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A Beginner’s Guide to Cannabis Terminology

A Beginner’s Guide to Cannabis Terminology

Navigating the world of cannabis can seem daunting for beginners. With a plethora of terms and slang to decipher, it can feel like learning a whole new language. This guide aims to demystify some of the most common cannabis terminology, making your journey into cannabis culture smoother and more enjoyable.

Basic Cannabis Terms


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Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants in the family Cannabaceae. The plant is native to Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. It’s used for hemp biofuel, medicinal purposes, and as a recreational drug.


Marijuana is a term often used interchangeably with cannabis. However, it specifically refers to parts of or products from the plant Cannabis sativa that contain substantial amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound responsible for the psychoactive effects or “high” associated with its use.


Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species, grown specifically for its industrial uses. It’s one of the fastest-growing plants and has been used to make various commercial items like paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed.

Understanding Cannabinoids

Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant. Of over 480 different compounds present in the plant, at least 66 are classified as cannabinoids.


Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. It’s what gives users the characteristic “high.” Aside from its recreational use, THC also has various medicinal applications including pain relief, treatment of nausea, and appetite stimulation.


Cannabidiol (CBD) is another major component of cannabis. Unlike THC, CBD does not have psychoactive effects, meaning it does not cause a high. It’s often used for its potential therapeutic benefits in managing conditions like pain, anxiety, epilepsy, and insomnia.

Differentiating Strains


Indica strains are believed to be physically sedating, ideal for relaxing or before bed. They originated from the Hindu “Kush” region near Afghanistan and are known for their distinctive fat leaves and short flowering cycles.


Sativa strains tend to provide more invigorating, uplifting cerebral effects that pair well with physical activity, social gatherings, and creative projects. Native to Central and South America, Sativas are known for their tall, slender plant structure and long flowering cycles.


Hybrids are a blend of Indica and Sativa strains, offering a balance of each type’s characteristics and effects. They can be either Indica or Sativa-dominant, or even split down the middle.

Consumption Methods


Smoking is the most common method of consuming cannabis. This can be done using pipes, bongs, or rolled into joints.


Vaporizing or “vaping” involves heating cannabis to a temperature where the cannabinoids are turned into vapor. It’s a smokeless method preferred by those who want the benefits of cannabis without the smoke.



Edibles are food products infused with cannabis. They offer a tasty alternative to smoking or vaping and have longer-lasting effects.


Tinctures are cannabis extracts dissolved in alcohol or another solvent. They’re taken orally, often under the tongue, and are a discreet way to consume cannabis.


Understanding cannabis terminology is key to navigating this fascinating world. Whether you’re exploring cannabis for medical purposes or recreational use, having a grasp of these terms can help you make informed decisions about what products are right for you. As always, remember to consume responsibly and ensure you’re adhering to the cannabis laws in your local area.


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