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Unlike other plants, Cannabis sativa is excluded from regulation by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Distinctive Cannabis varieties are ostracized from registration and therefore nearly impossible to verify. As Cannabis has become legal for medical and recreational consumption in many states, consumers have been exposed to a wave of novel Cannabis products with many distinctive names. Despite more than 2000 named strains being available to consumers, questions about the consistency of commercially available strains have not been investigated through scientific methodologies. As Cannabis legalization and consumption increases, the need to provide consumers with consistent products becomes more pressing. In this research, we examined commercially available, drug-type Cannabis strains using genetic methods to determine if the commonly referenced distinctions are supported and if samples with the same strain name are consistent when obtained from different facilities.

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Wikileaf maintains that the proportions of Sativa and Indica reported for strains are largely based on genetics and lineage (Nelson 2016), although online databases do not give scientific evidence for their categorization other than parentage information from breeders and expert opinions. This has seemingly become convoluted over time (Russo 2007; Clarke and Merlin 2013; Small 2015a; Small 2016). Our results show that commonly reported levels of Sativa, Indica and Hybrid type strains are often not reflected in the average genotype. For example, two described Sativa type strains “Durban Poison” and “Sour Diesel”, have contradicting genetic assignments (Fig. 1, Table 2). This analysis indicates strains with similar reported proportions of Sativa or Indica may have differing genetic assignments. Further illustrating this point is that “Bruce Banner”, “Flo”, “Jillybean”, “Pineapple Express”, “Purple Haze”, and “Tangerine” are all reported to be 60/40 Hybrid type strains, but they clearly have differing levels of admixture both within and among these reportedly similar strains (Table 2, Fig. 1). From these results, we can conclude that reported ratios or differences between Sativa and Indica phenotypes are not discernable using these genetic markers. Given the lack of genetic distinction between Indica and Sativa types, it is not surprising that reported ancestry proportions are also not supported.

We failed to find clear genetic support for commonly referenced Sativa, Indica and Hybrid types as described in online databases. Significant genetic differences within samples of the same strain were observed indicating that consumers could be provided inconsistent products. These differences have the potential to lead to phenotypic differences and unexpected effects, which could be surprising for the recreational user, but have more serious implications for patients relying on strains that alleviate specific medical symptoms.

The microsatellite analyses show genetic inconsistencies in Cannabis strains acquired from different facilities. While popular strains were widely available, some strains were found only at two dispensaries (Table 1). Since the aim of the research was not to identify specific locations where strain inconsistencies were found, dispensaries are coded to protect the identity of businesses.

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The hemp plant Cannabis sativa Linn, referring to industrial hemp, is a high-yielding annual industrial crop grown providing fibers from hemp stalk and oil from hemp seeds. Although hemp is a niche crop, hemp production is currently undergoing a renaissance. More than 30 countries grow hemp, with China being the largest hemp producing and exporting country. Europe and Canada are also important actors in the global hemp market. Traditionally, hemp as a fiber plant has been used for the production of apparels, fabrics, papers, cordages and building materials. The hurds, as waste by-product of fiber production, were used for bedding of animals, the seeds for human nutrition, e.g., as flour, and the oil for a wide range of purposes, from cooking to cosmetics. Hemp has also been an important crop throughout human history for medicine. Other more recent applications include materials for insulation and furniture, automotive composites for interior applications and motor vehicle parts, bioplastics, jewelry and fashion sectors, animal feed, animal bedding, and energy and fuel production. Foods containing hemp seed and oil are currently marketed worldwide for both animal and human nutrition. They also find applications in beverages and in neutraceutical products. Hemp oil is also used for cosmetics and personal care items, paints, printing inks, detergents and solvents. It is estimated that the global market for hemp consists of more than 25,000 products. Currently, the construction and insulation sector, paper and textile industries, and food and nutrition domains are the main markets while the cosmetics and automotive sector are growing markets. Innovative applications, e.g., in the medical and therapeutic domains, cosmeceuticals, phytoremediation, acoustic domain, wastewater treatment, biofuels, biopesticides and biotechnology, open new challenges. Hemp is also the object of numerous fundamental studies. This review presents and discusses the traditional and new uses of industrial hemp.

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depict or suggest the illegal sale of cannabis