Types of cannabis: Main applications, benefits, and characteristics

Types of cannabis: Main applications, benefits, and characteristics

Although there is still a big taboo when talking about cannabis in Brazil, in many parts of the world its use is made in various segments of the industry.

From the production of medicines to treat degenerative diseases, to even the replacement of resources such as oil and wood, cannabis shows itself to be a multifunctional product with the potential to be a sustainable option for creating new solutions that promise to impact the economy and the environment.

If you want to know what types of cannabis there are, their main characteristics and applications, check out our detailed content about this extremely versatile plant.

What types of cannabis are there?

Cannabis, just like all other plants that exist, is part of a specific group that counts some classification factors.

Belonging to the plants Angiosperms, of the order Rosales (flowering plants) and family Cannabaceae, Cannabis is a genus within this group of characteristics of the types of cannabis that exist.

All this classification serves for us to understand that, within the genus Cannabis, there are still three different plants catalogued and each one has some aspects that determine its applications in the industry, according to the types of cannabis.

These plants are called varieties , which in taxonomy are considered subspecies. Thus, the three varieties of Cannabis that exist are Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis.

They all have their own specificity and purpose of use. For this reason, we need to understand that, despite being cannabinoid plants, the purposes of the compounds extracted from cannabis go far beyond recreational use.

What are cannabinoid plants (phytocannabinoids)?

Cannabinoid or phytocannabinoid plants are producers of the natural compound of the same name.

From this compound extracted mainly from Cannabis sativa, we can find substances such as Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Cannabidiol (CBD), Cannabigerol (CBG), Tetrahydrocannabinol Acid (THCA), Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), Cannabichromene (CBC), and Cannabidivarin (CBDV).

Even with these rather complicated names, there are two main ones that are the best known: THC and CBD.

The first cannabinoid has a psychoactive effect and has been studied for years because of its properties that can help in the treatment of several diseases, ranging from insomnia to fighting degenerative diseases and cancer cells.

CBD, on the other hand, has no psychoactive effects and is also used in the pharmaceutical industry to treat diseases such as Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, and anxiety.

Although not as well known, the other compounds listed above are also being studied for use in the creation of new drugs.

In short, cannabinoids are harnessed for disease treatments because of their ability to balance biological functions. Cannabis in general is already used in industrial and environmental market solutions, causing significant socio-environmental and economic impacts on society.

Types of Cannabis: Difference between indica and sativa

Even though the most common cannabis is sativa, indica is also used extensively by the industry. They originate from Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent and are therefore more suited to cold and dry climates.

While Cannabis sativa are larger and have thinner leaves, Cannabis indica are smaller and have wider, darker-toned leaves. Because they originate from equatorial regions, they are more suited to hot and humid climates.

Regarding their composition, the biggest difference is in the amount of THC and CBD in each. While Cannabis indica has a higher level of CBD, Cannabis sativa has a higher level of THC.


For the cannabis market the types of cannabis don’t change much. These terms are usually associated with the choice of a particular strain for recreational consumption, since there are no genetic differences between the two types of cannabis and the industry makes use of the plant’s properties.

So when we talk about the applications of cannabis, let’s consider its compound for use beyond recreational.

Cannabis use and applications

Now that we understand what types of cannabis there are, let’s talk about its applications in industry, which are not limited to recreational use.

Illustration of the benefits of the types of cannabis

In fact, thinking this way is totally backward, because cannabis is seen as an extremely rich resource for numerous segments. Among them, we can list:

Industrial applications

  1. Hemp fibers: Extracted from the stems of the plant through a process called decortication, hemp fibers have various applications such as the production of fabrics, panels, insulation, and upholstery.
  2. Textiles: As said before, hemp allows the production of textiles, called textile fibers. Because it is considered more productive than cotton, its use implies directly in the reduction of pesticides, since cotton farms use many of these synthetic chemicals.
  3. Hemp seeds: Considered a nutritious food and full of health benefits, hemp seeds, besides being rich in fatty acids and amino acids, help in the prevention of diseases such as high cholesterol, arthritis, sinusitis, and asthma.
  4. Hemp Oil: Hemp oil is extracted from its seeds and is used for food preparation and is preferably consumed raw. It is also rich in vitamins A, E, and the B complex.
  5. Paper: Similar to the manufacture of textiles, the production of paper from hemp tow has a major impact on the environment. This is because it is possible to make it from the residue of hemp cultivation intended for seeds and fabric fibers.
  6. Fuels: And another major environmental impact caused by hemp can be seen in the production of biomass fuels. In this case, the hemp crop would be responsible for absorbing the CO2 released into the atmosphere – creating a sustainable cycle.
  7. Beauty products: The cosmetics industry also takes advantage of the different types of cannabis for the production of various moisturizing products, such as oils, skin creams and soaps.
  8. Ground Quilting: Made to be placed on the ground to maintain soil moisture, control temperature, and prevent pest growth, hemp quilt is a sustainable solution for the agricultural industry.

Applications in the medical industry

  1. Drug production: As we mentioned throughout the text, several drugs are made using THC and its benefits are numerous in the treatment of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
  2. Topical products: The pharmaceutical industry still makes use of both types of cannabis to produce creams, oils, and ointments to treat muscle irritations and pains.

Environmental applications

  1. Bio-construction: Both bricks and cement made from hemp have the ability to absorb CO2 and are therefore already an alternative for building sustainable homes.
  2. Alternative to oil in plastic production: Hemp can also be a sustainable substitute for oil thanks to the cellulose contained in its composition, allowing the production of biodegradable packaging and insulation.
  3. Substitute for wood: Pressed hemp is also used as a substitute for wood and can create various structures from stacking it.
  4. Soil reclamation: In addition to all these points listed, hemp and cannabis types can still be used to reclaim soil contaminated by heavy metals. Through the process known as phytoremediation, soil decontamination allows the restoration of degraded areas to finally make cultivation possible.

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Types of Cannabis: Difference between Hemp and Cannabis

In the list of applications, I mentioned hemp a few times as one of the solutions coming from the Cannabis types.

For those who are not aware of their differences, this term can confuse what each one is. However, there are some points to consider when thinking about these two aspects.

When we talk about the plant, regardless of the type of cannabis, we are mainly referring to the cultivation of the plant with a view to extracting its chemical compounds. Most of the time, we are referring to the product intended for the medicinal and esthetic industry.

Hemp is the opposite. Its cultivation is intended to extract the seeds, fibers, and stem from the plant and is therefore largely destined for industrial and sustainable use.

Socioeconomic impacts and projections for the future

If you have gotten this far, you surely understand what types of cannabis there are and that its use by the industry is very versatile and its properties contribute to the creation of sustainable solutions with great social impact.

Although it still depends on its regulation in Brazil, several countries already use cannabis beyond medicinal use, promoting an exponential growth in an already billion-dollar market.

According to a report by the consulting firm New Frontier Data(via Época Negócios), in 2021 the cannabis market will move more than $27 billion in the United States alone, and industry growth is expected to average 10% per year.

The main bets are the pharmaceutical and recreational markets, however, as we show in the text, cannabis has many promising industrial applications – including the recovery of contaminated soil, as Kanna intends to do with its Decentralized Autonomous Organization.

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