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Weed All About It, A Glossary of the Cannabis Industry

Weed All About It, A Glossary of the Cannabis Industry

By: Christopher Nani

The cannabis industry is booming. Canada will federally legalize cannabis in a few weeks and the November elections in the U.S. will likely cause significant cannabis reform. Michigan and North Dakota may soon be an adult use state while Utah and Missouri will vote on legalizing medicinal cannabis. With all of the rapid developments in the industry, it is important to understand what terms are being used to keep up with other professionals as well as to know people are talking about.

Below I defined some terms commonly used throughout the industry. I have also included a few illustrations from Leafly found here and here to help tie everything together. The illustrations are included to help show what is in your typical strand of marijuana. Within each graphic, the outer ring shows the THC and CBD content, the inner bar graph going up shows the cannabinoid percentage while the other inner bar graph shows the terpene percentage.

Cannabis – The all-encompassing term for the plant, the most common species harvested is Cannabis sativa L. Normally, when industry professionals talk about cannabis they refer to marijuana, but cannabis also includes hemp, the lesser known derivative of Cannabis sativa L.

Marijuana – The psychoactive subspecies of cannabis. When grown, marijuana looks like a short bush. Although hemp and marijuana contain THC, only marijuana has enough for users to feel any psychoactive effect. Marijuana is the subspecies grown and used in medical and adult use programs.

Hemp – The more versatile of the two subspecies, hemp can be used for textiles, food, and construction materials. Federally-compliant hemp has a THC content of less than 0.3% compared to marijuana which can range from 5% to 35%. Contrasting marijuana, hemp can grow up to twenty feet tall and does not have many buds or leaves on it. Hemp has historically been used for clothing and the U.S. actively encouraged farmers to grow it during World War II to help war efforts. The campaign was called “Hemp for Victory” and was released in 1942 by the Department of Agriculture. Hemp is the only legal source of CBD in the U.S. currently.

THC – Tetrahydrocannabinol better known as THC is one of at least one hundred cannabinoids identified in cannabis. THC is the primary cannabinoid that causes psychoactive effects or getting “high” in users, some of those effects can include euphoria, appetite stimulant, and drowsiness. Although it is federally prohibited under the Controlled Substances Act, the Federal Drug Administration has interestingly approved synthetic THC known as Dronabinol for patients with severe illnesses.

CBD – Cannabidiol is currently the most trending cannabinoid. Cannabidiol shares none of the psychotropic effects of THC, but instead arguably offers the most health benefits of any cannabinoid such as: pain relief, anti-inflammatory, anxiety reducer, antiepileptic, and antispasmodic effects.

Cannabinoid – The term cannabinoid, or phytocannabinoid, refers to the roughly 131 chemicals within cannabis that are the active ingredients. Other chemicals, like terpenoids and flavonoids, found within cannabis also contribute to the effects of consumption. The defining cannabinoids of this class of chemicals come from the conversion of precursor cannabinoids CBGA and CBGVA.

Terpene – Terpenes are a class of organic compounds that are not only found in cannabis but also found elsewhere naturally. Terpenes like Myrcene are found in high amounts in mangos, Alpha-Pinene is found in rosemary, and Linalool in lavender. When you smell a mango or any other strong odor, you are actually smelling the terpenes. Terpenes are responsible for the aroma of cannabis and further studies have shown many terpenes also have pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties.

Flavonoid – Flavonoids are a class of molecules that exists primarily in plants. Cannabis has its own unique flavonoids called cannaflavins. Like terpenes, flavonoids in cannabis contribute to the taste and odor of the plant. Additionally, some flavonoids have antioxidant health benefits.

If I missed any terms, leave a comment – if it is popular enough I will make a part two!

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