Biology of cannabis plants

Hemp belongs to the family Cannabaceae – where it is ranked with its relative hops.

It is an annual plant which is sown in April or May and usually ripens in September and October.

Cannabis plants are naturally dioecious, i.e. they constitute separate male and female plants. Males usually mature a few weeks earlier and their pollen is wind blown, perhaps scattered over a wide area. If female plants are pollinated, they produce very tasty and healthy seeds. If the females are pollinated, with a gradual maturation of inflorescence to the surface creating a larger quantity of resin which is used as a powerful remedy. In nature, the main function of resin is plant protection and seed safety from pests. It is located on the surface of cannabis plants and the composition and quantity are very different depending on the particular genetic varieties by sex or individual parts of the plant. The most significant occurrence of cannabis resin is in the female inflorescence which has not been pollinated.

Some varieties or some individuals may one plant to create male and female flowers at the same time, it is called hermaphroditism.

The basic varieties of cannabis

Today we describe three main varieties of cannabis – Sativa, Indica and Ruderal. These varieties are gradually crossed into each other, thus creating enormous variability of their properties. Hybrid plants in themselves may contain, for example the properties of cannabis and produce large quantities of narcotic resin and also due to Ruderal genes hemp grows and ripens within three months.

The first variety is essential hemp (Cannabis sativa L., described in 1737). Plants can grow up to six meters. The strong, fibrous stalk with branches based on room to grow and the foliage is rather sparse. The leaves are light green and have a long thin blades.

From this were bred varieties of cannabis hemp with low-narcotic (THC 0.3%) and usable economic characteristics.

Indian hemp (Cannabis indica, described in 1783) is smaller than Hemp (grows to a height of 1.2 to 2.5 meters), its stem with multiple branches and the dense foliage. The leaves are dark green with wide blades and more rounded.

The last variety is essential Ruderal hemp (Cannabis ruderalis, described in 1924). This is a smaller plant (30-120 cm) with relatively dense foliage and branching.

History of medicinal cannabis in world cultures

The original hemp plant is likely to come from Central Asia (Kazakhstan today), where they were wandering with the human race and gradually extended throughout the world. Findings of cannabis seeds and fibers in archaeological excavations are around 10,000 years old and records of the use of cannabis as medicine or soporific which can be found in many cultures around the world.

In Chinese herbal medicine, cannabis is called “Ma” and before 4700 years ago, the oldest known list of pharmacological agents is recommended for malaria, constipation, rheumatic pains, absent-mindedness and female disorders. Its position in Chinese medicine is very strong, and holds the position of a preventive agent, tonic, aphrodisiac and therapeutic medicine.

In Egyptian medicine, cannabis (“sh-mshmt”) mentioned on papyri and inscriptions on the pyramids. Its use was versatile in the form of oils, ointments and extracts.

In Indian Ayurvedic medicine, cannabis is called “Vijaya – Winner”. In the ancient Vedas (c. 2000 BC), cannabis is mentioned as one of the five main sacred herbs incorporated into the very foundations of the Hindu religion.

Contemporary Indian doctors use cannabis in the form of four basic products: Caras (concentrated resin), ganja (fresh or dried female flowers), bhang (a mixture of leaves and small flowers) and seeds.

Cannabis is prescribed for diseases of the nervous system, digestive organs, respiratory tract, skin and genitals. The list of diseases which cannabis cures, also includes animal bites, scorpion bites, malaria, cholera, leprosy, hepatitis, tetanus, whooping cough, asthma, migraine headaches, impotence, alcoholism, eye pain, sleep disorders and menstruation. Caras is also used in “acute mania, madness or stupidity.”

History of Cannabis Use in Western Europe

To Western Europe cannabis has been brought sometime in the 8th century BC Scythians as mercenaries spread it and was gradually extended throughout the country. With the rise of the Roman Empire it began to widely use cannabis especially in the economy. Properties such as technical, clothing and medical use is supported by a number of written and material evidence, but cannabis use was according to evidence was more or less non-existent. Ancient traditions that persisted even in the Middle Ages, as translated from the Latin writings and herbals, maintained a primarily rational view of the use of cannabis plants. By the mid-20th century the pharmacies could get a tincture of Indian hemp, which is used mainly as a means of relief from inflammation, pain, asthma, insomnia and menstrual discomfort.

Cannabis in Czech Science

Czech pioneer in the treatment of cannabis was certainly Professor Jan Kabelík, a prominent Czech doctor and scientist who was working before World War II engaged in research of medicinal plants. Based on the fact that a person is dependent on the environment in which he lives, and forms a dialectical unity with the environment. Since the thirties of the 20th century emphasized the effects of hemp seed extract in the treatment of tuberculosis, because this field had excellent results. Kabelík and his colleague Dr. Josef Šírek presented the findings of their research at a comprehensive conference “Cannabis is medicine” December 10, 1954 at Palacky University in Olomouc. Šírek and his approach was based on Hippocrates wish that food should be a cure. Part of the food they were prescribed cannabis seed, which, according to their claim, “thanks to a wealth of content of enzyme occupies a prominent place among the seeds as a whole.” At the same time he was engaged by the antibiotic effects of cannabis and partly its analgesic nature.