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Cannabis Education

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Higher Grade aims to provide education to broaden the conversation with our customers and budtenders about cannabis beyond individual flavor preferences and traditional Sativa/Indica classifications, including the phytochemically rich and diverse nature of cannabis and its connection to flavor profiles and effects

*We are not medical professionals, and this discussion is not a medical recommendation. The information we provide is for educational purposes only, and we encourage you to consult a healthcare provider if you seek medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We hope this discussion helps you understand the human body’s relationship with cannabis and aids you in determining which strains and styles have the potential to provide your desired flavors and effects.

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 BRIEF HISTORY OF CANNABIS 

Cannabis has grown naturally on the Earth for millions of years. Fossil pollen evidence shows that cannabis diverged from its genetic ancestor 27.8 million years ago, with recent studies placing ancient ancestors of modern cannabis in the Tibetan Plateau 19.6 million years ago. The ancestors of today's cannabis developed into landrace strains as they dispersed naturally throughout the world, experiencing times of growth, shrinkage, and isolation as the Earth went through periods of significant environmental change.
 

There are three types of landrace cannabis, Indica, Sativa, and Ruderalis. Ruderalis is exotic and finicky, originating from the most rugged northern regions of the world and rarely, if ever, found in modern cannabis. Indica varieties mainly originate from Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Northern India, Tibet, and Nepal. Sativa varieties primarily have origins in the equatorial regions of Africa, North America, and South America.

Humans have a unique and longstanding relationship with cannabis that has lasted at least 12 thousand years. Initially, we domesticated and cultivated landrace cannabis, with very low or nonexistent THC content, for its oily seeds and strong fibers, similar to modern-day hemp. However, 5000-year-old artifacts show humans were cultivating and consuming cannabis for reasons beyond its hemp fibers, actually seeking out the psychoactive properties of THC. For example, the discovery of molecular remnants of THC in bowls used to burn plant matter at ancient Chinese burial grounds suggests a ritual use of psycho-actively potent cannabis.

 

Over time, humans bred and manipulated landrace cannabis varieties to cultivate strains with desired bud structure, flavor, aroma, environmental resiliencies, medicinal value, and psychoactive potency. Selective breeding by humans in variable climate conditions produced the parent strains of modern cannabis, known as heirloom strains. Most of the cannabis varieties we enjoy today result from landrace and heirloom strains bred together.

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 INDICA / SATIVA / HYBRID 

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The terms Indica and Sativa indicate the kind of plant, its growing style, its bud and leaf structure, and the location on the Earth where the plant originated. In the modern cannabis industry, these terms are no longer indicators of flavors or effects.
 

Indica and Sativa are varieties of landrace strains, which have developed over time in their natural environment without being crossed with other types. Indica plant varieties originate from Central Asia's cool and dry mountainous regions, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Northern India, Tibet, and Nepal. Indica plants are short and bushy with thick leaves and minimal space between the buds. The dried buds from Indica plants are tight, round, and dense.
 

Sativa varieties originated from the sunny and moist equatorial regions of Africa, Southeast Asia, North America, and South America. Sativa plants are tall with skinny leaves and plenty of space between the nodes. The dried buds of Sativa plants are fluffy, loose, and elongated.
 

When a landrace Sativa variety cross-breeds with a landrace Indica variety, the result is a Hybrid strain. Hybrid varieties can display characteristics of both Sativa and Indica, often favoring one type over the other. True landrace Indica or Sativa strains are rare and hard to come by today. Therefore, it is safe to assume the majority of cannabis genetics we see today are hybridized varieties.

Suppose we understand that every modern strain is essentially a hybrid variety. In that case, the conversation about cannabis must expand beyond Indica, Sativa, and the effects traditionally associated with these plant types. Instead, we must look more profoundly than a plant classification to understand why we are attracted to particular kinds of cannabis. So often, a specific flavor, effect, or aesthetic draws most people to different strains.
 

Traditionally Indica strains have been connected with the quintessential heavy “stoned” feeling. Indica consumers anecdotally report feeling deep body relaxation and noticed relief from chronic pain, anxiety, muscle spasms, and insomnia. Sativa strains are usually associated with a cerebral energetic “high” that encourages creativity and productivity. In addition, Sativa consumption is reported to bring relief from migraines, depression, nausea, pain, and lack of appetite.

 

We are not here to discredit these widely held experiences with cannabis but rather encourage a conversation beyond plant classifications and explore the phytochemically-rich nature of cannabis responsible for its flavors, effects, and reported medicinal value.

*Please note that when discussing the effects and medicinal value of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, we usually reference studies of isolated versions of the particular phytochemical, many of which are performed on rodents or cell cultures, not humans. Higher Grade is in no way suggesting that consuming cannabis that contains any or all of the discussed phytochemicals will produce a medicinal effect or cure an illness, especially regarding anti-cancer properties. Cannabis is still federally illegal, which means research on the impact cannabis consumption has on various health issues and diseases is extremely limited.

*Please note that when discussing the effects and medicinal value of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, we usually reference studies of isolated versions of the particular phytochemical, many of which are performed on rodents or cell cultures, not humans. Higher Grade is in no way suggesting that consuming cannabis that contains any or all of the discussed phytochemicals will produce a medicinal effect or cure an illness, especially regarding anti-cancer properties. Cannabis is still federally illegal, which means research on the impact cannabis consumption has on various health issues and diseases is extremely limited.

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Immersive Cannabis Experience

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Get immersed in education related to cannabis & terpenes and make an informed decision on the strains you consume.

Phytochemicals

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In depth information on Phytochemicals, their effects and how they relate to the way we consume cannabis.