The world of cannabis has long been convoluted as educators train each other using hearsay and passed down stories out of necessity. As legalization takes the world by storm, the scientific community can finally add some basis to these old wives tales. One of the most prominent challenges posed by recent studies is the distinction between Indica and Sativa. Thankfully terpene profiles can settle the debate.
Essentially, the only official species of cannabis is Cannabis sativa L. But breeders, cultivators, budtenders and consumers have all long relied on the terms Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid. These terms have been used to understand what effects any specific type of cannabis flowers may have. This classification system, however, has very little to do with the genetic composition of the plants.
Because of this ‘dubious’ classification system, the Canadian Dalhousie University and Bedrocan released a recent study to help us get to the bottom of what it all means. In the study, 149 cannabis samples were analyzed for their terpene and cannabinoid content. This information correlated the genotype and chemotype to their reported lineage. The researchers then compared the samples to a new classification system that they’ve created using genetic and chemical similarities.
“This study shows that the Indica/Sativa differences could be largely based on terpene content, which instead of the current Indica/Sativa labeling might require for more insight into the terpene profiles related to the Bedrocan products available for patient use.” said Hugo Maassen, Head of Phyto Engineering at Bedrocan.
The study showed that the real difference between strains that we classify as Indica or Sativa are the terpene profiles. These results suggest that the real deciding factor of the effects we refer to as Indica or Sativa looks to be actually referring to the individual composition of terpenes.
Sure, at first this feels like a bomb just blew up everything we once knew about cannabis. As the dust settles, new information like this will help us make sense of the confusion surrounding cannabis genetics.