Subject: Rasta lends its name to a third type of cannabis

Source: New Scientist

Tuesday 20 Sep 2005


AS POLICE and dope smokers know, there are two types of cannabis.
Cannabis sativa sativa is mainly used to make hemp, while the indica
subspecies is prized for its tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content,
which produces the "high". But now Australian researchers have
discovered a third type of cannabis, called rasta.

Simon Gilmore of the Canberra Institute of Technology catagorised 196
sample plants according to the DNA in their mitochondria and
chloroplasts. The samples included plants grown for drugs and hemp as
well as wild varieties from Europe, Asia, Africa, Mexico and Jamaica.

The results showed three distinct "races" of cannabis. In central
Asia the THC-rich indica predominated, while in western Europe sativa
was more common. In India, south-east Asia, Africa, Mexico and
Jamaica the rasta variant predominated. It looks similar to the
sativa subspecies, but generally contains higher levels of THC.

Since the study was of DNA rather than a formal taxonomic study,
Cannabis sativa rasta is not yet an official new subspecies: the name
was the result of a competition in Gilmore's lab. Their work is
expected to appear in the journal Forensic Science International
later this year.

From issue 2517 of New Scientist magazine, 20 September 2005, page 12