Among the most famous strains worldwide is White Widow, a balanced hybrid first bred in the Netherlands by Green House Seeds. A cross between a Brazilian sativa landrace and a resin-heavy South Indian indica, White Widow has blessed every Dutch coffee shop menu since its birth in the 1990s. Its buds are white with crystal resin, warning you of the potent effects to come. A powerful burst of euphoria and energy breaks through immediately, stimulating both conversation and creativity. White Widow’s genetics have given rise to many other legends like White Russian, White Rhino, and Blue Widow. Still, many growers prefer cultivation of the original White Widow, which flowers in about 60 days indoors.
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Northern Lights stands among the most famous strains of all time, a pure indica cherished for its resinous buds, fast flowering, and resilience during growth. Itself a descendant of indigenous Afghani and Thai landrace strains, Northern Lights has given rise to famous hybrids like Sour Diesel, Shiva Skunk, and Super Silver Haze. Rumor has it that Northern Lights first sprouted near Seattle, Washington, but was propagated out of Holland after 1985 at what is now Sensi Seeds.
Pungently sweet, spicy aromas radiate from the crystal-coated buds, which sometimes reveal themselves in hues of purple. Northern Lights’ psychoactive effects settle in firmly throughout the body, relaxing muscles and pacifying the mind in dreamy euphoria. Comfortable laziness allows patients to relieve pain and sleeplessness, while its mellow contentment roots out depression and stress. Several different Northern Lights phenotypes circulate the market, but Sensi Seeds recommends a general indoor flowering time of 45 to 50 days.
Of the many active ingredients in marijuana, cannabinoids — the miracle molecules that deliver most of the medical efficacy of marijuana — are not the whole picture. Some cannabis consumers may be aware of terpenes, the cannabinoid-like chemicals that give herb such a pungent aroma.
What most do not know is that terpenes also deliver therapeutic relief, just like their cannabinoid cousins.
Terpenes are produced in special secretory cells within the trichomes of the plant, the nearly microscopic resinous stalks that cover the flowers and sometimes leaves. This is also where all cannabinoids, like THC and CBD, are created. About 20,000 terpenes exist in nature; more than 200 have been identified in cannabis (compared to 111 cannabinoids).
Like amino acids, terpenes are powerful building blocks within the plant’s physiology that aid in the production of vitamins, hormones, pigments, resins, and — yes, that most cherished part of the herb — cannabinoids. Cannabis plants release more terpenes when temperatures are higher.
Beyond odor, terpenes play several roles, including protecting the cannabis plant against predators like insects and animals. These special molecules constitute roughly 10 to 20 percent of the total pre-smoked resin in the trichome. It is estimated that 10 to 30 percent of smoke resin produced by marijuana comes from terpenes.
Myrcene, one of the most common terpenes in cannabis, produces earthy, balsamic, spicy, and clove-like odors. According to a 1997 study in Switzerland, it is the most abundant terpene in cannabis, sometimes composing up to 50 percent of the terpene volume in a cannabis plant. More important, myrcene has been found to be a precursor to many other terpenes in cannabis, meaning it helps form them.
Jack Herer is a sativa-dominant cannabis strain that has gained as much renown as its namesake, the marijuana activist and author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes. Combining a Haze hybrid with a Northern Lights #5 and Shiva Skunk cross, Sensi Seeds created Jack Herer hoping to capture both the cerebral elevation associated with sativas and the heavy resin production of indicas. Its rich genetic background gives rise to several different variations of Jack Herer, each phenotype bearing its own unique features and effects. However, consumers typically describe this 55% sativa hybrid as blissful, clear-headed, and creative.
Jack Herer was created in the Netherlands in the mid-1990s where it was later distributed by Dutch pharmacies as a recognized medical-grade strain. Since then, the spicy, pine-scented sativa has taken home numerous awards for its quality and potency. Many breeders have attempted to cultivate this staple strain themselves in sunny or Mediterranean climates, and indoor growers should wait 50 to 70 days for Jack Herer to flower.
Storing Medical Cannabis
Proper storage of cannabis is critical for keeping it as potent as possible
While storing cannabis is not difficult, there are four important factors that affect its freshness and potency:
• Rule # 1: heat will dry it out and too much moisture can cause dangerous bacteria to grow,
• Rule # 2: light is harmful to the trichomes (the sticky resin glands attached) ,
• Rule # 3: air will dry it out and lessen its potency
• Rule # 4: too much handling causes the trichomes to come off.
The best way to store your medical cannabis is in an airtight mason jar that has a good seal. One of the old time dark colored cheese jars with the wire swing top is ideal if you happen to have one. They are ideal for keeping out air, heat and light.
It is intriguing that during human cultural evolution man has detected plant natural products that appear to target key protein receptors of important physiological systems rather selectively. Plants containing such secondary metabolites usually belong to unique chemotaxa, induce potent pharmacological effects and have typically been used for recreational and medicinal purposes or as poisons. Cannabis sativa L. has a long history as a medicinal plant and was fundamental in the discovery of the
endocannabinoid system. The major psychoactive Cannabis constituent Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) potently activates the G-protein-coupled cannabinoid receptor CB1 and also modulates the cannabinoid receptor CB2. In the last few years, several other non-cannabinoid plant constituents have been reported to bind to and functionally interact with CB receptors. Moreover, certain plant natural products, from both Cannabis and other plants, also target other proteins of the endocannabinoid system, such as hydrolytic enzymes that control endocannabinoid levels. In this commentary we summarize and critically discuss recent findings.
This article is part of a themed issue on Cannabinoids. To view the editorial for this themed issue visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.00831.x