Education

The Anatomy of the Cannabis Plant

Like with most plants, there are male and female cannabis plants. Both produce pre-flowers, but only female and hermaphroditic plants fully blossom.

The flowering tip of the female plant, often called the bud, is the part harvested for consumption because it contains the highest concentration of cannabinoids, the chemical compound that produces the effects of cannabis.

Fan Leaf

While the cannabis leaf has become the symbol of cannabis, they only produce trace amounts of cannabinoids.

Cola

A Cola is a cluster of buds on a female plant. They usually grow so closely together that they appear to be one large bud. This is where the highest concentration of cannabinoids are found. The topmost cluster of buds is called the main cola or apical bud.

Bracts

Small tear-shaped leaves that encapsulate the plant’s ovary that contain its seeds. Some growers refer to the bract formation as the “seed pod.” Others refer to the bract formation as “sugar leaves” because of their white trichomes (see below).

Trichomes

Mushroom-shaped glands found on the cannabis plant’s leaves, stems and calyxes. Trichomes secrete resin, THC, CBD and terpenes.

Pistil

These are the female plant’s reproductive parts. The pistil’s most important feature is the coloured hairs (called stigmas) that emerge from the ovule and can be seen shooting out from the bracts and ovaries. The stigmas collect pollen from the male plant to produce seeds. While the colour of the stigmas can be visually appealing, these have little to no bearing on the effect.

Calyx

A collection of cells that form part of the perianth, a delicate, translucent veil that partially encloses the seeds.

Cannabis Plant Types

The two most common cannabis plant types are Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica. Less common is Cannabis Ruderalis, which is used mostly by breeders to enhance their hybrids.

It was once believed that Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica had distinct effects. The former was thought to produce more energetic effects, while the latter produced more calming effects. While some of this basic knowledge may still apply, now that growers have cultivated hybrid strains for so many years, references to the effects of pure species may no longer be relevant or helpful.

Today, there are hundreds of strains of plants- each bred for specific characteristics and often intended to produce specific effects for consumers.

Cannabis Sativa

This species can grow quite tall (up to 25 feet) and has long, serrated light green leaves. Cannabis sativa L, more commonly known as hemp is typically grown for industrial use and is regulated to ensure the plants do not contain more than 0.3% THC.

Cannabis Indica

This species is generally faster-growing, bushier and up to six feet shorter than Cannabis sativa, with dark green leaves.

Cannabis Ruderalis

This species is short, stalky and shaggier with light green leaves. It tends to be rugged and auto-flowering, which is good for breeders.

Hybrids

There is a lot of speculation about the varying effects of consuming predominantly sativa versus indica strains, but significant differences can occur from strain to strain. Many products are made from hybrid plants, which combine both species, as growers explore and cultivate cannabis to produce desired effects.

Cannabinoids

A cannabinoid is one of a class of diverse chemical compounds that acts on cannabinoid receptors, AKA the Endocannabinoid system in cells that alter neurotransmitter release in the brain. Ligands for these receptor proteins include the endocannabinoids produced naturally in the body by animals;. then there are Exocannabinoids, referring to any Cannabinoid, cannabinoud receptor aggonist or antagonist from outside the body.

There are phytocannabinoids (Phyto-plant based), found in cannabis and some other plants; and synthetic cannabinoids, manufactured artificially. The most notable cannabinoid is the phytocannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. Cannabidiol (CBD) is another major constituent of the plant. There are at least 113 different cannabinoids isolated from cannabis, exhibiting varied effects.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

Key Facts
  • A cannabis plant’s THC content is expressed as a percentage of mg/g. This is often referred to as “potency.”
  • THC is intoxicating and can produce a variety of intended effects, but consuming too much or choosing a product with a high potency potential can produce harmful or negative effects.
  • THC content is indicated on the packaging of any cannabis product sold on OCS.ca.
  • THC ranges shown on our product pages are provided by cannabis producers and may differ from ranges specified on the actual packaging.Of the more than 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the one principally responsible for the psychoactive and intoxicating effects of cannabis consumption.Live cannabis plants contain tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), the non-active version of this compound. When cannabis is decarboxylated (heated to a high temperature), dried or cured, the acid molecule (the “A” in THCA) drops off, and the THC is activated. This results in the effects we associate with consuming THC. It also means that cannabis in its fresh form is not yet active with THC.
How THC Works

THC interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). Studies suggest this system plays a role in regulating stress recovery, protecting our nervous system, activating our immune system response and regulating our homeostatic balance (our overall state of optimal health, function and stability). Put simply, your ECS is made up of two things:

1) Cannabinoid receptors, present in nearly every region of your central nervous system and brain, as well as many other areas of the body, including your immune system; and

2) Cannabinoids that you naturally produce (called endocannabinoids).Your natural endocannabinoids fit into your ECS receptors like a key in a lock and help carry messages from cell to cell. THC works the same way, temporarily replacing your own endocannabinoids, but with different effects. These may include:

  • the release of dopamine, resulting in feelings of relaxation;
  • a physical response, such as reduced inflammation or an increase in hunger; and
  • effects on various regions of the brain, including the hippocampus (memory), the frontal cortex (thinking and decision-making) and the cerebellum (physical movement and coordination).
THC Potency

Potency refers to the amount of THC in a cannabis product. THC content is expressed as a percentage of milligrams per gram of cannabis. For example, if a product is labelled 15% THC, it has 150 milligrams of THC per gram of cannabis. It is important to know that 33% is the highest potency currently available, and it is impossible to have dried flower cannabis with 100% THC. As a natural product, the THC content in a cannabis product may vary from product to product and between lots of the same strain.

All information on THC content for our listed products is provided by the federally licensed producers from which we purchase the product.

By law, THC content is indicated on the packaging of every cannabis product sold on OCS.ca. Additionally, products with THC amounts over 17% and 20% are labelled as “strong” and “very strong,” respectively, to guide customers in product selection.

Choosing Products Based on THC Potency

The effects of THC will be different for everyone. When choosing a product, consider not only the THC potency potential, but also the method and amount of consumption along with personal factors such as your age, your gender, your health history and previous experience with cannabis. Consult with your physician if you have questions.

  • Consuming small amounts of THC can produce effects such as relaxation, heightened happiness, arousal and creativity, more sociability and energy, and an increased appetite
  • However, consuming large amounts of THC may produce overwhelming, unpleasant or harmful effects
  • Consider products with low THC potency and/or at least a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD (cannabidiol) to help reduce the likelihood of unintended effects. Remember to consume it slowly and in small amounts.
  • Remember that even the same products can vary between lots of the same strain. Please check labels carefully to be sure of the actual THC content in the product you selected.

Cannabidiol (CBD)

Key Facts
  • Unlike THC, CBD generally has no intoxicating effect.
  • CBD interacts with the human Endocannabinoid System by encouraging the release of our own endocannabinoids
  • CBD is most commonly made available as an oil or in capsule form.
  • As a natural product, the CBD content in a cannabis product may vary from product to product and lot to lot.Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that are produced naturally in our bodies and in some plants; they’re called endocannabinoids in humans and phytocannabinoids in plants.Cannabidiol (CBD) is the most common cannabinoid in cannabis, and although it can have an effect on both mind and body, it has little to no intoxicating effect. It’s found in the trichomes on the flower of many cannabis strains, including hemp.CBD is extracted from the trichomes and is commonly made available as an oil or in capsule form. It can also be applied topically as a cream or salve, inhaled or ingested in dried flower format, or ingested as an oil or in an edible product.
How CBD Works

Research into understanding how CBD works is ongoing. Studies to date suggest that rather than binding to the CB1 receptors in the human endocannabinoid system, as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) does, CBD acts differently, increasing or improving the production of our own endocannabinoids.

This is because chemically, CBD inhibits the production of an enzyme in our body that regulates and destroys our own excess endocannabinoids. This leads to us having more of our own endocannabinoids circulating in our bodies, which affects our physical state.Recent studies also suggest CBD may alter the effects of other natural chemicals in our bodies, including serotonin, which modulates mood and stress; adenosine, which impacts our sleep-wake cycle; and vanilloid, which contributes to pain modulation.

CBD Content

CBD content, also known as potency, is expressed as a percentage of milligrams per gram in cannabis. For instance, 12% CBD means that it contains 120 milligrams of CBD per gram of cannabis. It’s important to know that as a natural product, the CBD content in a cannabis product may vary from product to product and lot to lot. Also, all information on CBD content for our listed products is provided by the federally licensed producers from which we purchase the product. Please check all products carefully to be certain of the actual CBD content when you receive them.

CBD and THCAlthough it requires more scientific research, cannabinoids and other compounds in cannabis plants and products are thought to work together to amplify or modulate the effects of cannabis, a theory referred to as “the entourage effect.”Additionally, some studies show that CBD, in combination with THC, appears to reduce some of the psychoactive effects of THC. So selecting a product with similar levels of CBD and THC may help curb the overwhelming or unwanted effects (such as anxiety or paranoia) that are often associated with consuming high amounts of THC.

Terpenes

Key Facts
  • Terpenes are fragrant oils found in many types of plants that produce a unique taste and smell.
  • The tastes and smells of the terpenes in cannabis products range from woodsy to spicy to citrusy sweet.
  • Many terpenes are unique to cannabis.Cannabis gets its scent from compounds in the plants called terpenes. Terpenes are fragrant oils found in many types of plants, especially coniferous (evergreen) varieties. The chemical compounds they secrete give fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs their signature scents. There are over 100 identified terpenes, many of which are unique to the cannabis plant.

Although cannabis is often generally associated with a certain musky aroma, each strain of cannabis has its own scent. The individual scent of a strain will be based on the number and type of terpenes present and which ones are dominant. Terpene scents range from spicy and peppery to earthy and woodsy to floral and fruity.

Making this equation even more complex, each terpene can itself have multiple aroma profiles. Also, terpene levels can vary from crop to crop, which can lead to inconsistencies in the scents within the same strain.

Why are Terpenes Important?

We all have individual preferences for smells and tastes, so knowing the terpene profile of a cannabis product can help you choose one with a scent and flavour profile you’d most likely prefer.

Since many terpenes are associated with various types of plants and herbs used in naturopathic remedies, some theorize that terpenes play a role in the effect of cannabis. For instance, linalool, a common terpene found in lavender, may be associated with relaxation. Some also believe in the theory of “the entourage effect,” referring to the possibility that cannabinoids and terpenes work together in the overall effect of cannabis. As of now, these are just theories- the impact of terpenes beyond flavour and aroma has yet to be scientifically proven.

Myrcene
Caryophyllene
Linalool
Limonene
Pinene