Marijuana, or cannabis as it’s more formally known, has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. But in the past few decades there have been significant advances in understanding how this drug works and the potential benefits of its use. This article will discuss the types of medical marijuanas.

What is Medical Marijuana? 

Medical marijuana is an herbal drug that has been used to treat a variety of conditions such as pain, nausea and loss of appetite. The drug is obtained from the leaves and flowering tops of the cannabis plant by use of various methods including drying and curing and extraction of oils and other compounds (Dewey).

Plants grown for recreational purposes contain high levels of the psychoactive ingredient THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) that is responsible for causing a “high”. Medical marijuana production results in very low levels of THC and high levels of CBD, which is non-psychoactive chemical. The drug may be sold as dried leaves or flowers, liquids, concentrates and other forms (Kramer et al).

In the U.S., medical marijuana can be obtained by a patient from a physician who recommends its use for treatment of certain conditions such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma and multiple sclerosis. In other countries around the world, medical marijuana is legal without a prescription and is provided to patients with a health care professional’s prescription.

Types of Medical Marijuana

There are three main types of medical marijuana products, each with different uses and applications. They are as follows: 

1) Cannabis sativa

Cannabis sativa is an annual flowering plant in the Cannabaceae family, native to eastern Asia but now cultivated worldwide. There are two subspecies most often used for their fiber and seed, sativa and indica. Both have been cultivated for thousands of years for food, fiber, recreational, religious and medicinal purposes (Zamir).

Cannabis sativa is a tall plant that will need to be in a greenhouse or in a very sheltered area during the winter months when in its growing cycle. The flowers of this plant can be harvested for their THC content.

2) Cannabis Indica

This plant is a short, bushy annual that does well in much harsher conditions than Cannabis sativa. It is grown for its high CBD level and moderate to low THC content. Its flowers are also used for medicinal purposes along with its leaves and stalks (Zamir).

3) Cannabis Ruderalis

This subspecies is very short, typically less than two feet tall. It can survive cold climates and poor soil conditions. Furthermore, it doesn’t need the intense light of more potent types of cannabis since its stalks are typically harvested rather than flowers. A significant quality of this plant is that it contains very little THC and high levels of CBD. This makes it a good choice for patients seeking medical treatment without the euphoric effects typically associated with other types of marijuana (Zamir).

The different types of medical marijuanas have many uses, but each type has its own benefits. Cannabis sativa is typically grown for the psychoactive ingredients THC and CBD. This plant needs to be in a greenhouse or protected area during winter months when it’s flowering cycle begins. Cannabis indica is also used medicinally with moderate levels of THC and high levels of CBD that are not as potent as cannabis sativa products for patients seeking treatment without euphoric effects associated with other marijuana strains. Finally, cannabis ruderalis does well in cold climates and poor soil conditions due to its low level of THC content which makes it good choice for those looking for medicinal purposes without the “high” feeling often associated with higher potency marijuana plants like cannabis sativas.

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