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Cannabis 101

Terminology

Aeroponics:

A method of growing cannabis suspended in air 

Bud:

The actual flower of cannabis plants. Harvested, cured, and use for both recreational and medicinal purposes. Can be smoked, infused with foods, or extracted for cannabis concentrates. These are the fluffy parts that are harvested and used for recreational or medicinal purposes as they contain the highest concentrations of active cannabinoids.

Cannabidiol (CBD):

Cannabidiol is one of over 60 cannabinoids (cannabis molecules) found in the marijuana plant. In recent years, CBD has become very popular for its many medical benefits and can help treat nausea, cancer, arthritis, seizures, pain and many other ailments and conditions. Unlike THC, CBD has no psychoactive properties and is therefore very useful for those who want the medical benefits of marijuana but not the “high”. Cannabidiol can be extracted from the marijuana plant and can be processed into a variety of different medications including topicals, oils, and tinctures. There are also a variety of high CBD marijuana strains that contain small levels of THC, which will greatly reduce the psychoactive effects when consumed. 

Cannabinoids:

The chemical compounds found in the Cannabis plant that offers a variety of health benefits. Cannabinoids are a large class of compounds that act on the brain’s cannabinoid receptors in cells that repress neurotransmitter release. 

Cannabis:

The scientific name, or genus, of marijuana. Three species of the plant: Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis with Sative and Indica being used for both recreational and medical marijuana use. Ruderalis is rarely farmed due to having a naturally lower overall THC content.

Concentrates:

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 THC 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. 

Dab/Dabbing:

A dab is a term that refers to a smaller quantity of concentrate, like hash oil, wax or shatter. It’s consumed by “dabbing” with a heat source and a rig to produce vapor, which is then inhaled.

Dispensary:

Dispensary is a general term used to refer to any location where a patient or consumer can legitimately and safely access cannabis, whether the business is technically an access point, pick-up location. co-op, collective or any other version of a legal cannabis distributor.

Edibles:

Edibles are medicated edible goods that have been infused with cannabis extracts. They are commonly baked goods such as cookies and brownies, but options as varied as flavored coffee drinks, bread, and candies exist as well. Dispensaries also often sell marijuana-infused butters or oils for patients or consumers to make their own edibles. Consuming edibles means the active components from the extracts require longer to take effect as they need to be absorbed through the digestive system

Endocannabinoid System:

A collection of cell receptors and corresponding molecules found throughout the body that helps to regulate some bodily functions such as cognitive processes, appetite, pain management, mood and memory, among many others. Though they all provide specific functions unique to their location in the body, the end goal is always the same – homeostasis.

Flower:

The flowers of cannabis plants refer to the hairy, often sticky bud or parts of the plant that are harvested and used to consume in a variety of marijuana products. Technically speaking, they’re the reproductive organs of the plant and when fertilized by a male plant, seeds will be produced.

Germination:

The start of any marijuana plant growth cycle is called germination, specifically referring to the period when a seed cracks and sprouts a seedling. This process is intentionally triggered to force cannabis seeds out of their dormant state and back into the normal growth life cycle. Germination rates average around 80%, which translates to eight out of ten seeds typically successfully germinating in most attempts.

Hash/Hash Oil:

Hash or hashish is the gathering of trichomes via a dry sieve or water extraction method, which end product can be pressed and ultimately consumed. This powder is potent, as trichomes contain high levels of cannabinoids (typically THC or CBD), the active part of the cannabis plant. Countries like Afghanistan are known for their hash processes that allow the product to burn more effectively. Hash oil or “honey oil” is a comparable product that’s created through a solvent-based chemical process.

Hemp:

Hemp comes from Cannabis sativa, the same plant as marijuana, but only contains a small amount of the psychoactive ingredient THC. It’s a product that can be commercially produced to make numerous products like paper, rope, food, building materials, fuel and more. Although it’s known to be one of the earliest domesticated plants in the world, it’s currently being cultivated in over 30 countries across the world and is estimated to be a multi-billion dollar industry within the next decade thanks to its potential to be a renewable substitute for fossil fuels. Unfortunately, there is still a federal ban on hemp production across the United States, although some states have been given permission to grow commercially or for research and development reasons. One acre of hemp is equivalent to that of 4 acres of trees used to produce the same amount of paper.

Hybrid:

A hybrid is a cross between two genetically different strains of cannabis. Hybrids can happen randomly or purposefully, but are typically done to mix two or more preferred traits of a plant to make another powerful combination. Most strains found in dispensaries are hybrids and ultimately create a diverse menu for the cannabis consumer.

Hydroponics:

Hydroponics is a popular way to grow marijuana that utilizes a soilless system. Typically speaking, this type of gardening circulates water and nutrients to plants roots which allows one to have more control over the grow process often resulting in better end products.

Indica:

Indica is one of the three classifications of cannabis, alongside sativa and ruderalis. Compared to a sativa plant, Indica plants are smaller, broader and produce more bud. The majority of indicas will offer the user a very relaxing body high, which can help some people with chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia and more. Having originated in Asia and the Middle East, this popular species include some of the more famous kush strains like Bubba Kush and OG Kush.

Joint:

A joint is a rolled cigarette filled with marijuana. Typically speaking, one would roll a joint with very thin clean-burning rolling papers. This specific way to smoke bud is popular because it’s easy to roll (almost) anywhere, portable and effortless to discard. There are countless ways to roll a spliff, doobie, cone, etc., including smaller pinners and self-described fatties.

Kief:

Kief is a result of separating trichomes from the marijuana plant. Often referred to as dry sieve hash thanks to the use of screens to facilitate the extraction, kief holds the most amounts of cannabinoids, making it potent and a very pure form of concentrate. Technically, water hash or oils are purer simply because it’s close to impossible to fully detach all of the trichomes form the actual plant through a water-less extraction method.

Kush:

Kush is a specific indica strain of marijuana, thought to have originated from the Hindu Kush mountain range in Afghanistan and Pakistan where it has been cultivated for hundreds of years. There is also an American version, called OG Kush, which is also said to have a similar lineage. A kush plant is usually smaller in stature, but always carries a unique aroma with typical relaxing or sedating effects. Some describe it as earthly, while some strains offer a distinct sweet or citrus scent. This very popular strain is available in varieties including Hindu Kush, Master Kush, OG Kush, Bubba Kush, Purple Kush and so many more.

Marijuana:

Marijuana is a slang term for the female cannabis plants or their dried flowers. The dried flowers, unique only to female cannabis plants, contain the cannabinoids like THC and can be used either medically or recreationally.

Medical:

Medical marijuana is a term in reference to the use of cannabis to treat chronic pain, nausea, anxiety, sleep apnea and more. Although there are varying opinions on the actual health benefits to consuming cannabis, many scientific studies have been released linking the plant to positive effects in patients. When used medically, marijuana can be consumed via smoking, vaporizing, eating extracts or using topicals like lotions or sprays. Although its use recreationally is not legal in most of the United States, many states have passed legislation for legalized medical marijuana. Within these states where medical marijuana is legal, a doctor has to prescribe a medical marijuana card to a patient in order to enter and purchase product from a medical marijuana dispensary. Oftentimes, these shops offer one on one consultations and a variety of products available at cheaper prices than recreational marijuana.

Mycotoxin: 

A secondary metabolite of a microfungus that is capable of causing death or illness in humans and other animals. Common for test results.

Nectar:

Not commonly used, nectar often refers to the process of making hash oil only from flower nugs, rather than trim.

Oil:

Oil is a shortened term for hash oil (or butane honey oil, wax, shatter, budder), which is a marijuana extract and golden in color. Users can smoke oil, use it in a vaporizer or eat them in edibles.

Ounce:

28 grams of dried cannabis flowers.

Pesticides:

Chemical or organic substances that might be used on cannabis plants to protect against insects and/or fungi. Due to the Schedule I status of cannabis, as well as the lack of research and understanding, there are no federal regulations on the application of pesticides on cannabis. Some pesticides commonly used on cannabis can be highly toxic. States address pesticide content by mandating test results and examining/prohibiting specific pesticides. 

Phenotype:

Phenotype is a term mostly heard when growing cannabis and refers to the general physical characteristics such as height, branch structure, color, etc. Every strain has two parent plants, including a male and female. Like in most breeding of organisms, when a male plant fertilizes a female plant, the seeds that are produced will include genetic phenotypes from both plants. Because people like varying traits from different strains, growers can make a specific strain based on those preferred characteristics.

Pistil:

Pistils are the hair-like structures that often range from orange to red in color. Pistils are only found on female plants and take on a large role during the reproduction cycle. These tiny hairs are found on the flower or bud and can be very colorful depending on how mature the plant is. A pistil collects pollen from the male plant when it’s being fertilized, but will not impact the flower’s flavor or overall effectiveness.

Pressed hash:

Pressed hash is made from compressed resin glands (or trichomes) after the initial extraction period and is brown in color. It’s made with large amounts of pressure or heat with the intent of making the product dense to keep it fresher longer. Pressed hash is traditionally made in countries including Morocco, Lebanon and Afghanistan and can be consumed in typical marijuana tools like a pipe, bong, vaporizer or in a joint.

Processing:

To harvest, dry, cure, trim and separate parts of the marijuana plant by manual or mechanical means

Recreational:

Recreational drug use is used to intentionally change one’s state of consciousness in order to produce feelings of elation. In the cannabis industry (specifically in states like Colorado and Washington), recreational marijuana can be purchased at a recreational dispensary by anyone (in state or out of state) who is 21 years or older with a valid government-issued ID.

Resin:

Resin refers to the trichomes that are used to create hash. It’s also a term that references the sticky residue that amasses on the inside of a bowl (or other marijuana paraphernalia) after smoking product in it again and again. Resin can be scraped from the inside of the piece to remove a clog – or alternatively smoked, but this is usually done as a last resort because it contains lower THC levels and impurities.

Ruderalis:

Ruderalis is one of the three main variations of cannabis, including indica and sativa. Although this plant is less common than the other two and grows to approximately 2 feet high, it is known to autoflower with age, versus with a light cycle. Ruderalis is very high in cannabidiol or CBD.

Sativa:

Sativa is a shorter, less scientific name for the specific species of cannabis plant. This variety began along the equator in areas and can be traced back to parts of the Middle East, Asia and South America. The plant typically matures at a slower rate than other species, but tends to grow a lot taller as well (over 5 feet) with loose branches and narrow leaves – often delivering more product as a direct result. Sativas are well known for their energetic and uplifting cerebral effects, often to treat depression and encourage creativity and amiability. Having said this, consuming a sativa can sometimes increase anxiety in users, causing racing thoughts and paranoia.

Shatter:

Refers to the consistency of certain types of concentrates, shatter being a brittle, glass-like consistency. Also used as a slang term for BHO (Butane Hash Oil)

Strain:

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.

Solvent:

A solvent is just a liquid in which something is dissolved to form a solution. In extraction, a solvent is a liquid used to separate the psychoactive compound THC from the cannabis flower.

Terpene:

Terpenes are any group of hydrocarbons found in the essential oils of a plant. Terpenes are chemical compounds found in cannabis that produce the distinct flavor and smell of the flower. In cannabis, terpenes are produced by secretory cells found within glandular trichomes. These specific compounds are accountable for the hundreds of variances between strains including flavor and smell. Because terpenes are so sensitive to low temperatures, it’s imperative to keep cannabis in cooler settings. Most recently, terpenes have entered into the medical marijuana arena to aid particular ailments or issues.

THC:

the most well-known and abundant cannabinoid found in cannabis strains. Responsible for the psychoactive effects, or ‘high’, it was first isolated in 1964 and was thought to be a natural deterrent to protect the plant against pests. Effective for treating a range of medical conditions.

THCa:

In fresh cannabis – cannabinoids are initially produced as acidic cannabinoids – meaning there is a carboxylic acid functional group on the molecule’s backbone. When heat is applied to an acidic cannabinoid – this carboxylic acid functional group is driven off – and the molecule is converted to its ‘neutral’ counterpart in a process known as decarboxylation. In the case of THCA-a (THC-acid) –heat converts THC-a to delta-9 THC. It should be noted that acidic cannabinoids are not physiologically active in the same way their neutral counterparts are active. In other words, THC is psychotropic and ‘gets you really high’ whereas THC-a, while full of benefits, is not considered psychotropic, and thus, does not ‘get you high.’

Tincture:

A tincture is a liquid form of marijuana, typically made from glycerin (sweeter) or alcohol (harsher). The majority of tinctures are flavored and distributed via an eyedropper under the tongue for faster absorption into the body. Some people relate tincture highs to that of an edible, but without consuming actual food. After taking a tincture directly, a user will typically feel its results in a shorter time period than that of consuming an edible.

Topical:

A topical is any type of cannabis products, including lotions, balms or creams that are applied to the outside of a user’s body to help with medicinal issues like body pain, skin problems, etc. Although these lotions showcase specific cannabinoids extracts like THC, topicals won’t actually get you high. The product is absorbed through the skin, so many users like the less aggressive approach to consuming marijuana.

Trichome:

Trichomes are crystallized glands that produce resin on a marijuana plant. Often referred to as “sticky little hairs”, these glands are not actually hairs or crystals (although they’re still very beautiful close-up). Instead, they’re specific parts of the plant that carry the majority of cannabinoids (THC, CBD, etc.) and cover the plants major surfaces. Under a microscope, trichomes look like mini mushrooms, with each section providing certain value to the plant. The head is most valuable and is frequently turned into a quality sieve or water hash.

Trim:

After marijuana plants are mature, they’re harvested within a certain time frame to keep the product fresh. Throughout the growth cycle and during this specific time period after the plant has been harvested, a grower will trim the plant of its leaves, focusing mostly on the remaining buds. Specifically speaking, trim is defined as the excess snipping of leaves from buds of marijuana plants. Note that leftover product can still be used to make extractions, tinctures, hash and edibles, so growers and trimmers alike can always increase sales with a larger product offering.

Transdermal:

A cannabis preparation infused in an adhesive patch that is placed directly on the skin and able to uptake into the bloodstream. Transdermals release the medication infused in them over longer periods of time and, unlike topicals, can get the consumer high and are not site-specific. Uptake ranges, but the effects can last 8-12 hours. They are a good option for discreetly medicating over long periods of time, or when oral methods are unavailable.

Vaporizer:

A vaporizer is a device used to consume marijuana. It heats either flowers or marijuana-infused oils 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.

Wax:

Wax is a concentrated form of marijuana that’s created when the plant is dissolved into a solvent. It’s considered to be a lot more potent than smoking regular flower because it packs a big punch of THC (the psychoactive ingredient) each time it’s consumed. Wax is often opaque and is favored by many because it’s easy to handle and can be used with a rig or on top of a bowl for one serious hit.

Whole Plant:

A term describing the product used during extraction. Whole plant is usually extracted as fresh frozen to extract all the ‘live’ terpenes and cannabinoids.