From the long and complex history to science and interaction, there are a lot of words and terms associated with the cannabis plant. Check out our glossary to expand your cannabis knowledge and learn more about the lingo.
The degree and rate at which a substance (such as cannabis) is absorbed into a living system or is made available at the site of physiological activity. Edibles like gummies and drinks have an estimated bioavailability of 5-20% versus vaping, estimated at 35-50%.
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds which activate the cannabinoid receptors found throughout our bodies. This produces various effects including pain relief and other medically beneficial issues. Phytocannabinoids are the natural forms of these chemicals found in highest concentrations within female cannabis flowers - more specifically, within the resin glands on the surface of the flower. There are at least 85 different cannabinoids identified and isolated from various cannabis strains. Each has a unique influence on the body's endocannabinoid system. Marijuana’s most well-known cannabanoid is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) due to the fact that it is the most abundant, and also because it produces the psychoactive effects (or the “high”) that drives the plant’s recreational use. Learn more about cannabinoids and their interaction with our anatomy here.
Cannabis is a plant genus that produces three species of flowering plants: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica are used to produce both recreational and medical marijuana. Cannabis ruderalis is rarely farmed due to its natural lower THC content and small stature, but there is some cross-breeding thanks to ruderalis‘s unique ability to auto-flower rather than mature based on light, so there is potential for this variety to grow in popularity. Cannabis is native to Asia, but grows almost anywhere and has long been cultivated both for the production of hemp and to be used in a medicinal and recreational capacity.
Influenced by science, spirituality and prohibition, cannabis has a plethora of slang names. Some inlcude…Sensimilla, Herb, Marijuana/Marihuana (Latin American/Spanish), Pot, Weed, Trees, Bob Hope, Dank, Endo/Indo/Dro (for indoor grown cannabis), Ganja (Hindi), Pakalolo (Hawaiian), Kush (Kush refers to a landrace of cannabis plants that hail from the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and Pakistan), Reefer, and of course Mary Jane.
CBD is the abbreviation for cannabidiol, one of the at least 85 cannabinoids found in cannabis and the second only to THC when it comes to average volume. Recently, CBD has gained support for its use as a medical treatment as research has shown it effectively treats pain, inflammation, epilepsy, and anxiety without the intoxicating effects (the “high” or “stoned” feeling) associated with THC. Check out the HERB High CBD Menu.
Certificate of Analysis (COA)
An official report of testing results that display measured values, measurements of uncertainty, pass/fail information, or other information to convey the results of a laboratory test.
Concentrates are a potent consolidation of cannabinoids that are made by dissolving marijuana in its plant form into a solvent. The resulting product has very high cannabinoid levels (generally more than flowers or hashish), and can produce varying products that range from thick sticky oils (BHO) to moldable goo (budder/wax) to resinous bits (shatter). Referred to by a variety of slang terms, the classification of concentrates is often dependent on the manufacturing method and the consistency of the final product. Check out the HERB Concentrates Menu.
This refers to a clipping from a cannabis plant, which can then be rooted and grown through a cloning process of the mother plant, from which the clone was cut.
Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction of carboxylic acids, removing a carbon atom from a carbon chain. In regards to cannabis, to experience the desirable psychoactive effects of the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in cannabis, the product must first be decarboxylated. This can be done by using either heat, alcohol, or fats to knock off the carbon molecule from the cannabis so it can bind with your cannabinoid receptors. This is what makes edibles/tinctures effective medicine when passing through our digestive system.
Dispensary is a general term used to refer to any location where a patient or consumer can legitimately and safely access cannabis. Other words and phrases include: access point, co-op, collective or any other version of a legal cannabis retailer.
The size or frequency of a dose of a medicine or drug. E.g. ‘100 mg THC’ or ‘25 mg CBD’
Duration of Effects
The approximate length of intended effects when consuming a substance such as marijuana. Interaction tends to be different for everyone’s endocannabinoid system, but the general of length of effects can be measured for consumer information.
Edibles are medicated edible goods that have been infused with cannabis extracts. Types of edibles include baked goods, gummies, beverages and more. Consuming edibles means the active components from the extracts require longer to take effect as they need to be absorbed through the digestive system. Check out the HERB Edibles Menu.
"Cannabinoid" comes from "cannabis," and "endo" is short for "endogenous." So "endocannabinoid" simply means cannabis-like substances that naturally occur inside us. The ECS itself is made up of three parts: (1) Endocannabinoids, (2) receptors in the nervous system and around your body that endocannabinoids and cannabinoids bond with, and (3) enzymes that help break down endocannabinoids and cannabinoids. Think of it as a keyhole and THC/CBD/Cannabinoids are the keys to unlock those doors.
Flavonoids are a diverse group of phytonutrients (plant chemicals) found in almost all fruits and vegetables. They are responsible for the vivid colors in fruits, vegetables and cannabis. Both odor and flavor are possible in cannabis due to the synergistic qualities that terpenes and flavonoids share with one another. When cannabis is consumed, those flavonoids contribute to the taste, smell and entourage effect when paired with cannabinoids and terpenes.
You probably know what flowers are! They are often the “pretty” part of a plant and the same is true for cannabis. While cannabis flowers don’t have traditional petals or look like daisies, they are still the reproductive organ of the female plants. Cannabis flowers are the hairy, sticky, crystal-covered bits that are harvested and dried to be used as medication. When they are allowed to be fertilized by male plants, these flowers will produce cannabis seeds. If not, they will continue to produce the resin that contains their active cannabinoids until they are harvested or begin to die. Check out the HERB Flower Menu.
In its raw form, each cannabis cultivar has its own unique cannabinoid and terpene profile that, among other compounds, contribute to their therapeutic effects. These compounds are created within the plant’s lipid and fat-based trichomes. Full spectrum extracts are a type of cannabis concentrate that aim to capture all of the therapeutic compounds of the raw cannabis plant at the moment that it was processed, without the lipids and fats that hold those compounds together but do not have medicinal benefits.
The final phase of cultivation when the cannabis plant is chopped down. In the Northern Hemisphere, outdoor cannabis crops typically reach harvest time in October and November. Experienced growers time the exact moment and processes of their harvest to maximize their flower’s tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) content, as well as their full terpene profile.
Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species that is grown for the industrial uses of its derived products. (Like hemp fiber or CBD isolate). It is one of the fastest growing plants and was one of the first plants to be spun into usable fiber 10,000 years ago. It can be refined into a variety of commercial items including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed. In 2018, health and wellness CBD products began to go mainstream with the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill.
Although cannabis as a drug and industrial hemp both derive from the species Cannabis sativa and contain the psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), they are distinct strains with unique phytochemical compositions and uses. Hemp has lower concentrations of THC and higher concentrations of cannabidiol (CBD), which decreases or eliminates its psychoactive effects. The legality of industrial hemp varies widely between countries. Some governments regulate the concentration of THC and permit only hemp that is bred with an especially low THC content.
Hybrid refers to a plant that is genetically a cross between one or more separate strains of cannabis. Hybrids can happen unintentionally, but they are usually bred specifically to combine desired traits of the original plants. Most cannabis strains on the market today are some form of hybrid. Check out the HERB Hybrid Flowers Menu.
Indica is the less scientific name for the Cannabis indica species of cannabis. Generally these plants originated in the Middle East and Asia and include both of the famous kush and Afghan lineages. Compared to their sativa counterparts, the plants are shorter, bushier and have more compact flower structure. This species tends to produce more relaxing physical effects and can have a sedative quality, due to the strains cannabinoid and terpene profiles. Check out the HERB Indica Flowers Menu.
Kief is a collected amount of trichomes that have been separated from the rest of the marijuana flower. Since trichomes are the sticky crystals that contain the vast majority of the plant’s cannabinoids, kief is known to be extremely potent. Kief is sometimes mistakenly referred to as pollen and is the primary ingredient in hashish production.
A landrace refers to a local variety of cannabis that has adapted to the environment of its geographic location. This accounts for genetic variation between landrace strains, which have been crossbred to produce the cannabis variety we see today. Landrace strains are oftentimes named after their native region, like Afghani, Thai, and Hawaiian, and traces of landraces are sometimes detectable in the names of their crossbred descendants.
Limit of Detection
The lowest quantity of a substance or analyte that can be positively identified as present in an analytical sample when lab testing cannabis products.
Limit of Quantitation
The lowest quantity of a substance or analyte that can be accurately measured to a given confidence level when lab testing cannabis products.
Method of Consumption
Cannabis consumption refers to the variety of ways cannabis is consumed, among which inhalation (smoking and vaporizing) and ingestion are most common. There are four main methods of consuming cannabis that we see in cannabis consumers is: Smoking, Vaporization, Ingestion and the use of Topicals. Each method has unique characteristics that make it more or less appropriate for some consumers. Learn more about Methods of Consumption.
Phenotype is a term that is heard most often in growing. It refers to the general physical characteristics of the plant such as height, color, branching, leaf configuration down to cell structure—any markers that can be used to identify and judge the healthiness of a plant.
An apparatus generally made from ceramic, glass or metal for combusting cannabis bud for the intended effects. Check out the HERB Accessories Menu.
Pistils are part of a female plant’s anatomy. On cannabis, it’s identified as the little hair-like extensions on the flowers that range in color from white to red to darker orange-brown. When plants are going to be fertilized, the pistil acts to collect the male pollen. When plants are left unfertilized, as in the case of marijuana, the pistils change and can be indicators of plant ripeness.
Pre-roll is a commonly used term that refers to a pre-rolled marijuana cigarette, slangily known as a joint. The majority of pre-rolls are rolled with rolling papers--though technically blunts, joint variations and L’s qualify. Check out the HERB Pre-Roll Menu.
The term ruderalis stems from the root word ruderal. In the plant world, a ruderal species is one that grows in spite of its environment being inhabited by humans or being otherwise affected by naturally occurring disturbances to the area. Many believe ruderalis to be a descendant of indica genetics that adjusted to the harsh climates and the shorter growing seasons of the northern regions where it originates. Cannabis ruderalis is native to areas in Asia, Central/Eastern Europe, and specifically Russia, where botanists used the term “ruderalis” to classify the breeds of hemp plant that had escaped from human and cultivation, adapting to the extreme environments found in these climates.
Originally, cannabis ruderalis was considered a wild breed of cannabis. However, in recent years it has been brought indoors to influence new hybrid varieties.
Sativa is the less scientific name for the cannabis sativa species of cannabis plant. In general, these plants originated outside of the Middle East and Asia and include strains that are from areas such as South America, the Caribbean, Africa and Thailand. These strains tend to grow taller as plants (usually over 5 feet), are lighter in color and take longer to flower. When consumed, sativas tend to produce more cerebral effects as opposed to physical and sedative ones. Check out the HERB Sativa Flower Menu.
A strain is a specific variety of a plant species. Strains are developed to produce distinct desired traits in the plant and are usually named by their breeders (or by creative consumers). Strain names often reflect the plant’s appearance, its promised buzz, or its place of origin. Although the medical marijuana industry strives for consistency, strains can easily be mistakenly or purposely misidentified. Eg. OG Kush, Sour Diesel, Tangie. (Not to be confused with strand, as in a lake shore or to abandon something.)
Situated or applied under the tongue.
Terpenes are the fragrance molecules found emanating from all plants - including cannabis, which offers unique scent from one strain to the next. The fragrant imprint of each plant is a result of different combinations of terpenes. Cannabis is unique in that each strain has a unique profile of terpenes. Terpenes are believed to exhibit medicinal properties independent from the cannabinoids. Overall, terpenes contribute to a strain's particular influence - a phenomenon known as the entourage effect. Learn more about terpenes and their interactions here.
THC is an abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabinol. It is the most well-known and most abundantly available cannabinoid in marijuana plants. THC is also the component in marijuana that is responsible for the psychoactive effects, or the “high.” Also known as delta-9-tetracannabinol, it was first isolated in 1964 and is thought to serve as a natural defense for the plant against pests. Research has shown THC to be an effective medical treatment for a range of conditions. There is no lethal dose of the compound in its natural form.
Time to Onset
Onset of action is the duration of time it takes for a drug's effects to come to prominence upon administration. With oral administration, it typically ranges anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour, depending on the drug in question. With cannabis, smoking/vaping can be immediate, edibles vary from approx. 15-45 minutes, and topicals vary dependent on the formula and if it is transdermal.
A tincture is a liquid cannabis extract usually made with alcohol or glycerol that is often dosed with a dropper. Tinctures can be flavored and are usually placed under the tongue, where they are absorbed quickly. Effects can be felt within minutes. Tinctures can also be mixed into a drink, but in these cases effects will take longer because the tinctures will be absorbed by the digestive system. Check out the HERB Tincture Menu.
A topical is a type of cannabis product where the active properties of the flowers have been extracted and added to a product such as a lotion or a cream that’s applied to the skin. The medicinal properties are absorbed through the skin and can be used to treat muscle aches, long term soreness, or ailments like dry skin. Check out the HERB Topical Menu.
Relating to or denoting the application of a medicine or drug through the skin, typically by using an adhesive patch, so that it is absorbed slowly into the body.
Trichomes are the resin production glands of the cannabis plant. In Greek, the word means “growth of hair,” and while these sticky little protrusions can make plants appear a little hairy, they are not hairs, nor are they “crystals,” which is how they are often described. THC, CBD and other cannabinoids are all produced in these glands. (Not to be confused with the staining method, trichrome.)
A vaporizer is a device used to consume marijuana. It heats either flowers or cannabis oils/extracts to a temperature that produces a cannabinoid-laced vapor to inhale. Vaporizing is healthier than smoking since there is no smoke to ingest, but this method still produces near instant effects. With new, more compact models on the market, vaporizing is growing in popularity. Check out the HERB Vape Menu.
Information referenced from Leafly, Weedmaps, SC Labs, Steep Hill, LiveScience, HERB Staff and the cannabis community.