Cannabis Terms and Definitions
If you are a new patient learning about medical marijuana, you will encounter many different terms as you read about cannabis strains, intake methods, and more. Finding the right strains of cannabis for your wellness needs requires some time and research.
Glossary of Cannabis Terms
Here is a glossary of cannabis terms and definitions that can help you get more from the educational resources we provide on our blog.
Badder or Budder
This is a type of cannabis concentrate that looks a lot like butter and may have a THC potency of over 40%. It has a whipped consistency and is applied with a tool to be used with a dabbing rig (specialized water pipe).
Budder is smoother and easier to spread than badder, which has more of a cake batter type consistency and thickness. A metal dab tool is a small device used to scoop up a quantity of the badder or budder to apply to the dab nail.
Working inside recreational cannabis and medical marijuana dispensaries, there are staff who share their knowledge about strains and intake methods. Because of their extensive experience with cannabis, budtenders are an excellent source of advice when looking for new strains for specific health conditions and symptoms.
Butane Hash Oil (BHO)
One of the many different types of cannabis extracts, butane hash oil extracts cannabinoids and terpenes from cannabis Sativa or Indica plants, using butane. While butane is toxic, the procedure results in no residue in the final product, a clean, transparent oil that can be vaped or used to produce other cannabis products.
Cannabis sativa L. belongs to the Cannabis genus or the family of Cannabaceae. It is a versatile plant; hemp plants are also included in the genus. All cannabis plants contain compounds including CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), minor cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpene content.
This cannabinoid is well-researched through clinical studies and may provide therapeutic benefits, as it is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Because of this, cannabidiol is renowned for its potential therapeutic benefits, including relief from anxiety, pain, and inflammation-related symptoms. Cannabidiol consumption does not result in impairment, as the THC potency for hemp-derived CBD is 0.30% or less.
A non-psychoactive cannabinoid that does not cause impairment, CBG is referred to as “the mother cannabinoid” as it is the precursor to THC and CBD. Research continues to understand whether CBG has potential therapeutic value to treat conditions like inflammation. Some studies suggest cannabigerol may also provide neuroprotective and antimicrobial benefits.
Some studies suggest there are over 160 different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. They are chemical compounds that interact with the endocannabinoid system found in humans and different animals. The two major cannabinoids are THC and CBD, but more research is needed to understand how minor cannabinoids may also provide wellness benefits for therapeutic use.
You may find cannabinol (CBN) formulated in medical cannabis sleep gummies and tinctures. That is because the minor cannabinoid has mild psychoactive effects but can act as a sedative. Many medical cannabis products for pain may also contain CBN.
Certificate of Analysis (COA)
The COA is a document that assures consumers the cannabis product was third-party tested. The certificate contains data about potency, terpenes, minor cannabinoid content, and more. It also reports on contaminants, such as pesticides or fungus, in each product batch. The Certificate of Analysis (COA) is an essential quality assurance requirement for licensed and safe cannabis products.
Cannabis concentrates are products that have a higher potency of THC and, sometimes, CBD. They are manufactured from condensed extracts from the cannabis plant. There are a variety of different concentrate extra methods. Cannabis concentrates include oils, live resin, shatter, or wax, and they are typically suggested for patients with moderate to severe symptoms or end-of-life care.
Everything starts with a seed and propagation. Cannabis cultivation can be done indoor (within a controlled greenhouse environment) or grown outside. Only female plants are cultivated, and male plants are removed in the seedling stage and used for other products, such as topicals.
Concentrated products purchased from a cannabis dispensary, such as budder or wax, cannot be vaporized using a standard water pipe. A dab rig is used, a specialized pipe with a platform (nail) where cannabis concentrates can be added and then incinerated. Many people utilize dab beads or pearls to optimize vaporization while dabbing.
A cannabis dispensary is a licensed retail store that sells medical marijuana or adult-use (recreational) products. A medical dispensary will carry a selection of strains and products that offer the best potential wellness benefits for patients and offer personalized advice to help with symptom management.
Patients must be eighteen years of age or older and possess a medical card to purchase from a licensed medical dispensary. In states where recreational use is legalized, residents must be twenty-one (21) years or older to legally purchase cannabis products from a dispensary.
When consuming cannabis, there are many different intake methods to choose from. Edible cannabis products are popular because patients can accurately measure the required dose (one gummy, for example, or half of a gummy).
Other cannabis edibles can include beverages, baked goods, chocolate, drink mixes, and chocolate. Edibles are typically shelf-stable products that require no refrigeration, and they are absorbed through the digestive tract. The effects of an edible can take up to ninety (90) minutes and last from 5-7 hours, depending on potency and THC tolerance level.
There are various methods used to extract cannabinoids and terpenes from plant material. Some extraction methods include C02, butane, or solventless techniques (how rosin is made). Extracts are used to produce cannabis oils, resins, and concentrates.
The reason why cannabis smells a certain way, and different strains have a distinct odor, is because of flavonoids. Many different flavonoids are found in cannabis, including quercetin, aglycones, glycosides, apigenin, and luteolin. Researchers are studying the potential for some flavonoids to help with health conditions and symptoms caused by oxidative stress and inflammation.
The flower, also called cannabis bud, is the reproductive center of the cannabis plant. It contains the highest potency and concentration of cannabinoids, including THC and CBD. The flower is trimmed and sold for vaporization (smokable cannabis) or used for extraction to create cannabis oils and concentrated marijuana products.
Cannabis flower vary in appearance, depending on the strain. Some types of cannabis flower are loaded with natural crystal-like structures called trichomes. Other types of flower may have buds with brightly colored orange or yellow hair-like structures called pistils. Stigmas are the red hair-like fibers you can find on cannabis flower, which are the sex organs of female cannabis plants.
A relative of the cannabis plant and sativa species, hemp has been used since ancient times for textiles, food, clothing, and other industrial products, such as rope. Unlike the marijuana plant, hemp plants produce very little THC, and products derived from hemp with 0.30% THC or less are federally legalized in the United States.
The hybridization of cannabis species has created strains that offer the best medicinal properties. By taking the genetic traits of two or three parent strains, hybrid strains are scientifically cultivated with a mix of characteristics appealing to patients and recreational cannabis users. Hybrids can be sativa or Indica dominant or equally balanced 50/50 blend of both Indica and Sativa counterparts.
Cannabis plant strains are divided into two subspecies: Sativa and Indica. The Indica strains are typically higher potency and have a more sedative effect. Visually, Indica plants are shorter, with a higher density of dark green leaves. The aroma and flavor of Indica strains lean toward dank, skunky, musky, or earthy tones. Some strains are spicy, fruity, or pungent in taste, and Indica strains typically have higher CBD: THC ratios, which makes them popular for patients with chronic pain.
If you purchase cannabis flower and use a grinder, there may be a bottom chamber that collects Kief. It is a fine, powdery substance that is produced by the trichomes of the cannabis flower. The Kief contains a rich concentration of terpenes, cannabinoids, and other compounds from the cannabis plant.
The average cannabis plant will produce between 5% to 10% of the total plant weight of Kief. It can be collected and added to pre-rolls or incinerated with raw cannabis. Some people also use it to create cannabis edibles at home.
Cannabis flowers produce resin. Live resin is created from cannabis flowers that are harvested, not cured or dried, and flash-frozen. This helps lock in terpenes, flavonoids, major cannabinoids (THC and CBD), and minor cannabinoid content.
Live resin has a sticky and syrup-like consistency, which can be amber to gold-colored after processing. This cannabis concentrate produces vape oil, edibles, and tinctures.
Marijuana or Marihuana
The term ‘marijhuana’ is believed to originate in Mexico. Since the early 20th century in the United States, it has been replaced with the word ‘marijuana’ to refer to any product with a THC content of 0.30% or higher. Marijuana has psychoactive properties, whereas hemp flower and plant material does not.
Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC)
In Florida, medical cannabis dispensaries are called Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs). The Florida medical cannabis program requires that all MMTCs cultivate, process, manufacture, and retail their own products, which is called vertical integration. A license is required to operate an MMTC in Florida.
Multi-State Operator (MSO)
Some cannabis dispensaries supply medical marijuana products to patients in multiple states. These companies are referred to as multi-state operators or MSOs. Each MSO, however, must cultivate and produce their products if the state where it operates requires vertical integration by law.
Cannabis potency refers to the THC content of any strain of medical marijuana. Dispensaries in the United States provide products that range in potency from 10% to 30% on average. Some states have legalized cannabis concentrates, with products that can have as much as 90% THC content.
Information about cannabidiol (CBD) content is also provided because CBD can be helpful for pain, inflammation, and symptoms of anxiety. Cannabidiol also helps reduce some of the psychoactive effects of THC. Average CBD content can vary from >1% to more than 20%, depending on the strain.
More research is needed to understand the psychoactive properties of different types of cannabis strains. The psychoactivity of cannabis refers to the mind-altering perception that THC may cause, which can change mood, consciousness, energy levels, and perceptions after consumption. This creates the “high” people experience after using cannabis, whether they are consuming for recreational or medicinal purposes.
States with legalized medical marijuana or recreational (adult use) impose purchase limits on the amount of cannabis products and potency that residents can purchase on a monthly basis. The sales of cannabis are tracked by law to ensure that individuals remain within the legal purchase limitations required by the state.
Patients with a medical card may be permitted to purchase medical marijuana in higher quantities and potencies, depending on state laws. Some limitations are established as daily maximum purchase amounts, monthly, or another set period of time.
Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)
Rick Simpson is a Canadian scientist and medical cannabis advocate. When he was diagnosed with invasive skin cancer, he created his own formulation of a cannabis oil and successfully treated the cancer spots.
The oil he created is still sold and is known for having a highly concentrated level of THC. Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is dark and thick in appearance. The formulation also contains flavonoids, terpenes, natural lipids, and chlorophyll and is typically sold in syringes by licensed dispensaries.
The cannabis Sativa species is one of three subspecies, with cannabis ruderalis and Indica strains. Sativa cannabis originated in Southeast Asia, Central and South America, and Africa. Sativa cannabis typically has a longer growth period before the plant flowers and creates buds. Cannabis Sativa is known for fruity, citrus, and floral aromas and flavors.
Many people enjoy the psychoactive effects of Sativa counterparts and hybrid strains. Sativa cannabis products can provide energy, uplift mood, and enhance creativity, focus, and sociability. Because Sativa cannabis is energetic, most people prefer to use it during the daytime rather than the evening.
Sativa cannabis is one of the two primary subspecies of the Cannabis plant, the other being Cannabis Indica. Sativa strains originated in equatorial regions, such as Southeast Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. They are adapted to warmer climates and typically have longer flowering times.
The medical marijuana industry strives to ensure product safety. Seed-to-sale refers to vertical integration requirements, where dispensaries must cultivate, process, package, and sell their cannabis products without purchasing plant material from wholesale providers. Each product has a batch number to verify the manufacturer and identify products in case of a problem or recall.
There are almost eight hundred (800) cataloged strains of cannabis. Landrace strains refer to original or (OG) strains that have not been crossbred with other strains. All hybrid strains originate from one or more than one landrace variety.
To help estimate the psychoactive effects of a cannabis product, hybrid strains contain the origin information. Dispensaries label strains transparently so you know the plant’s lineage and possible physical and psychoactive effects.
This cannabinoid is well known because the THC potency of any cannabis product will determine the potential effects you may experience after consuming it. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) causes the euphoric and intoxicating effects associated with cannabis, as it interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body, brain, and central nervous system.
Every plant form on the planet creates terpenes, which can be inhaled or ingested. There are more than 100 types of terpenes found in the cannabis plant, and they are responsible for the aroma, taste, and some of the potential therapeutic effects of marijuana.
Every terpene has a unique profile, scent, and flavor. More research is needed, but it is known that some types of terpenes when combined with significant cannabinoids like THC and CBD, may provide wellness benefits. Working with the human endocannabinoid system, the entourage effect explains how cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids interact to promote relaxation, reduce inflammation, and help with pain and stress management.
One of many medical cannabis intake methods, tinctures are created by adding cannabinoids and terpenes to a carrier oil, which may be hemp, coconut, or another variety. Some patients prefer tinctures because they are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream when used correctly (sublingual uptake). Tinctures also allow for precise dose measurement and can be flavored or unflavored and added to beverages such as tea or coffee.
Cannabis topicals are creams, lotions, or oils used to help with symptoms of pain and inflammation. Some topicals may also be formulated to help relieve stress and anxiety. Unlike other intake routes, topicals are not intoxicating.
The active cannabinoids are absorbed locally where applied but do not enter the bloodstream. This makes topicals popular for managing daytime symptoms, as they do not cause drowsiness or impairment. Cannabis topicals can also be used in conjunction with cold or hot therapy for relief.
One of the most beautiful parts of a cannabis plant are trichomes. They are small, delicate structures that appear on the plant’s surface and are crystalline. Trichomes are favored by people who prefer to consume cannabis flower because they indicate an enhanced aroma flavor and often indicate higher potency.
Vape or Vaporization
Vape oil cartridges are sold by recreational cannabis and medical dispensaries. With a vape device, you can apply the cartridge for smokable cannabis. The active cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids are contained inside a carrier oil. Vaping also provides fast-acting effects because the compounds are absorbed through the lungs and directly enter the bloodstream.
Cannabis vapes are not recommended for patients with chronic respiratory diseases like asthma, emphysema, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Any type of smokable cannabis is not as safe as other intake methods, such as tinctures, capsules, tables, or edibles, because they may cause lung irritation and scarring of the respiratory tract.
Another type of cannabis concentrate, wax, is manufactured through different extraction techniques that help condense cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, as well as minor cannabinoids and terpene content. Cannabis wax is smoked through dabbing with a specialized dab rig. The average potency of cannabis consumption with wax is 60% to 90% THC.
It is a common slang term for cannabis, but it is most often used to refer to marijuana for recreational use. No one knows why the cannabis plant earned the nickname, but it is widely used in cannabis culture worldwide.
We hope you found this glossary of cannabis terms helpful. Remember, your DocMJ cannabis healthcare provider will happily answer any specific questions about strains and the best intake methods for your unique needs.
Our blog also provides a wealth of information on cannabis healthcare topics to help you get started. If you want cannabis news and wellness tips weekly, subscribe to the DocMJ medical cannabis newsletter. Subscribers also receive special discounts from medical dispensaries each month.
I am a Chief Marketing Officer at DocMJ, a leading provider of medical cannabis health services to qualified patients. I have over 20 years of experience in healthcare marketing and communications, with a proven track record of delivering impactful and compliant campaigns that educate, inform, and empower patients to make better choices for their health and wellness.