Glossary of TermsJan 02, 2023
Updated December 1, 2023
Cannabis terminology can be tricky. Some terms are still used from when Cannabis was entirely illegal (the legacy market). These terms may sound like slang terms. Many medical and scientific terms are also used on the opposite end of the spectrum. These terms are often used when educating about the plant and how it works in the body. Please use this glossary for reference as you need it. We will add to it, and it will grow over time.
Our goal is to be a point of reference for terms related to medical Cannabis and less for recreational Cannabis. The glossary will reflect this.
Are we missing a term you would like to understand? E-mail us at [email protected].
2-AG is an endogenous cannabinoid. In other words, our bodies naturally make it. It is present in human breast milk and thought to be vital in regulating pain, appetite, memory formation, and immune function. See "cannabinoid, endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids)."
Is a psychoactive metabolite of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary intoxicating component of the Cannabis plant. When THC is ingested, it is metabolized by the liver into 11-hydroxy-THC, which has a longer half-life and is more potent than THC itself. 11-hydroxy-THC is believed to be responsible for many of the subjective effects of Cannabis consumption, including the "body high" and sedative effects.
See Already Been Vaped
Cannabis flowers produce phytocannabinoids in their raw, unheated, forms. These forms have an extra chemical group, called a carboxyl group, that makes the cannabinoid slightly larger than the more familiar, ‘activate’, forms (like Δ9-THC and CBD). This group means that acid cannabinoids are metabolized in different ways by the body, and don’t necessarily cause the same effects as their ‘active’ counterparts. Also, see "cannabinoids, phytocannabinoids".
Is any action that speaks in favor of, recommends, argues for a cause, supports or defends, or pleads on behalf of others.
A chemical that binds to a receptor and increases its activity. Agonists are classified by the way they interact with their receptors. There are direct (orthosteric) agonists, indirect (allosteric) agonists, and biased agonists, for example.
A type of protein-chemical interaction. An allosteric modulator changes the shape of the protein, which alters how well another chemical would fit.
A multifaceted terpene that acts as anti-inflammatory anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and even dermatological benefits. As the name implies, it has a scent of pine similar to pine trees. One of the many terpenes found in the cannabis plant. See "terpene."
Already been vaped (vaporized)
Cannabis flower that has already been vaporized in a dry herb vaporizer.
(of a drug) acting to relieve pain.
Also known as the ‘bliss molecule’ anandamide is responsible for the feeling of a runner’s high. In 1993, it made history as the first identified endocannabinoid or cannabinoid produced within our bodies. Its identification proved that the endocannabinoid system was responsible for more than just mediating the effects of plant-based cannabinoids like THC. See "Cannabinoid, Endogenous Cannabinoids (endocannabinoids)."
A chemical that binds to a receptor and deactivates, or blocks, its activity.
The death of cells that occurs as a normal and controlled part of an organism's growth or development.
A mental connection between ideas or things; The action of making a mental connection.
A rare terpene as it is one of the first non-cannabinoids to activate cannabinoid receptors directly. It acts as an analgesic, antimicrobial and anti-fungal. It contributes to the spiciness of black pepper and is present in oregano, cloves, hops, rosemary, and cannabis. It has the distinction of being the first known “dietary cannabinoid.” See "terpene."
The measure of how well a chemical binds to a receptor, which impacts how strongly the cell associated with the receptor reacts.
A compound that has an effect on a living organism, tissue, or cell.
A Cannabis product that contains all of the original compounds found in Cannabis flower — cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids — and from which tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has been removed.
A substance that dilates the bronchi and bronchioles, decreasing resistance in the respiratory airway and increasing airflow to the lungs. THC, CBD, and CBG are natural bronchodilators. Bronchodilators are inhaled and are used to treat breathing disorders, such as asthma, emphysema, or COPD.
A major non-psychotropic phytocannabinoid that inhibits endocannabinoid inactivation and activates the transient receptor potential ankyrin-1 (TRPA1). Both endocannabinoids and TRPA1 may modulate gastrointestinal motility. See "cannabinoids, phytocannabinoids".
A common non-intoxicating compound produced by Cannabis, with a wide range of medical applications. CBD is the second most commonly produced compound in Cannabis varieties bred for their medicinal use and the most common in varieties bred for agriculture (commonly known as hemp). It is of interest to many people for its medicinal value, especially its anti-epileptic, anti-anxiety, and anti-inflammatory effects. See "cannabinoids, phytocannabinoids".
Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA)
The unheated form of cannabidiol (CBD) that is produced in Cannabis flower. See “acid cannabinoids”.
A minor plant cannabinoid that has been studied for the treatment of epilepsy and autism-spectrum disorders. See "varin cannabinoids".
All cannabinoids start as CBG. It is a non-intoxicating compound, and of medical interest for pain management and anxiety relief. CBG is often referred to as the ‘parent cannabinoid’. All phytocannabinoids start out as CBG in their developmental processes. See "cannabinoids, phytocannabinoids".
Cannabis compounds are created in the resinous glands of the Cannabis plant (trichomes). Cannabinoids are compounds uniquely found in Cannabis plants, as well as compounds similar to those found in Cannabis plants. Some cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system. There are three general categories of cannabinoids:
- Endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids): Cannabinoids produced naturally by living animals, including humans, that interact with the body’s endogenous cannabinoid (endocannabinoid) system.
- Phytocannabinoids: Cannabinoids produced by plants.
- Synthetic cannabinoids: Cannabinoids produced by humans in a laboratory.
These are specialized proteins that are found on the surface of cells throughout the body, particularly in the nervous and immune systems. These receptors are activated by cannabinoids, which are compounds found in the Cannabis plant as well as naturally occurring compounds produced by the body, known as endocannabinoids.
When cannabinoids bind to cannabinoid receptors, they can trigger a variety of cellular responses that can have effects on the body and mind. For example, activation of cannabinoid receptors in the brain can affect mood, memory, and pain perception, while activation of cannabinoid receptors in the immune system can affect inflammation and immune function.
There are two main types of cannabinoid receptors. See "Cannabinoid Receptor Type 1 (CB1)," and "Cannabinoid Receptor Type 2 (CB2)"
Cannabinoid Receptor Type 1 (CB1)
Found primarily in the central nervous system, CB1R is responsible for the feeling of intoxication, or ‘high’, when consuming THC. See "receptor."
Cannabinoid Receptor Type 2 (CB2)
Found throughout the immune system, the peripheral nervous system, and the gastrointestinal system, CB2R is of interest for immunomodulatory action. See "receptor."
The oxidized (aged) form of THC. CBN is a weaker version of THC. When Δ9-THC oxidizes, which happens as Cannabis ages, it degrades into CBN. CBN has about 25% of the intoxicating ability as Δ9-THC. Many have attributed sedative effects to CBN, but these claims are not substantiated by scientific literature. See "cannabinoids, phytocannabinoids".
A common plant that has been utilized for food, fuel, fiber, and medicine for the last 12,000 years. The scientific name, Cannabis sativa L., refers to the botanist, Carl Linnaeus, who first identified Cannabis in 1753.
Cannabis has a yearly life cycle (annual), is wind pollinated (anemophily) and leaf dropping (deciduous), has separate male and female sexes (dioecious), and produces flowers and seeds (angiosperm).
Is an oil-based product packaged and sold in a bottle. A very common form of ingestion due to the quicker onset compared to edibles. It offers the advantage of precise dosing, allowing users to control their intake incrementally with each drop.
See "Cannabis Infusion" and "Full Spectrum Cannabis Oil (FECO)"
Cannabis Root Ball
Is a network of roots containing triterpenoids, known for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Through teas, sauves, and tinctures it offers diverse healing possibilities.
A substance, organism or agent capable of causing cancer. Carcinogens may occur naturally in the environment (such as ultraviolet rays in sunlight and certain viruses) or may be generated by humans (such as automobile exhaust fumes and cigarette smoke).
The act or fact of causing; the production of an effect by a cause. the relationship of cause and effect.
Certificate Of Analysis (COA)
Is a document that provides information about the potency and purity of a batch of cannabis products. It's created by a state-licensed laboratory that tests the products to ensure they meet certain standards and regulations.
The COA displays the results of the lab tests, including the levels of THC and CBD. In some States, it may report on other cannabinoids and terpenes. It also shows whether there are any harmful contaminants, such as pesticides or heavy metals, present in the product.
A slang term for Cannabis of Mexican Spanish origin popularized in the 1960s.
Refers to the breakdown of a plant species according to its chemical composition. Is also known as chemotypes.
A chemical reaction between substances, usually including oxygen and usually accompanied by the generation of heat and light in the form of flame.
A type of protein-chemical interaction wherein the chemical sits in the active site of the protein, preventing other chemicals from entering.
A variety of Cannabis that has been cultivated through selective breeding. This is another term for variety, strain, or chemovar.
Cytochrome P450 (CYP)
An important family of enzymes that are involved in metabolizing many pharmaceuticals and endogenous compounds. The enzymes can be inhibited or induced by drugs, resulting in clinically significant drug-drug interactions that can cause unanticipated adverse reactions or therapeutic failures. Interactions with warfarin, antidepressants, antiepileptic drugs, and statins often involve the cytochrome P450 enzymes. Knowledge of the most important drugs metabolized by cytochrome P450 enzymes, as well as the most potent inhibiting and inducing drugs, can help minimize the possibility of adverse drug reactions and interactions. See "enzymes".
The process of adding heat to raw cannabinoids in order to activate them. Decarboxylation is the process of removing a carboxyl group, a group of compounds composed of a carbon double bonded to an oxygen and an OH bonded to that same oxygen. This process is necessary to activate the cannabinoids found in plants. It happens as a result of heat and time.
A physical state of needing something or someone, especially in order to continue existing or operating. Manifesting itself as tolerance and or withdrawal in relation to drug use; often confused with addiction.
Is a cannabis product produced by removing everything except for a specific cannabinoid, generally THC or CBD.
Is using multiple delivery methods and dosages to achieve your goals. It is a lot like layering your clothing during those cold Utah winters. You layer as much as you need to stay warm. In terms of Medical Cannabis, you layer in whatever way provides the most relief. Layering is best accomplished with the advice of a professional. One example of layering is combining a topical (cream or lotion) with the ingestion method of your choice (flower, sublingual, edible, etc.).
Is a food product that has been infused with cannabinoids, extracted from the cannabis plant. Examples of Cannabis edibles include brownies, cookies, gummies, and chocolates, among others. When consumed, the cannabinoids in the edible are absorbed through the digestive system and metabolized by the liver, which converts the THC into a more potent form called 11-hydroxy-THC. See "11-hydroxy-THC."
Is used to describe the larger environment that interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This includes all known aspects of the ECS (i.e., endocannabinoids, endocannabinoid receptor sites, their metabolizing enzymes, and endocannabinoid tone). This interaction is not a one-way street but a complex cross-talk-based mechanism between the ECS and eCBome.
Endocannabinoid Tone (ECS Tone)
Describes the overall functioning of the ECS—the function or density of cannabinoid receptors, levels of endocannabinoids, and their metabolic enzymes.
These are naturally occurring compounds produced by the human body that are similar in structure and function to cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. They are part of the endocannabinoid system. See "Endocannabinoid System (ECS)."
Endocannabinoids are produced on demand and are quickly broken down by enzymes once they have fulfilled their regulatory functions. This ensures that the endocannabinoid system remains finely tuned and able to respond to changes in the body's internal and external environments.
The two main endocannabinoids produced by the body. See "Anandamide" and "2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG)."
Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
The ECS regulates many systems within the body and mediates the effects felt by consuming some cannabinoids (like THC). The endocannabinoid system is present in the bodies of all mammals that includes cannabinoid receptors, endogenous agonists, and metabolites of those compounds. It helps regulate many systems within the body.
The hormones that are released when your body feels pain or stress. They are produced in your brain and act as messengers in your body. Endorphins are produced to help relieve pain, reduce stress, and improve mood. Endorphins can be boosted by exercising, eating, having sex, getting a massage and many other ways
The entourage effect is the theory that the various compounds in the Cannabis plant work together to produce a more significant therapeutic effect than any single compound taken on its own. This is thought to occur because the different compounds in the plant interact with the body's endocannabinoid system in different ways, and these interactions may enhance the overall effects of the plant. Some studies have suggested that the entourage effect may be responsible for the greater therapeutic benefits of whole-plant cannabis products compared to isolated cannabinoid products. However, more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms behind the entourage effect and how it may contribute to the therapeutic effects of cannabis.
Are proteins that help speed up metabolism, or the chemical reactions in our bodies. They build some substances and break others down. All living things have enzymes. Our bodies naturally produce enzymes.
A pharmaceutical formulation of nearly pure CBD that is applied as a sublingual spray.
A condition usually triggered by inflammation in the lungs. Infections or irritants can cause this inflammation. Examples include pneumonia, flu, seasonal allergens, air pollution, smoke, and nodules.
A concentrated Cannabis product is most commonly produced by using a solvent like CO2, alcohol, or butane. Solventless extracts are also popular, produced by mechanically separating the trichomes from the flower (a.k.a. hash, rosin). Solventless methods of extraction aim to separate and collect the oil-rich trichomes from the Cannabis flower. Solvent-based extraction methods use a solvent (CO2, alcohol, oil, hydrocarbons) to separate the oil.
Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH)
A member of the serine hydrolase family of enzymes. It was first shown to break down anandamide in 1993. See "enzymes".
Is a group of phytonutrients found in plants, including Cannabis. They are responsible for the colors of many fruits and vegetables and have a range of potential health benefits. In Cannabis, flavonoids are synthesized in the trichomes (tiny, hair-like structures on the surface of the plant) along with other compounds like cannabinoids and terpenes.
In addition to their potential medical benefits, flavonoids also play a role in the overall experience of using Cannabis. They contribute to the plant's distinctive taste and aroma, and may also influence the way the plant interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system.
Is a product that contains all of the original compounds found in the Cannabis flower: cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. Cannabis flower naturally contains hundreds of active compounds. The diverse combination of compounds is thought to contribute to the specific effects felt when consuming Cannabis flower. Full-spectrum products preserve as much of this chemical diversity as possible.
Full Extract Cannabis Oil (FECO)
Is a concentrated form of Cannabis oil that retains a full range of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other beneficial compounds present in the Cannabis plant. Due to its high concentration, It is important to note that FECO is potent, and dosing should be approached with caution. It is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or Cannabis coach knowledgeable in Cannabis therapeutics before using FECO.
An oxygen containing molecule that has one or more unpaired electrons, making it highly reactive with other molecules.
G-Protein Coupled Receptor
Is the oldest and largest group of receptors in living organisms. Endocannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 are members of this group. See "receptor."
Are sweet, chewy candies infused with Cannabis.
An evidence-based approach that aims to reduce the negative consequences of substance use and improve the health and well-being of people who use drugs.
Is a legal term that refers to cannabis varieties that produce less than 0.3% THC in a mature flowering plant. It is often used to refer to varieties that have been bred for agricultural purposes. Cannabis that has traditionally been bred for food or fiber. Hemp is a legal, and not taxonomic, definition. Legally, hemp is differentiated from cannabis based on the amount of THC it produces. For a variety of Cannabis to be considered hemp in most of the world, its flowers must produce less than 0.3% THC by dry weight.
Is a fatty oil that is obtained from the cold-pressing of de-hulled Cannabis sativa seeds. Hemp seed oil may only contain trace amounts of cannabinoids.
Are shelled Cannabis seeds, considered a superfood.
A state of balance among all body systems is needed for the body to survive and function correctly. In homeostasis, the body’s acid, blood pressure, blood sugar, electrolytes, energy, hormones, oxygen, proteins, and temperature are constantly adjusted to respond to changes inside and outside the body to keep them at a normal level.
The colloquial term that describes varieties of Cannabis that have relaxing effects.
When your body encounters an offending agent (like viruses, bacteria or toxic chemicals) or suffers an injury, it activates your immune system. Your immune system sends out its first responders: inflammatory cells and cytokines (substances that stimulate more inflammatory cells). These cells begin an inflammatory response to trap bacteria and other offending agents or start healing injured tissue. The result can be pain, swelling, bruising, or redness. But inflammation also affects body systems you can’t see.
A tightly packed group of flowers found at the end of a branch or stem - the ‘buds’ on Cannabis plants are botanically referred to as inflorescences.
Is a Cannabis product produced by refining oil extracted from Cannabis flower. Isolate may have trace amounts of other cannabinoids and other plant compounds present.
Is a term for the pre-legalization Cannabis business
Compounds that bind to a specific receptor are that receptor’s ligands.
A major terpene that acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. As the name implies, it has a scent similar to citrus fruits, including grapefruit, lemon, lime, and orange—one of the many terpenes in the Cannabis plant. See "terpene."
These are the primary chemical compounds found in the Cannabis plant that have the greatest abundance and are most well-known for their therapeutics. These cannabinoids interact with the body's endocannabinoid system and are responsible for the various effects associated with Cannabis use. Understanding the properties and effects of these cannabinoids can help individuals make informed decisions about Cannabis use and choose products that best meet their needs.
Is a pharmaceutical formulation of nearly pure THC. Approved by the FDA for treating cancer- and AIDS-related health problems.
Refer to the less abundant chemical compounds found in the Cannabis plant. While they are present in smaller quantities, minor cannabinoids may still play an important role in the therapeutic potential and overall effects of cannabis. Minor cannabinoids may have the potential to regulate appetite, reduce inflammation, treat pain, and more. As research on minor cannabinoids continues, they are believed to offer new avenues for Cannabis-based therapies and products.
Monoacylglycerol Lpase (MAGL)
It has been characterized as the main enzyme responsible for the inactivation of the most abundant brain endocannabinoid, 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). See "enzymes".
Is one of the most common terpenes found in Cannabis. Beyond Cannabis, Myrcene is found in hops and is responsible for the peppery, spicy, balsam fragrance in beer. It’s also expressed in lemongrass, which has been used in traditional folk medicine for centuries. Herbal medicines containing Myrcene have a long history of being used as a sleep aid in folk medicine. See "terpene."
An imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects through neutralization by antioxidants.
Parasympathetic Nervous System
A network of nerves responsible for the body's relaxation response, and it also plays a large part in regulating digestion, heart rate, and breathing.
(sometimes called the Pechoti intake method)
Based on the idea that you can absorb substances like essential oils through your belly button. This includes massaging them in for pain relief and relaxation.
Cannabinoids that occur naturally in the cannabis plant.
Is an inactive substance or other intervention that looks the same as, and is given the same way as, an active drug or treatment being tested. The effects of the active drug or other intervention are compared to the effects of the placebo.
A drug or other substance that affects how the brain works and causes changes in mood, awareness, thoughts, feelings, or behavior. Examples of psychoactive substances include alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, Cannabis, and certain pain medicines.
Is a substance used in the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of a disease or as a component of a medication intended to alter perception, emotion, or behavior. It is commonly described as a mood- or behavior-altering substance. There are five main types of psychotropic medications: antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, stimulants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers.
Is tiny proteins on the surface of most cells. Receptors act as the ‘go-buttons’ on cells and when activated by compounds that fit into them, tell the cell what to do or not do.
A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives and strive to reach their full potential
Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)
Is a concentrated Cannabis oil named after its creator, Rick Simpson, a medical Cannabis activist. Simpson developed this oil to topically treat his skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma). RSO is often confused with Full Extract Cannabis Oil (FECO). See the glossary term "FECO." To ensure safety in Cannabis medicine, we have created an article specifically addressing the terminology.
Is a colloquial term that describes varieties of Cannabis that have energizing effects.
Is a pharmaceutical cannabis extract with a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC. Approved in many countries outside of the United States.
In botany, the term strain refers to variations found within plant cultivars. It also refers to the offspring that descend from modified plants. These plants are either produced by biotechnological methods or through regular breeding. Strain in the common vernacular you will hear most often, but should properly be referred to as chemovars. See "chemovar"
1) A set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something.
2) In botany, the part of a pistil that receives the pollen during pollination.
Is situated or applied under the tongue.
Sympathetic Nervous System
A network of nerves that helps your body activate its “fight-or-flight” response.
Aromatic compounds are found in most plants and some insects. Terpenes are responsible for the way Cannabis smells and have been associated with the distinct effects it can produce.
Is a terpene alcohol with an odor of lilac. A primary terpene in Cannabis and many other plants and present in several essential oils. It acts as a sedative, has antibacterial properties, is antifungal, and is an antioxidant. See "terpene."
Is the compound in Cannabis responsible for its intoxicating, and many of its medical, effects. It causes a high, alleviates pain, reduces nausea, and is being investigated for numerous other medical conditions. The most common compound produced in Cannabis varieties that have been bred for recreational and medicinal use. The activated form of THC, Δ9-THC, causes the intoxicating feelings generally associated with consuming Cannabis and being ‘high’. THC causes intoxication by binding to the CB1 receptor in our bodies. It also binds to the CB2 receptor and stimulates our immune system. Mnemonic device: The High Causer. See "cannabinoids, phytocannabinoids".
Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA)
The unheated form of tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) is produced in Cannabis flower. See “acid cannabinoids.”
Is a minor plant cannabinoid that has been studied for the treatment of some metabolic and addictive disorders. THCV Is similar to THC in molecular structure and psychoactivity, but it provides a variety of pronounced and altogether different effects. The main advantage of THCV over THC is the lack of intoxicating effects. See "varin cannabinoids".
Is a liquid extract made from the Cannabis plant, typically made by soaking the Cannabis plant material in alcohol, such as ethanol or high-proof grain alcohol. The alcohol acts as a solvent, extracting the active compounds from the plant material, including the cannabinoids and terpenes. After the extraction process, the liquid is strained and bottled. It can be consumed orally, sublingually, or mixed with food or beverages.
Is when one takes a break from using Cannabis in order to reset your body's receptors. When you use Cannabis regularly and in high doses or quantities, your body may become tolerant to its effects, and your cannabinoid receptors can become overloaded or desensitized. While there is no specific scientific evidence that provides an exact timeframe for a tolerance break, research indicates that taking a break can help reset your body's cannabinoid receptors if you find you are no longer achieving the best results.
Is relating to, being, or supplying a medication in a form for absorption through the skin into the bloodstream.
Is the hair-like outgrowths that cover Cannabis flowers and smaller leaves. Trichomes are where cannabinoids and terpenes are produced.
Sometimes instead of a precursor compound combining to create cannabigerol (CBG), the parent cannabinoid, a slightly different compound combines to create a -varin cannabinoid. There are two fewer carbon atoms in a varin cannabinoid, and the effects from them are very different. Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) and cannabidivarin (CBDV) are of medical interest for several different conditions.
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