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Common Cannabis Terms

 February 27, 2020  Written by Mitch Greene
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Let’s face it, when it comes to cannabis there are a lot of different words and phrases that get used.  For many consumers, it can be a bit overwhelming to try to understand what each means and how it may have an impact on their overall cannabis experience.  To help provide some clarity and insight, the following is a list of some (but definitely not all!) of commonly used when talking about cannabis.  

  • Aroma: general smell and/or taste of a certain plant or flower. Because consumers’ individual definition of aromas (such as “earthy,” “skunky,” or ''citrusy”) can differ somewhat, aroma descriptions are meant as a basic guideline.
  • Butane Hash Oil (BHO): potent concentrate of cannabinoids made by dissolving marijuana in its plant form in a hydrocarbon solvent (usually butane). The resulting product is a thick, sticky oil that has very high cannabinoid levels (generally more than flowers or hashish). BHO is also referred to as honey oil, “dabs” / “dabbing,” wax, or shatter, depending on the consistency and profile.
  • Bong: large pipe, usually made of glass, that uses water to diffuse and cool the smoke as you breathe it into your lungs.
  • Buds: actual flower of the marijuana plant that is dried and ready for consumption.
  • Cannabinoid: numerous chemical compounds that activate cannabinoid receptors in the brain and body.
  • Cannabidiol (CBD): non-intoxicating cannabinoid found primarily in cannabis plants (including hemp). Known for its high therapeutic potential.
  • Clone: a cutting taken at the nodal site from a cannabis plant, often referred to as the 'mother plant'. The cutting can be encouraged to root and grow into a genetic identical of the mother plant.
  • Concentrate: cannabinoids extracted from the plant that come in a variety of textures and consistencies, such as hash, wax, tinctures, or canna-butter. Used to deliver potent medicine quickly.
  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Oil: cannabis concentrate, made from the subcritical and/or supercritical CO2 extraction process. Supercritical CO2 is a fluid state of carbon dioxide held at or above the critical point of temperature and pressure, which can be used as a solvent in the cannabis extraction process. The resulting oil can be ingested or heated and inhaled depending on the refinement process. CO2 oil is most often found in vape cartridges.
  • Edibles: food items made with canna-butter, hash oil, or other variations of cannabis.
  • Endocannabinoid System (ECS): the ECS is a complex, biological system comprised of cannabinoid receptors, cannabinoid signaling molecules and enzymes that control signaling. The ECS has the ability to influence many of our major body systems and its ultimate goal is to help the body achieve balance.
  • Entourage Effect: the theory that all compounds found in the cannabis matrix work together synergistically to produce the most medically efficacious experience.
  • Flower: part of the female cannabis plant used for smoking (Buds).
  • Full Extract Cannabis Oil (FECO): RSO-style oil (see below for definition of RSO) that is made with organic alcohol (preferably sugar cane alcohol) and cannabis plant material. The extraction is done over a long period of time with low heat to preserve as many secondary compounds as possible. A highly medicinal product should be taken with care and guidance.
  • Hash/Hash Oil: short for hashish, which is derived from cannabis plants. Production involves the removal of the plant’s trichomes by sieving or filtering. Once the trichome residue has been collected, it is typically dried, filtered, and pressed and ready to be used. Hash ranges in potency however it is a concentrated form of cannabinoids and terpenes therefore it can generate a stronger experience as compared to flower. A similar concentrated product can also be produced using a solvent; however, this product is commonly referred to as hash oil or “honey oil.”
  • Hemp: subspecies of cannabis thought to be most closely related to cannabis sativa. It is defined by its less than 0.3% THC concentration. By federal law, hemp is legal throughout the US.
  • Hybrid: mixed breed of Indica and Sativa strains. Everything on the current cannabis market contains a certain degree of hybridized genetics.
  • Indica: a species of the cannabis plant defined by its morphology: short in stature, dense female flowers and broad leaves.
  • Kief: collected amount of trichomes that have been separated from the rest of the marijuana flower by solvent less extraction through sifting over micron screens. 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.
  • Microdosing: consuming a very small amount of cannabis to assess how it makes you feel before consuming more.
  • Milligram (mg): many processed cannabis products designed for ingestion and topical application have the number of cannabinoids labeled in milligrams for reference.
  • Pre-roll: a commonly used term that refers to a pre-rolled marijuana cigarette, slang for a joint. Many dispensaries have pre-rolls available for purchase.
  • Processed: to take cannabis and extract the essential oils and varying cannabinoids. This can be done with several gasses such as butane, CO2, or propane and also through mechanical separation with heat and pressure (rosin).
  • Rick Simpson Oil (RSO): created by Canadian medical marijuana activist Rick Simpson, RSO is a cannabis-derived oil that has an especially high concentration of marijuana's psychoactive compound, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
  • Rosin: form of cannabis extract produced by applying heat and pressure to raw cannabis or kief/dry sift and collecting the oils that spill out. Comes in various colors and consistencies.
  • Sativa: a species of the cannabis plant defined by its morphology: tall in stature, loose female flowers, and narrow leaves.
  • Shatter: cannabis concentrate with varying degrees of transparency and color profiles typically made with a hydrocarbon solvent and designed for dabbing When warm, it looks like and has a consistency similar to honey. When cold, the consistency is more similar to glass.
  • Strain (cultivar): specific genetic 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.
  • Terpenes: aromatic compounds found in cannabis and most other plants that are responsible for aroma, taste as well as physiological effects.
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): major cannabinoid found primarily in the cannabis plant. Known for producing a psychotropic experience as well as medicinal benefits.
  • Tincture: liquid cannabis extract usually made with alcohol, glycerin, or oil that is often dosed with a dropper. Tinctures can be flavored and include other supportive botanicals.  If placed under the tongue, they are absorbed quickly, and their 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.
  • Topical (salve): cannabis-infused lotions, balms, and oils that are absorbed through the skin for localized relief of pain, soreness, and inflammation.
  • Trichome: resin production glands that sit on the surface 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 as well as terpenes are all produced in these glandular structures.
  • Vaporizer: device used to consume marijuana. It heats either flowers or marijuana-infused oils to a temperature that produces a cannabinoid-infused vapor to inhale. Vaporizing is healthier than smoking since there is no smoke to inhale, but this method still produces near instant effects. With new, more compact models on the market, vaporizing is growing in popularity.

Weed, marijuana, pot, grass, herb, dank: other slang terms for cannabis.


Disclaimer: The information presented here is meant for educational purposes only. Medical decisions should not be made based on advertising. Consult a physician on the benefits and risks of specific medical products.

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