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Cannabis indica, formally known as Cannabis sativa forma indica, is an annual plant in the Cannabaceae family. A putative species of the genus Cannabis, it is typically distinguished from Cannabis sativa.
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. Loran C. Anderson described C. indica plants as having short, broad leaflets whereas those of C. sativa were characterized as relatively long and narrow.Cannabis indica plants conforming to Schultes's and Anderson's descriptions may have originated from the Hindu Kush mountain range. Because of the often harsh and variable (extremely cold winters, and warm summers) climate of those parts, C. indica is well-suited for cultivation in temperate climates..
Broad-leafed Cannabis indica plants in India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan are traditionally cultivated for the production of hashish. Pharmacologically, C. indicalandraces tend to have a higher cannabidiol (CBD) content than C. sativastrains. Most commercially available indica strains have been selected for low levels of CBD, with some users reporting more of a "stoned" feeling and less of a "high" from C. indica when compared to C. sativa. The Cannabis 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 sativa's more common reports of a "spacey" and mental inebriation, and even, albeit rarely, comprising hallucinations. Differences in the terpenoid content of the essential oil may account for some of these differences in effect. Common indica strains for recreational or medicinal use include Kush and Northern Lights.
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.
There are several key differences between Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa. These include height and stature, internodal length, leaf size and structure, buds size and density, flowering time, odour, smoke and effects. Indica plants tend to grow shorter and bushier than the tall and leggy sativa plants. The leaves of indica strains tend to have wide, short leaves with short wide blades, whereas sativa strains have long leaves with thin long blades. The buds of indica strains tend to be wide, dense and bulk, while sativa strains are likely to be long, sausage shaped flowers.
Cannabis indica has a higher ratio of CBD:THC compared to Cannabis sativa.[dubious– discuss]Cannabis strains with relatively high CBD:THC ratios are less likely to induce anxiety than vice versa. This may be due to CBD's antagonistic effects at the cannabinoid receptors, compared to THC's partial agonist effect. CBD is also a 5-HT1A receptor (serotonin) agonist, which may also contribute to an anxiolytic-content effect. This likely means the high concentrations of CBD found in Cannabis indica mitigate the anxiogenic effect of THC significantly. The effects of sativa are well known for its cerebral high. User can expect a more vivid and illicit high, while indica is well known for its sedative effects which some prefer for night time use. Indica possesses a more calming, soothing, and numbing experience in which can be used to relax or relieve pain. Both types are used as medical cannabis. Indica plants are normally shorter and stockier than sativas. They have wide, deeply serrated leaves and a compact and dense flower cluster.
During the decade of 1970, Cannabis Indica strains from Afghanistan and Hindu Kush were brought to the USA, where the first hybrids with Cannabis Sativa plants from ecuatorial areas were developed, widely spreading marijuana cultivation throughout the States.
Although the plants may be different in appearance, it should be noted that Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica are the same plant. The name indica refers to a geographical area in which the plant is grown. A similar concept is seen in dog breeds. They are different in appearance, yet they are the same species.