Cannabis Terms and Definitions

With the development of the legal weed industry, there have been major advances in the scientific understanding of cannabis and how it interacts with the human body. As a consumer, it is important to educate yourself so you know what you're getting yourself into before you purchase and consume new products. Please find our glossary of cannabis terms and definitions below to help you navigate the growing cannabis market.



Products & Consumption



Botanical Terms


General Terms


Budtenders are the face of the cannabis industry. They are the attendants working at your local cannabis retailer who are able to answer questions on products, strains, and effects, and help guide you to the right cannabis choice.


Cannabis is the scientific genus for the hemp plant. It is native to Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent, but is one of the most widely distributed and manipulated plants in human history. The are three species: Cannabis ruderalis, Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica.

Slang Terms: Chronic, Dank, Grass, Hydro (dro), Marijuana, Mary Jane, Mota, Pot, Weed


Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in cannabis plants that, in combination with terpenes, are responsible for the plants’ health benefits and effects. While 113 cannabinoids have been identified, three of the most commonly referenced are: cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN), and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).


Cannabidiol is a non-psychotropic cannabinoid found in cannabis, commonly abbreviated as CBD. Because CBD is non-psychotropic, many people prefer strains high in CBD content for the many reported therapeutic and health benefits, which they can benefit from without the feeling of getting ‘high’.


Cannabinol, commonly abbreviated as CBN, is a mildly psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis plants. It is usually found in lower concentrations than CBD or THC.


Hemp is another term for the cannabis plant, but often refers to varieties that have been grown for fiber. It was fashioned into rope as early as 10,000 years ago and has several other industrial uses. It contains very little THC compared to other cannabis varieties, but very high CBD content.


The term hybrid refers to a cannabis strain that is produced by mixing a sativa dominant plant with an indica dominant plant so that the genetics of both may be expressed in the offspring.

Indicas / Cannabis indica

Cannabis indica describes the cannabis species that express a smaller growth pattern than Cannabis sativa with a densely branched stalk that looks bunchy and produces broad leaves. Indica plants tend to have a higher percentage of CBD content and are thought to provide a relaxing body high. Popular indica dominant strains include Kush and Afghani varieties.


Resin is a plant byproduct found. In cannabis the resin is contained by the trichomes and highly concentrated on the buds, making the feel sticky when touched. Cannabis resin is what gives the plant value since it contains all the active terpenes and cannabinoids for the desired effects.

Ruderalis / Cannabis ruderalis

Cannabis ruderalis tends to have lower THC content than the indica and sativa varieties, but can be bred for high content CBD genetics. It is an ‘autoflowering’ variety, in which flowering is brought on by age and not light cycles.


Cannabis strains are hybrid or pure varieties of the three cannabis species: cannabis indica, cannabis ruderalis, and cannabis sativa.

Sativa / Cannabis sativa

Cannabis sativa describes the cannabis varieties that tend to grow taller than the indica varieties and express narrow leaves with longer buds and flowers. Sativa strains take a longer time to grow and mature into a flowering plant. Sativa plants tend to have higher THC content and can  provide a more focused and energized experience. Sativa strains frequently originate in warmer tropical climates, like Thailand.


Terpenes are molecule compounds found in the essential oils of plants, and are responsible for giving the buds their aromas. In cannabis plants, the terpenes are found in the resin of the trichomes. Each cannabis strain has a unique set of terpene compounds and concentrations that, when combined with the unique cannabinoid concentrations, produce the variety of effects across the cannabis genus.


Tetrahydrocannabinoil, commonly abbreviated as THC, is the main psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis.


Trichome means ‘growth of hair’ in Greek. Trichomes are often described as crystals on the cannabis plant, but they are neither hair nor crystal. They are glands which produce the resin containing the active cannabinoids and terpenes of the plant. Under a microscope, good quality trichomes look like little clear mushrooms with the heads intact.


Cannabis Products & Consumption Methods


This name come from Phillies Blunts cigars because it refers to rolling a joint with tobacco leaf (usually from a cheap cigar) rather than a rolling paper.


A bong is a filtration device used to consume cannabis. It’s a 2400 year old consumption method which consists of filling the bong with water and lighting the cannabis so that the smoke passes through the water before it is inhaled, filtering it along the way. Bongs are traditionally made of glass, but newer ones can also be 3D-printed.


Concentrates are refined cannabis products that tend to have very high levels of THC, and therefore considered high potency products. They come in all shapes and sizes, so we’ve summarized the most common ones for you below.


A dab is a concentrated form of cannabis (see Concentrates) that is heated on any hot surface, or dab rig, and inhaled. This method is preferred by consumers looking for a fast onset and powerful effects.


Edibles are a form of cannabis that are consumed by ingesting the product. In order for cannabinoids from the cannabis to activate they have to be decarboxylated, which is done through heating the flower. It’s often heated up in butter for homemade recipes but in the modern era you’ll see capsules and tinctures that can be ingested directly or cooked into delicious three course meals.


A rolled marijuana cigarette.

Slang Terms: Doobie, Reefer


A pre-roll is retail terminology for a prepared joint, ready to smoke after buying.


A spliff is a joint that contains a mix of marijuana and tobacco. In Europe, the definitions are reversed (spliff = 100% cannabis, joint = marijuana/tobacco).


Topicals refer to cannabis infused products that are applied to the skin such as balms, sprays, lotions, salves and oils. They have low THC/high CBD concentrations  and are often used therapeutically to relieve inflammation, soreness or pain. Most topicals, even those with some THC content, are non-psychoactive because the cannabinoids interact with receptors on the skin and don’t get absorbed by the bloodstream.


The act of consuming cannabis vapours for the desired effects. Vaping is popular alternative to smoking because you are not combusting the flower, rather heating it up to the point of vaporization. This process activates the cannabinoids without the smoke.




When referred to in pipe smoking, a bowl is the part of a smoking pipe or bong that is used to hold tobacco, cannabis, or other substances. In the case of bongs, many bowls are removable and inter-changeable, given that the stem of the bowl will fit in the bong.

Dab Rig

A specific water pipe used to inhale cannabis concentrates (dab/dabbing).


A grinder is an accessory that helps consumers break down dry flower into smaller, manageable fragments that can then be more easily consumed.


A one-hitter is typically a slender pipe with a screened narrow bowl designed for a single inhalation, or "hit", of smoke or vapor from a small serving (about 25 mg) of heated cannabis, tobacco or other dry, sifted herbal preparation.

Roach Clip

A metal device used for holding a blunt or joint when it gets too small to hold with fingers. 

Rolling Paper

Rolling papers are used to prepare joints and spliffs.

Rolling Machine

A machine that is designed to roll either tobacco, cannabis, or other products into individual cigarettes or joints.



Concentrates are refined cannabis products that tend to have very high levels of THC, and therefore considered high potency products. They come in all shapes and sizes, so we’ve summarized the most common ones for you below:

Butane Hash Oil

Also referred to as BHO, Butane Hash Oil is a concentrate produced by dissolving cannabis in a solvent of butane. The end result is a thick, sticky oil with high terpene and cannabinoid concentrations.

Depending on its consistency you may see BHO labelled as:

  • Oil
  • Wax
  • Crumble
  • Shatter
  • THCa crystalline
  • Sauce
  • Budder


Hashish (hash for short) is made by removing the plant’s trichomes using a sieve or filter. Heat and pressure are then applied to condense the resin into its concentrated form. Quality can be determined by heating the hash; high quality hash will melt, while low quality hash will burn.

CO2 Oil

CO2 oil is created by using supercritical carbon dioxide - a fluid state of carbon dioxide that behaves as both a gas and liquid - as the solvent for cannabis extraction.


The original concentrate, kief is the powdery stuff left behind after you grind up cannabis flower. The powder usually has a high concentration of trichome heads, which contain the active compounds of the plant: the terpenes and cannabinoids. By adding heat and pressure you can create hashish from this resin.


Tinctures are liquid extracts of cannabis which use alcohol or glycerin to extract the terpenes and cannabinoids from the rest of the plant. They often appear in little bottles with an eyedropper that can be used to measure exact doses. They are usually consumed by dropping the desired amount sublingually, or under the tongue. Effects have been reported similar to that of an edible. If you swallow the tincture by mixing it in a drink or with food, the effects may take a bit longer to occur compared to a sublingual application.


Botanical Terms


This term describes the smell given off by certain cannabis plants. A few common descriptors include ‘piney’,’ earthy’, ‘skunky,’ and ‘citrusy’.  A trained nose can identify strains by smell.


Backcross is a botany term which refers to a hybrid plant that has been bred with one of its parents to create a plant which is more genetically similar to the original parent.


A genetic replica of a host cannabis plant. Clones are made by cutting a branch cut from the parent and propagating it. This ensures the plant will be female and contain the exact genetics of the parent.


Crossbreeding refers to the breeding of two different cannabis plants. Crossbreeding allows breeders to capture the best traits of the parents in the offspring.


Only female plants can produce flowers containing the coveted cannabinoids, so feminized seeds only carry female genetics. A regular cannabis seed carries only a 50% chance of producing a female plant, so breeders will use advanced techniques to ensure crops produce purely female seeds, instead of wasting resources on a crop that could produce 50% male plants.


Flowers are the female reproductive organs of plants and often look quite pretty. In the case of cannabis, the flowers don’t have traditional petals but rather consist of hairy, sticky buds covered in crystals. This is the part of the plant that is harvested and dried for consumption due the cannabinoids contained in the resin. If the flower is not harvested, it can be fertilized by a male plant to produce seeds.

Flowering Time

The flowering stage is an exciting time in a cannabis plant’s growth cycle, and is made up of four stages: pre-flowering, early flowering, peak flowering, and final flowering. In the pre-flowering stage, tiny stem hairs are produced from the bud. This evolves into the early flowering stage once the plant starts receiving about 12 hours of light per day; the flower starts to grow quickly, and the bud develops resin glands and calyxes. At the peak flowering stage, THC production is at its greatest and lasts 2-5 weeks. The final flowering stage is when the bud begins to degenerate.


Heirloom is a plant that has been removed from its native location, and propagated somewhere else in the world.


Hydroponics refers to the method of growing plants without soil. The roots are placed in a water solvent with a mineral nutrient solution, increasing nutrient uptake.


Landrace strains refer to the indigenous strains of an area. All cannabis strains would have been native to Central Asia had humans not intervened in their dispersal. Now, a landrace strain is any that has escaped human propagation and successfully dispersed itself into the natural environment of an area. You will often see the location of landrace strains in the name (Afghan, Thai, etc).


A phenotype is the set of observable characteristics produced by an individual plant in its environment. For instance, cannabis plants can have a long leaf phenotype or a broad leaf phenotype.


The female organs of a plant consisting of the stigma, style, and ovary.