Potency and safety analysis of hemp-derived delta-9 products: The hemp vs. cannabis demarcation problem

Cannabis indica
Purple Kush
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Cannabaceae
Genus: Cannabis
C. indica
Binomial name
Cannabis indica

Cannabis indica is an annual plant species in the family Cannabaceae[1] indigenous to the Hindu Kush mountains of Southern Asia.[2] The plant produces large amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)[3][better source needed] and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), with total cannabinoid levels being as high as 53.7%[scientific citation needed]. It is now widely grown in China, India, Nepal, Thailand, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, as well as southern and western Africa,[4] and is cultivated for purposes including hashish in India. The high concentrations of THC or THCV provide euphoric effects making it popular for use for several purposes such as recreational drugs, clinical research drugs and the potential of Cannabis or selected constituents for new drug research or being used in alternative medicine, among many others.[5][6][7]


In 1785, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck published a description of a second species of Cannabis, which he named Cannabis indica. Lamarck based his description of the newly named species on plant specimens collected in India. Richard Evans Schultes described C. indica as relatively short, conical, and densely branched, whereas C. sativa was described as tall and laxly branched.[8] Loran C. Anderson described C. indica plants as having short, broad leaflets whereas those of C. sativa were characterized as relatively long and narrow.[9][10] C. indica plants conforming to Schultes's and Anderson's descriptions originated from the Hindu Kush mountain range. Because of the often harsh and variable climate of those parts (extremely cold winters and warm summers), C. indica is well-suited for cultivation in temperate climates.[11]

The specific epithet indica is Latin for "of India" and has come to be synonymous with the cannabis strain.[12]

There was very little debate about the taxonomy of Cannabis until the 1970s, when botanists like Richard Evans Schultes began testifying in court on behalf of accused persons who sought to avoid criminal charges of possession of C. sativa by arguing that the plant material could instead be C. indica.[13]


Broad-leafed C. indica plants in the Indian Subcontinent are traditionally cultivated for the production of charas, a form of hashish. Pharmacologically, C. indica landraces tend to have higher THC content than C. sativa strains.[14][15] Some users report more of a "stoned" feeling and less of a "high" from C. indica when compared to C. sativa. (The terms sativa and indica, used in this sense, are more appropriately termed "narrow-leaflet" and "wide-leaflet" drug type, respectively.)[16] The C. indica high is often referred to as a "body buzz" and has beneficial properties such as pain relief in addition to being an effective treatment for insomnia and an anxiolytic, as opposed to C. sativa's more common reports of a cerebral, creative and energetic high, and even (albeit rarely) including hallucinations.[17] Differences in the terpenoid content of the essential oil may account for some of these differences in effect.[18][19] Common C. indica strains for recreational or medicinal use include Kush and Northern Lights.[20][21]

A recent genetic analysis included both the narrow-leaflet and wide-leaflet drug "biotypes" under C. indica, as well as southern and eastern Asian hemp (fiber/seed) landraces and wild Himalayan populations.[22]


In 2011, a team of Canadian researchers led by Andrew Sud announced that they had sequenced a draft genome of the Purple Kush strain of C. indica.[23]



  1. ^ Cervantes, Jorge (2002). Indoor Marijuana Horticulture. Van Patten. p. 256. ISBN 9781878823298.
  2. ^ Duvall, Chris (1999). Cannabis. Reaktion Books. p. chapter 2. ISBN 9781780233864.
  3. ^ "Marijuana Concentrates" (PDF). Drug Enforcement Administration. December 2014.
  4. ^ Hillig, Karl W.; Mahlberg, Paul G. (June 2004). "A chemotaxonomic analysis of cannabinoid variation in Cannabis (Cannabaceae)". American Journal of Botany. 91 (6): 966–975. doi:10.3732/ajb.91.6.966. PMID 21653452. S2CID 32469533.
  5. ^ Carvalho, Joana (13 January 2021). "GW Pharma Plans More Clinical Trials for Sativex". multiplesclerosisnewstoday. BioNews Services, LLC. Retrieved 15 October 2021.
  6. ^ PubChem. "Tetrahydrocannabivarin". pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 2023-07-01.
  7. ^ Abioye, Amos; Ayodele, Oladapo; Marinkovic, Aleksandra; Patidar, Risha; Akinwekomi, Adeola; Sanyaolu, Adekunle (2020-01-31). "Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV): a commentary on potential therapeutic benefit for the management of obesity and diabetes". Journal of Cannabis Research. 2 (1): 6. doi:10.1186/s42238-020-0016-7. ISSN 2522-5782. PMC 7819335. PMID 33526143.
  8. ^ Richard Evans Schultes; William M. Klein; Timothy Plowman & Tom E. Lockwood (1974). "Cannabis: an example of taxonomic neglect" (PDF). Harvard University Botanical Museum Leaflets. 23 (9): 337–367. doi:10.5962/p.168565.
  9. ^ Loran C. Anderson (1980). "Leaf variation among Cannabis species from a controlled garden". Harvard University Botanical Museum Leaflets. 28 (1): 61–69. doi:10.5962/p.168641. S2CID 90557456.
  10. ^ Dr. Loran C. Anderson - FSU Biological Science Faculty Emeritus
  11. ^ "How to Grow Marijuana in Sub-tropical and Temperate Climates". MSNL Blog. 2017-05-09. Retrieved 2018-07-15.
  12. ^ "indica Meaning | Pop Culture". Dictionary.com. Retrieved 2022-06-30.
  13. ^ Bosse, Jocelyn (2020). "Before the High Court: the legal systematics of Cannabis". Griffith Law Review. 29 (2): 302–329. doi:10.1080/10383441.2020.1804671. S2CID 229457146.
  14. ^ Fischedick, Justin Thomas; Hazekamp, Arno; Erkelens, Tjalling; Choi, Young Hae; Verpoorte, Rob (December 2010). "Metabolic fingerprinting of Cannabis sativa L., cannabinoids and terpenoids for chemotaxonomic and drug standardization purposes". Phytochemistry. 71 (17–18): 2058–2073. Bibcode:2010PChem..71.2058F. doi:10.1016/j.phytochem.2010.10.001. PMID 21040939.
  15. ^ Karl W. Hillig; Paul G. Mahlberg (2004). "A chemotaxonomic analysis of cannabinoid variation in Cannabis (Cannabaceae)". American Journal of Botany. 91 (6): 966–975. doi:10.3732/ajb.91.6.966. PMID 21653452.
  16. ^ "Sativa vs Indica." AMSTERDAM – THE CHANNELS. Web. 5 December 2010. <http://www.channels.nl/knowledge/25700.html Archived 2014-11-16 at the Wayback Machine>.
  17. ^ "Difference Marijuana Cannabis Sativa and Indica, Sativa or Indica Marijuana Seed Strains". Amsterdam Marijuana Seeds Seed Bank. Archived from the original on 2012-05-12. Retrieved 2010-12-06.
  18. ^ McPartland, J. M.; Russo, E. B. (2001). "Cannabis and Cannabis extracts: greater than the sum of their parts?". Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics. 1 (3/4): 103–132. doi:10.1300/J175v01n03_08.
  19. ^ Karl W. Hillig (2004). "A chemotaxonomic analysis of terpenoid variation in Cannabis". Biochemical Systematics and Ecology. 32 (10): 875–891. Bibcode:2004BioSE..32..875H. doi:10.1016/j.bse.2004.04.004.
  20. ^ "Northern Lights aka NL Weed Strain Information". Leafly. Retrieved 2023-02-18.
  21. ^ "Marijuana strains: The best of indica, sativa, hybrid, and more". www.medicalnewstoday.com. 2020-06-09. Retrieved 2023-02-18.
  22. ^ Karl W. Hillig (2005). "Genetic evidence for speciation in Cannabis (Cannabaceae)". Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution. 52 (2): 161–180. doi:10.1007/s10722-003-4452-y. S2CID 24866870.
  23. ^ Van Bakel, H.; Stout, J. M.; Cote, A. G.; Tallon, C. M.; Sharpe, A. G.; Hughes, T. R.; Page, J. E. (2011). "The draft genome and transcriptome of Cannabis sativa". Genome Biol. 12 (10): R102. doi:10.1186/gb-2011-12-10-r102. PMC 3359589. PMID 22014239.

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