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May 22, 2020
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Weed 101: Know Your Cannabis Terminology

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By Ganja Goddess

Weed connoisseurs are always coming up with new ways to talk about cannabis and cannabis consumption. Shakespeare’s sonnets have nothing on a weedhead waxing poetic about her love for that sticky. The world of cannabis comes with its own lexicon and parlance for those in the know, and the language isfar more colorful than the that of its more mainstream counterpart, alcohol. For a community that was pushed underground until recently, pot parlance has always been a part of the wider cultural lexicon. But if you’re new to weed, the terminology can be hard to follow and easy to mess up. No one wants to sound like an aging hippie in 2020 (unless you areactually an aging hippie, in which case, no judgment here).  

When you’re rookie, cannabis lingo raises as many questions as it answers. Is Cannabis the same thing as marijuana? What’s the difference between a roach and a spliff? How do I know whether I like Indica or Sativa?  And what on earth is an endocannabinoid system? Your first trip to the dispensary can feel like you are listening to a different language, and that makes it hard to make decisions. Weed is a lot of things but most of all, it’s supposed to be fun. Knowing what you’re talking about makes it even more so. 

So, to get you up to speed, we are introducing a Weed 101 series to get you up to speed on all things cannabis. Consider this your ultimate pot primer. Ultimately, you should sound like an expert, or at least follow the conversation, even if you’re an absolute beginner. Whether you just became legal or are getting into cannabis later in life, there’s nothing stopping you from getting the vocabulary down before you get lifted.  

First thing’s first: let’s get down to the basics. The terms below are organized for conceptual clarity, and not alphabetized. Let’s dive in. 


Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a group of receptors that make up a complex regulatory system throughout the human body.  ECS creates and maintains internal stability by adjusting the flow of neurotransmitters and regulating bodily functions, including emotion, sleep, and movement. Cannabis use regulates this system. 


Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants that has countless medicinal and recreational uses. The plant is indigenous to Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, and includes Cannabis Indica, cannabis sativa, and cannabis ruderalis. Cannabis can be smoked, eaten, drunk, dabbed, or absorbed, all to different effects. 


Marijuana is a psychoactive drug known by many names: cannabis, weed, Mary Jane, ganja, and the list goes on. Both hemp and marijuana are broad classifications of the cannabis plant. Marijuana is the term used to classify cannabis that contains more than 0.3 percent THC and can have a psychoactive effect on a user, i.e. it gets you high. 


Hemp is a broad classification of cannabis, known scientifically as Cannabis sativa L.  Hemp is the term used to classify varieties of cannabis that have 0.3 percent or less of THC, and Hemp has higher concentrates of cannabidiol (CBD). Hemp does not get you high. 


Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most commonly found cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. It is nonpsychoactive and produces little to no high. CBD is useful for alleviation of chronic pain and inflammation, and for post exercise recovery.


Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the chemical compound responsible for most of marijuana’s psychoactive effects. It acts much like the cannabinoid chemicals made naturally by the body, which affect perception of memory, pleasure, movement, concentration and time. It is the ingredient that stimulates the brain to release dopamine to create euphoria, also known as getting high. 


Cannabis Indica is a species of cannabis. Indica plants are short and bushy with wide leaves and a dense flower structure. They grow faster than their sativa counterparts. Indica strains are ideal to decrease nausea and pain, and aid in mental and physical relaxation.  They are best used at night or when there are few obligations. 


Cannabis Sativa is a species of cannabis that grows tall and thin. It requires more sunlight and takes longer to grow than Cannabis Indica. Sativa has anti-depressant and anti-anxiety properties. Sativa smokers tend to use sativa to help with chronic pain, or to increase focus and creativity. 


Cannabis Ruderalis is a low-THC subspecies of cannabis. It is debated whether ruderalis is a subspecies of cannabis sativa, and it tends to be less popular for consumption due to low potency- it is typically used for hemp production.


Flowers are the smokable part of the cannabis plant. Color and appearance can vary depending on the strain, and leaves are dried and cured. 


Bud is another name for the dried and cured flowers of the cannabis plant. Color and appearance can vary depending on the strain. 


A strain is the type or breed of cannabis grown. They are bred to have specific effects on the user and can be either pure or hybrid varieties of cannabis. Indica and Sativa are two of the most well-known species of cannabis. 


Hybrids are strains of cannabis that combine the qualities of different species of cannabis. Very few Indica and sativa strains are pure, they are typically Indica dominant or sativa dominant, or a hybrid cross of the two.

The Entourage Effect

The entourage effect is the idea that combining different strains of cannabis compounds produces different physical or psychological effects than a single strain alone.


Cannabinol comes from the cannabis sativa plant and only contains a minimal amount of THC.

Cannabinoid Profile 

The amount of all cannabinoids in the plant. This gives an indication of the makeup and strength of the strain. 



A store that can legally sell cannabis products. Dispensaries may sell medical, recreational, or both, depending on state laws. Dispensaries are considered clubs in some states and may require you to purchase membership before you buy. 


On your first trip to the dispensary, you’ll probably talk to someone called a budtender. A budtender is a staff member that works at a dispensary, who can answer your questions and advise on different options. 

Medical Card

An ID card that identifies you an authorized user of cannabis for medical purposes, given after an evaluation from a doctor of your choice. There are a ton of applications for marijuana as medicine, and there are and a lot of benefits to getting a card.

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