Weed Strain Names Don't Indicate Any Genetic Differences

A weed by any other name would smell as sweet.

Smoke enough Blue Dynamite or Sweet Skunk, and you’re bound to notice a difference in high. Yet according to new research published in the journal PLoS One, the names of your favorite strains don’t really mean anything, genetically speaking.

Despite the fact that marijuana’s now used for everything from food to medicine, there isn’t a lot of genetic data available on it. That’s largely because it’s still not easy to get a hold of it legally — even in Canada, where the study’s researchers are based.

The team led by Nova Scotia’s Dalhousie University originally set out to identify the genetic differences between marijuana, the type of Cannabis used as a drug, and hemp, the type used as a fiber. To do so, they analyzed 14,031 single-point differences in the DNA of 43 hemp and 81 marijuana samples. They did find that there’s an actual genetic difference been the two types.

Taking their analysis further, they looked at differences between marijuana species. Smoking C. sativa is known to give a euphoric high, whereas C. Indica is more mellow. Genetically speaking, there were “moderate” genetic differences between the two species, but the divide wasn’t as clear-cut as expected. When it came down to individually named strains, there weren’t any meaningful genetic differences whatsoever.

While this study probably won’t lead smokers to give up their predilection for Strawberry Kush over Sour Diesel, it does open the door to classifying strains in a more formal way, which will be necessary as legalization becomes more widespread.

Related Tags