Your Ultimate Guide to Cannabis Terminology

If you’re new to the world of cannabis, it can be a little overwhelming. There’s a whole new lingo that you need to know – otherwise you’ll be pegged as the newbie in your group in seconds. This guide is meant to provide you with a basic understanding of some of the most used terms in the cannabis culture.


Starting off at the obvious beginning – cannabis sativa is the scientific name for the marijuana plant. This covers both the high THC plants known as marijuana that are grown for their medicinal and intoxicating benefits as well as low THC strains more commonly known as industrial hemp.

Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana is the name given to the marijuana plant when it is used for medicinal purposes. Since 1996 when California first legalized the herb for medicinal uses, over half of the United States has followed suit. Most often this refers to plants with higher THC contents – but there are many high CBD strains that patients love for its medicinal and non-intoxicating benefits.

Recreational Marijuana

The only difference between medical marijuana and recreational is legality and a medical marijuana ID card. While you are required by law to be recommended medical marijuana for an underlying – often debilitating – condition, you can consume as much recreational marijuana you want when you’re 21 or older in certain states. Otherwise, you’re probably one of the many still buying off the black market and partaking illegally in the comfort of your home.


Technically, hemp and marijuana, while both cannabis sativa, are two different plants. Hemp will always have a THC concentration of 0.3 percent – and unlike marijuana, hemp is legal in the U.S. on a federal level. These plants have a long history in the U.S. and around the world and the hemp plants have the longer history in the United States territory.


A strain of cannabis is the phenotype of the plant that your consuming. Granddaddy Purple, Girl Scout Cookies and Sour Diesel are all different strains of cannabis, classified for having different effects, looks and aromas. There are thousands of cannabis strains – and breeding different strains together guarantees that the list is only going to keep growing as people combine different strains in hopes of creating something with all the qualities they are looking for.


There are two main types of cannabis strains – and sativa is one of them. These strains are often known for being energizing, euphoric and boosting mood and creativity. This is the sort of strain that you would want to consume during the daytime as it would still allow you to be active and get things done. In fact, many people use sativa strains to cope with problems like ADHD as it allows them to slow down and focus on a single thing.


The opposite of a sativa strain, indica’s are know for their heavy and sedating effects. This is the type of strain you want to keep around for the end of the night as it has the potential to leave you couchlocked with a solid case of the munchies. People suffering from chronic pain also tend to find more relief from indica strains, especially ones that are relatively high in THC.


These days there is no limit to the strains that could be possible in the future – and there’s little knowledge of which strains were the first. A hybrid strain is one where it was bred from a sativa and an indica parent plant – creating a hybrid with the goal of maintaining the best qualities of each strain. After a couple of generations, a new strain has been born. Some of the most popular medical marijuana strains are hybrids as they provide the upbeat bounce of a sativa with the pain relief and munchies attack usually found in sativa strains.


Cannabinoids are naturally occurring chemicals that can be found both within our on bodies and in cannabis plants. These cannabinoids are the main things responsible for the different effects experienced when consuming cannabis. There are over 100 known cannabinoids, though only a few have been studied in any decent capacity.


This is the most well-known cannabinoid around – in fact, it was the first to be discovered and isolated over 30 years ago. THC is responsible for the psychoactive and euphoric effects that are experienced when smoking cannabis.


This would be the other relatively well-known cannabinoid – and it works similar to THC, but without the psychoactive effects. It happens to instead work as an anti-psychotic, which can help balance out – or bring down – your buzz if your strain is particularly high in THC.


If you’re going to a dispensary, this is what you would be looking for if you’re wanting a smokable for of cannabis. Flower is the buds that you put through your grinder and roll up in a joint or pack in a bowl to be smoked. It also goes by bud, tree, and many other names – but most dispensaries will know exactly what you’re after when you tell them you want flower.


This might seem self-explanatory – but edibles are a form of cannabis product that you are able to eat, rather than smoke or vape. This goes back to the days of tossing an eighth to a quarter in your brownie mix and hoping for the best – but these days the dosage can be measured and overdoing it is easier to avoid than ever with proper labeling in legal markets. Edibles come in the form of drinks, chocolates, gummies, butter and so much more. You should also be aware that your body processes edibles differently – and they are often far more intense than you’re average smoke session.


Unlike flower, which has dozens of cannabinoids and terpenes impacting your experience, concentrates work a little differently. They are pure THC or CBD, extracted and concentrated to make something more potent than the bud itself. Most often this is found in the form of wax – which goes by crumble, dabs and several other names. You need a different set up to smoke wax – but it can easily be vaporized, and most people prefer concentrates in the form of a vape pen cartridge.


Hash – or Hashish is it was always known in the past – is made from the resin of the cannabis plant. This was the original concentrate – packed with high contents of THC, CBD and other cannabinoids and terpenes it’s no wonder this is such powerful stuff. Around the world, hashish has been around for centuries – even if it’s far less common among days world of cannabis concentrates.


This is something you’re likely to hear a lot around people who consume concentrates. This is specifically because dabbing is the act of smoking or vaping concentrates – usually in the form of wax, or the more liquid concentrate that is found in your average vape cartridge.


This is a liquid form of cannabis that is made from either glycerin or alcohol. Usually, a tincture is distributed with an eyedropper and is used under the tongue for fast absorption by the body, providing a quicker effect than either edibles or inhalation. If you’re looking for medicine and fast relief, tinctures might be the best way to go.


This one is fairly self-explanatory if you’ve ever seen a hydroponic garden before. This is the act of growing medical or recreational cannabis hydroponically. Some will argue that this produces better buds – but this would likely be due to perfect climate control, rather than the hydroponic grow system itself.


Again, it might seem obvious, but this refers to marijuana grown within your home. If you live in a legal state – or one where you hold a medical marijuana ID card – then you might have the opportunity to grow your bud yourself.


Once you’ve made it through the growing process you’re still not done. Curing is the act of drying out the buds – and doing so using elevation. When curing cannabis it is generally hung upside down so that the cannabinoids like THC and CBD can drain from the stems and stalks into the buds.


If you ever plan on making your own edibles, decarboxylation is something that you simply can’t miss out on. This is the act of placing the ground bud on a baking sheet and placing it in the oven at a low heat for 15-20 minutes, long enough to turn the THCA in the bud into THC instead.

Now, we left off some seemingly obvious ones – if you’ve smoked at all you likely know what a bowl or bong is, or what a joint or blunt is. We also touched on a few things that might have felt obvious. No matter what, understanding these terms will go a long way when it comes to understanding cannabis.

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