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Cannabis – a blooming industry

04 Jun 2021 / Insight

By Yingheng Chen

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Introduction

Cannabis (a.k.a. weed, pot) has been consumed by human for millennia, whether for medicinal, therapeutic or recreational use. One of only a few plants that exist in nature to be deemed illegal due to its psychotic effects when consumed, it was not until recent years that countries around the world started legalising the use of cannabis and its derivatives.

In this series, we are looking to demystify the cannabis sector. In this part, we are seeking to understand cannabis – the plant and its properties, as well as the extraction of its derivatives.

Cannabis – the plant

The basics

Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants in the Cannabaceae family, indigenous to Central Asia. There are three main cannabis species: cannabis sativa, cannabis indica and cannabis ruderalis. They are distinguished by their plant structures and leaves: sativa plants tend to be tall, thin and wispy, with relatively light-green and narrow leaves; indica plants tend to be shorter and bushier; ruderalis plants are the shortest of the three species, and typically have a higher CBD (cannabidiol) content. However, all cannabis plants contain cannabinoids, which interact with the endocannabinoid systems of both humans and animals. The majority of the hybrid varieties of cannabis (a.k.a. strains) that are cultivated today have been developed from these three species based on their characteristics.