Cannabis Glossary

The basic facts and concepts about medicinal cannabis



Access Point

A physical location, for example a retail shop, where patients can purchase medical cannabis; also known as a “dispensary” or “compassion club”. In states with fully legal medical cannabis, these facilities provide safe access to medicine and fully test and label their products.

Aroma

The smell expressed by a strain of cannabis. This aroma of cannabis is caused by chemical compounds called terpenes. Strains can produce skunky, musky, or citrus odors depending on the unique makeup of the strains terpene profile.

Backcross

In cannabis breeding, when a hybrid plant is crossed with one of its parents, this action is referred to as backcrossing. This action is taken as an effort to create a new offspring which is closer to the parent, with respect to characteristics, from which the hybrid originated. Backcrossing is usually leveraged as a technique when a breeder is trying to preserve rare strains or enhance the effects caused by recessive genes.

BHO (Butane Hash Oil)

Butane hash oil (BHO) is a concentrate made up of oil which has been stripped from cannabis plant material using in this case butane as a solvent. This results in a very potent extract which has extremely high levels of concentrated THC and other cannabinoids. Also referred to as “dab”, the different variations of this type of product are also known by names like “honey oil”, “earwax”, and “shatter”. A wide variety of manufacturing techniques can be employed to modify the consistency and overall character of the oil that is created by this process.

Bud

This term is commonly used to refer to the flower of the cannabis plant. Buds contain the highest concentration of resinous trichomes, which are the clear stalk shaped structures which manufacture and hold cannabinoids (such as THC, CBD, and CBG). The bud is the most sought after part of the plant as it provides the most value to both medical recreational users alike.

Cannabinoids

The chemical compounds of the cannabis plant are manufactured by the resinous trichomes found mostly on the bud, or flower, of the plant. Roughly one hundred and eleven cannabinoids have been discovered up to now; with the most famous example being THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which is responsible for the euphoria, or high, experienced by those to consume cannabis. Cannabinoids are the special “miracle molecules” which are mainly responsible for the medical efficacy provided by cannabis to patients and are specifically known to deliver pain relief, ease depression, reduce inflammation, eliminate nausea, and may even stop the growth of or eliminate cancerous tumors.

Cannabis

Cannabis is a plant which has been used for thousands of years as a medical remedy, but is actually a group of three distinct subspecies. Cannabis sativa, indica, and ruderalis all are different examples of the same plant. Sativa and indica varieties are by far the most common. Ruderalis is not commonly grown or desired by cultivators, patients, or recreational consumers because of its poor yield and low quantity of THC. Sativa varieties provide energizing and uplifting effects and are appropriate for treating depression, nausea, and obesity. Indica varieties are more apt for alleviating body pain and anxiety and is most commonly found in the both the underground market and in legal dispensaries.

CBD

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of the over one hundred and eleven cannabinoids found in cannabis. Behind THC, CBD is the second most prevalent cannabinoid found in cannabis. CBD can be used effectively to treat inflammation, pain, and anxiety, but delivers no euphoric “high” as THC does for the patient. CBD has value in treating conditions like epilepsy, where is has been shown to significantly reduce and even eliminates seizures. It is especially well suited for application in youth as no euphoria is induced. Strains high in CBD include Harlequin, Critical Mass, and Killawatt.

Concentrates

When the oil is extracted from plant matter the resulting product is a concentrate. This concentrate offers greater strength and potency than flower and is also available in a wide variety of different forms. The extraction process leverages a solvent as a vessel to carry the plant’s oily essence away from the organic plant material, with the flowers being the part most commonly used. Concentrates typically have very high levels of THC and other cannabinoids. Examples of concentrates include BHO, wax, live resin, and shatter.

Co-op (cooperative)

Any cannabis consumers, in many times patients, can pool their resources and efforts together to cultivate, harvest, and prepare cannabis plants and by-products, which are in turn-in distributed amongst the group members. These groups, called co-ops, typically write their own rules and have membership requirements, but must be diligent to comply with local and state law to avoid trouble with the authorities. These types of groups are common in California and Oregon, but are also found in other states which allow their existence. In some localities without dispensaries or compassion clubs, co-ops are the sole avenue to legal cannabis.

Cross (crossbreeding)

When two different strains of cannabis are bred together, the action is called crossbreeding. This results in a new and unique strain, which is hoped by the breeder to inherit the most desirable traits from each respective parent. One example of a crossbreeding effort is Blue Cheese, which is a cross of Blueberry and Big Buddha Cheese.

Dab

This term is slang, referring to a dose of BHO (Butane Hash Oil) which is smoked or vaporized. The verb form of this slang, dabbing, is the action of consuming said dab, commonly done with special pipes, bongs, or vaporizer attachments.

Dispensary

A legal business, which in some places are required to operate as a non-profits, are retail locations where both patients and recreational consumers can get consultation from budtenders, also called patient care specialists, on cannabis product and dose selection. These dispensaries offer a legal route or “safe access” to cannabis, helping both patients and recreational consumers avoid the underground market. Many dispensaries also cultivate the cannabis they sell, but some purchase their inventory through legal distribution channels, however unfortunately a small few still source from the underground market.

Edibles

Edibles are food which has been infused with the essence of cannabis to provide the consumer with medical efficacy or recreational euphoria. There are many different methods of preparation for edibles, but the most popular is the use of cannabis butter (aka cannabutter), or cannabis oil. Edibles also are referred to by the slang “medibles” due to their medical efficacy. Edibles are obviously very popular with the crowd who are adverse to smoking anything, including cannabis. It is very important for consumers to know that edibles have both a longer onset and duration than smoking or any other type of consumption. With smoking or vaporization the effects onset in roughly 2-3 minutes, whereas effects from edibles do not onset for 45 minutes and can last 4-8 hours. Both the medical efficacy and the euphoria delivered by edibles lasts longer and is generally perceived as more potent, so remember; start low and go slow; you can always eat more, but you cannot eat less.

Feminized

When cannabis seeds are selectively bred, a specific type of seed referred to as feminized can be selectively set aside and sold. These seeds are bred to produce only females. This is highly desirable by cultivators because it is the mature females plants which produce the most resinous trichomes loaded with cannabinoids. Male plants are identified at the start of the flowering period and removed for destruction. There is a disagreement in the industry, as the perpetrators of feminized seeds assure the buyers that they will produce the same quality plants as non-feminized version. However, there are some master breeders in the industry which believe that feminization produces plants which are not as reliable or stable as their non-feminized cousins.

Flowering Time

The time measured between the end of the vegetative growth stage until the harvest is known as the flowering time. Sativa varieties typically require additional weeks to harvest as compared to their indica relatives. This is why indica strains dominate the underground market. Flowering time is a critical factor influencing strain selection for both professional cultivators and home-growing patients.

Flowers

The flower, or “bud”, of the cannabis plant which matures during the flowering stage. The flowers are the reproductive organs of the female plant, which contain the vast majority of the trichomes in cannabis. Generally the flowers are used to manufacture extracts and concentrates, although any part of the cannabis plant can be utilized. When flowers are fertilized by the pollen of male plants, they produce seeds.

Hash

Hash is short for hashish, which is a form of concentrate derived from the cannabis plant. It is much stronger in potency than flower, and has been commonplace in some parts of the world for thousands of years. The main goal of hash production is to separate the resinous trichomes from the plant. Typical methods include the use of filtering or sieving. After the trichomes are separated and collected they are pressed or rolled into a brown tacky paste, or a sticky crumbly powder.

Heirloom

When a landrace cannabis strain is transplanted to a non-native location and cultivated, the resulting plant is called an heirloom. Heirloom strains are genetically landrace strains, but the difference in its new location’s climate and other characteristics affect the genetic expression of the plant, and results in a similar but different variation of the landrace strain.

Hemp

When the cannabis plant contains less than 0.3% THC, it can be referred to as hemp. This non-euphoric variety of cannabis can be leveraged for its fiber and has been utilized for more than 5,000 applications including shelter, food, medicine, fuel, and even plastic. In southern climates of the United States, the rapid pace of growth of the cannabis plant in conjunction with the long summer allow for farmers to harvest three crops per year. Perplexingly, although it is illegal to farm hemp in almost the whole of the US, it is legal to sell products manufactured from hemp grown outside the US.

Hybrid

When two different plants are bred together, the resulting plant is referred to as a hybrid. The only true non-hybridized strains are landrace strains. Most cannabis available in both the legal and underground market are hybrid strains. These hybrids were created by breeders who were trying to create a new plant which inherited the best qualities from each parent. This new medicine may be a more potent, pleasant, or ideal high for a specific group of patients.

Hydroponics

This is a growing method which does not use any soil, but instead roots are suspended in a liquid solution of water and nutrients. The advantages of this method include greater control of nutrient volumes and the ability to make small adjustments to the health of the plant. Hydroponic gardens amazingly produce typically twice the volume of flower as compared to dirt-gardens. Some in the industry claim that dirt-grown outdoor cannabis is the best on the market. Cultivators would obviously be attracted to hydroponic growing because of the exceptionally high yields.

Indica

Indica is one of the three subspecies of cannabis. Indica strains are the most commonly available strains in both the legal and underground market. Indica plants originated from Asia and the Middle East, which is reflected in the common occurrence of Afghan and Kush in indica strain names. Indica plants generally are shorter and more bush like with broad leaves, and have higher yields than sativas. Indicas are known for the relaxing body high they produce, and are effective in treating pain and relaxing patients who are stressed or anxious. Indica strains sometimes cause consumers to feel so relaxed that they feel as though they are locked to the couch, an effect referred to in slang as “couchlock.”

Kief

When the resinous trichomes are separated from the cannabis plant without the use of a solvent and are not pressed or rolled, the resulting powder is referred to as kief. Kief is similar to hash, but is not pressed into a paste or solid. Kief is one of the easiest concentrates to manufacture, as it only takes a screen to produce. Similar to hash and other concentrates, kief is more potent than cannabis flower.

Kush

Cannabis plants who call the Hindu Kush Mountains in Afghanistan and Pakistan home honor their homelands by including the word Kush in their name. Kush varieties are classic indicas, and lend themselves to be effective for fighting pain, appetite stimulation, and use as a sedative. Kush strains are known for their earthy or citrus scent.

Landrace

A strain of cannabis whose only gardener was mother nature. These special strains grew naturally, evolving over eons, and are the genetic starting points of today’s modern hybrids. Many landrace strains honor their homelands by being named after their localities. Such examples are Afghani and Thai. Landrace strains are pure indica or sativa, and are exceptionally rare. Durban Poison is an example of a landrace sativa.

Marijuana

This word was created in the early 20th century by prohibitionists in the US and big business that were intent on outlawing the cannabis plant. The word was derived from the Mexican slang for the cannabis plant “marihuana”, and was specifically used to distinguish this plant from cannabis, as the public was already familiar with cannabis having seen it used commonly in the medical community. Cannabis was being offered as a medicine in the form of a tincture, and typically was administered for everything from headaches and bruised knees, to painful menstruation and childbirth. Aspirin was not available until after the 20’s. While marijuana is the most common term used to refer to cannabis in the US and Canada, cannabis is the default term used in Europe and throughout the rest of the world.

OG

This label is associated with with a family of hybrid cannabis strains that originated in Southern California. “OG” stands for “ocean grown.” Most OG strains today are a descendent of the original OG Kush, which helped make the West Coast a mecca for medical and recreational cannabis.

Phenotype

A phenotype is a unique example of a genetic strain, resulting from the particular effect of the local environment on the plant’s genetic expression. Characteristics including height, leaf structure, and color, are among some of the characteristics which can be influenced.

Pistil

A pistil is a part of the female anatomy of the cannabis plant. They are hair-like growths in the center of the flower, or bud, which can range in color from white to orange. Their functionality is to collect the pollen dispersed by the male plants. When pistils do not catch any pollen, the plant will not produce seeds, but instead direct that energy into the production of resinous trichomes. It makes sense why the unfertilized female buds are the most sought after of all the parts of the female and male cannabis plants. The state and color of pistils help gardeners to gauge the readiness of the plants for harvest.

Pot

This term is slang for marijuana or cannabis. It is quite possibly the most common slang reference for the recreational variety of the plant in the US and Canada.

Pre-roll

Pre-roll is another term for a cannabis cigarette or joint. Typically those who do not want to, or cannot, roll their own joints purchase pre-rolls. In prohibitionist localities, pre-rolled joints are convenient because they allow consumers to only break one law, as there is not associated paraphernalia with this consumption method, preventing one possible offence.

Ruderalis

Ruderalis is one of the three subspecies of cannabis. It is characterized by low THC and low yields. Some ruderalis strains are rising in popularity due to the increasing demand for low-THC high-CBD strains for conditions like epilepsy. Ruderalis is unique and different than both indica and sativa species in that it is an “autoflowering” species. The plant autoflowers after a specific duration of time, regardless of the light cycle. In contrast, indica and sativa varieties can be kept in vegetative growth indefinitely by keeping the plant under constant light. Ruderalis landrace strains originated in Russia and are hardy strong plants capable of surviving in harsh climates.

Sativa

Sativa is one of the three subspecies of cannabis. This variety originated in the equatorial regions of the world like the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Thailand, and South America. Sativas are known for their energetic and euphoric “head high” that is more mental than physical. Sativa strains are therefore well suited for helping patients deal with depression and fatigue, and are also known to suppress appetite. Sativa strains are more rare than indica strains because they require more time to grow and yield less flower per plant as compared to indicas. Many legal avenues include sativa offerings. One sativa example is Jack Herer, another is Durbin Poison.

Shatter

A special form of concentrate that is characterized by its rigid form and ability to be broken like glass. This form remains hard and breakable at room temperature.

Strain

A unique and specific variety of the cannabis plant. Each strain has its own special terpene and cannabinoid profile. The variety found between each and every strain of cannabis offer patients the options to find a medicine which pairs with them best. Strain names are a reflection of the underground culture in which cannabis has lived in throughout prohibition. Some popular strain are Durban Poison, Jack Herer, OG Kush, Headband, and Sour Diesel.

THC

Tetrahydrocannabinol is the most commonly known cannabinoid in cannabis. Also referred to as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, this molecule was first isolated by Raphael Mechoulam in 1964 in Israel. THC is the only cannabinoid known to provide the user with a “high” or euphoric effect. As a result many strains which are high in THC have been selected for and bred in both the legal and underground market. Strains which are high in THC include Trainwreck, Durban Poison, OG Kush, and Bio-Diesel.

Tincture

A liquid form of cannabis concentrate typically paired with alcohol or glycerol as a vessel, which is commonly administered via the use of an eye dropper and absorbed under the tongue. Because it is a liquid, a tincture can be flavored to have a particular taste. Tinctures offer the benefit of a faster onset as compared to ingestion. When ingested as opposed to absorbed sublingually, or inside the mouth, the onset time will be alike to edibles.

Topical

When cannabis concentrates are infused into a lotion or cream, the resulting medicated topical can be used by patients for localized relief. Topical products are another avenue for patients who are adverse to smoking. Topical cannabis products may also be helpful for skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, and even skin cancer. While new to the marketplace, cannabis topicals are quickly gaining in use and popularity. Topical products are very hard to find in the underground marketplace, as their production requires significant manufacturing infrastructure to produce.

Trichome

The stalk shaped resin glands found coating cannabis flower which produce and hold the vast majority of cannabinoids and terpenes. Nearly microscopic, these “silver hairs” give the cannabis plant its sticky texture. Plants which are loaded with trichomes are sometimes referred to as looking crystallized, and would have the most potency and medical efficacy.

Wax

A cannabis concentrate which is not hard and breakable at room temperature, but rather soft and malleable. Wax offers patients and recreational consumers alike a way to consume a high dose of cannabinoids. This is critically important to patients who suffer from severe pain, and rely on wax as a fast and potent medication.

Vaporizer

This is a device which is utilized to consume cannabis via inhalation. Vaporizers do not combust the material, but instead pass a stream of hot air—either actively (via a mechanized fan) or passively (via the inhale of a user)—through a dose of cannabis. This heat causes the oil locked inside the trichomes to boil and change states of matter to from a liquid to a vapor. This process leaves the organic material nearly intact, ending up looking slightly brownish. Both flowers and cannabis concentrates can be vaporized. Vaporization is widely considered a healthier option than smoking. Vaporizers are available in both desktop and portable variations. Those looking for motivation to switch from smoking to vaporization would be very interested to know that research has shown vaporization is twice as efficient at delivering cannabinoids to the patient as compared to smoking.

Weed

This term is slang for cannabis or marijuana. Low quality examples of weed are sometimes labeled with the additional qualifiers of “dirt-” or “ditch-”.