It is often presented as cannabis 101: indicator strains (from the shorter, bush version of the plant) are sedating, while the warts (from the higher spindle version) are more exalting.
This is a claim repeated in most provincial cannabis education sites. But is it accurate?
"In short, I would say no, it is not," says Jason Buzz McMaster University for the Study of Cancer Drugs.
"I think the classical characteristic of an anti-sense indicator is not very useful when trying to find out what the active agents will be in the product."
Cannabis state scientist Ethan Russo agrees.
– This is scientifically invalid. Whether it actually leads someone to a delusion, I do not know, but these things are so excited that the whole discussion is ridiculous.
Part of the problem, scientists say, is that the original subspecies of sativa and indica have been hopelessly mixed for decades by cross-breeds performed under black market conditions. The other is that there are simply no studies to support predicting these effects.
"It's hard to see if this is accurate or inaccurate because it's not actually studied to the extent that people would like it to be," said Vancouver Cannabis Author Amanda Sheber.
"This is a framework that is used because it makes it easy for consumers to choose products, but is it the most accurate?" I do not think so.
Most provincial sites predict the effects of sativa, indica. Should they?
A quick look at provincial cannabis sites shows that most predict that the indicator is sedative / sativa is an energizing effect, albeit always with a little hedge.
According to the Quebec site, the effects of the indicator "are usually described as potentially soothing, relaxing or sleep-inducing," while sativa is usually described as potentially energizing, lifting, or mentally stimulating (They add that "effects vary from person to person based on multiple factors. ")
P.E.I. that Norfolk and Labrador argue that "most consumers have used these three types of cannabis (cf.sativa, indicator and hybrid) as a test stone for predicting effects, "while Alberta says" most people find "that the two subspecies have different effects.
Ontario and B.C. are the exceptions, avoiding the claim that sativa and indica have different effects at all. Ontario's site is limited to saying that plants grow differently.
Newfoundland and Labrador Liqueur Corporation did not respond to a request to comment on the information on their site.
The appearance of plants tells you a little
Where does the claim come from?
"I doubt anyone knows at this point," Rousseau says. "There are numerous allegations – this is a problem, it's just another additional by-product of a ban."
A study published in October claimed that years of crossing made it impossible to distinguish between two subspecies.
"Categorization of cannabis as a satiety and indication has become an exercise in futility," writes John McPartland, who teaches at the medical school at the University of Vermont. "Universal crossing and hybridization make their distinction meaningless."
McPartn did not respond to the request for an interview.
As a result, Siebert says, just look at a plant does not tell you much about its psychoactive effects.
"People will say that sativa plants grow more leafy leaves, and much higher, and the plant indication will grow short and strong." Does that speak of the content of THC and CBD and terpenes in flowers?
Looking for the wrong place?
Experts told by Global News said a better guide to predicting effects is called terpenes.
Terpenes are chemical compounds that smell cannabis like lemon or other like pinnate needles. In combination with THC, they can also be the key to understanding why different cannabis species can have different effects on the mind.
"Myrcene plus THC equals sedation." Myrcene is what I call a "rubber lock factor" in cannabis, "says Rousseau.
"Similarly, lemon will lead to mood augmentation, strong antidepressant effects, combined with THC, and many others."
"I think terpenes will really appear if they are not, as the next instrument we use to classify cannabis," Seiber says.
In this interpretation a plant with more indication or satiety may have more or less than a given or not, as the case may be.
Most provincial sites tell the buyers what terpenes are found in the dried flower, but rarely explain what terms such as "cariophyle" and "pinnacle" actually mean. (BK is an exception.)
Differences are key
To confuse things, cannabis works differently in different ways. A person who has one type of experience with a strain does not necessarily mean that another person will have such an experience.
"I like to watch what I have consumed and what terpenes are in it, and then I say," Oh, that was what it was in it, and that made me feel that way, "says Sebbert.[But] something that works for me that can make me feel lifted can make someone else feel tired or reassured. "
Exploration, proper reproduction of illegal plants is a challenge
"It was practically impossible to investigate an illegal product," Buse said. "It was very difficult, so there is a lot of work at the moment, but there are huge gaps in our knowledge of short- and long-term effects."
Most other widely-sold plants – such as apples – have very formal breeding standards. Scientists can tell you who developed a variety, when, what parents and how the DNA profile should look like. For comparison, cannabis genetics is in a state of chaos: the genetic analysis of the marijuana products marked by the variety in 2015 shows that the strains suspected to be different are almost the same, whereas the strains that are suggests that they are the same, are different.
This is not a surprising result of the fact that the breeders work illegally, but it is doing cannabis scientists at the bottom of a very high hill. At a time when the public is full of questions, scientists are starting a process that can ultimately lead to answers.
"When you compare it with other plants or products that are available to consumers, cannabis is in a place where the wild west really is," Buse said. "We have not even characterized all the active cannabinoids that are included in the product, and we do not know the full effects."
Sativa vs. indica may be important – domestic producers
The only real-life situation in which the average consumer would like to pay attention to the difference between subspecies is whether they are thinking of developing their own, says Buse.
"If there was only a small amount of space to develop, you could lean towards the shorter vegetation, but in terms of trying to make a conclusion about the potency of the various cannabinoids based on whether it is a senate or an indicator strain, this is not particularly useful. "
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