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Cannabis 101


Adult-use is a term for cannabis that is legal for adults 21 and older to grow, possess, consume and/or purchase.


A blunt is a cigar wrapper that has been hollowed out and filled with ground cannabis. Blunts can also be rolled from scratch with the same type of tobacco leaf wrappers used for cigars.

Bong/Water Pipe

A bong is a water pipe typically used to smoke cannabis. After lighting the cannabis in the bowl, smoke travels through the water in the chamber, then up the bong’s neck to the mouthpiece where smokers inhale.


A budtender is an employee who works at a retail cannabis storefront or consumption lounge. The term is a portmanteau of bud (the flower of the cannabis plant) and bartender (since their roles are similar).

Cannabidiol (CBD)

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in cannabis. CBD can be derived from hemp, which contains no more than 0.3% THC and is federally legal, or from marijuana, which can have any amount of THC and is illegal nationally.


Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in cannabis and produced by the human body. Endogenous cannabinoids, or internally produced cannabinoids, are an essential component of the human body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is largely responsible for maintaining internal homeostasis. Exogenous cannabinoids, or phytocannabinoids, are produced by the cannabis plant and mimic the functions of endocannabinoids. THC and CBD are two of the best-known cannabinoids, though there are more than 100 cannabinoids in cannabis.


Cannabis is a genus of flowering plant that’s part of the Cannabaceae family. Species in the cannabis family include C. sativa, C. indica, and possibly C. ruderalis, though there’s some dispute about the latter. In the US, cannabis may be divided into hemp, which is non-intoxicating and legal, and marijuana, which is intoxicating and illegal at the federal level.

Cannabis Indica

Cannabis indica is both a species of plant in the cannabis family and a marketing term. Botanically, C. indica refers to a cannabis plant that’s relatively compact (less than 6 feet, or 1.83 meters, tall) with broad leaves and a short (less than nine weeks) flowering time, making indicas suitable for cool climates with short cultivation seasons. Indicas tend to be marketed as having relaxing, sedative effects centered in the body, though scientific studies refute this association.

Cannabis Ruderalis

Cannabis ruderalis refers to a possible third subspecies of the cannabis plant, in conjunction with subspecies C. sativa and C. indica; some scholars believe ruderalis is a sub-species of C. sativa. Ruderalis plants usually have one or all of the following characteristics: autoflowering (flowering induced by age as opposed to a change in available light), a distinct physical structure, and higher levels of CBD than THC. It has a quick life cycle (seven weeks from seed to maturity) and is usually less than 2 feet, or 0.61 meters, tall, making it shorter than the other two subspecies. The plants have few branches and small, thick leaves with four to six blades per leaf.

Cannabis Sativa

Cannabis sativa is both a species of plant in the cannabis family and a marketing term. Botanically, C. sativa refers to a cannabis plant that’s tall (up to 12 feet, or 3.66 meters) with narrow leaves and a long (more than nine weeks) flowering time, making sativas suitable for warm climates with long cultivation seasons. Sativas tend to be marketed as having uplifting, energizing effects centered in the head, though scientific studies refute this association.

Cannabis Strain

In botanical terms, “strain” means offspring or descendants from specific plants, though this use has fallen out of favor. In the cannabis industry, strain is used interchangeably with cultivar or variety. Most cannabis consumers would probably define a strain by factors including botanical lineage, appearance, chemical profile, and accompanying effects. The term is essentially slang for a particular variety of the cannabis plant; cultivar is preferred by those interested in cannabis cultivation.


A clone is a genetic copy, in this case of the mother cannabis plant, produced through asexual reproduction (without seeds). Cannabis clones typically start as a cutting from a stable mother plant. When grown under the same environmental conditions as the mother plant, a clone is infinitely more likely than a sexually propagated plant to exhibit the mother’s physical and chemical traits, which is the object of growing cannabis clones.


A cannabis concentrate is a distilled, potent product of the cannabinoids and terpenes found in the trichomes of cannabis plants. Cannabinoids are primarily responsible for the effects of cannabis, while terpenes contribute to the aromas and tastes. They work together to create the full experience consumers look for in both medical and adult-use cannabis. Concentrates are available in a variety of textures and final forms.


In the cannabis industry, dab is both a noun and a verb. As a noun, it’s a term used to describe an unspecified amount of concentrate, usually the amount one would consume in one hit, or an amount about the size of the tip of a nail or ball-point pen. Dab can also be used to refer to a form of concentrate such as budder, crumble, sauce, shatter, or wax. As a verb, dab is the act of inhaling vaporized cannabis concentrates using a heating tool such as a dab rig, e-rig, or vaporizer.

Dab Rig

A dab rig is a pipe designed for vaporizing cannabis concentrates; it’s sometimes referred to as an oil rig, vapor rig, or concentrate pipe. Similar to a bong, a dab rig filters concentrate vapor through water held in the base. In addition to the central piece, dab rigs include a glass, quartz, ceramic, or titanium platform (called a nail or banger) to hold the concentrate or “dab”. Consumers also use a long, slender tool to apply a dab to the nail and a butane or propane torch lighter to heat the nail before the dab is applied.


Decriminalization refers to the process of decreasing the penalties associated with a crime. In terms of cannabis, decriminalization generally reduces the classification of cannabis possession from a felony or misdemeanor to a civil infraction. Thus, decriminalization of non-medical cannabis removes the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possessing small amounts of cannabis for personal use.

Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is a psychoactive and intoxicating cannabinoid found in cannabis. It is the most well-known cannabinoid in the plant and is capable of inducing a variety of sensory and psychological effects, including mild reverie, euphoria, increased sensory awareness, and some potentially therapeutic benefits. Historically, cannabis has been cultivated for its euphoric and therapeutic effects, which are largely attributed to the THC molecule.


A dispensary is a storefront that dispenses medical or adult-use cannabis products for sale or donation. Depending on local laws and regulations, medical cannabis dispensaries typically cater to patients 18 years and older and caregivers with a cannabis recommendation or card issued by a doctor qualified to recommend cannabis in that state. Adult-use cannabis dispensaries cater to customers who are at least 21 years old. Dispensaries are also called retailers and some states have their own terms, such as provisioning centers in Michigan.


In the cannabis industry, an edible is a food infused with cannabis. Edibles can be brownies, cookies, candy, and more. Ingested cannabinoids are processed differently than inhaled cannabinoids. When cannabis is ingested, cannabinoids enter the bloodstream through the stomach and liver, which increases potency and delays the onset of effects. This process also lengthens the intoxicating effects, sometimes causing them to last from four to six hours.

Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a system of receptors, lipids, and enzymes that performs a large role in maintaining homeostasis, or internal regulatory balance, in many bodily functions. All mammalian vertebrates have an endocannabinoid system, which interacts with endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids found in cannabis. The endocannabinoid system’s far-reaching influence is what allows cannabis to exhibit such a wide range of effects in the human body.


A cannabis extract is a concentrate produced with the use of a solvent. Extract and concentrate are sometimes used interchangeably, but this is technically incorrect. Not all concentrates are extracts, but all extracts are concentrates since a solvent must be involved for it to be an extract. The most common solvents used to make cannabis extracts include butane, propane, ethanol, and supercritical carbon dioxide.


Flower, or bud, is the smokable, trichome-covered part of a female cannabis plant. Flower is the most popular form of cannabis due to its versatility since it can be consumed in a variety of ways, including smoked in a pipe or joint, vaporized in a vaporizer, or incorporated into edibles.


A grinder is a device used to break down cannabis flowers into smaller pieces for use in joints, blunts, and pipes. Grinders are used primarily to improve the smoking experience by breaking down cannabis flower evenly. Using a grinder decreases the likelihood of pipes becoming clogged, allows for even vaping of flower, and makes joints and blunts burn more smoothly. Cannabis grinders may include a kief catcher in the bottom chamber to gather the kief knocked off of the nug in the grinding process.


Hemp is a Cannabis sativa variety that contains low concentrations of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The maximum amount of THC that differentiates hemp from marijuana is not standard and varies from country to country. In the US, where it’s also called industrial hemp, it must not contain more than 0.3% THC on a dry-weight basis. Hemp is often used in dietary supplements, skin products, textiles, paints, soaps, and other industrial products.

Home Grow

Home grow refers to cannabis grown at home by individuals or collectives, as opposed to commercial cultivation operations. In states where medicinal or adult-use cannabis is legal, laws stipulate how many plants can be grown in one location, along with requirements such as screening the plants from public view or keeping the area locked. Regulations often specify the number of mature and immature plants allowed, as well as whether the harvest counts toward the amount of cannabis citizens are allowed to possess.


A joint is a smokable cannabis cigarette. Joints consist of ground, dried cannabis flower wrapped in rolling paper. Most joints also include a filter called a crutch. Joint rolling paper can be made from materials such as rice, hemp, wood pulp, and some papers are designed to help boost the flavor profile of the cannabis. Crutches can be made from thick paper, cardstock, or index cards. Joints are generally hand-rolled by the consumer; already formed joints called pre-rolls are available for purchase.


Legalization is both the simple act of making legal something that was previously illegal, as well as a movement in the cannabis community. The legalization movement seeks to support states and countries in legalizing cannabis — medical, adult-use, or both. While legalization technically refers to either medical or adult-use cannabis, in the common vernacular it’s come to signify adult-use legalization.


Medical or medicinal cannabis is recommended by a doctor or other healthcare provider as therapeutic treatment for a number of conditions. Adult-use dispensaries sell cannabis to any adult 21 and older, but medical dispensaries only serve cannabis patients with a recommendation from their physician and, usually, medical cards issued by the state or territory.


A pipe is a small, handheld device used to smoke cannabis. Pipes are available in most dispensaries and in any smoke shop. Cannabis flower is packed into the bowl, which as the name suggests, is the bowl-shaped area that holds the cannabis. In addition to the bowl and stem, pipes have a carb, or small hole found on the side of the bowl, that’s covered and released to improve suction as the smoker inhales.


A pre-roll is a cannabis cigarette or joint that has been prepared by a cannabis vendor, dispensary, or brand. They generally consist of a wrap or paper, ground cannabis, and a filter or “crutch” lodged firmly at the pre-roll’s base. Some are sold in individual tubes, while others are packaged together in multi-packs. As varied as the packaging may be, pre-roll sizing can run from the length of a pinky finger to the length of a smartphone with the amount of cannabis contained varying as well.


In legal markets, seed-to-sale refers to the life cycle of the cannabis plant from the time the seed is planted until the final product is sold to the customer. Some jurisdictions require digital tracking of the entire seed-to-sale process to ensure cannabis products are not diverted. For tracking purposes, growers record the cultivation, manufacturing, transportation, and distribution of each cannabis crop.

Social Equity

At its most basic, social equity is any social policy concerned with justice and fairness. In the context of cannabis, social equity is a commitment to facilitating a diverse cannabis industry and creating business ownership opportunities for those communities disproportionately harmed by the criminalization of cannabis. Social equity factors in issues such as race, class, gender, and background to not only combat injustice but prevent it. Social equity accounts for the reality that giving everyone the exact same resources does not necessarily level the playing field.


Terpenes are organic compounds found in the essential oils of plants; they provide the aroma and flavor in cannabis and a variety of other plants. Terpenes also influence cannabis’s effects by interacting with cannabinoids such as THC and cannabidiol (CBD). Terpenes are formed inside cannabis trichomes, and their relative presence is directly affected by both the spectrum and intensity of light exposure during cannabis cultivation. Each cannabis cultivar has its own unique aroma because it has its own distinct terpene content.


A tincture is a solution of a medicinal substance in alcohol or water. Cannabis tinctures typically contain a range of cannabinoids. They are administered orally, sublingually, or mixed in foods or beverages and therefore are often packaged in small glass bottles with droppers in caps for convenient dosing. Tinctures offer a popular way to consume cannabis without combustion or inhalation.


A topical is a lotion, cream, or ointment that is applied directly to the skin. Cannabis topicals are designed to provide fast-acting, localized relief of inflammation and pain. Cannabis topicals are typically non-intoxicating, which allows patients to enjoy the plant’s therapeutic effects without any psychoactivity. Topicals can include lotions, oils, patches, sprays, soaps, lubricants, bath salts, and cooling or warming balms, and are often made with essential oils and other organic ingredients. They typically include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), but whether they have an intoxicating effect depends on the cannabinoids used and where they are applied.


Trim as a verb is the post-harvest process of removing extraneous plant matter from around the cannabis flower. Trimming may also be called manicuring. Trim as a noun refers to the extraneous plant matter that was removed from around the cannabis flower. Concentrates referred to as “trim-run” are made using this trimmed plant material. This stands in contrast to nug-run concentrates, which are made from dried, cured cannabis flower.


A vaporizer is a device that uses heat to vaporize dried cannabis flower and concentrates without combustion, which can deliver harmful tar and carcinogens to the lungs. Vaporizers consist of a chamber for the dried flower or a place to attach a pre-filled cartridge, a battery- or electricity-powered heating element, and a mouthpiece. Cartridges can be filled with cannabis oil, concentrates, or extracts. Vaporizers are similar to e-cigarettes and come in a variety of sizes and shapes, from small, portable, pen-like devices to large electric, tabletop models with highly configurable heating chambers.

Vertical Integration

In any industry, vertical integration refers to all aspects of product production being consolidated within one entity. For the cannabis industry, it refers to growers, product producers, and retailers or dispensaries all owned by one company. Some state cannabis laws specifically prohibit vertical integration.

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