These days, it seems like everyone’s got a hybrid: and no, I’m not talking about the new Prius you’re showing off to everyone in town. I’m talking about marijuana hybrids. If you’ve ever smoked weed, odds are you’ve had a hybrid. In fact, it would be weird if you didn’t.
We often think of marijuana in two distinct categories: Indica and Sativa. Indicas are supposed to be relaxing and have body high effects. Sativas are supposed to be uplifting, cerebral, and stimulating. The reality, however, is that though we often think of marijuana in these two distinct categories, the weed we buy from the guy around the corner has elements of both groups.
In order to understand what makes a hybrid a hybrid, you need to know a little bit about what makes each strain unique in the first place.
Genotypes and Phenotypes
As you may have guessed, Indica and Sativas’ dominant point of difference comes from their differing genetic makeup or their genotypes. Each plant’s genotype sets the blueprint for its growth, appearance, and general characteristics. Not every genetic trait in every plant is fully expressed, though. This is where the plant’s environment comes into play. Phenotype refers to the physical expression of the plant’s genotype. Color, shape, smell and even resin production are all linked to the environment that the plant was raised in.
This causes a great deal of variety among indicas and sativas. Even specific strains that we’ve come to know and love, like OG Kush, for example, can have varying looks, smells, and even effects. Recent discoveries in marijuana genotypes and phenotypes have even led to the redefinition of marijuana subcategories. Once believed to be a subgroup of Indica, Kush is now often regarded as a distinct sub-variety of marijuana. Even the Indica vs. Sativa dichotomy that we’ve come to be familiar with may not be as true as we might have thought.
Growers now play around with the different genotypes and phenotypes to concoct the perfect recipe for the strain they want. Finding the right balance between the relaxing effects of Indica and the stimulating and creative effects of Sativas has driven most growers and buyers to look to their favorite hybrid blends to satisfy their needs and wants. In fact, most all marijuana strains now contain elements from both Sativas and Indicas, with only 5-10% of marijuana seeds or clones now considered to be “pure” Indica or Sativa. Blue Dream, one of the most popular hybrid strains around today, is the top seller in Washington, Colorado, and California. Even if you didn’t know it already, hybrids are the driving force behind the marijuana industry.
But why? Hybridization allows growers and buyers to craft specially crafted genetic recipes of weed but why have the pure Indicas and Sativas seemingly vanished from the marketplace?
The Government’s Role in the Hybridization of Marijuana
Yeah, that’s right. I bet you never thought the government would be one of the primary players in the hybrid takeover of the marijuana industry. Our lawmakers have had an immense impact on the genetic makeup of the marijuana we smoke and they didn’t even do it on purpose.
The government ran scare propaganda campaigns throughout the country in the early 1900s of the harmful effects of “marihuana”, a seemingly new drug brought over the border by Mexican immigrants. Even though cannabis was already being used in most all medications, the term “marihuana” and the Mexican immigrants that brought it over scared the government to pass the racially motivated Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, virtually making marijuana illegal in the country. Nixon furthered the plant’s demonization in 1970 when the government identified marijuana as a Schedule I drug in the Controlled Substance Act of 1970.
The Controlled Substance Act of 1970 drove growers indoors throughout the 70s and 80s, placing Indicas and Sativas right next to each other in the same room. Naturally, growers began mixing and experimenting with different blends of the two strains. In an attempt to thwart the consumption of the ancient plant, the government’s criminalization of marijuana actually served to foster the growth and takeover of hybrids.
Even though the government is beginning to change its perspective on the criminalization of marijuana, hybrids have already cemented themselves as the way to go for growers and buyers alike. Combining the benefits from both Indicas and Sativas seems like a no-brainer, even if the government made it all the more inevitable.
There are countless hybrids out there and finding the right one for you is easy. Find out what effects you’re looking for, try out a few blends, and enjoy the wonders that human genetic engineering can do.
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