Your Ultimate Guide to the Cannabis Plant

There is no plant more misunderstood in modern society than Cannabis. A plant that is so marvellous in its potential but has suffered from both stigma and a lack of understanding.

13 February 2023

  • CBD Guides
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It is essential to note that the cannabis plant is a species of flowering plant in the Cannabaceae family, and produces a variety of products, such as CBD oil (commonly mistaken for cannabis oil and vice versa), hemp seed seed oil (derived from hemp seeds) and hemp and marijuana, the two main two sub-species of the cannabis plant. Cannabis has three primary strains: the Cannabis Sativa strains, Cannabis Indica strains, and Cannabis Ruderalis strains.

Many wonder how to tell the difference between Indica and Sativa in particular as they are commonly found in most recreational, wellness and medicinal products. This question is easily answer by understanding the basics, each of these strains have differing physical characteristics and are utilised for different purposes. Molecularly, each strain can have varying levels of cannabinoids and terpenes, which contribute to their distinct effects and flavours.

Sativa Vs Indica

To begin, Cannabis sativa is known for its energetic and uplifting effects, making it popular for daytime use. It typically has a low THC content and high CBD content, making it a suitable choice for CBD production. The hemp plant, often containing a high sativa strain count, typically has long, narrow leaves and can grow quite tall, up to 6 meters in some cases. The plant has a fibrous stalk and is often used for industrial purposes, such as making textiles, paper, and construction materials.

On the other hand, Cannabis Indica is known for its relaxing and sedating effects, making it more commonly used for night time use. It typically has a high THC content and moderate to low quantity of CBD. Marijuana, commonly containing the indica strain, are generally shorter and bushier than sativa/hemp plants, with wider leaves. They are known for their relaxing and sedative effects, making them popular for medicinal and recreational use.


Meanwhile, Cannabis Ruderalis is the least known and the lesser utilised of the three main strains. It is a small plant that originated in Russia and Central Asia and is known for its ability to automatically flower, meaning they do not require a change in light cycle to begin flowering; which makes it popular amongst growers.

Ruderalis is often bred with Sativa or Indica plants to create hybrid strains that have unique characteristics. Ruderalis plants are smaller than both sativa and Indica plants, typically only growing to a height of 20-60cm. They have a shorter life cycle and are generally less potent than Indica and Sativa.

Marijuana Vs Hemp

As mentioned before, Cannabis can be divided into two primary sub-species, namely marijuana and hemp. Both of these types of Cannabis can contain all three strains of the Cannabis plant. However, it is the Indica and Sativa strains that are most commonly found when producing products from hemp and marijuana respectively.

Marijuana is a type of cannabis that is bred specifically for its high THC content (thus the presence of Cannabis Indica), which is responsible for its psychotropic effects. It is used both medically and recreationally.

In contrast, hemp is most commonly used for its high quantity of the Cannabis Sativa strain. Its uses include the production of clothing, paper, building materials as well as various CBD products such as CBD Oil Drops or CBD Gummies to name a few. Hemp has a low THC content, typically less than 0.3%, which is the legal limit in most countries, as well as a high CBD content.

The distinction between marijuana and hemp is important for legal and regulatory reasons, as well as the understanding of their medical and industrial purposes. Marijuana is subject to more stringent regulations and is often illegal for recreational use, while hemp is generally legal and used for a wide range of commercial purposes, such as cosmetics or food supplements.

Marijuana Use

Weed is a common term used to refer to marijuana, but it’s also used interchangeably with cannabis and hemp. It’s important to note that weed specifically refers to the dried flowers and leaves of the marijuana plant, and it’s most often used recreationally.

The recreational use of weed usually involves smoking it in the form of joints, pipes, or bongs, although it can also be ingested in edibles or consumed using vaporisers. Marijuana is also used medically to treat various conditions, such as chronic pain, nausea, and loss of appetite, although this is typically only in extreme cases due to the side effects and drawbacks of products with high THC content. In many countries, medical use of marijuana is legal with a prescription, while recreational use remains illegal.

Regardless of its use, it’s important to note that consuming weed can have significant health risks and side effects, such as impaired cognitive and motor functions, increased heart rate, and potential lung damage from smoking.


CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-psychotropic compound found in the hemp and marijuana plants. Unlike THC, it does not produce a “high” and is instead used for its potentially supportive qualities. It is often derived from the hemp plant for its previously established high CBD count but it is important to note that CBD quantities of any kind can be found in all 3 of the main Cannabis sub-species. CBD Oil is usually extracted from the hemp plant through the leaves and the flowers as these are the parts that contain the highest quantity of the compound.

CBD oil is often misconstrued for Hemp oil (derived from the seeds of the hemp plant) or Cannabis oil (often derived from the marijuana plant), however, all three oils are completely different on a molecular level. For example, Hemp oil only contains trace amounts of CBD, if any at all. Cannabis oil will often contain an abundance of THC and is often used medicinally for its said THC content.

Out of the three, CBD oil is generally the safest and most effective oil as it does not contain the risks of THC and is perceived to provide bodily support for its high CBD content.

However, it is very understudied and it is important to note that CBD cannot be used as a substitute for modern medicine until it is better understood. Please seek advice from a qualified medical professional in regards to any doubts when using CBD.


In conclusion, the Cannabis plant is a diverse species with various strains and sub-species, each with unique characteristics and uses. Understanding the differences between Sativa and Indica, as well as marijuana and hemp, is important for legal, medical, and industrial purposes.

While marijuana is often associated with recreational use and THC-induced psychotropic effects, hemp is primarily used for industrial purposes and CBD production. It is important to note that in regards to Cannabis, regardless of its form, has been severely understudied. Therefore, seeking advice from a qualified medical professional is essential before using any cannabis-related product.