Since the 1970s, cannabis has been divided into three sub-species: Indica, Sativa, Ruderalis, with Ruderalis largely being considered ‘wild cannabis,’ not fit for medicinal or recreational uses and too short for fiber production. A common lay-persons distinction is between:
- marijuana (Indica and Sativa), which is bred for high cannabinoid content and usually as much THC or CBD as possible, and
- hemp (Sativa), which is bred for industrial uses like fiber or nutrition like seeds or healing (Sativa and sometimes Ruderalis or a hybrid of Sativa and Ruderalis), non-psychoactive oils (which is realy any oil made from pressing the seeds… the most nutritious part of the plant).
John McPartland, a researcher affiliated with GW Pharmaceuticals, presented a study at the 2014 meeting of the International Cannabis Research Society (ICRS), proposing a new nomenclature for cannabis. McPartland was the first researcher to look at the genetic markers on the three subspecies of cannabis using the plant’s genome to conclusively identify where it originated. Here is an updated chart showing his nomenclature which I think is clearer.