Cannabis is one of the oldest crops known to mankind, with records of its cultivation dating back thousands of years. The original classification of Cannabis was made by French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in 1785. Lamarck observed that certain marijuana plants from India were intoxicating and could be made into hashish. But traditional hemp crops, which were more common in Europe, had no euphoric effects. He came up with the name Cannabis indica to distinguish Indian Cannabis from European hemp, which was known at the time as Cannabis sativa. Likewise, Cannabis indica was specifically recognized as a therapeutic in Western medicine during the 1800s.
Today, it is widely accepted that marijuana has two different species: Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa. Cross-breeding of the two types has led to a wide variety of hybrid strains with unique characteristics. Hybrids come in all types of indica/sativa ratios. Indica dominant strains have been crossbred to have a higher percentage of indica properties, whereas, sativa dominant strains are the opposite. Because sativa and indica buds have very different medicinal benefits and effects, certain strains can be targeted to better treat specific illnesses.
The differences between indica and sativa remain a subject of much debate among scientists who study the plant. However, most agree that indica and sativa plants are distinct in a number of ways.
The most accepted way of distinguishing indica versus sativa is by appearance, or what scientists refer to as morphology.