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There are so many terms and unique application methods to consume this amazing plant medicine. Below is a list of some terms that are often used. If we have missed one that you’d like to add it to the list, drop us a note here. Thanks!



The purpose of this glossary is to provide a compilation of common terms and concepts related to the cannabis and cannabis-infused food products industry. Please note that this glossary does not include every term related to cannabis. While the glossary strives to provide the most common terms within the cannabis industry, less common terms can be found through the cited references. This glossary hopes to provide the environmental health and food safety professional with basic information regarding cannabis and cannabis-infused food products. As these terms might be mentioned in the field, this glossary can be used as an easily accessible and effective reference for unknown terms. This glossary is effective as of [May 2018] and will undergo annual review and revision. Disclaimer The information is provided as a glossary of related terms and is not intended to either condone or condemn the sale or consumption of cannabis and its various forms.



Accessories: Equipment, products, devices, or materials of any kind that are intended or designed for use in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing cannabis into the human body (Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 2018).

Aeroponics: A method of growing cannabis suspended in air (Hennings, 2017a). Alcohol extraction: Process by which the cannabis plant is stripped of essential oils and trichomes using ethyl or isopropyl alcohol. Once the extra plant material is filtered out and the remaining alcohol is evaporated, sticky hash oil remains (, 2018).

Butane hash oil extraction: Process by which cannabis flowers are blasted with butane creating an amber resin known as wax or shatter. This oil allows tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to become soluble (, 2018).

Cannabichromene (CBC): The second most prevalent cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. As it does not bind to cannabinoid 1 and 2 (CB1 and CB2) receptors, CBC is not psychoactive (Prichard & Brown, 2018).

Cannabidiol (CBD): The second most commonly used cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. CBD is an antagonist to THC and is nonpsychoactive as it blocks the formation of 11-OH-THC and mitigates the psychoactive effects of THC. CBD has become popular for its therapeutic effects in autism, epilepsy, and nerve problems (Prichard & Brown, 2018).

Cannabinoid: Chemicals that influence cell receptors in the brain and body and can change how those cells behave (Prichard & Brown, 2018).

Cannabinoid 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid 2 (CB2) receptors: CB1 receptors mediate physical and psychoactive effects while CB2 receptors regulate inflammation and immune response throughout the immune and peripheral nervous systems including the gut, spleen, liver, heart, kidneys, bones, blood vessels, lymph cells, endocrine glands, and reproductive organs (Healer, 2018).

Cannabinoid profile: The amount of all cannabinoids in the plant (Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 2018).

Cannabinol: Comes from the Cannabis sativa plant and contains only a minimal amount of THC.

Cannabis: Genus of flowered plants indigenous to Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent (, 2018). Also known as marijuana, ganja, pot, bud, and Mary Jane.

Closed-loop extraction: A method of chemical extraction that reuses the solvent rather than dispersing it into the air. This method is considered safer than “open-blasting” and is currently required for all legal concentrate production in Colorado (Prichard & Brown, 2018).

Concentrate (or extract): Refers to any material created by refining cannabis flowers, such as hash, dry sieve, and hash oils. Concentrates or extracts have much higher potency (Prichard & Brown, 2018).

Cultivar: Plant stain that results from the process of crossbreeding and genetic stabilization to express desired traits.

Cure: The process of slowly drying flowers from the plant. Allows for a more gradual process to maximize flavor and smoke quality (Prichard & Brown, 2018).

Dab/dabbing: A method where a “dab” (small amount) of cannabis concentrate is placed on a preheated surface, creating concentrated cannabis vapor to be inhaled (Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment [CDPHE], 2016).

Decarboxylation: The process by which, when exposed to heat, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) is converted to THC and cannabichromenic acid (CBCA) is converted to CBC (Leaf Science, 2017).

Dispensary: A store that can legally sell cannabis products, either medical, recreational, or both (Prichard & Brown, 2018).

Dosage/dosing: Individualized amount of cannabinoids within products. Dosing depends on titration, which is the process of increasing medication amounts until the desired effect is achieved (Health Canada, 2018).

Dronabinol (Marinol and Syndros): A synthetic THC pharmaceutical approved in the U.S. for the reduction of nausea and vomiting in cancer chemotherapy and increased appetite in HIVwasting disease (Food and Drug Administration [FDA], 2017).

Edible: Cannabis products that are orally consumed. These products can contain THC, CBD, or a combination of both. Common edible products include cookies, brownies, candies, gummies, chocolates, beverages, or homemade goods (CDPHE, 2016)

Electronic smoking device (vaporizer or ecigarette): A vaporizing device with a rechargeable battery that heats material such as cannabis flower (bud) or liquids containing THC or nicotine to produce vapor for inhalation. Used as an alternative to smoking cannabis or tobacco (CDPHE, 2016).

Endocannabinoid system (ECS): A group of receptors that make up a very complex regulatory system throughout the human brain, body, and central and peripheral nervous systems. ECS creates and maintains our body’s internal stability (homeostasis) by adjusting the flow of neurotransmitters and regulating bodily functions, including appetite, sleep, emotion, and movement (Healer, 2018).

Extraction: The different processes by which cannabinoids within the plant can be extracted for use. These processes include alcohol extraction, butane hash oil extraction, etc. (Barrus et al., 2016).

Flower: Known as the hairy or sticky parts of the plant which are harvested for consumption in various products, also known as the reproductive organs of the plant (CDPHE, 2016).

Hemp: The plant of the genus Cannabis or any part of the plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol concentration that does not exceed 0.3% on a dry weight basis of any part of the plant of the genus Cannabis (Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 2018).

Homogeneity: Refers to how evenly distributed the cannabis extract is through a product. For example, if 10% of the infused portion of the cannabis product contains less than 20% of the total THC contained in the product, it is homogenous. Homogeneity allows users assurance that they are consuming a consistently prepared edible.

Hybrid: A cross between two genetically different strains of cannabis. Hybrids can happen randomly or purposefully but are typically done to mix two or more preferred traits of a plant to make another powerful combination (, 2018).

Hydroponics: A popular way to grow cannabis that utilizes a soilless system (, 2018).

Inside versus outside growing: Indoor growing has not been around as long as outdoor growing but has gained in popularity. Indoor growing allows complete control of the environment. Indoor growing can lead to smaller yields due to lack of sunlight, but the resulting yield might contain higher levels of THC. Outdoor farming requires specific environmental climates and conditions. Current markets note that indoor cannabis is deemed of higher quality compared to cannabis grown outside. Each method carries its own environmental concerns (Hennings, 2017a).

ISO 17025: General requirements specified by the International Organization for Standardization/International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC) for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories.

Life cycle information: Cannabis plants go through two distinct cycles in their lifetime: vegetative stage (when the plant is actively growing) and flowering stage (when the plant is focusing most of its energy on producing flowers). When the plant’s light exposure falls at or below 12 hours daily, it triggers the flowering cycle (Hennings, 2017b).


Manufacturing: To compound, blend, extract, infuse, or otherwise make or prepare a cannabis product (Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 2018).

Marijuana: A slang term for the dried flowers, leaves, stems, and seeds of the cannabis plant (Health Canada, 2018).

Medical use of cannabis: The acquisition, cultivation, possession, processing (including development of related products such as food, tinctures, aerosols, oils, or ointments), transfer, transportation, sale, distribution, dispensing, or administration of cannabis for the benefit of qualifying patients in the treatment of debilitating medical conditions or the symptoms thereof (Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 2018).

Nabilone (Cesamet): A synthetic THC pharmaceutical approved in the U.S. for the treatment of the nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy (FDA, 2017).

Packaging: Any container or wrapper that might be used for enclosing or containing any cannabis goods for final retail sale. “Package” and “packaging” do not include a shipping container or outer wrapping used solely for the transport of cannabis goods in bulk quantity to a licensee

Pesticide: Chemical or organic substances that might be used on cannabis plants to protect against insects and/or fungus. Due to the Schedule I status of cannabis, as well as the lack of research and understanding, there are no federal regulations on the application of pesticides on cannabis. Some pesticides commonly used on cannabis can be highly toxic.

Pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamics: The absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion of a drug and the effect the drug has on the body (CDPHE, 2016).

Processing: To harvest, dry, cure, trim and separate parts of the marijuana plant by manual or mechanical means (Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 2018).

Recreational cannabis: The intentional use of cannabis. Recreational cannabis can be purchased at a dispensary by those who are 21 years or older with a valid governmentissued ID (, 2018).

Residual solvent: A volatile organic compound used in the manufacture of a cannabis product that is not completely removed by practical manufacturing techniques (Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 2018).

Retailer: An entity licensed to purchase and deliver cannabis and cannabis products from cannabis establishments and to deliver, sell, or otherwise transfer cannabis and cannabis products to cannabis establishments and consumers (Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 2018).

Route of administration: The process in which a chemical enters the human body, travels into organs and tissues, and is then metabolized into the body before elimination. The route of administration of cannabis has different effects. Inhalation of cannabis takes just minutes to produce effects, while the initial effects of cannabis-infused food products are not felt for 30–90 minutes. Gender, age, and weight can impact the rate of absorption and digestion of cannabis products (Barrus et al., 2016).

Schedule I drug: Drugs, substances, or chemicals that have no currently accepted medical use and have a high potential for abuse. This federal list is established by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (n.d.).

Seed-to-sale: Everything that happens to an individual cannabis plant from seed and cultivation, through growth, harvest, and preparation of cannabis-infused products, if any, to final sale of finished products (Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 2018).

Strain: Variety of cannabis plants that have a particular characteristic(s) that might be used to express a specific desired effect. For example: Cannabis sativa is high in THC and is reported to enhance creativity, be a stimulant, and fight depression, headaches, and nausea. Cannabis indica is a mix of THC/CBD and is reported to be relaxing and pain reducing. Cannabis ruderalis is high in CBD (Prichard & Brown, 2018).

Synthetic cannabis (e.g., K2/Spice): Various manmade chemicals that some people might use as an alternative to cannabis (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018).

Terpene: Fragrant oils secreted from the resin glands of flowers that provide aromatic diversity. They are not just found in the cannabis plant, but other plants as well. Terpenes bind to different receptors in the brain to give different effects (Hennings, 2017b).

Tetrahydrocannabinol (or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) (THC): The most common Synthetic cannabis (e.g., K2/Spice): Various manmade chemicals that some people might use as an alternative to cannabis (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018). Terpene: Fragrant oils secreted from the resin glands of flowers that provide aromatic diversity. They are not just found in the cannabis plant, but other plants as well. Terpenes bind to different receptors in the brain to give different effects (Hennings, 2017b). cannabinoid found within the cannabis plant. THC accounts for most of the psychoactive effects as the 11-OH-THC metabolite, formed after first pass metabolism, is 4 times more psychoactive than THC (Prichard & Brown, 2018).

Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA): Most abundant cannabinoid found in the plant that is decarboxylated and formed into THC by smoking, vaporizing, or heating (Prichard & Brown, 2018)

Tincture: A liquid form of cannabis that is made from glycerin or alcohol. Tinctures are usually distributed in an eyedropper under the tongue to provide fast absorption to the body, leading to quicker effects than edibles and inhalation (, 2018).

Topical: Cannabis products such as lotions, balms, and oils that are used for pain relief (Prichard & Brown, 2018).

Trichome: Crystalized glands on the cannabis plant that produce resin. They are the parts of the plant that contain most cannabinoids (, 2018).

Trim: When the plant has been harvested, a grower will trim the plant of its leaves, placing focus on the remaining buds (CDPHE, 2016)

Vaping: A method of cannabis use in cannabis vapor, rather than smoke, is inhaled. Cannabis flower or concentrate is heated in a vaporizing device (vaporizer) to a temperature below the point of combustion to produce vapor (CDPHE, 2016).

Vaporizer: A different way to consume cannabis. A vaporizer heats flowers or oils that activate cannabinoids and turn them into a vapor that can be inhaled (, 2018).




References and Additional Sources of Information Barrus, D.G., Capogrossi, K.L., Cates, S.C., Gourdet, C.K., Peiper, N.C., Novak, S.P., . . . Wiley, J.L. (2016). Tasty THC: Promises and challenges of cannabis edibles. Methods Report (RTI Press), 2016. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Synthetic cannabinoids: What are they? What are their effects? Retrieved from Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment. (2016). Monitoring health concerns related to marijuana in Colorado: 2016. Changes in marijuana use patterns, systematic literature review, and possible marijuana-related health effects. Retrieved from Commonwealth of Massachusetts. (2018). 935 CMR 500: Adult use of marijuana. Retrieved from Food and Drug Administration. (2017). FDA and marijuana: Questions and answers. Retrieved from Healer. (2018). Cannabis basics. Retrieved from Health Canada. (2018). About cannabis. Retrieved from Hennings, T. (2017a). Introduction to growing cannabis with aeroponics. Retrieved from Hennings, T. (2017b, July 18). Stages of the cannabis plant growth cycle. Retrieved from Leaf Science. (2017). What is CBC (cannabichromene)? Retrieved from (2018). Marijuana glossary. Retrieved from Prichard, R., & Browne, J. (2018). The cannabis lexicon: Terms to know from A–Z. Retrieved from U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. (n.d.). Drug scheduling. Retrieved from