Archaeological evidence of cannabis use dates back 10,000 years in central Asian and it's likely that the plant has been deliberately bred for human purposes for as long. Human cultivation has led to a two-way split in the types of marijuana. One type is grown for hemp, the fibre that can be extracted from the plants.
Hemp is exceptionally strong and is ideal for making rope as well as fabrics and paper, but it has low levels of THC, the molecule that gets you high. In this piece, we're looking at the second type of cannabis, the type that's cultivated for its psychotropic properties – in other words, for getting stoned. This type is actually fairly useless for making rope with!
Types of Weed
Three types of cannabis seeds are used and cross-bred to create cannabis plants with high THC levels: sativa, indica and ruderalis. The first two are the most commonly used.
Dedicated growers of marijuana have become increasingly skilful at hybridising in the last 40 years, since the hippy revolution exposed millions of people to cannabis smoking for the first time. Amsterdam in the Netherlands, British Columbia in Canada and the West Coast of the USA have all emerged as areas where clever growers have created hybrid cannabis strains with high levels of THC.
There are three types of marijuana seeds commonly available, regular, feminised and autoflowering. A regular pack of seeds will produce some plants that are male and others that are female, in an approximately 50/50 ratio. The female plants produce buds with high levels of THC, whereas the male plants don't.
You need male plants to create female seeds. It’s a complicated process of cross pollination which is why most growers leave it to the dedicated professionals. Female marijuana seeds should produce 100% Female plants. It’s the female plants that produce the flowers or buds you end up harvesting and smoking, so unless you want to breed your own, feminized seeds are the way to go.
Autoflowering seeds are a combination of sativa and indica with some ruderalis thrown into the mix. Ruderalis is a marijuana type that grows wild in Russia and Eastern Europe and is the result of seeds from cultivated crops of hemp escaping into the wild.
When grown indoors, autoflowering plants don't need to be encouraged to flower with complicated lighting systems like regular plants, making them easier to grow. They're also fast growing with as little as 60 days between germination and harvest. The downside with autoflowering plants is that they grow much smaller so yields tend to be much lower.
Ultimately, your choice of seeds will depend on the amount of growing space you have, how much time and skill you have for cultivation and what sort of weed you like to smoke. Most growers try several strains before the hit on the one or two types that they are happiest with.