Exponential growth within the marijuana space has led to significant competition among growers. And where there is competition, there is also the desire to create new strains (or cultivars) of the cannabis plant. In recent years, the number of strains has exploded. Trying to make sense of it all requires that we classify them in some meaningful way.
Classifying strains as either indica or sativa is to oversimplify the issue. Doing so also ignores the complex differences between cannabinoid and terpene profiles. So in order to make all of this easier, the industry has come up with three classifications: Type I, Type II, and Type III.
As you read descriptions of the three types, bear in mind that the main qualifier is THC/CBD ratio. Strains are classified by the amount of THC they contain compared to the amount of CBD. Other cannabinoids may someday be included in strain classification but, for now, THC and CBD are the main concerns.
Type I Cannabis Strains
Type I cannabis strains are the most common right now. A Type I plant is a THC-dominant plant containing a THC content of 0.3% or more and a CBD content of 0.5% or less. Note that the upward end of the THC level can be as high as 30% in some cases.
It goes without saying that Type I cannabis strains are intoxicating by nature. Producing Type I strains with higher levels of CBD is believed to create a cannabinoid profile capable of alleviating some of the less desirable side effects of THC-dominant plants.
Type II Cannabis Strains
There is some emerging evidence suggesting that balancing THC and CBD levels can create strains offering unique effects unavailable through THC or CBD-dominant plants. As for the exact content of each cannabinoid, that is left up to the producer. The general rule is to cultivate plants with a balanced ratio regardless of actual levels.
A one-to-one ratio could still result in a marijuana plant if both THC and CBD exceed 0.3%. If the two cannabinoids occur at levels of 0.3% or lower, the plant could be classified as hemp.
Note that Type II plants are sometimes referred to as ‘mixed ratio’. These plants currently do not make up a large portion of the total market share. As a result, recreational and medical cannabis products derived from Type II plants are hard to come by.
Type III Cannabis Strains
You may have figured out by now that Type III cannabis strains are CBD-dominant. These are strains purposely cultivated to present low levels of THC and higher levels of CBD. The thing to note is that the ratio between THC and CBD is not as hard and fast for this particular Type as it is for Type I.
There are some Type III strains with THC content as high as 1%. That would technically make them THC/marijuana products under the law. However, if that same plant’s CBD content were 30%, the CBD dominance would make it a Type III strain.
There is one final thing to consider, compliments of the Utahmarijuana.org website: different people can have different reactions to the same strain. In some patients, Type I strains work very well to control nausea. In other people, those same strains cause nausea. They have to use Type III strains instead.
The number of strains is quickly outpacing our knowledge of how different cannabinoid profiles affect human biology. Classifying them is just the first step in getting a handle on what is an expanding universe of knowledge. At least it is a step in the right direction.