Exploring the vibrant world of cannabis varieties from Latin America, the Himalayas, and beyond.
Many people remember when, not long ago, you might purchase your cannabis and have no idea where it came from. You could ask the person from whom you got it, and they wouldn’t know either.
The origin of what you were smoking was completely indecipherable because it changed hands so many times through the black market.
Now that the stigma of cannabis consumption and laws restricting its use are waning, it might be a good time to more deeply explore the roots of some cannabis varieties.
Since Linnaeus first identified cannabis in 1753 in his book, Species Plantarum, a debate has raged over how Cannabis should technically be identified. Lamarck later proposed that there are two species of the plant, Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica.  Cannabis sativa plants tend to originate in Western parts of the world, while Cannabis indica plants primarily hail from the Indian sub-continent and surrounding areas.
Since then, the most substantial contribution to the debate has been that of Dr. Ethan B. Russo.  In 2016, he pointed out that “since the taxonomists cannot agree, I would strongly encourage the scientific community, the press, and the public to abandon the sativa/indica nomenclature and rather insist that accurate biochemical assays on cannabinoid and terpenoid profiles be available for Cannabis in both the medical and recreational markets.”
While we might not be able to accurately identify and classify some plants in a consistent manner, we can do our best to trace the origins of some of our favorite chemovars from the world.
The Himalayas have long been producing varieties of cannabis that turn out to be crowd-pleasers, and the descendants of Hindu Kush—a landrace chemovar—are no exception.
For example, Indian Kush, produced by VIP Seeds in Spain, is a crafted blend of descendants of Hindu Kush and Afghani, two well-known Himalayan “indicas”. Indian Kush smells like Northern European forests (perhaps due to pinene content) with chemical components that have been making travelers happy since the 1960s.
One study showed that medical cannabis patients in the New England area have a preference for certain chemovars.  The study noted that (roughly):
- Half prefer hybrid varieties
- 40% prefer “indica” varieties
- 10% prefer “sativa” varieties
That may be why so many people love Original Skunk, which is partly derived from the landrace “indica” chemovar Afghani and landrace “sativa” chemovar Colombian. With a dash of Mexican genetics, Original Skunk is a world-traveler in and of itself and has pleased people all around the world.
What’s the best chemovar that you’ve experienced in the world? Let us know in the comments!
- Watts, Geoff. “Cannabis Confusions.” BMJ (Clinical research ed.), vol.332, no.7534, 2006, pp.175-6. doi:10.1136/bmj.332.7534.175 [Times cited = 10 (GoogleScholar); Journal Impact Factor = 27.604 (BMJ)]
- Piomelli, Daniele, and Ethan B Russo. “The Cannabis sativa Versus Cannabis indica Debate: An Interview with Ethan Russo, MD.” Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, vol.1, no.1, 2016, pp. 44-46, doi:10.1089/can.2015.29003.ebr. [Times cited = 40; Journal Impact Factor = N/A]
- Piper, Brian J. “Mother of Berries, ACDC, or Chocolope: Examination of the Strains Used by Medical Cannabis Patients in New England.” Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, vol.50, no.2, 2018, pp.95-104, doi:10.1080/02791072.2017.1390179 [Times cited = 1; Journal Impact Factor = 1.740]