Guide to Cannabis Terms Guide to Cannabis Terms's Guide to frequently-used cannabis terms. Please check back frequenty, as we continue to update this glossary.

Butane Hash Oil 

(See Hash Oil)


Refers to the flower of the female marijuana plant. These fluffy buds, which contain the highest concentrations of active cannabinoids, are harvested and used for recreational or medicinal purposes.


(See Wax)


The chemical compounds that interact with the human body's endocannabinoid system (ECS) to produce a variety of effects, including euphoria and relief from AIDS/HIV, arthritis, cancer, epilepsy, migraines and many other medical issues. To date, nearly 100 cannabinoids have been identified, the best known of which is tetrahydrocannibinol (THC), which produces psychoactive effects.  Research has begun to identify the therapeutic effects of CBN, cannabidiol (CBD) and a growing number of other cannabinoids.

Cannabinol (CBN)

A metabolite of tetrahydrocannibinol (THC) --- as cannabis ages the THC gradually breaks down and becomes CBN. As this conversion progresses, the psychoactive components are diminished, making high-CBN marijuana a frequent choice for those looking for medicinal applications without the “high.”

Cannabidiol (CBD) 

A non-psychotropic cannabinoid believed responsible for many of the medical and therapeutic benefits of cannabis. Because CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in a way that doesn’t produce the euphoric “high” associated with marijuana, strains high in CBD and low in psychoactive THC are an appealing treatment option for patients seeking anti-inflammatory, anti-pain, anti-anxiety, anti-psychotic, and/or anti-spasm effects, without the troubling side effects of lethargy or depression. Strains that contain at least 5 percent CBD are considered “CBD Rich” strains.


The Cannabis plant genus is part of the Cannabaceae family and produces three flowering species:  Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis.  Initially, both hemp and the psychoactive marijuana were classified as subspecies of sativa.  Cross breeding for specific characteristics has made those divisions less distinct over time. Sativa and Indica are used to produce both recreational and medical marijuana. Ruderalis is rarely farmed due to its low THC content and small stature, but its ability to auto flower has led to some crossbreeding.  


Potent cannabinoid solutions made by processing marijuana plants with solvents. The resulting product has very high THC levels and can produce varying products that range from thick sticky oils (BHO) to a moldable form (budder/wax) to resinous shards (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.


A “dab” is a small, single dose of cannabis concentrate, called, “budder,” “wax,” “BHO” (Butane Hash Oil) or “shatter.” Inhaling the vapors from these concentrates, a process known as “dabbing,” results in a more intense euphoria than other methods of using marijuana.

Dab Rig

A dab rig is a specialized type of pipe used for inhaling vapor after cannabis concentrates are exposed to extreme heat, usually delivered with a butane torch. 


Cannabis decarboxylation is a process that uses gentle heat to release carbon dioxide (CO2) and convert THCA to Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for the euphoric effects of marijuana. When marijuana is used for edibles and medicants, standard processing doesn’t generate enough heat for decarboxylation---so cannabis is heated in a specific manner prior to these uses. Decarbing also turns Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA) into CBD, making it’s medicinal properties available, as well. 


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.


Medicated edible goods that have been infused with cannabis extracts. Options include baked goods, like cookies, cakes and brownies, They are commonly baked goods such as cookies and brownies, a wide range of flavored beverages, and candies. Dispensaries also sell marijuana-infused butters or oils for patients 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. Recommended doses range from 10 to 25mg of THC per serving.


Endocannabinoids and their receptors, called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), while found primarily in the brain and immune system, are also found throughout the body -- in organs, connective tissues and glands. They respond to cannabinoids introduced from cannabis plants and can affect appetite, the sensation of pain, mood, memory and other physiological functions. As research of the ECS continues, additional receptor sites are being documented.  

Entourage Effect

Characterizes how different chemical compounds found in cannabis work together to amplify or moderate the impact of each for a combined effect.  For example, cannabis with active terpenes has been found to induce more psychoactive reaction than pure tetrahydrocannibinol (THC). Ongoing research is investigating the value of matching terpenoids to treat, among other things, pain, inflammation, bacterial and fungal infections, cancer, epilepsy, anxiety and depression. 


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.


Like kief, hash is a purified resin made from marijuana trichomes. To make hash, heat and pressure are applied to the kief, which ruptures the resin glands and changes its taste and effects, turning the end product into a dense block or strip. 

Hash Oil/Butane Hash Oil (BHO) 

A potent concentrate of cannabinoids made by processing marijuana in its plant form with a solvent, usually butane, to create a highly concentrated, sticky product with high THC levels.  Also referred to as honey oil, dabs/dabbing, earwax or shatter, depending on the processing method.  


Any cannabis strain that was taken from its native homeland and propagated in another geographical location.


Hemp refers to industrial products made from fibrous male cannabis plant stems, including biofuels, paper, rope and line, construction materials and textiles used for clothing and household linens. However, hemp also can refer to food products that are not intended for use as a drug. Hemp usually has very low psychoactive properties with THC levels of lower than 1 percent. 


A plant that is genetically a cross between one or more separate strains of cannabis. Most cannabis strains available through state medical marijuana dispensaries today are actually hybrids of the sativa and indica species. Some strains are sativa dominant (higher CBD levels), and others are indica dominant (higher THC Levels), and some are 50-50 hybrids.  Strains have been developed to be meet grower needs for indoor vs. outdoor varieties, length of the flowering stage, resistance to mold and pests, and aesthetic characteristics (odor, color and potency). 


System of gardening that does not use soil. Plants are grown in water and receive their nutrients from the addition of solutions rather than soil. For growers, hydroponic advantages include more control over nutrient intake and stability. In terms of marijuana production, plants grown hydroponically are sometimes said to have cleaner, more distinct flavors.


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.


Also known as “pollen,”  “dry sieve” or simply “sift,” keif generally refers to the unprocessed trichomes that fall off the marijuana plant.  Because trichomes contain the majority of a plant’s cannabinoids, many people collect these concentrated crystals and sprinkle them on top of their joints or pipes to enhance the potency and flavor of inhaled cannabis. Others prefer to smoke their kief solo.  Those who try this method should be aware that it can produce a far more intense high than is delivered in a typical joint or pipe.


Line of cannabis plants that hail from the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Kush strains are indicas that have a unique aroma. While different crossbreeds breeds are unique, their aromas are generally described as earthy and piney with hints of citrus and sweetness. 


Refers to a 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 varieties we see today. Landrace strains are usually named after their native region, like Afghan, Thai and Hawaiian.  Landraces often have hints of their ancestors in their crossbreed names.


General term for female cannabis plants or their dried flowers. The word Marijuana itself is a slang term for cannabis, appropriated in the early 20th century for the U.S. Marijuana Tax Act in 1937. The term was reinforced as official when cannabis was placed as “marijuana” on the Schedule I Narcotics list as part of the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) in 1970.  Since then, any species of the Cannabis Genus, including hemp, has been identified loosely as marijuana.


Term originated to describe Southern California's Ocean Grown Kush. Most OGs are variations of the original OG Kush genetics or are also ocean grown on the West Coast.


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.


Refers to a pre-rolled marijuana cigarette or joint. Many dispensaries have pre-rolls available for purchase. 


Low-THC cannabis variety that is primarily selected by breeders for its CBD-rich genetics. Unlike Sativa and Incica, which use light cycles to flower, ruderalis is an "autoflowering" variety, meaning it flowers with age. Originating in Russia, ruderalis is a hardy plant that can survive harsh climates. 


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.


Shatter is smooth, amber-colored, translucent and solid. It is the purest and most potent cannabis concentrate because it involves a second extraction process that removes fats, lipids and waxes. This can result in a THC content of more than 80 percent. However, the additional processing also means that terpenes, which provide fragrance and may have some therapeutic properties, are lost. 

Slang Terms for Cannabis

Aunt Mary, Blunt, Bud, Flower, Ganja, Grass, Herb, Joint, Marijuana, Mary Jane, MJ, Pot, Reefer, Roach, Weed. There are many more slang terms, which can vary by region. 


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.

Terpenes's Guide to frequently-used cannabis terms. Check back, as we regularly update this marijuana glossary.

Chemical compounds that give marijuana strains their distinctive aromas. Terpenes, called terpenoids after they’ve been denatured through oxidation, are found in the resin and essential oils of plants and are responsible for their scent, flavor and color.  In cannabis, these oily compounds are secreted in the plant’s glandular trichomes More than 200 specific terpenes have been identified in marijuana plants, with a handful of them currently being studied for the 

Tetrahydrocannibinol (THC) 

The best known and most abundant cannabinoid in marijuana plants. THC also is the component in marijuana that is responsible for its psychoactive effects, or "high." Also known as delta-9-tetracannabinol, 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.


Cannabis Tinctures, often preferred by those who cannot tolerate inhalation methods of using marijuana, are made by using an alcohol bath to create a liquid extract of THC and other cannabinoids. A few drops of concentrated serum administered sublingually (under the tongue) work rapidly, usually within 15 minutes -- much more quickly than other cannabis edibles. When added to beverages, they take longer to take effect. 


Marijuana topicals are cannabis-infused medicants, usually in the form of penetrating creams, oils or salves, that are applied directly to the skin to relieve pain and inflammation. While there remains some debate as to whether topical cannabis applications reach the central nervous system, it is generally agreed that most do not produce psychoactive effects, rendering them safe to use in circumstances that require mental acuity. 


Cannabis trichomes are tiny resin production glands that appear as mushroom-like crystals covering the bud, and to a lesser extent the leaves and stalk, of the marijuana plant. Trichomes are also the source of terpenes, which give marijuana strains their distinct, powerful odors. It is also within trichomes that production occurs for cannabinoids, like tetrahydrocannibinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN). 


Marijuana vaporization, or “vaping,” has become a trend among cannabis users because it provides an alternative to inhaling charred plant matter and all of its associated toxic tars, carcinogens and respiratory irritants. Vaporizers heat the plant material to the point at which combustion begins. There are a wide range of stationary vaporizers for at-home use, as well as personal, portable vaporizing devices which can be taken anywhere and create vapor from either finely-ground marijuana or with solvent-extracted concentrates (wax, shatter, oils).


Cannabis Wax, or Budder, is cannabis oil that has been whipped over a hot water bath until it is yellow and chunky. Based on processing, the result can vary from a gooey product (budder) to a soft, brittle texture (crumble or honeycomb). Was retains more terpenes and tends to be more flavorful than shatter, but has lower THC levels.