Cannabis ruderalis is thought to have originated thousands of years ago in areas of Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, and specifically Russia, where it continues to grow as a “weed” today.

Botanists named it “ruderalis” (the word “ruderal” meaning something that grows on waste ground or among rubbish) to classify it as a type of cannabis plant with a weedy nature that escaped human cultivation and adapted to the extreme environments found in these climates.

Ruderalis is often described as the third type of cannabis along with Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica, although botanists are unsure whether it qualifies as a species in its own right. Genetically, Cannabis ruderalis is somewhere between indica and sativa varieties.

The same as hemp?

Hemp isn’t a different species of cannabis. We use the term “hemp” to refer to a type of selectively bred cannabis that contains minimal THC levels. To qualify as hemp, cannabis in the US needs to contain less than 0.3% THC. In Europe, the threshold is between 0.2–0.3% THC depending on the country.

Even though Cannabis ruderalis has very low levels of THC (below 3%), it still has more than hemp. However, hemp and ruderalis often contain similar CBD levels, although these vary too.

Hemp is also a more versatile plant than ruderalis. Humans have cultivated hemp for millennia, using it for many different purposes, from making fabrics and paper to food, biofuel, and health supplements.

Ruderalis, on the other hand, is a type of cannabis used almost exclusively for one purpose: breeding.

Is ruderalis legal?

In order to be classified as hemp, ruderalis would need to contain a THC content below the legal limits mentioned above. Otherwise, ruderalis would only be considered legal in areas where recreational and/or medical cannabis can be grown and purchased.

Ruderalis is the OG autoflowering cannabis

In the past, ruderalis didn’t really have a significant role. It isn’t valuable for agricultural or recreational use. So, why did people start using it? Well, we have yet to mention ruderalis’ most sought-after quality; the one that has made it a new staple in the cannabis community. Unlike sativa or indica, ruderalis doesn’t rely on daylight hours to bloom, instead blooming based on age.

Autoflowering weed plants flower on their own after around ~3–4 weeks of vegetative growth. Cannabis ruderalis likely developed this autoflowering trait as a response to the considerably short summers yet long daylight hours (22–24 hours) of its native habitats.