The Indica vs. Sativa Distinction Isn’t Real

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You might have heard of Jean Baptiste Lamarck in an intro biology class. He proposed a version of evolution that, in hindsight, seems like the sort of thing a stoned teen would come up with. In the Lamarckian theory of evolution, changes in species occur not slowly over generational mutations, but within the lifetimes of individual animals. A horselike creature, for example, faced with tall trees with yummy leaves, could, with stretching and straining, make its neck longer to better reach them. Voila—the stubby creature is now a giraffe.

Lamarck also made a more direct contribution to stoner culture, though. As an essay in the modern journal Cannabinoids explains, it is to him that we owe the idea that weed comes in two distinct species: Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. Lamarck first described the second of these two strains in the late 1700s, noting that the latter was smaller, had a firm stem, and produced “a sort of drunkenness that makes one forget one’s sorrows, and produces a strong gaiety.”

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