Cannabis 101: What Part of the Cannabis Plant Is Used for Smoking?
The cannabis plant contains the highest concentration of naturally occurring cannabinoids in the flower produced in the plant at the tip of the stem and the base of the leaves. The cannabis flower is the main focus of cannabis growers who harvest the plant for use in cannabis products, including those containing THC (which causes the “high”) and CBD (which is non-psychoactive).
However, that doesn’t mean just the flower is harvested. Growers harvest every part of the cannabis plant, because they all contain cannabinoids, a structural group of chemical compounds that are psychoactive and non-psychoactive.
Harvesting the cannabis flower is part of the manufacturing process that many cannabis curious people may not understand as they first start buying cannabis products for health, wellness and recreational use. Learning how the process works provides a glimpse in the complexities of the cannabis industry as it strives to give consumers the best products possible.
Misconceptions About Cannabis Manufacturing
While commonly referred to as “weed,” growing commercial-grade cannabis plants involves more than burying a few seeds and watching them grow. A white paper from the Brookings Institute addressed some of the issues around the growing of cannabis.
“Some popular misconceptions include that marijuana is easy to grow, that it can grow under almost any conditions, and that it’s pretty much the same everywhere,” the paper stated. “In reality the cannabis plant is biologically complex, and the production of marijuana is not as simple as many people believe.”
Cannabis plants require a specific temperature and humidity range, property ventilation and the right amount of light to thrive. Despite the stories of people growing cannabis in their closet, it actually is a plant that requires a lot of care and attention to produce the best results. This includes keeping an eye out for pests and disease and supplying the plant with the right balance of water and nutrients.
Producing the Best Cannabis Products
Most experts agree that cannabis started in Asia. It’s been used for a variety of reasons by ancient civilizations in many different parts of the world.
The cannabis plant includes three distinct species: sativa, indica, and ruderalis. Each presents its own look, as well as chemical characteristics and uses. For example, a cannabis plant might have five, seven or even nine leaves, depending on the species and the strain. Some have dark green leaves, others are purple-hued.
Each species is also known for different effects. For example, sativa is known for cerebral effects and may help alleviate symptoms of stress and anxiety. Indica is known more for its relaxing effects that promote relaxation and sleep, as well as providing pain relief. Ruderalis typically have less THC and more CBD.
So, while cannabis flower is the part of the plant used for smoking, growers harvest every part of the plant to extract cannabinoids used in a variety of cannabis products, including oils, tinctures and lotions. As the cannabis business continues to evolve, expect more uses for the plant to come to light.