Cannabis – Introduction of a long forgotten plant. Botanical aspects, society, economy.

Cannabis is one of the oldest and useful plants in a wide variety of cultures. From China to India to Europe and even the American continent, the medicinal plant has spread like weeds over the past millennia. And while the quality of many cannabis products is not remotely reminiscent of weeds, the comparison is very accurate. Because the plant, valued for its fibers and healing flowers, is one of the most robust and adaptable herbs in our world. In it lays the strong power to influence people and nations. It can heal, it’s a great building material, and its seeds are the perfect superfood. But what is behind the plant, that everyone is suddenly talking about?
An essay about a botanically intoxicating queen.

Basic botanical knowledge of cannabis

What all cannabis plants have in common, is that they are annual, not like trees, which sprout with new leaves every year. Cannabis arises from new seeds every year in spring to die again in autumn. However, creating supernatural circumstances, experts also create the famous exception, that confirms the rule – cannabis plants, that have existed for several years. Nature has been tricked for long in the propagation of cuttings and in conditions under artificial lightning.

seedlings of cannabis plants
This is what it looks like, when life of a cannabis plant emerges from the seed. Grown and photographed by Lorenz Minks.

Another characteristic, that all cannabis plants share, is the famous leaf shape. If you look at the stem, from bottom to top, the lower leaves begin with only one or a few “fingers” per leaf, while leaves with 5-11 fingers predominate in the central part. Towards the end of the stem axis, there are more leaves with fewer fingers. The fingers always have serrated edges, so they look a bit like saw blades.

Cannabis plants are usually dioecious. That means, there are both all-male and all-female plants. The males carry the pollen, the females the fruit pistils (stigma). Stress or other negative environmental influences also cause hermaphrodites from time to time, which is fatal for indoor gardeners in particular.

gorgeous cannabis male
Gorgeous cannabis male plant. Grown and photographed by Lorenz Minks.


female cannabis plant in second week of flowering
Female cannabis plant in second week of flowering. Grown and photographed by Lorenz Minks.


tied up cannabis plant
In this tied down plant you can see very well how from the beginning of the plant to the top first leaves with 3 fingers and after some “nodes” leaves with nine fingers are already growing on the main shoot. Grown and photographed by Lorenz Minks.

Since cannabis plants produce resins, which are made up of coveted ingredients such as CBD, THC and Terpenes, they cannot be pollinated by insects because they stick to the resin. Due to this protective mechanism, cannabis plants are dependent on pure wind pollination, whereby their “trichomes” covered with resin heads, together with the sticky resin, are of great help. Since male plants grow taller than female plants, pollen that falls down falls on the female plants, sticks to the pistils and, with the help of a female ova, forms new life in the form of a seed.

trichomes of a cannabis plant
Cannabis plants have the so-called trichomes on their inflorescences. These are small hair extensions of the leaf tissue in which the valuable trichomes and terpenes are stored. Grown and photographed by Lorenz Minks.

Cannabis – master of adaptability

Just as there are not only white or black individuals in humans, there are also different growth forms in the cannabis plant. These can be classified into sativa, indica and ruderalis, based on structural properties and individual light reactions. All of these growth forms share the same basic characteristics, but you can see the differences with a little more background information.

ruderalis sativa plant
Plants with Ruderalis-Sativa characteristics can be seen here on the left. Long, loose growth and lemony terpene clouds. Rather less trichomes and resin. To the right of them are a few worthy representatives of the Indica types – dense, arm-sized headbuds and so much resin that you have to shower for half an hour after caring for these plants. Grown and photographed by Lorenz Minks.

Above all, the stature of the plants differs greatly, if you compare two cannabis plants growing in different climates: If you take a cannabis plant from tropical Thailand and compare it with a plant from high Nepal, it’s noticeable, that the Thai representative grows significantly higher – so it’s a sativa. Sativas grow very tall, up to five meters, while indicas sometimes grow no taller than eight inches. On the other hand, indicas grow much more densely or bushier in cold areas with little sunshine than their counterparts in warmer regions. While the distances between the side shoots in Sativa growth types on the stem axis can be very large, with Indicas all branches and foliage grow very close to one another.

Distinct sativa phenotype in advanced flowering
Extreme example of a Sativa plant with high resin / active ingredient levels. Grown and photographed by Lorenz Minks.


Gorilla Breath Humboldt Seeds Picture
Blütenstand einer Gorilla Breath von Humboldt Seed Organization als hervorragendes Beispiel für einen Indica-Wachstums-Typen. Grown and photographed by Lorenz Minks.

The differences of Cannabis phenotypes are always an evolutionary adaptation to the respective environment.

Sativas for sunny, wet environments

In hot, sunny areas, there are usually plants with long, thin leaf fingers that have a relatively small leaf surface. Why? Because the photosynthetically active leaves do not have to fight for every sparkle of light in sunny areas, but rather have to offer protection against evaporation of valuable water resources, which takes place via the leaves. Because of their not that dense flower structures, Sativas also grow better in humid climates without molding.

Indicas for colder climates

Indicas, on the other hand, have different challenges to master, as they occur in climates and areas with less sunshine. Therefore, compared to sativa plants, they form thick, short leaves with a larger leaf surface in order to be able to absorb the less abundant sunlight more efficiently. On the other hand, because of the lower outside temperature and higher air humidity, such areas do not require much protection against evaporation, which is why the compact, thick leaf shape is perfect in this case.

Mango Sapphire Indica strain
On this Mango Sapphire, the thick leaves of an Indica are easily recognizable. Grown and photographed by Lorenz Minks.

There would be numerous other differences in the construction of the various types of cannabis at this point, but in the end they all follow the same principle: if life gives you lemons, get salt and tequila. The cannabis plant is tough and does not shy away from any evolutionary challenge. The cannabis plant has conquered almost every country between Finland and Chile for the past thousands of years.

Survival artist: Cannabis Ruderalis

Accordingly, the cannabis plant also found a way to grow in northern countries, where the hours of sunshine go to zero in winter and about 24hrs in summer. The so-called ruderalis differs from its relatives, in that it can grow independently from light cycle.

While cannabis plants usually begin flowering, when the length of day decreases and levels off at 14-12 hours, ruderalis plants begin to flower approximately a month after germination, regardless of the daylight hours. This has the advantage that the flowering does not have to be finished in wet, cold autumn and thus the risk of mold is significantly lower. In addition, with ruderalis plants, several harvests in succession can be achieved in good years.

Incidentally, many outdoor growers in Germany swear by ruderalis hybrids. Under the better known generic term automatics or autoflowering, they are sold by most seed banks and also show their advantages in Northern Europe. (Just beware, cultivation is strictly prohibited for most people in this area)

Girl Scout Cookies autoflowering plant from Mallorca-Seeds in final flowering
Girl Scout Cookies autoflowering plant from Mallorca Seeds in final flowering. Grown and photographed by Lorenz Minks.

Speaking about seed banks: there are now well over a thousand cannabis varieties, and the sheer number of crossbreeding options means, that new genetics are added every day. Crossing takes place all over the world – across the borders of illegality.

Multiple uses of cannabis: houses, planes, natural cosmetics, etc…

The hemp plant has always made a name for itself, not only as a medicinal plant, but also as a building material, for dietary supplementation or textile fiber manufacturing. In Europe and the whole world, the potential of the cannabis plant has been more or less systematically suppressed under the pretext of prohibition for the past hundred years, but in recent years more and more start-ups have popped up that are specifically exploiting the potential of this powerful plant: hemp clothing, hemp insulation, hemp houses ,hemp cosmetics or even hemp planes are there to discover! All THC-free and totally legal.

But also in terms of healthy nutrition, hemp takes up a top position. Hemp seeds contain loads of antioxidants, vitamins E and B. Since hemp seeds contain all the amino acids required by the human body, they have a very positive effect on metabolism and the detoxification of the body. Athletes also appreciate the potential that hemp seeds have.
Hemp is also available as a ground powder for the protein shake – because hemp seeds are very rich in vegetable proteins!

Hemp fibers are mainly used for the production of paper or textiles. Textiles, that are made from hemp fibers have a temperature equalizing effect – they warm in the cold and cool in the heat. Sails, ropes and the American Declaration of Independence were also made from hemp.

Hempearth-Hemp plane
Hempearth-Hemp plane

 Cannabis as a medicinal plant

The most prominent potential of cannabis, however, lies in its medicinal properties. Cannabis is a medicinal plant, that can be used effectively against a wide variety of diseases. It treats Chronic pain, as well as stress symptoms or skin diseases. In most cases it’s a stimulation of the body’s own reward system, the cannabinoid system,
which is closely linked to the causes of the (chronic) diseases to be treated.

It’s important to know the various cannabinoids and terpenes, considering, that the correct application-related composition of THC, CBD and other secondary ingredients is crucial for a successful therapy. To get deeper into this categorization thing, we wrote this article about batch categorization of cannabis.

The categorization aspect shouldn’t be underestimated, because even the smallest deviations from clinical pictures require a different indication. Would you like an example? As known from various statements, with some types of breast cancer, CBD helps significantly better, while with other types of breast cancer, THC defeats the tumor. At this point, a doctor, who is open and trained in the segment related to cannabis. He can give the best advice and should always be consulted before and during medication with cannabis.

Cannabis is on the rise – is it finally back to normal?

For thousands of years, living beings such as humans, but also dolphins and chimpanzees, have been dealing with mind-expanding substances. Whether was it opium, alcohol, magic mushrooms or even cannabis – up to a hundred years ago, nothing was a problem with consuming these things for recreational or medicinal purposes. Cannabis was a thing almost all over the world.

It was only with the opium crisis between Great Britain and China and a racially motivated, and globally implemented prohibition policy against cannabis, which was led by the USA, since when cannabis was promoted into being illegal and socially sidelined.

For a few years now, however, the problem has been easing. Several states in the USA have joined the legalization movement since 2012, which begun with Washington State and Colorado back then. In the meantime, two entire nations have opened a regulated, legally accessible market for cannabis for free consumption. One of them is a country of the G7 nations and part of the most important economic powers in the “western” world: Canada. In the Netherlands, the coffee shop scene has been tolerated for 50 years, while there is a largely calm cannabis social club scene in Spain. This is because people who live in countries like Spain have certain freedoms, especially in the private sphere.

Map of countries with federal legal access regimes in 2014
Development of the liberalization of cannabis worldwide

In many third world countries, a small bribe, by Western standards, is enough to be able to devote oneself to consumption without blame, and in Germany we have also been making progress since 2017 with the passing of the Cannabis Medicinal Law. In 2019, Thailand was the first country in Southeast Asia to venture a foray by legalizing the medicinal use of cannabis “as a gift to the people”. South Africa achieved legalization in 2018 and the German Hemp Association raised almost 100,000 euros for its 2019 justice campaign. Oh right, Georgia legalized Cannabis in 2018 as well. You see, legalization is happening all over the world right now. Even in Germany there is some great chance of legalization because of the poll values of the Green Party right now.

The cannabis plant has a bright future ahead. I wish her the best in her comeback into humanity – that she can make the world a better place.