Well, not exactly. There’s actually a third type of marijuana, one you don’t hear much about. You’re more likely to find it in sub-par pot, and it isn’t a big part of the retail market, but it plays an integral role in the breeding process.
It’s called cannabis ruderalis, and it’s one of three subspecies of the cannabis plant. The species itself is cannabis sativa, and it includes the sativa, indica, and ruderalis subspecies.
Sativa strains tends to grow tall and expansive – it’s an iffy plant to grow indoors. Indica, on the other hand, typically grows short and bushy. Indica generally has higher THC contents than sativa strains.
Ruderalis, on the other hand, grows short, shorter than indica, too short to be much use for marijuana or hemp. The plant, which originated in the Himalayas, generally isn’t used to produce saleable cannabis – the THC content is too low.
But it has special traits that make it very useful. For one, it can withstand much harsher climates than the other two types. For another, it’s an “auto-flowering” marijuana plant, which means it blooms based on its age rather than light exposure.
That makes it possible to harvest plants within a shorter, set period rather than waiting for changes in light to have their effect.
There’s another use for ruderalis that makes it important: medical marijuana. The plant is potent with a chemical known as CBD. It’s a cannabinoid contained in weed, and it has several medical uses – most notably, it prevents seizures in children with severe epilepsy. Some ruderalis strains are grown specifically for this purpose.
The subspecies also plays a part in breeding. The auto-flowering trait makes it useful in crossbreeding with indica plants, and this often produces auto-flowering weed with higher THC contents.
Cannabis ruderalis has always been the redheaded stepchild of the cannabis world. But it’s a critical piece of the industry, and odds are you’ve come across it yourself, even if you didn’t know it.