Planta Med 2018; 84(04): 225-233
DOI: 10.1055/s-0043-122240
Biological and Pharmacological Activity
Original Papers
Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Pharmacological Foundations of Cannabis Chemovars

Mark A. Lewis
1   Napro Research, Westlake Village, CA, USA
Ethan B. Russo
2   International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute, Prague, Czech Republic
Kevin M. Smith
1   Napro Research, Westlake Village, CA, USA
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

received 04 June 2017
revised 19 September 2017

accepted 24 October 2017

Publication Date:
21 November 2017 (online)


An advanced Mendelian Cannabis breeding program has been developed utilizing chemical markers to maximize the yield of phytocannabinoids and terpenoids with the aim to improve therapeutic efficacy and safety. Cannabis is often divided into several categories based on cannabinoid content. Type I, Δ 9-tetrahydrocannabinol-predominant, is the prevalent offering in both medical and recreational marketplaces. In recent years, the therapeutic benefits of cannabidiol have been better recognized, leading to the promotion of additional chemovars: Type II, Cannabis that contains both Δ 9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol, and cannabidiol-predominant Type III Cannabis. While high-Δ 9-tetrahydrocannabinol and high-myrcene chemovars dominate markets, these may not be optimal for patients who require distinct chemical profiles to achieve symptomatic relief. Type II Cannabis chemovars that display cannabidiol- and terpenoid-rich profiles have the potential to improve both efficacy and minimize adverse events associated with Δ 9-tetrahydrocannabinol exposure. Cannabis samples were analyzed for cannabinoid and terpenoid content, and analytical results are presented via PhytoFacts, a patent-pending method of graphically displaying phytocannabinoid and terpenoid content, as well as scent, taste, and subjective therapeutic effect data. Examples from the breeding program are highlighted and include Type I, II, and III Cannabis chemovars, those highly potent in terpenoids in general, or single components, for example, limonene, pinene, terpinolene, and linalool. Additionally, it is demonstrated how Type I – III chemovars have been developed with conserved terpenoid proportions. Specific chemovars may produce enhanced analgesia, anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, antidepressant, and anti-anxiety effects, while simultaneously reducing sequelae of Δ 9-tetrahydrocannabinol such as panic, toxic psychosis, and short-term memory impairment.

Supporting Information

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