why they were provided a name was because of how distinct they were compared to other types of cannabis.

Just as consumers and patients like to know strain names, they also often like to know if a particular cannabis variety is indica, sativa, or a hybrid.

A new study found that those general categories are not always useful.

Are Indica And Sativa Really Different?

If someone cultivates a true sativa cannabis plant, it will grow in a tall and thin fashion and provide strong euphoric effects.

Conversely, a true indica plant will grow short and bushy with wider leaves compared to a sativa plant, and the effects it provides are very sedative and mellow.

Researchers in Canada recently examined 297 samples to see if their indica and sativa labeling was accurate.

“Our results demonstrate that the ‘sativa–indica’ scale currently used to label cannabis poorly captures overall genomic and metabolomic variation,” the researchers stated. 

“Cannabis labelling is instead probably driven primarily by a small number of key terpenes whose concentrations contribute to the characteristic aromas commonly associated with ‘sativa’ and ‘indica.’” the researchers concluded.

What Is The Best Way To Categorize Cannabis?

Cannabis strain names and the indica/sativa categorization model are archaic in many ways, and the cannabis community should move to a better model.

Terpene profiles provide a much more insightful glimpse into what a particular cannabis harvest is really about and what effects it may provide.

It is estimated that the cannabis plant is made up of dozens of terpenes. Terpenes are what provide cannabis’ aroma.

Knowing what terpenes a particular harvest contains, and at what levels, is a much better way to categorize cannabis compared to indica versus sativa.

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