My Cannabis Dictionary: A Lexicon for the Marijuana Industry

As the cannabis industry continues to grow and mature, cultivators, processors, dispensaries and customers are all expanding their vocabulary to ensure when we use a specific cannabis term – we’re all on the same page as to its definition.

It’s also important for all of us to be educated, and to educate to responsibly advance the Cannabis industry. In the words of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

To build this extensive, cannabis glossary, we’ve reached deep into the pot to research a wide range of terms and definitions. We’re all in this together, so if there’s a word you think we should add, let us know in the comments!


Absorption

The journey and transfer of a given substance from the site it was administered to the bloodstream where it is made available to the body.

Absorption Methods

Under the tongue (sublingual), topically through the skin, metabolized in the liver or inhaled from vaporized or combusted cannabinoids.

Bioavailability

The percent and rate that cannabinoids (or any other compound) are absorbed into the body and made available within the bloodstream or intended physiological site.

Biomass

Biomass is plant or animal material used for energy production, or in various industrial processes as raw material for use in manufacturing a range of products. It includes wood, waste from farm crops, food processing waste, animal material, or human waste from sewage facilities.

Biosynthesis

The process by which a living organism (including cells) produce complex molecules or substances from simpler molecules or materials. Examples of biosynthesis include photosynthesis (light-energy into glucose) and the conversion of CBGA to THCA or CBDA.

Broad Spectrum

This term refers to an oil, vape or other cannabis product that contains more than one cannabinoid but does not contain all the terpenes, cannabinoids and flavonoids native to the plant before processing.

Broad Spectrum cannabis products often contain various ratios of THC and CBD, and terpenes such as Myrcene and Limonene. This is sometimes preferred to isolates so the customer can experience a partial entourage effect.

Buds

The botanical growth found on a hemp plant that usually becomes a trichome covered flower. A cluster of buds is referred to as a “cola.”

Bucking

Bucking is a term used in the cannabis industry that refers to the process of removing the stems from cannabis flowers. Bucking helps prevent damage to large crown cannabis buds. Proper bucking will also reduce the loss of trichomes (or keif.)

Bucking machines have greatly increased de-stemming efficiency and can save cultivators hundreds of work-hours a month. It also saves time and reduces errors in preparing cannabis plants for processing.

Cannabis

A plant genus from the Cannabaceae family that’s indigenous to central Asia, especially India. Commonly recognized species include Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica and Cannabis ruderalis. (Although ruderalis is often argued to be a sub-species of sativa.)

Cannabis sativa and indica are known for their psychoactive properties. Cannabis has long been used in medicinal, religious and recreational use cases. Hemp, a subspecies of Cannabis sativa, is used to manufacture industrial rope, oils, textiles and more.

(But you already knew what cannabis was, amirite?)

Cannabinoid

Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD are the chemical compounds secreted by cannabis flowers that provide relief to an array of symptoms including pain, nausea, anxiety, and inflammation. We currently believe there are over 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. 

Cannabinoids bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system that exists in all vertebrates. 

Cannabinoid Vapor Points

The temperature a given cannabinoid boils and turns to vapor. The vapor point (or boiling point) of each desired cannabinoid should be considered when setting the temperature for your vaping device.

Popular cannabinoid vapor points include:

  • THC – Boils at 157°C, 315°F
  • CBD – Boils between 160-180°C, 320-356°F
  • CBN – Boils at 185°C, 365°F
  • CBC – Boils at 220°C, 365°F

Keep in mind, solvents, terpenes and flavonoids all have their own vapor points as well.

Cannabeer / Weed Beer

Cannabis-infused beer. After alcohol is first removed from the beer, the beverage is infused with a flavorless, colorless THC or CBD isolate in liquid form. The compounds are generally nano-emulsified, which breaks down the particles small enough to be water-soluble and relatively stable once mixed with the beer. 

The nano-emulsification also makes the cannabinoids more bioavailable, which improves the rate at which the cannabinoid effects take hold.

Cannabutter

Cannabutter is cannabis-infused butter! Butter, like other types of fat, makes a great transport system for cannabinoids. Most commonly used for baking edibles. Cannabutter can be homemade or purchased at medical marijuana or recreational marijuana dispensaries. Cannabutter can be stored in the refrigerator for up to six months.

CBC (Cannabichromene)

Much like CBD, CBC is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that can assist patients with inflammation and pain relief. Although very commonly found, it’s usually in very small quantities.

CBCA (Cannabichromenic Acid)

CBCA is one of the three most abundant cannabinoids, even if coming in a low third place behind THCA and CBDA. CBCA is formed within the trichome along side it’s cannabinoid counterparts and decarbs into the cannabinoid CBC.

CBD (Cannabidiol)

CBD is the second most commonly used cannabinoid found in cannabis plants. It is not psychoactive and can even counter the psychoactive effects of THC. CBD has been effectively used to treat epilepsy, autism as well as other conditions.

CBDA (Cannabidiolic Acid)

Produced by the Cannabis plant and found suspended within the resin that is secreted by the trichomes (cannabis resin glands). Scientifically referred to as cannabidiolic acid. CBDA is the natural state of “CBD” before heat has been applied. (decarboxylation) CBDA is being researched for its anti inflammatory properties.

CBG (Cannabigerol)

CBG is one of the rarest and most expensive cannabinoids on the market. CBG, like all other cannabinoids, comes from CBGA. One of the reasons CBG is so rare, is because CBGA is usually converted into THCA and CBDA before the cannabis plant is harvested.

CBG is known to have a great deal of health benefits, including anti inflammatory properties. It is also able to interact directly with CB receptors without intoxicating effects. (Where CBD interacts indirectly with the endocannabinoid system.)

CBGA (Cannabigerolic Acid)

CBGA is the grandparent of the cannabinoids you know and love, THC and CBD. CBGA becomes THCA or CBDA through an enzymatic processes within the trichome as the plant grows and matures. Through biosynthese (the natural introduction of an enzyme), CBGA will become varying concentrations of THCA, CBDA or CBCA.

Read our full article on CBGA →

CBN (Cannabinol)

CBN or Cannabinol, is the byproduct of THC if it is allowed to break down due to exposure to heat, light or both. The process by which THC breaks down into CBN is called oxidation.

Cloning

A process by which cannabis cultivators replicate a particular species or strain of Marijuana through precision cutting and trimming of a healthy, “mother” plant. Rather than waiting weeks for seeds to germinate, through precision cutting and trimming, you can create more plants with identical genetic characteristics and keep your best produce fruitful for years. No seeds required.

Cola

A cluster of buds, usually found on a female hemp plant.

Curing

Curing cannabis is the next step after drying and can increase cannabis potency. When done properly, curing can help enhance flavors and the quality of vaping aromas (terpenes). Chlorophyll also breaks down during curing, additionally improving the scent and vapors.

As a curing rule of thumb, cultivators will keep freshly harvested cannabis in temperatures between 60 and 70°F and humidity level between 45-55%. This assists the conversion of non-psychoactive cannabinoids to THCA allowing your plant to gain potency.

CO2 Extraction

CO2 extraction uses low temperatures and high pressure to force carbon dioxide to change from its gaseous state to a liquid. CO2 in liquid form is then used as a solvent to pull the desired cannabinoids from the marijuana or hemp plant. This includes pulling the plant’s waxes, cannabinoids and terpenes.

CO2 extraction doesn’t carry some of the same dangers associated with other solvents (such as Butane). As a result, consumers benefit from a premium-quality, clean oil with no toxic by-products. As an added benefit, the CO2 extraction process kills bacteria, mold, mildew and any remaining insects. This results in a safer product for patients and consumers.

Dabbing

“Dabbing,” smoking or vaping concentrated marijuana extracts commonly known as “wax” or “hash” has become more popular because of it’s higher potency. The side effects are also likely to be more intense because the THC concentration is much higher than that of vaping cured flower.

Medical or adult use cannabis users with little or no experience should consider avoiding this method of cannabis delivery until they better understand the effects of cannabis on their body as everyone’s endocannabinoid system is different.

Dank

An increasingly popular term that refers to “very high quality.” Just as “Dank Memes” are damn good memes, “Dank Weed” has been dried and cured perfectly, commanding higher prices for premium aroma and effects. If you bought your cannabis from a licensed dispensary, it’s very likely you have some dank medicine.

Decarboxylation

A thermo-chemical reaction that releases carbon dioxide and changes THCA to THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis. When decarbing, smoking or vaping, the heat causes THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) to lose 1 carbon and 2 oxygen atoms.

The resulting molecule is THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol,) which is absorbed into our bodies via our cannabinoid receptors and then interacting with our natural endocannabinoid system producing the desired effects.

When decarboxylating cannabis for edibles or extractions, we must activate these psychoactive cannabinoids on our own before consumption takes place. One common method of decarbing weed is to bake ground cannabis flowers around 220° for about 45min. Some choose to bake at lower temperatures for a longer duration to help better preserve terpenes.

De-carb-oxy-lation. – Quite literally removing (some) carbon and oxygen from the THCA cannabinoid.

Distillate

In short, a distillate is a product resulting from the distillation process. From a cannabis processing perspective, a distillate is a refined cannabis oil that has targeted specific cannabinoids by exploiting their various boiling points.

Cannabis distillation can be used to create distillates that contain some terpenes and other beneficial cannabinoids. For those that do not like the aroma of terpenes or want the benefits of a single cannabinoid (such as CBD without trace amounts of THC), a distillate can be further refined into an isolate.

Distillation

Distillation is a refinement process by which components are separated using their unique boiling points. Evaporation and condensation are used to create a distillate or isolate. Often used to create cannabis oils focusing on a specific set of cannabinoids or even a single cannabinoid (isolate.)

Dronabinol (Marinol)

FDA approved THC, synthetically derived and administered to reduce nausea, vomiting and pain for cancer patients. Marinol is also prescribed to help increase appetite in HIV patients.

It is unclear why dronabinol is Federally legal to prescribe, while naturally occurring THC is classified as a Schedule 1 drug with no redeeming value or medical uses. Dronabinol is more costly to manufacture and does not include the other therapeutic cannabinoids found in natural cannabis.

Drying

Drying is the process that occurs after harvesting and overlaps with curing. Drying could be considered the first phase of curing. Taking the time to dry your harvested cannabis properly has many benefits such as reducing the opportunity for mold and bacteria to grow and contaminate your product.

Most importantly, taking the time to properly dry and cure your buds will greatly extend their flavors and shelf life.

Edibles

We’re pretty sure you already know what edibles are! Magic brownies, pot cookies, space cakes – if it goes in your stomach and has THC, it’s an edible! Edibles can (and often do) contain other cannabinoids as well. Although edibles frequently refer to solid food products, infused beverages have been adding to the variety of edibles. See cannabeer.

Edibles take longer to become bioavailable and once their effects take hold, they last much longer than cannabinoids that are inhaled. This makes edibles perfect for an extended-release effect.

Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

Found in humans and all vertebrates, the endocannabinoid system helps balance a wide range of biological processes. Endocannabinoids are manufactured by the body, and naturally bind to and interact with cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body and nervous system.

The cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant interact with the ECS to affect and regulate pain, memory, stress, appetite and other biological processes.

Extraction

Extraction is the process of dissolving and/or removing the cannabinoids, terpenes and trichomes from cannabis plant. The extracted cannabinoids are then use in tinctures, extracts and concentrates. The most common methods for extraction are:

  • Alcohol (Ethanol) as a solvent. Commonly used to make tinctures. After dissolving the cannabis’ cannabinoids, the alcohol is then evaporated. One of the downsides of using Ethanol Extraction is it can also dissolve water soluble components of the plant such as the chlorophyll.
  • CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) as a solvent. Commonly used to make hash-oils, vaps, and salves. Bringing carbon dioxide to a supercritical, liquid state allows a processor to center-in on specific compounds. One downside to CO2 extraction is the upfront cost of the equipment, and maintaining safety as there is a lot of pressure involved!
  • BHO (Butane or Propane) as a solvent. Used to make similar extracts as CO2, including butane hash oil. Cannabis is mixed with heated, pressurized butane. After the cannabinoids are dissolved, the butane or propane is then evaporated. One downside is that you are working with a highly explosive, pressurized system. Danger Will Robinson! Not to mention that uncombusted butane is toxic to humans. Still, Butane is superior at dissolving terpenes, making BHO extraction ideal for those highly focused on preserving flavors.
  • Grinding and sieving (Solvent-Free) extraction. Commonly used to collect trichome heads (kief) and make blocks of hash. The most basic of all extraction methods. This method removes the cannabinoid-rich trichomes from the bud by means of grinding or the use of a very fine sieve.

There are other methods of extraction. Be sure to use the one that best fits your processing operation’s budget, capabilities and product offering.

Hashish / Hash

Hash is a cannabis concentrate composed of compressed or purified resin glands (trichomes) found on the cannabis plant. The “kief” is collected from dried cannabis plants either by hand (sieving), by mechanical agitation, or by submerging cannabis plants in icy water and then using small sieves to remove the trichomes or crystals.

The kief is typically pressed into “cakes,” or blocks, which can then be vaporized and inhaled. Almost always, Hash has a much higher concentration of THC and other cannabinoids than vaping just the ground buds.

Hemp

Hemp (also, Industrial Hemp) is a subspecies of Cannabis sativa that is bred and tested to ensure it contains less than .03% THC by dry weight. Industrial hemp is used to make rope, paper, wax, and cloth for furniture or clothes. Sterilized hemp seeds can be made into oil for shampoo, soap, or body lotion. The seeds can also be mixed in with food for animals.

Homogenizing

Homogenization takes a prepared solution and evenly disperses its cannabinoids, which are often grouped together. Before homogenization, terpene and cannabinoid atoms from the carrier oil exist in random order. This results in “hot spots” and irregular doses. 

After homogenization, these newly formed molecules are evenly dispersed throughout the end product. Homogenized products offer more consistent and precise dosing.

Hybrids

A hybrid of Cannabis Indica and Sativa strains. Used as a balance between calming pain relief, while still supporting daily activities.

Hydroponic Farming

“Hydroponic cannabis” simply refers to plants grown using a nutrient-water solution and an inert growing medium rather than soil. “Hydroponic cannabis” simply refers to cannabis plants grown using a nutrient-water solution instead of dirt and soil.

Hydroponic cultivation solutions reduce pests and can out-product soil-based farming. It’s also generally more expensive.

Ice Water Exaction / Ice Water Hash

Ice water hash (or bubble hash) involves agitating and stirring cannabis in a container of extremely cold water to freeze and break off the cannabinoid-filled trichomes from the plant. It is then strained to separate the resin-filled trichomes, making them available to press into hash.

Indica

A species of Cannabis known for it’s more docile and relaxing psychoactive effects. Often prescribed for pain, PTSD, anxiety and general sedation.

Isolate

Cannabis oil that has been refined down to a single cannabinoid is an isolate. CBD is a popular cannabinoid that is often isolated from all other cannabinoids, terpenes, and THC through a refinement process. For those wanting the benefits of a broader spectrum, see distillate.

Legal-For-Trade Scales / NTEP Scales

Legal for Trade scales are approved by the National Type Evaluation Program (NTEP) and comply with the NIST Handbook 44. All that fancy jargon is short for – the scales work accurately, consistently, and adhere to the rigorous standards set by The Committee on Specifications and Tolerances.

If you are selling product by weight, you need a legal for trade scale. It’s an easy way to prevent fraud. And in the Marijuana industry, every gram counts!

Shop NTEP Scales →

Marijuana

A slang term synonymous with cannabis. The term Marijuana is sometimes considered controversial, however the cannabis community has been reclaiming the term.

Fortunately, there are plenty of other words we like to use for the magic hemp plant, including ganja, tea, maryjane, weed (because it can grow just about anywhere), kush, Maui wowie, reindeer dust, oregano… we’ll let you finish out the list with your favorites.

Micro Dosing

Doses of THC (or other psychoactive compounds) that are small enough to avoid the psychological effects, but still offer therapeutic benefits. Micro dosing also encourages your brain to increase it’s natural cannabinoid receptors.

Pre-Rolls

Although we don’t recommend people smoke medical cannabis (vaping is safer, more efficient use of flower, and more flavorful), we know some folks will anyway. A pre-roll is just that. A joint that is packed with a dispensary’s flower and ready to go!

Some people are skeptical of pre-rolls, worried they were made with lower quality bud or processing leftovers. However this is infrequently the case. Pre-rolls are convenient and professionally assembled by your dispensary. If it’s time for your next dose of medicine, light’em if you got’em!

Potency

As it pertains to medical and adult use cannabis, potency is how we measure the effects of cannabis in terms of how much of a given cannabinoid is needed to reach a desired effect or intensity. In other words, it takes more low-potency cannabis to achieve the same effects as high-potency products. (Just remember, start low and slow.)

Processing (Cannabis of course)

“Processing” is an umbrella term that covers all the methods by which we extract cannabinoids from a cannabis plant and make them available for consumption. This includes CO2 extraction, butane extraction, sieving, ice-water baths, tumbling, decarboxylation, baking edibles, making gummies and more!

Shop Cannabis Processing Supplies →

Resins

Resin is the sticky substance that originates within the trichomes that you encounter when touching or handling a cannabis bud. Also referred to as “sap,” resin is the substance within the trichomes that includes the cannabinoids and terpenes. Kief that is collected and pressed is also sometimes referred to as Resin.

Resin is produced by the female cannabis plant within it’s resin glands (trichomes) to protect it from harmful UV rays, repel pests, and be less attractive to herbivores.

Rosins

Rosin is produced by applying heat and pressure to cannabis resin. There are no solvents or chemicals used in the rosin extraction process. Most rosins are highly sought after for it’s concentration of cannabinoids and preservation of terpenes.

Rosin Press

A tool used to turn resin into rosin by using a heated press to extract the cannabinoids and terpenes from the kief. (or trichomes.) This method is admired for not using solvents and preserving a plant’s flavors and aromas. Rosin presses are not unlike industrial hair-straighteners.

Shop Rosin Presses & Bags →

Ruderalis

Although commonly accepted as it’s own species of Cannabis, some argue that Ruderalis is a subspecies of Sativa. Cannabis Ruderalis naturally contains very low amounts of THC, however it’s environmental resistance and ability to grow like a “weed” anywhere make it an intriguing prospect for cultivators.

Sativa

A species of Cannabis known for it’s uplifting head-high, often used to enhance creativity, productivity, and physical activities.

Sieving

A solvent-free extraction method by which someone processes cannabis into Hash. Hash is another product similar to rosin that is composed of pure, unadulterated trichome heads (kief). Hash created by means of sieving is considered one of the purest forms of cannabis to vaporize and inhale. Sieving preserves all terpenes and cannabinoids of the plant.

Strains

Many in the Cannabis industry believe there are more than one species of Cannabis including Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis. Then there are those from the school of thought that chemically, all the species are actually a single cannabis species that parents multiple sub-species. (Such as Hemp and occasionally Ruderalis)

Sublingual

A method of cannabinoid consumption and absorption. An activated cannabinoid product (usually in the form of a liquid / tincture) is placed under the tongue where it is immediately absorbed into the bloodstream and made bioavailable.

Terpenes

Aromatic oils found suspended in the resin found within the trichomes that are responsible for flavor and scent.

Read our full article on Terpenes →

THC

The cannabinoid molecule resulting from THCA after heat is applied (Decarbing). After THCA is decarbed (partially or wholly) it releases a CO2 molecule and becomes THC. The new, smaller THC molecule (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is now capable of entering the human endocannabinoid system by way of binding to the CB1 receptors.

THC Activation

Another term encompassing the conversion of THC-A to THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid most commonly associated with cannabis. Activation occurs by means of a convection or chemical heat reaction.

THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid)

Produced by the Cannabis plant and found suspended within the resin that is secreted by the trichomes (cannabis resin glands). Scientifically referred to as tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. THCA is the natural state of “THC” before heat has been applied. (decarboxylation)

Tinctures

Extracting cannabinoids and terpenes by means of dissolving them in an alcohol solvent produces cannabis products known as tinctures. Tinctures are excellent for precise dosing.

Tinctures are another form of concentrated cannabinoids and can be taken sublingually for a quicker effect, or swallowed to experience longer lasting effects as with edibles. Or both! This makes tinctures a flexible, convenient method of cannabis use.

Shop Tincture Bottles →

Trimming

There are two primary trimming methods used by cannabis cultivators. Wet trimming involves trimming your buds straight after harvest while the plant is still green and fully hydrated.

Dry trimming, on the other hand, involves trimming your buds after drying and before curing. It’s generally recommended to trim wet cannabis plants, as it’s easier to avoid losing resin from the natural agitation generated by handling dry buds.

Trichomes

The cannabis plant is covered in magic potion bottles. These little, crystal containers have been dispensing fairy dust for millenia and go by the name, “Trichomes.”

Maybe they are not little glass bottles and maybe they are not filled with fairy dust, but it sure seems that way given the intricate medicines found inside. They contain resin, which is a sap-like substance that contains the aromatic terpenes, as well as the therapeutic cannabinoids.

The “dust” that falls from an agitated cannabis plant is kief, which is a collection of trichomes that fell off the flower. Trichomes, kief, and hash are technically the same thing. From an evolutionary perspective, trichomes protect the plant from UV rays, herbivores and insects.

Ultrasonic Washers

Ultrasonic washers use high frequency sound waves to facilitate an effect called, “Cavitation.” Ultrasonic cavitation uses sound waves (compression waves) to rapidly create and collapse tiny bubbles.

When used along with ultrasonic cleaning solution, these compression waves clean and scrub delicate lab and processing equipment. See “Ultrasonic Washers: How Do They Work?”

Vaping

Vaping cannabis and smoking cannabis are two very different methods of inhalation. While inhalation of cannabis by means of combustion (smoking) is still illegal in medically-sanctioned states, vaping is the legal option for the fast-acting administration of cannabinoids via the lungs.

Vaping allows patients and adults (in adult-use states) to inhale cannabinoids and terpenes at the precise temperatures where the trichome resins phase change from a viscous liquid to a gas (or vapor.)

Vaping works by using very precise heat to only vaporize the desired cannabinoids without allowing the plant material to combust, which releases smoke and toxins into the lungs.

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