Glossary of Cannabis Terms

Glossary of Cannabis Terms and Terminology

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Aneesa Guerra-Khan
Aneesa is a writer and contributor to various publications, stemming from her diverse experiences working in sports, cannabis, social media analytics, and animal welfare. Her years of communications, social media marketing, and PR experience has been fuelled by her passion for writing and community development.

Your Guide to the Cannabis Lexicon – from A to Zig-Zag!


Alcohol Extraction

Alcohol extraction is the method in which alcohol (typically isopropyl or pure ethyl alcohol) is used as a solvent to extract trichomes and oil from the cannabis. The remaining alcohol is evaporated from the extract, which produces a hash oil (see “hash” below). Growers might also use agitation (see “agitation” below) to extract any remaining alcohol from the oil.


Agitation is the process of removing and harvesting trichomes (see trichome definition below) from the flowers on a cannabis plant. Agitation is usually done through physical contact, and can be more efficient by freezing the cannabis flower prior to agitation.



A blunt is a cigarette rolled into a cigar paper, however the filling is ground up weed instead of tobacco. Blunts are typically longer and bigger than joints, due to the size of the paper and the amount of product that can fit into the cylindrical tube. The tobacco within the cigar paper provides a head rush to the users, which is not obtainable when using thinner rolling papers such as Zig-Zags. The slow burning composition of the paper also allows the ground flower to burn at a slower rate, elongating the experience of the users.


A bong is a water pipe, typically made of glass, that is used to smoke marijuana flowers. Users fill the base with water, fill the bowl with dried flowers, and induce combustion by lighting the flowers and breathing in through the mouthpiece. The smoke is filtered through the water before it travels up the neck of the bong, and out of the mouthpiece.


A bud is another word typically used to describe the flower of a matured female (or mother) marijuana plant. They are the nuggets that you take off the plant, grind up, and smoke. The buds are the part of the marijuana plant that contains cannabinoids (see cannabinoid definition below) including THC, CBD, CBG, THCV.


Cannabidiol/ CBD

Most commonly known as CBD, cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive agent in cannabis, and is one of over 60 cannabinoids found in a marijuana plant. CBD is famous among patients for its robust medical benefits, and can help treat nausea, cancer, arthritis, seizures, pain, and many other debilitating medical conditions. CBD has absolutely no psychoactive properties, and is popular with patients who seek the medical benefits of marijuana but not the associated “high”. Cannabidiol extracted from a marijuana plant and can be manufactured into a wide range of medications including oils, topicals, and tinctures. There are some CBD dominant strains that contain small levels of THC, which greatly reduces the psychoactive effects of THC when ingested. Curious to dive deeper into the nuances of CBD oil? Check out our article on CBD Oil: The Challenge of Terpene Extraction.


Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant which have a variety of physical and mental and health benefits. Cannabinoids are a class of compounds that react with the brain’s cannabinoid receptors within cells that represses neurotransmitter release. Tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC) is the most popular cannabinoid due to the euphoric and psychoactive effects (or the “high”). Most health benefits of marijuana are associated with the cannabidiol cannabinoid, also known as CBD. THC dominant products are often enhanced with CBD to give patients more potent medicinal benefits.


Cannabis (also known as marijuana) is a psychoactive drug intended for medical or recreational uses. Originally native to Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent, cannabis is a breed of flowering plants that includes cannabis ruderalis, cannabis sativa, and cannabis indica. While ruderalis lacks popularity because of its low THC and smaller plant and yield sizes, the more popular indicas and sativas have countless medical and recreational uses.



A dab is a slang term for hash oil, which is a resin extracted from cannabis. The act of “dabbing” is when the cannabis concentrate is “dabbed” onto a hot surface (but a lower temperature than smoking, which is the result of combusting air and fire) and inhaled. Dabbing greatly increases the potency of the oil, and can be very harsh during a users first time – even seasoned smokers admit that dabbing is like smoking for the very first time. Patients who are suffering from nausea or loss of appetite typically choose dabbing, since the vapor produces a less harsh taste than smoking out of a pipe, bong, or joint.


A distillate is a transparent or translucent oil that don’t possess the wax from the original plant. Users typically use distillate to vaporize (or vape), dab, as topical treatments, and it can also be mixed into drinks or foods to create edibles.



Edibles are products infused with cannabis that are consumed orally, versus the alternate of smoking a flower. Some common edibles include baked food (like brownies, cakes, or cookies), candy (like chocolate, gummies, and lollipops), coffee, beef jerky, water, soda, and more. Ingesting an edible yields different results than smoking because the cannabis is being digested versus inhaled, which results in a more intense and elongated high. It’s advised that consumers start out slow by eating a small amount, then wait a few hours to feel the intended effects first before consuming more.



Feminized plants are the result of seeds that have been bred to produce only female plants. Since female plants produce flowers (which is where most of the cannabinoids are found), they are the only plants that are used to create marijuana products. Feminized seeds make growing easier by eliminating the need to predetermine the sex of the seeds/plants. Growers will remove male plants immediately to prevent fertilization of female plants, which will cause the female plant to produce more seeds than flowers/buds. Seeded buds produce less usable flowers than unseeded buds, so growers are very strict about keeping any male or hermaphroditic plants out of their facility.



Though it is modernly used as slang for marijuana, the word ganja originated from India, and translates from the language Sanskrit. Many people believes the word was created because the marijuana plants grow next to the Ganges river, however it actually refers to the cultural preparation and cultivation of cannabis sativa. Indian laborers working the fields in Jamaica introduced the word to them in the late 19th century, and as Jamaicans adopted their terminology, many people believed ganja had Rastafarian origins.


The very beginning of a marijuana plants growth cycle is called germination, referring to the period of time when a seed shell cracks and sprouts. This process is intentionally induced to force seeds out of their dormant state and into the growth cycle. Germination is also commonly called “seed popping”, as the seeds literally crack in half as the seedling emerges and reaches toward the light. Induced germination results in 8/10 (80%) of seeds successfully “popping” and are therefore ready to start growth earlier.



Hash refers to a cannabis concentrate extracted from trichome glands. Typically, cultivators will extract trichomes from the cannabis plant’s glands, put pressure on the oil to compress it, and apply heat to create a dark red to black tar looking hash. Since the concentrate is made directly from the trichomes (which possess most of the THC and CBD properties) hash is highly concentrated and potent, and is typically more expensive as a result.


Hemp is a classification given to a cannabis sativa that possesses less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Hemp seeds are typically ingested because of their high protein content, while the plan fibers have dozens of alternate uses, which includes making clothing, paper, jewelry, rope, and even fuel.


Hybrid cannabis strains are combinations of indica and sativa strains, and possesses traits and characteristics of both strains. A hybrid plant possesses traits of both parent plants, with the dominant traits appearing more frequently than the recessive traits. Mixing different strains will yield hybrids varying in height, bud production, and leaf size. It is important to note that each strain has a unique chemical composition and are bred to mix the best parts of each parent plant, so no two patients will react the same to a strain.



Indica is a label used to establish the geographic origin of a strain, and is used for cannabis varieties that are shorter in height and have wider leaves than their sativa counterparts. Compared to a sativa plant, indicas are smaller, broader, and produce more buds. Indica is only one of the three classifications of cannabis, alongside sativa and ruderalis. Patients have reported that these strains induce extreme relaxation and sleepiness, which is why they’re recommended for evening/nighttime use. The majority of indicas will offer the user a very relaxing full body effect, which can help some people with chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia and more.



A joint is a non-tobacco, typically hand rolled cigarette filled with marijuana. Users roll a joint using very thin, clean-burning rolling papers, which has a thin sticky strip on one edge to help the joint stick to itself. There are several ways to roll a joint, from pinners (small) to fatties (large). Joints have donned many names, including spliff, doobie, cone, etc.



Kush is a group of indica strains found in the Hindu Kush mountain range of Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan. Kush strains have gained a large fan base due to its unique aroma. Specific breeds have unique smells, but the aroma of indicas are generally described as earthy, piney, citrus-y, and sweet. A kush plant is usually smaller in stature, with typical relaxing or sedating effects when ingested.



In cannabis plants there are two types of leaves – sugar leaves and fan leaves. The leaf size is usually a surefire way to tell if a plant is indica, sativa, or ruderalis. Sugar leaves are smaller in size, and are covered in trichomes covering the flower bundles, which are typically cut off the pant when it’s harvested. Fan leaves are larger in size and do not contain as many trichomes as sugar leaves.

Licensed Producer

A Licensed Producer (or LP) is an individual that possesses a license granted by their government to grow, harvest, dry, trim, cure, and/or package cannabis. The cannabis can then be sold to licensed wholesalers (facilities). A licensed producer can also sell live plants and seeds.



Marijuana is the general term for female cannabis plants and/or their dried flowers. Females are unique because they produce flowers which contain the cannabinoids that hold both medicinal and psychoactive properties, and the male plants do not. Also known as cannabis (or ganja, pot, bud and Mary Jane), marijuana flowers contain several psychoactive ingredients like the popular tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC) and cannabidiol (or CBD). Marijuana can be found in many forms including dried flower, concentrates, hashish, tinctures, and can be extracted and infused into butter, oil and flower, then added to any food recipe. It can be consumed via smoking, vaporizing or eating.



A nugget is slang for the flower picked from the cannabis plant, typically dried, ground up, and smoked. The nuggets are the part of the marijuana plant that contains cannabinoids, and range in size depending on the strain.

Nug Run

A nug run is the method of using only marijuana nugs as the primary extraction material. Nug run is typically more expensive that trim run, and is used to make higher quality and more potent concentrates. Hash oil or water hash is made entirely from cannabis flowers, which are the most trichome and terpene-rich parts of the plant, and provides a cleaner flavour to users.



OG is used to describe many strains, though the term originated to describe Southern California’s Ocean Grown Kush, which was shortened to OG Kush when it gained popularity in the late 1990s. Most OGs are variations of the original OG Kush genetics, or are also grown close to the ocean on the West Coast of California. Because of its rapid growing recognition, this extremely potent medical-grade strain has spread across the world resulting in many OG strain varieties.



A pipe is an accessory used to smoke cannabis flowers after they’ve been dried and ground up. They are small enough to hold in your hand and are typically made of glass, however there are some limited use disposable metal options. Once the flower is ground up, it is packed into the bowl of the pipe, much like in a bong, however this is a dry smoke and does not require water. Pipes include a “choke”, which is a small hole by the bowl to pull air through the neck of the pipe. Users have to light the flower while covering the choke (or carb) to combust the plant, and remove the fire and uncover the choke to then inhale the smoke produced. The amount of heat and oxygen introduced to the flower will influence how potent your smoke will be.


A plant’s phenotype determines a strain’s taste, effectiveness, look, and texture. In other words, phenotype is a word used to successfully identify a plants genetic traits. Every strain has two parent plants, including a male and a female plant. Commonly found in most breeding organisms, when a male plant fertilizes a female plant, the seeds produced will include genetic phenotypes from both plants. Since people prefer specific traits from their strains, growers can create a strain based on those preferred characteristics.



This process includes trichomes being stripped from a plant using alcohol (specifically isopropyl). Better known as “QWISO”, or Quick-Wash Isopropyl, this process is used to collect oil from leaves or flowers, or buds, or to collect trim for vaporization purposes.



Resin is an organic material produced by many types of plants, not just cannabis plants. In cannabis plants, cannabinoids and terpenes can be found within the resin, which also acts as a defense mechanism in the wild to protect the plant from bugs and animals.


Ruderalis is one of the three main variations of cannabis, along with indica and sativa. Although this plant is less common than the other two and only grows to approximately 2 feet high, it is known to auto-flower with age, versus other variations that require a light cycle to flower. Ruderalis is very high in cannabidiol or CBD, although still not as popular as indica and sativa.



Sativa is a classification used for cannabis varieties that, due to their origins, are typically taller in height with thinner leaves than their indica counterparts. Sativa is a shorter, less scientific name for the specific species of cannabis plant. Patients have reported that these strains produce uplifting, cerebral/mentally stimulating effects, used to treat depression and ADHD, among other ailments.Being less debilitating than Indica strains, these varieties can be suited for daytime/afternoon use. This variety originated in areas along the equator, 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 (over 5 feet) – regularly producing more product as a direct result. Sativas are well known for their uplifting cerebral effects, often used to treat mental ailments and encourage creativity and sociability.


A cannabis strain is a particular kind of plant species, either in a pure or hybrid variety, found in both the recreational and medical arenas. Each strain is grown to increase certain traits of the plant, with names given by the actual grower to mirror the strains taste, colour, smell, origin, or physical effect on the user. There are hundreds of strains available, with more produced every day due to the hundreds of options to crossbreed. The medical marijuana industry tries to maintain naming consistency between each strain to reduce misidentification of the effects, and to reduce confusion for the buyer. For example, a grower might mix certain aspects of two parent plants names to communicate the strain’s origin to the user, like “The White” mixed with “Fire OG” creates “White Fire OG”.



Tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC) is the most recognized cannabinoid in the marijuana plant. First isolated in 1964, THC is famous for its psychoactive effects, which causes users to feel “high”. Unlike CBD (another popular cannabinoid), THC delivers a lighter, cleaner high, that can increase creativity. This famous cannabinoid has also been used medicinally to treat various ailments, including lack of appetite, nausea, pain, and inflammation.


Terpenes are aromatic compounds produced by a variety of fruit and plants, including the cannabis plant. They can be found in lavender flowers, oranges, hops, pepper, and cannabis, and are responsible for the unique aromas and flavors of different cannabis strains. Secreted by the same glands that ooze THC and CBD, terpenes are what make cannabis smell like berries, pine, citrus, fruit, etc. Terpenes are any group of hydrocarbons found in the essential oils of a plant. Cannabis experts will advise you to keep your products in a cool, dry, and dark place, which is primarily due to sensitive terpenes reacting negatively to humid bright environments.


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. Instead, they are the parts of the plant that carry the majority of cannabinoids (THC, CBD) and cover the majority of the plants surfaces.



Vaporizers (or vapes) help a user consume cannabis differently than more traditional methods like in a pipe or joint, which typically works by combusting with the product. Whether you have a portable or desktop vape, each will heat the flower or oils to a very specific temperature that activates the cannabinoid and turns it into a vapor to be inhaled. Many believe that vaporizing is healthier than smoking because you’re not actually inhaling smoke. Vaporizers can be just as potent, so always be careful when consuming as it’s difficult to know how much you’ve had, since vapor is hard to see or smell. An increasingly popular option in the vape family is the “vape pen” or “e-vape”, which provides the user with a level of discreteness and mobility.



Wax is a concentrated form of marijuana that’s formed when the plant is dissolved into a solvent. It’s considered to be more potent than smoking flowers because of it’s extremely high levels of THC (a psychoactive ingredient). The crumbly texture is created by the oil being whipped over heat in order to introduce air into the liquid. Wax is preferred by concentrate smokers, since it is easy to handle with your bare hands, and can simply be crumbled on top of a bowl to add an extra punch.


Weed is another, slang term for marijuana. It’s frequently used specifically in reference to the flower.



Zig-Zag is one of the most popular brands of rolling papers. Ground cannabis flowers are typically rolled within a Zig-Zag to create a joint. Zig-Zags are very thin clean-burning rolling papers, which have a thin sticky strip on one edge to help the joint stick to itself. Zig-Zag and other brands create variations of these papers primarily for hand-rolled tobacco related products.

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