What does indica or sativa mean? How many terpenes are there and what do they do? All of these are good questions because working on the cutting edge of a brand new industry understandably means that our everyday vocabulary could sound like a foreign language to some.
To level the cannabis playing field, we've made our very own cannabis industry terms index, to help make sense of complex words. We hope this helps in your search for craft knowledge, we commend your quest!
Cannabis Glossary of Terms
Aroma - a distinctive, typically pleasant smell often referring to the scent of the plant.
Bud - the resin-secreting flower a the top of a mature plant, comprised of several parts including; cola, pistil, trichome, etc.
Cannabinoids - compounds found in cannabis. The most notable cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (Delta9-THC or Delta8-THC), which is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. On the other hand, Cannabidiol (CBD) is another major compound constituent of the plant. There are more than 144 different cannabinoids isolated from cannabis, exhibiting varied effects, and are still being research today.
Cannabis - a group of plants with psychoactive properties, known as Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. When the flowers of these plants are harvested and dried, you’re left with one of the most common drugs in the world. Cannabis is made up of more than 144 components, which are known as cannabinoids.
CBD (aka Cannabidiol) - the second most prevalent of the active compounds in cannabis. CBD is non-intoxicating and exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential. Currently being used worldwide to treat epilepsy syndromes, address anxiety, and help with insomnia, CBD is also being studied as an option for treating different types of chronic pain.
CBG (aka Cannabigerol) - a non-intoxicating cannabinoid CBG works to fight inflammation, pain, nausea and works to slow the proliferation of cancer cells. Research has shown it also significantly reduces intraocular eye pressure caused by glaucoma. Strains high in CBG will be beneficial treating conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, and cancer.
Cola - The central flower cluster that forms along the upper portion of the main stems and large branches in a mature female cannabis plant. Colas are composed of tightly woven buds that can grow upwards of 24 inches when grown in a greenhouse setting. They are a prized possession among growers and consumers due to the high concentration of active resin, as well as for their photogenic qualities due to their size and luster.
Clone - mostly used to refer to an adult cannabis plant that is an exact reproduction of an original parent plant (mother plant). Scientifically speaking, cloning is the process of asexually propagating cannabis plants to create genetic copies (clones).
Cuttings - used to refer to clones that have yet to be rooted in soil.
Closed Loop Farming - practice that recycles all nutrients and organic matter material back to the soil that it grew in. This forms part of an agricultural practice that preserves the nutrient and carbon levels within the soil and allows farming to be carried out on a sustainable basis.
Concentrates (aka Oils or Extracts) - vague term for products derived from cannabis flower that is processed into a concentrated form. For example; tinctures, capsules, vape cartridges, hash, shatter, wax, etc. The term is considered vague because their are many sub-categories with their own particularities.
Cross (aka Cannabis Genetics) - used to describe the origin parent strains of a particular cannabis plant, cross-breeding is the process of creating unique cannabis strains by pairing specifically chosen male and female plants to produce an original cultivar.
Cultivar (aka Strain) - a group of plants that carry common, distinguishable characteristics, which have been selected in a process of breeding. Cultivar is synonymous with variety. The term "strain" is often used to refer to a cultivar of cannabis, however, the term strain is not strictly correct in the field of botany, though it is used in other fields of biology.
Ecosystem - a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment
Edibles - food products that have been infused with cannabis. These products come in a variety of different forms that can include; baked goods, candies, gummies, chocolates, lozenges, and beverages.
Feminized - cannabis seeds genetically engineered to only become female plants.
Flower - in a mature female cannabis plant, it's the central cluster that forms along the upper portion of the main stems and large branches.
Fungi (aka fFngus) - is any of about 144,000 known species of organisms of the kingdom Fungi, including yeasts, rusts, smuts, mildews, molds, and mushrooms. Humidity and other environmental factors can bring about the appearance of fungi on cannabis plants, an unpleasant visit that can appear without warning.
Fungus Gnats - small flies that infest soil, potting mix, other container media, and other sources of organic decomposition. Their larvae primarily feed on fungi and organic matter in soil, but also chew roots and can be a problem in greenhouses, nurseries, potted plants and interior plantscapes. Adult fungus gnats may emerge from houseplants indoors and become a nuisance.
GMO - genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering. This creates combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and virus genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods. As you can imagine, it's something that craft growers shun and avoid at all costs.
Hash - a concentrated form of cannabis where the cannabinoids are and separated from the plant material using a dry sift method, then pressed into compact resin blocks, aka hash.
Heirloom - cannabis strains that have existed for generations, and are considered to have pure genetics because they have never been crossbred with any other strains. These strains developed through natural pollination by wind, animals, and even humans.
Hemp (aka industrial hemp) - a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species that is grown specifically for the industrial uses of its derived products. It is one of the fastest growing plants and was one of the first plants to be spun into usable fiber 50,000 years ago.
Hybrid - are mix (a hybrid) of the two main classes of cannabis — “indica” and “sativa”. Hybrids provide a balanced combination of indica and sativa’s effects. The names “hybrid”, “indica”, and “sativa” are part of the folk taxonomy of cannabis, and they predate modern chemical quantification of the plant. The terms are often not the whole picture (we like to speak in terpenes), but continue to be useful both to breeders, growers and consumers of marijuana.
Hydroponics - cannabis that is grown without soil. For example, suspending the roots of the plants in rockwool, clay pellets, water, coco peat, sand, or gravel, and applying a nutrient-laden solution to the roots. The water solution that isn’t absorbed by the roots gets recycled through the system for later absorption.
Indica - a species of the genus Cannabis come to describe stout, broad-leaf plants, that deliver sedating effects. Whether it and Cannabis Sativa are truly separate species is a matter of debate although Indica and Sativa plants differ not only in their physiological effects, but also in their appearance.
Kief - the resin glands which contain the terpenes and cannabinoids that make cannabis so unique. While marijuana sans kief still contains cannabinoids, the resin glands that develop on flower buds pack the biggest punch.
Kush - a world-famous strain of Cannabis indica that spawned a family of hybrid cannabis varieties, all stemming from landrace hashish strains from the Hindu Kush mountain range of Afghanistan.
Landrace (aka Terrior) - an original cannabis cultivar strain, preserved and developed over the generations. The growing practices and environments particular to each location imparted unique characteristics to each strain’s appearance and chemistry.
Limonene - an aromatic cannabis terpene produced in the flower’s resin glands, and is commonly associated with fruity, citrus aromas, found in many everyday items like fruit rinds, cosmetics, and cleaning products.
Mites (aka Spider Mites) - not true insects, but classed as a type of arachnid, relatives of spiders, ticks and scorpions. Adults are reddish brown or pale in color, oval-shaped and very small (1/50 inch long) – about the size of the period at the end of this sentence - they live in colonies, mostly on the underside of leaves, and feed by piercing leaf tissue and sucking up the plant fluids. Feeding marks show up as light dots on the leaves. As feeding continues, the leaves turn yellow and may dry up and drop off.
Mold - fungi that develop in warm, damp, and humid conditions. Mold is actually important in the ecosystem because it breaks down dead plant material, but we don’t want it on our buds because it breaks down plant material. Mold can develop on cannabis because of issues with; humidity, airflow, temperature or simply plant health.
Nematodes - are naturally-occurring, microscopic organisms found in soils throughout the world. They mainly parasitize insect pests that have soil dwelling larval or pupal stages; however, they have been known to parasitize above ground stages of certain pests. Their wide range of prey makes them exceptional for general pest control in chemical-free, organic growing environments.
Oil (aka Cannabis or Hemp Oil) - is the concentrated liquid extract of the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.
Pesticides - a substance used for destroying insects or other organisms harmful to cultivated plants or to animals.
Phenotype - physical the traits that the environment pulls out from the plant’s genetic code. Everything from color, shape, smell, and resin production are affected by the environment.
Pinene - a terpene that is found in pine trees and other plants, including cannabis, and has the fragrance of pine. It’s commonly used in insecticides and as a flavoring agent. One unusual potential use of pinene is as a biofuel in spark-ignition engines.
Pistil - a distinct organ found at the center of the cannabis flower that functions to receive pollen and produce seeds or fruit. The cannabis community uses the word pistillate to refer to female cannabis plants, which are more economically valuable as they produce colas with buds full of cannabinoids.
Psychoactive (aka intoxicating) - something affecting the mind.
Pre-roll - a joint that has been prepared or "pre-rolled" for your smoking pleasure. Prerolls are consumer-ready and eliminate the hassle of grinding, rolling, and sealing cannabis flower into a joint.
Ruderalis - a cannabis species is one that grows in spite of its environment being inhabited by humans or being otherwise affected by naturally occurring disturbances to the area. Many believe ruderalis to be a descendant of indica genetics that adjusted to the harsh climates and the shorter growing seasons of the northern regions where it originates.
Sativa - a species of the genus Cannabis come to describe tall, narrow-leaf varieties, thought to induce energizing effects. The term sativa described hemp plants found in Europe and western Eurasia, where it was cultivated for its fiber and seeds.
Strain (aka Cultivar) - used interchangeably with “cultivar”, “variety”, and “selection”. It has no official botanical meaning and has fallen out of favor in horticultural circles. In the world of cannabis, the term “strain” refers to the flower’s particular variety, be it Sour Diesel, Northern Lights, or Frosted Lime.
Terpenes - the compounds responsible for the way most plants smell, and are abundant in cannabis. Terpenes may play a role in the health and survival of the plants and in some cases, ingesting terpene-rich plants may provide some health benefits to humans. Examples of better-known terpenes include; limonene, pinene, linalool, myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, and humulene.
THC (aka Tetrahydrocannabinol) - is one of at least 144 cannabinoids identified in cannabis, and is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis - also known as the cannabinoid that gets you high.
Tinctures - one of the purest and oldest forms of medicinal cannabis, simply liquids made from cannabis extract (THC and/or CBD) and hemp oil. These are liquid concentrates that come in glass bottles with a dropper. For fast results, tinctures are taken sublingually (under the tongue), but they can also be mixed into food or drinks.
Topicals - cannabis-infused lotions, balms, and oils that are absorbed through the skin for localized relief of pain, soreness, and inflammation. Because they’re non-intoxicating, CBD topicals are often chosen by patients who want the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without the cerebral euphoria associated with other delivery methods.
Trichomes - the small resin glands found on cannabis flowers that are primarily appreciated because they hold the compounds that are responsible for cannabis’ effects, as well as the way it smells and tastes. Originating from the Greek word “Tríchōma,” meaning “growth of hair,” trichomes viewed under a magnifying glass look like tiny hairs with a round, bulbous “head” at their tips. To the naked eye, these resin glands look like shiny, sticky crystals, giving buds their frosty appearance.
Vaporizer - a smoking gadget that heats herbs and other substances until they release their active components into a vapor that is then inhaled. The primary advantage over smoking herbs is that plant material is not combusted.
Wax - a type of cannabis concentrate named for its appearance and texture. Somewhere between liquid concentrates like hash oil and solid concentrates like shatter, wax has an opaque appearance and a thick but malleable, wax-like texture.
Weed (aka cannabis, marijuana, herb, hay, pot, grass, bud, ganja, Mary-Jane, cronic, dank, stank, funk, skunk, endo, dope, green, purp, puff, kind, trees, blaze, cabbage, cheeba, sticky-icky, devil's lettuce, etc,) is a dark or light greenish, often sticky, hairy, ground mixture or solid bud of dried flower from a Cannabis plant.