The origin of cannabis sativa


Cannabis sativa. Pure sativa strains. Its origin and cultivation.

Cannabis sativa. The excellence above all.

Cannabis sativa. We are many users that think there is nothing like the effect of a pure sativa strain. It is more difficult to grow? Yes. It takes longer to cultivate than indica strains? Yes indeed.  Its production is less? Sure. However all these facts are “peanuts” if we consider the unique effect. If you have smoked marijuana in Colombia, Thailand, Kerala (India), Guatemala or any other tropical country, you know what we are talking about.

Typical cannabis sativa leaf

Typical sativa leaf

However, the cerebral effect  of sativas (I would rather call it funny) make them to be considered as marijuana for fun; not for medicine. However, what makes a plant be considered a medicine?. Let me tell you something that happened to me while being in India.

The varieties of cannabis we call sativa marijuana, are those that come from the tropical and subtropical fringe of the planet. From Africa, South and Central America, and Asia. In these zones it rains a lot and the monsoons are cyclic. Of course the level of humidity is very high. So much rain affects the PH of the soil. It is very acidic (between 5.5 and  6.0 ). The constant rains erase the soils and its nutrients. The substratum is very poor. In fact, the only fertilization it gets come from the organic material when it gets rotten. The leaves that fall from the trees and so. It is what we call compost.

Therefore, in their places of origin, these plants are used to be poorly fed. Another subject are the hybrids made by westerner breeders whose purpose is to shorten the flowering period.  Because a pure sativa may need 4 months to complete its flowering period. Don’t forget in the Tropic, the light period is 12/12. Every day has 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. The sun rises at 6. A.M and sets at 6.P.M.  It is the same all over the year.  Very often you see the sativa strains start the flowering phase and produce excellent buds. However, later they start a phase known as “revegetation”. The plant starts its growing period again. This process is spontaneous. However, in countries like Spain, in the autumn and the winter the days have less than 12 hours of light.  This speeds up the flowering period and, therefore, the harvest.

In the center of Spain, the shortest day (Winter Solstice) has 9 hours and 17 minutes of light. This photoperiod is perfect to force the sativa strains to produce fantastic buds in a short time.

In indoor we can reproduce this photoperiod artificially. However, the long distance between the internodes, make the sativa strains too tall for indoor. It is quite complicate to grow them if you don’t have the necessary system for this purpose. The experienced indoor growers have their little tricks, like bending the branches or the famous SCROG (sea of green).

Cannabis sativa bud

Cannabis sativa bud

Nowadays, the only way to try a pure sativa strain is going to the few places still left where the hybridization phenomenon hasn’t affected the old way of growing marijuana. But provided you find these places, forget about marijuana without seeds. All the buds you will find are going to be full of seeds. The marijuana without seeds is a consequence of the commercialization . It is a way to get marijuana with a stronger effect and the whole process has been invented by westerners breeders . And I wonder: if a plant full of seeds has such a powerful effect, how would it be without seeds? Tremendous! But we will never know it because all the banks that sale sativa seeds are hybrids.  Sativa strains crossed with indica plants. In my humble opinion, these hybrid have nothing to do with a real sativa. Those who, like me, have had the chance to try the sativa strains during the sixties (hippy era), know what I am talking about. During the hippy era I lived in San Francisco, cradle of the movement, and I had the chance to smoke pure sativa varieties such as Colombia Gold, Thai Stick, Acapulco Gold and others.  Recently I have tried some varieties called Colombia Gold and I can promise they have nothing to do with the original one. A pure sativa strain has a effect of pure happiness.

India has been for many years a dream come true for addicts to heroin. I spent many years living there and I know many places where the westerners (addict or not) get together. One day I was in Pahar Ganj (Dehli) enjoying a “lassi”. Lassi is a type of yogurt mixed with ganja (marijuana). I was with a friend of mine whose job in Holland was the rehab of addicts to heroin.  He told me something that caused me a great impression. A person who is addict to heroin cannot stand cannabis. Specially the sativa strains. As soon as he has a little drag, he starts to suffer an abstinence syndrome. The effect of these two substances is antagonized.  Right after having a couple of small drags he needs to consume more dope.

Sadu from Kerala smoking a shilum full of cannabis sativa

Sadu from Kerala smoking a shilum full of cannabis sativa

This guy told me that in the center where he worked, the use of cannabis was very normal. When they think one of the patients is almost cured, and provided he used marijuana before becoming addict to heroin, they offered him a little bit of marijuana. If the patient had a nice “trip” it was considered a very good symptom. It meant he was very close to his rehabilitation. But if he had a bad trip and felt a little syndrome of abstinence, they knew his cure was far. He insisted very much in the need of using sativa strains for this therapy.  Why? Because indica strains are much more relaxing than sativa varieties. And heroin is very relaxing too.  The effect is very pleasant if you are looking for relax. You simply forget any problem. But sativa strains are very cerebral and make you feel everything in a much more intense way. In other words; totally opposite to the relax that produced by heroin. A real sativa is the opposite of sativa genetics. In the other hand, a pure indica has a effect that can be similar to the heroin.  

Basically it is all a question of balance between THC  (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol). THC is a cannabinoid that gets you high. Don’t forget heroin gets you relaxed. And CBD gets you calmed down, like heroin.

The sativa strains have s superior content of THC and therefore, the effect is quite cerebral and reminds of LSD (Lysergic acid). On top of it, some sativa genetic have in the tip of their flowers, another cannabinoid called cannaverina. This cannabinoid has a effect very similar to LSD. The effect lasts about 5 minutes, but is very intense and makes you feel like flying. If you have suffered any type of psychotic attack , forget the sativa genetic. Forget its use and forget it for good.

A good sativa is for fun. It is perfect to go to see a concert of music. It is to open your appetite, to enjoy sex and to spend a good time with your friends. Roughly speaking, sativa genetic is for any activity which creativity is needed.

Precisely for its high content in THC, you need a small quantity to get very high.  In east Africa there is a type of sativa known as banghi. Two or three drags is more than enough to get extremely high. I am an “old veteran” of marijuana. However in certain occasion I was laying down in my bed in Nairobi. I lighted a joint and had three drags. The trip was so strong that I got scared and went to see the doctor the next day.

The appearance of a sativa is very different to the indica plants. I personally think they are one of the most beautiful plants you can see in the cannabis universe.  The distance between internodes is long and the buds are small but very tight. As solid as a rock. Precisely because of the long distance between the internodes, the plants become verytall.  I have seen a sativa cultivated in Madrid that was five meters in height the day we cut it. The harvest day, the owner needed 5 people to help him and the plant was 15 feet tall.  One of the assistants was carpenter and he used the branches and main stem to make a big table. Moreover, it was December and  the plant was covered with snow.

The main characteristics of these plants are the long internodes distance which gives an ungainly appearance. They are quite tall. The leaves are unmistakable:  the leaflets are very elongated and thin. They are the most elegant leaves of the cannabis universe.

Sativa strains have a very long flowering period. It can last from ten to twenty weeks. This is one of the main problems to cultivate them. And this is the main reason to cross them with indica strains. It is the only way to shorten such a long flowering period.

Even though the experienced growers manage to cultivate them indoor, bending the branches and tying them in culture system like SCROG (sea of green) , is always much easier to grow them outdoor, where they can easily exceed 12 feet in height. But even in outdoor cultures, the problem of their long time needed to be harvested remains.  The purest sativa strains can be ready as late as in December. And, depending on the zone, the weather can be very cold. Too cold to survive.

cannabis sativa

Sativa strain before the harvest.

When it comes to organoleptic properties, sativa cannabis has the best in terms of fragrance and taste. Why having so many difficulties many growers decide to grow them? Obviously it is because their effect is the best.  It is very potent  and it lasts very much. They have the most psychedelic  effect of all the psychoactive marijuana plants.

Do you need a little bit of extra energy?

Is your creativity stuck?

Do you remember what is like laughing like crazy?

Smoke a few drags of a good sativa and everything will change.

Roughly speaking, sativa strains are:

Very tall and refined appearance. They can exceed 12 feet in height.

The leaves are very separated between themselves.

The color is light and intense green.

They have long intermodal distance and elongated buds.

They thrive in warm and moderate climates but can adapt to moderate cold weather too.

The flowering period can last from 8 to 10 weeks. Even longer when it comes to pure sativa plants.

They have exquisite organoleptics properties.

Their level of THC is very high (27% sometimes)

Growing  varieties of cannabis sativa

This type of culture is a bit more difficult because of the large size of the plants and the little steady roots system.

These plants thrive well in outdoor cultures of warm climates like the Mediterranean coast. Indeed they give off their best quality in Equatorial areas.

Even though these plants are less resistant, they are very much cultivated because of their incomparable effect.

Nowadays there are some banks that have obtained  hybrids with the most desirable qualities of sativa strains and the excellent properties of the indica genetic.  This way they have created subspecies easier to grow. In Ketama Seeds we have our two more sativa strains: KAMNESIA and CREATIVE.  Two royal plants!

Text and pictures by Javier Marín (Marqués de Esquilache) for KETAMA SEEDS.

Perhaps you may be interested in this other article: “The origin of cannabis indica”.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *