Cannabis is a complex plant. Many cannabis consumers are confused when it comes to the different strains of the genus. The plants have distinct characteristics that are expressed based on a variety of factors. The unique characteristics create the different marijuana strains.

Cannabis Strains

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Natural techniques enable cannabis breeders to create different types of marijuana depending on a variety of preferences. The plants can be short or tall. They can grow slow or fast. A plant’s consumable results can be characterized as sleepy or speedy.

The cannabis strains can be pure or hybrid. Cannabis may be divided into three species: C. sativa, C. indica, and C. ruderalis.  Varieties are developed to identify the specific characteristics of a plant or to differentiate one from the other for marketing purposes. They may also be distinguished according to their effectiveness as a drug.


Cannabis strains refer to the varieties of the plant for recreational and medicinal use. They are cultivated in order to produce high levels of cannabinoids. The hemp varieties of cannabis with very low cannabinoid are grown for their fiber and seed.

Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa are the most commonly grown species of cannabis. Another species, Cannabis ruderalis is very short. It has only trace amounts of THC and has mainly been used to breed auto-flowering strains.

Sativas grow tall, sometimes reaching up to 4.5 meters, with large but narrow-bladed leaves on long internodes and branches. The indica varieties are bushier but short, with wider leaflets. Indicas are the favorites of indoor growers. Both sativa and indica produce almost the same ratio of THC to cannabidiol.


In addition to the indica, sativa, and ruderalis varieties of Cannabis, there are hybrids with different ratios of the pure varieties. The White Widow hybrid has nearly two-thirds indica and one-third sativa. The hybrid varieties manifest traits from the two parental types. Some breeders are able to produce commercial crossbreeds that contain a mix of the genes of ruderalis, indica, or sativa genes. They are typically the auto-flowering varieties that are bred mostly for the medicinal market.

Breeders and growers continue to experiment to produce the cannabis varieties that will be most appealing to customers.