Back in the bad old days when cannabis was the devil weed, marijuana jargon consisted main of various terms used for cannabis. Many of us were introduced to words such as “weed” and “joint” through movies and TV crime shows.
But these days, the jargon used in the cannabis industry is decidedly much more scientific. After all, the increasing legalization of marijuana across the country is due to the growing evidence that marijuana does, in fact, offer health benefits for many types of medical conditions.
To make sure you have a clearer understanding of what’s going on in cannabis cafes and dispensaries these days, here are some helpful explanations to commonly used cannabis words that may not be completely clear for you:
This is a chemical compound that you can find in cannabis. Scientists have found and identified at least a hundred distinct types of cannabinoids in cannabis, but the 2 most import cannabinoid is CBD and THC.
These 2 cannabinoids are generally regarded as the primary cannabinoids. The THC is the cannabinoid that’s the main cause of that “high”, mind-altering effect. The CBD compound, on the other hand, does not act as an intoxicant. Both CBD and THC may have medicinal properties, though due to its non-intoxicating effect CBD is regarded as the safer cannabinoid to use for treatment. However, if you’re using cannabis for recreation then you’ll probably want THC in the mix.
Cannabis, Marijuana, and Hemp
These terms may seem like they’re referring to the same things, after reading certain articles or hearing some people talk. The terms cannabis, marijuana, and hemp do have different meanings, strictly speaking.
Technically, the term cannabis refers to a certain type of plant. Marijuana is a kind of cannabis plant, and so is hemp. However, marijuana is different from hemp. It’s like “cannabis” is like the word “canine” the animal, with marijuana as the “wolf” and hemp as the “dog”. Both the wolf and the dog are canines, but they’re different animals. The same goes for marijuana and help—they’re both subspecies of the cannabis plant but they’re different.
The main difference, legally speaking, is that hemp is legal in all states. That’s because hemp has a different cannabinoid profile from marijuana. Hemp has CBD but only 0.3% THC. With so little THC, you can’t consume enough hemp to get high. If you want to use cannabis recreationally, you’ll need marijuana with high levels of THC.
If you’re looking for hemp, you do need to make sure that the product contains high enough levels of CBD to make a difference for treatment. You also should make sure that the product is adequately tested for pesticides.
This is the more popular term for cannabidiol, which is the cannabinoid credited with a long list of beneficial medicinal effects. The human body contains endocannabinoid receptors to which the CBD binds. The binding can affect how our brain perceives sensations such as anxiety and pain, which is why CBD is commonly thought to help treat acute and chronic pain as well as anxiety. CBD is also thought to help treat inflammation, depression, and seizures.
A chemotype is basically a subspecies of a certain type of organism. In the cannabis lexicon, the chemotype usually refers to the subspecies of cannabis. It can be a sativa or an indica plant, or a hybrid of the two types. The particular chemotype may also have a certain THC to CBD ratio.
Some chemotypes of cannabis even offer information regarding the terpenes, which are the main chemical compounds that affect how a plant such as a cannabis plant smells. There are actually more than 20,000 different terpenes, and more than a hundred of these terpenes are also in cannabis plants.
This is one of the most common ways of consuming cannabis. For years it is the primary method used by marijuana users. They may roll the weed in cigarette paper and end up with joints, or use pipes. Nowadays, you can even use vaping gadgets to inhale CBD oil. Either way, you inhale the smoke or vapor to absorb the CBD and THC compounds.
If you do light up a joint, bear in mind that you’re involving combustion into the consumption process. The heat may end up destroying much of the beneficial cannabinoids so you end up only getting 12% or so of the beneficial compounds. It’s like overcooking fruits and veggies—health experts recommend that you eat these foods as raw as possible to optimize the nutrients you actually absorb.
Vaping is actually a much better option because you heat the cannabis without actually involving combustion. You’re not burning stuff that you inhale which can end up irritating your lungs.
The good news about inhalation is that the effect can be almost instantaneous. You may feel the pain relief you need to start in just 30 seconds after you puff in the smoke or vapor.
This is another way of enjoying cannabis. Technically, ingestion is when you swallow the cannabis so that means you’re typically mixing the cannabis into your food or drink. Swallowing pills is also included in this category, though it’s not as social as eating or drinking cannabis with friends in a cannabis café.
It’s best if you ingest cannabis as part of a fatty meal, simply because the cannabinoid compounds in the cannabis bind the fat in your digestive system. Without that fat, your body may react in a more confused manner because your system doesn’t quite know how to react to the cannabinoids like THC and CBD. With the fat in your system, the cannabinoids bind to your system more effectively and you’re able to digest the cannabis compounds better.
Keep in mind that cannabis has its own taste, and your perception of that taste may be different from how another person regards that taste. It’s like drinking scotch—some like the taste and others hate it. You may also have food and drinks infused with CBD and THC which feature the taste front and center, while other edibles may have ingredients that mask the taste of the marijuana.
This method is also rather slow to produce results. You need at least 30 minutes, and sometimes it may take an hour or two. This isn’t the best method if you’re in need of immediate pain relief.
Marijuana is an intoxicant or a mind-altering substance, like alcohol and other types of drugs. It makes you “high” and this is mainly due to the THC. This is why you need to check the amount of THC in the product especially if you’re using cannabis for medical reasons. If you don’t want to feel intoxicated in any way, you may want to go with hemp or at least a cannabis product with a low THC rating.
If the product makes you act different (high or drunk), then it’s probably an intoxicant. If you’re behavior and actions are affected, then you shouldn’t work or drive just as you shouldn’t drive when you’re drunk on alcohol. People can get high on very different amounts of THC. Some only need a single puff to feel the effects, while others may need several joints to reach the same level of intoxication.
See “Cannabis, Marijuana, and Hemp”.
Indica and Sativa
Just as when you buy a car and you need to know the difference between a sedan and coupe, you also have to know the different species of cannabis. The main ones are Sativa and Indica.
They very different from each other, starting with their appearance. A sativa plant grows skinny and tall, with narrow leaves arranged in a rather loose flower structure. In contrast, the indica plant is comparatively short bushy, with a dense flower structure and broad leaves.
These subspecies may also offer different sensations and benefits. However, do bear in mind that hybrids are available. In fact, in strictly genetic terms most cannabis products these days are indica/sativa hybrids. This is why the chemotype profile is probably more helpful in predicting the effects of a particular cannabis product rather than the general species or hybrid type.
See “Cannabis, Marijuana, and Hemp”.
A tincture becomes an edible when you add the oil to your food or drink. But it is also called a mucosal when you mainly put a few drops of the CBD oil under your tongue. A mucosal product is when it is absorbed through the mucous membrane.
Compared to ingestion, absorbing the cannabinoids this way is more effective. You can feel the effects in just 15 to 30 minutes. That’s because the compounds are able to enter the bloodstream more quickly through the mucus membrane.
If you apply the product to your skin, it’s topical. It’s like a lotion. It’s mainly used to alleviate pain in specific areas of the body. Typically, this type of cannabis consumption doesn’t end up with intoxication, even if the topical contains high levels of THC. This works very well for muscle aches and headaches. The effect can last for about 4 to 6 hours, so you can use the lotion or oil twice a day when you suffer from muscle aches during work hours.
The main drawback is that you’re not always using as to the dosage you’re getting into your system. Getting consistent dosages (and results) can be rather difficult at times.
This is a term often used as a synonym for “mind-altering”. It’s for this reason that plenty of articles refer to THC as a psychoactive compound while CBD isn’t.
In a technical sense, however, both CBD and THC can be considered psychoactive. That’s because both bind to the receptors in the brain and they both affect the mind. However, while the CBD can affect your perception of pain or anxiety it generally doesn’t make you feel intoxicated or “high”.
See “Indica and Sativa”.
This translates to “under the tongue” and it’s another term for a mucosal form of cannabis.
Terpenes are compounds that affect the smell and flavor of cannabis. In general, terpenes are in everything and there are more than 20,000 different terpenes in nature. You can find at least 100 terpenes in cannabis. In cannabis, the terpenes also affect the kind of high you’ll get. Depending on the terpenes, you may feel energized or relaxed when you consume the cannabis product.
This is the cannabinoid chemical compound that you can find in cannabis. Over the years and decades, marijuana growers have been breeding cannabis for high THC content because marijuana users were mainly looking to get high. It’s only comparatively recently when low THC became important because more people were using cannabis products for the medicinal benefits.
Still, THC does have some therapeutic benefits including alleviating depression, anxiety, and pain. On the other hand, it is possible that you can overdose with THC, and the side effects can include dry mouth, anxiety, bloodshot eyes, and even paranoia (when you feel like everyone—including the plants and trees—are staring at you).
To counter the effects of THC, you may want to take more CBD or just drink more water. You may also want to limit your use to CBD from hemp. Unlike marijuana, hemp by definition contains just 0.3% THC. You simply can’t get high with hemp due to the low THC level.
This is somewhat related to topicals as a transdermal product is also meant for skin application. However, a transdermal is designed to get past the skin and enter the bloodstream. So, it’s not like a lotion. It’s more like the nicotine patch that cigarette smokers use when they’re trying to quit smoking.
Unlike topicals, transdermal products offer a more effective way to get accurate doses regularly. The effects can also last much longer, so you can get pain relief from morning till evening or all through the night.
Hopefully, with these definitions, the articles you read on cannabis and CBD products make a lot more sense!