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Cannabis: Where it Grows & Historical Relevance

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Graphic representation of globe with cannabis regions depicted with leaves.

Where cannabis grows can determine its potency and taste. Geographically defined strains have gained recognition for their distinct effects and flavors. Each variety has subcategories within the overall classifications of indicas, sativas, and hybrids, and unique taste and potency. Every strain has associations with the countries and regions where they belong. In this post, we will take a look at where cannabis grows. In the latter part, we will also review the historical significance of marijuana.

So, Where Does it Grow?

Cannabis is an annual flowering plant that can grow in various climates. It typically thrives under certain conditions –

Temperatures around 60 degrees Fahrenheit: Cannabis usually prefers moderate temperatures, ideally between 60-80°F (15-27°C) during the growing phase. However, it can tolerate slightly cooler or warmer temperatures. Extreme temperatures might inhibit its growth.

A humid environment: Cannabis plants prefer humidity around 40-70%. During the flowering stage, 40-50% humidity is perfect, preventing mold and bud rot. 

Seasonal Changes: An annually-harvesting plant, cannabis is sensitive to changing seasons. It typically grows during spring and summer, flowering in late summer or early fall. Certain varieties could be more adapted to different climatic conditions.

Silhouette of person holding marijuana leaf against the sun.

Mountainous regions: Marijuana grows at various altitudes, but places like the Himalayan foothills favor certain strains. Higher altitudes might affect its growth patterns, with moderate winds strengthening stem growth. Strong winds can be a problem, as with any plant farming. Such conditions might require windbreaks for the cannabis plant to thrive. In other words, valleys and foothills are ideal spots for marijuana to grow naturally.

Seasonal Changes: An annually-harvesting plant, cannabis is sensitive to changing seasons. It typically grows during spring and summer, flowering in late summer or early fall. Certain varieties could be more adapted to different climatic conditions.

Jamaican Cannabis

Jamaican cannabis strains predominantly fall into the Sativa category, known for their uplifting and euphoric effects. The tropical climate and rich soil contribute to the growth of potent sativa strains. Lamb’s Bread (also called Lamb’s Breath) is a legendary Jamaican strain famous for its energetic and cerebral high. Similarly, ‘Jamaican Pearl’ is prized for its potency and mood-boosting qualities. These strains often exhibit earthy and sweet flavor, with a citrusy or spicy aroma. Jamaican weed has culturally been associated with Rastafari or Reggae music, making it a popular choice with lovers of these music genres.

Young men smoking marijuana in what looks like Jamaica.

Afghani or Kush Strains

Originating from the Hindu Kush Mountain range in Afghanistan and nearby regions, Afghani or Kush strains are predominantly indicas known for their sedating and relaxing properties.

Dusty environment, with silhouette of men walking around against a mountainous background.

Afghan Kush, a renowned indica strain, is a preferred choice for hashish production. These strains usually have earthy, woody, and sometimes spicy flavors. Having sedative effects, it is a good choice for relaxation and sleep. The average THC concentration of the Afghan Kush is 17%! This strength makes it more suited to recreational uses than medicinal. However, mild extracts can be made use of in the medical industry. 

The Thai Variety

Thai cannabis strains are predominantly sativa and recognized for their pleasurable cerebral effects. These strains are best known for their energizing and uplifting qualities. The Thai Stick and Chocolate Thai are two examples. They often feature citrusy, fruity, or floral flavors with a sweet fragrance.

Thai strains are a favorite for their creativity-enhancing and mood-boosting effects. The Cannabis, or ‘ganja’ as known in the region, is favored by artists and musicians as a stimulant in their creativity processes.

Man in hat smoking a joint with colorful lighting.
Thick smoke being exhaled.

Colombian Cannabis

Colombia’s cannabis sativa strains are known for their stimulating and euphoric effects. Colombian Gold, a famous variety, is highly valued for its uplifting and creative influence. These strains often feature sweet, tropical flavors and scents with undertones of earthiness or spice. The geographic location of Colombia is privileged for cannabis farming. This advantage gives it considerable potential in the cannabis production market.

Mexican Cannabis

Mexican cannabis strains are predominantly sativa-leaning and revered for their energetic and uplifting effects. These qualities make them suitable for recreational use. Varieties like Acapulco Gold gained popularity for their potency and mood-enhancing qualities. They typically exhibit earthy, spicy, or herbal flavors, often accompanied by a citrusy or sweet aroma. Mexican marijuana is often referred to as commercial-grade, probably because of its abundance as well as its lower potency. As of 2021, Mexican authorities allowed the export of marijuana as long as it had a potency of THC 1% or less.

Mexican flag with cannabis leaf
Cannabis cafe with neon OPEN sign.

Dutch Cannabis

The Netherlands has a vibrant cannabis culture. Dutch strains are diverse and acclaimed for their quality and consistency. Breeders there have developed renowned strains like White Widow, Northern Lights, and Amnesia Haze. They have gained international recognition for their balanced effects, potency, and distinct flavors. These strains often feature a mix of earthy, floral, and spicy notes, catering to different consumer preferences. The use of marijuana in the Netherlands is legal for personal use.

Canadian Cannabis

Canada has seen a surge in cannabis cultivation and breeding following legalization. Canadian strains encompass a range of genetics and hybrids influenced by various global varieties. With diverse growing conditions, Canadian weed features many flavors, effects, and characteristics. The country’s cannabis market uses hybrid varieties with diverse genetic backgrounds, offering consumers a variety of choices catering to different preferences.

Cannabis buds lying on maple leaf flag.

In 2018, Canada became only the second country after Uruguay to legalize the farming, possession, and consumption of marijuana. As a result, it has seen a rise in the popularity of cannabis-based products for both recreational and medicinal uses. 

These regional subcategories showcase the diversity of cannabis strains and their unique characteristics. They vary by geography, climate, and traditional cultivation practices. However, it is essential to note that modern breeding techniques have led to hybridization and variations. As a result, the strict categorization of strains by their geographical origins could be blurry.

Other Regions

There are still other parts of the world where marijuana grows naturally. However, they might yield as prominently as the regions listed above. Moreover, their strains might not be as popular in the global market. Some of these regions include:

A Himalayan landscape

India

Indian history speaks of the use of marijuana, particularly in the Himalayan regions like Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. However, its specific strains might not have gained as much global recognition. Certain local varieties and hybrids are grown for religious, medicinal, and cultural purposes.

Nepal

Nepal, situated in the Himalayas, has a long history of cannabis cultivation. Its high-altitude regions foster the growth of cannabis plants. Local strains (often called the Nepalese or Himalayan) might exhibit indica and sativa traits combined. However, their international presence might be limited compared to other regions.

Street shop selling curios in what looks like Nepal
Pigeon rocks of Lebanon

Lebanon

Lebanon has a rich cannabis culture, especially in the Beqaa Valley. Cannabis cultivation has been a part of Lebanese heritage for centuries. Lebanese hashish is known for its distinct aroma and flavor, but again, specific strains might not have gained widespread recognition outside the region

Morocco

Cannabis cultivation is prevalent in regions of Morocco, especially in the Rif Mountains. The country is a significant producer of hashish. Strains like Rif Valley or Moroccan hashish are known for their potency and distinct flavors, although they might not be so well-known outside the country.

Man in hat sitting crouched against a colorful building
Boats on a beach with a lot of greenery around in the background.

Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia

These Southeast Asian countries have a history of cannabis cultivation, often in remote regions. Marijuana plants from this region might exhibit sativa-like characteristics and are grown for local consumption, but their popularity remains in Southeast Asia.

Brazil and South America

Cannabis is grown in various South American countries, including Brazil, Paraguay, and others. These regions might have farmed it for traditional and cultural purposes, much like others in this list.

Each of these regions produces their unique strains. They thrive in their specific climates and growing conditions. However, the individual strain names or distinct recognition of these strains might not be as widespread. It could be because of limited international trade or the fact that marijuana is grown here only for domestic cultural uses. These countries could also have less global exposure when compared to recognized cannabis-producing countries.

With more and more countries legalizing cannabis production and consumption, will more countries soon join the list of cannabis trade?

The Jesus statue Christ the Redeemer, of Rio.

Why Countries Do Not Trade in Cannabis

Cannabis dispensary with large signage on window

Legalization

Cannabis cultivation and distribution are subject to varying legal frameworks worldwide. Some countries have legalized it for medicinal or recreational purposes, while others maintain strict regulations or outright prohibition.

Illicit Cultivation

Illicit cultivation and trafficking remain prevalent in regions where it is illegal. As a result, it produces social and legal challenges, including law enforcement efforts and black-market activities. The geographical distribution of cannabis cultivation reflects a complex interplay of cultural, historical, legal, and environmental factors. However, attitudes toward weed continue to evolve globally. As a result, the landscape of cultivation and consumption is likely to undergo further evolution. The changes will probably impact both local economies and international markets.

Poster saying 'Cannabis Justice Now', about legalization of marijuana

Cannabis – Localized Role in Geographies Across History

Throughout history, cannabis has woven its presence into the fabric of various civilizations. It has left behind a historical tapestry of cultural, medicinal, and industrial significance. A glimpse into the historical stories of cannabis:

The great wall of China, aerial view.

Ancient Roots

Cannabis has ancient origins, with evidence of its use dating back thousands of years. Its presence spans continents, from ancient China and India to the Middle East and Africa. The ancient Chinese used marijuana as a medicine around 4000 BCE.

Medicinal and Ritualistic Uses

In ancient India, cannabis held a sacred place in religious ceremonies and Ayurvedic medicine. It was known as ganja or bhang. Cannabis was revered for its therapeutic properties, believed to alleviate various ailments and induce a state of spiritual enlightenment.

Person smoking Indian pipe called chillam

Middle Eastern Influence

In the Middle East, historical records suggest the use of cannabis for medicinal and ritual uses. Sumerian texts mention the use of cannabis as far back as 3000 BCE and featured in ancient Assyrian and Babylonian practices.

The Scythians

The Scythians, nomadic people of Central Asia, were noted for their use of cannabis in burial rituals and ceremonies around 500 BCE. The Greek historian Herodotus documented their cannabis-infused steam baths, describing the spiritual and cleansing practices.

Industrial Applications

Marijuana has been used extensively in various industries across history. Hemp, a non-psychoactive strain of cannabis, was cultivated for its strong fibers, utilized in making paper, textiles, and ropes. Historical records suggest that the Chinese used hemp paper as early as 100 BCE. It was later introduced to Europe by the Moors in Spain.

Colonial and Global Spread

European explorers and settlers brought cannabis to the Americas, spreading it across North and South America. Hemp cultivation flourished in colonial America, becoming an essential crop for producing paper, sails, and textiles.

Volkswagen camper vans in a line,

Modern Prohibition and Revival

The 20th century came with a shift in attitudes toward cannabis, marked by increasing restrictions and eventual prohibition in many countries due to social and political factors.

However, the late 20th and early 21st centuries brought about a reevaluation of cannabis. The recent decade has seen the legalization of medicinal and recreational use in various parts of the world.

Conclusion

The historic stories of cannabis showcase its multifaceted journey. From being used in sacred rituals and as medicine, it has reached its current position of recreational and scientific importance. Its use has shifted from purely recreational to medical and therapeutic. Cannabis is today used for pain relief, anxiety, an appetite stimulant, chemotherapy-induced nausea, and many more uses. History sometimes does repeat itself!

Today, cannabis continues its profound impact on culture, medicine, and industry. In an all-new legalized avatar!

Red haired woman exhaling smoke
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