Cannabis 101

Leafly Glossary of Cannabis Terms

Published on August 8, 2013 · Last updated January 9, 2024

Editor’s Note: Leafly has blown out the Glossary beyond a post into an entire section of the site. Click here for the newer, bigger, regularly updated Glossary!

Leafly’s new improved Glossary.

Confused about sativas? Scratching your head over what “kief” is? Wondering if “tinctures and everything in between!

Access Point

A medical access point is an authorized location where patients can find and purchase medical marijuana. It can also be called a pick-up location, and while medication should be fairly easy to obtain, the facility must follow state guidelines so authorization, paperwork, and a store process should be expected. In the medical cannabis community, an access point is often synonymous with a dispensary depending on individual state legislation, guidelines, and lingo.

Aroma

“Aroma” is a term used to describe the general smell and/or taste of a certain plant or flower. Because consumers’ individual definition of aromas (such as “citrus“) can differ somewhat, aroma descriptions are meant as a basic guideline.

Backcross (BX)

A backcross is a hybrid plant that has been bred with one of its parents (or a plant that is genetically similar) in order to create offspring that is closer to that of the original parent. For example, a grower could breed a plant with its own father to make sure the baby has its dad’s height. This is often done to maintain rarer strains or strengthen those with desired recessive genes.

BHO

BHO stands for butane hash oil and is a potent cannabinoids made by dissolving marijuana in its plant form in a solvent (usually butane). The resulting product has very high THC levels (generally more than flowers or hashish) and is a thick, sticky oil. BHO is also referred to as honey oil, “dabs” or “dabbing,” earwax, or shatter, depending on the manufacturing method.

Bong

A large pipe, usually made of glass, that uses water to diffuse and cool the smoke as you breathe it into your lungs.

Blunt

Cannabis wrapped in a tobacco leaf cigar or cigarillo paper. The cigar may be hollowed out and then re-rolled with cannabis, and the origin of the name was coined due to the popularity of the brand Phillies Blunt Cigars. Blunts often burn longer than joints and are usually found in larger social gatherings.

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Bubbler

A handheld pipe, usually made of glass, with a water reservoir at the bottom to cool and diffuse the smoke before it is inhaled.

Bud

Bud refers to the actual flower of the marijuana plant. These are the fluffy parts that are harvested and used for recreational or medicinal purposes as they contain the highest concentrations of active cannabinoids.

Budtender

This is the attendant working behind the counter at your local dispensary or retail cannabis shop who may be able to answer your questions on strains, cannabis products, and make suggestions based on your needs.

Cannabinoids

pain relief and other medically beneficial uses. Marijuana’s most well-known cannabanoid is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) due to the fact that it is the most abundant, and also because it produces the psychoactive effects (or the “high”) that drives the plant’s recreational use. However, there are over 85 known cannabinoids all with varying effects, so THC isn’t the only one.

Cannabis

Cannabis is a plant genus that produces three species of flowering plants: Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica are used to produce both recreational and medical marijuana. Cannabis ruderalis is rarely farmed due to its natural lower THC content and small stature, but there is some cross-breeding thanks to ruderalis‘s unique ability to auto-flower rather than mature based on light, so there is potential for this variety to grow in popularity. Cannabis is native to Asia, but grows almost anywhere and has long been cultivated both for the production of hemp and to be used as a drug.

CBD

CBD is the abbreviation for cannabidiol, one of the at least 85 CBD has gained support for its use as a medical treatment as research has shown it effectively treats inflammation, and anxiety without the psychoactive effects (the “high” or “stoned” feeling) associated with THC. High CBD strains, such as Concentrates are a potent consolidation of Blue Dream is a cross between Haze strains.

Dab/Dabbing

A dab is a slang term used to refer to a dose of cannabis concentrates “dabbed” onto a redhot surface and inhaled. The act of “

Dank

A word used to describe sticky, high-quality cannabis with a strong aroma.

Dispensary

Dispensary is a general term used to refer to any location where a patient or consumer can legitimately and safely access cannabis, whether the business is technically an access point, pick-up location. co-op, collective or any other version of a legal cannabis distributor.

Edibles

cannabinoids are found), they are the only ones that are used to create marijuana products. Feminized seeds are intended to make things easier for growers by eliminating the need to determine the sex of growing plants and remove males early on to prevent fertilization. Generally, feminized seeds produce the same quality of plants as naturally produced seeds.

Flowering Time

Flowering time refers to the time it takes for a plant to produce mature flowers. Cannabis flowering times are affected by the length of daily exposure the plant receives to sun (with the exception of the Cannabis ruderalis species, which flower automatically). When flowering times are reported for a strain, they are general estimates based on how the plants do on average in optimal conditions. Actual flowering times will vary and it is up to the grower to decide when to harvest for maximum benefit.

Flowers

You probably know what flowers are; they’re often the “pretty” part of a plant, and the same is true for cannabis. While cannabis flowers don’t have traditional petals or look like daisies, they are still the reproductive organ of the female plants. Cannabis flowers are the hairy, sticky, crystal-covered bits that are harvested and dried to be used as medication. When they are allowed to be fertilized by male plants, these flowers will produce cannabis seeds. If not, they will continue to produce the resin that contains their active cannabinoid-laden powder has been collected, it is typically pressed and ready to be used. Hash ranges in potency, but is generally stronger than straight flowers since everything but the active part of the plant has been removed. A similar concentrated product can also be produced chemically using a solvent; however, this product is commonly referred to as hash oil or “honey oil.”

Heirloom

An heirloom refers to a cannabis strain that was taken from its native homeland and propagated in another geographical location.

Hemp

Hemp is a fibrous product that can be produced from the male cannabis plant and can be used in the manufacture of rope, paper, beauty products, and a vast array of other products. Hemp plants have no value as a drug since they are males. However, they are still considered illegal in the United States.

Hybrid

Indica is the less scientific name for the Cannabis indica species of cannabis. Generally these plants originated in the Middle East and Asia and include both of the famous kush and Afghan lineages. Compared to their sativa counterparts, the plants are shorter, bushier and have more compact flower structure. This species tends to produce more relaxing physical effects and can have a sedative quality.

Kief

Kief is a collected amount of trichomes that have been separated from the rest of the marijuana flower. Since trichomes are the sticky crystals that contain the vast majority of the plant’s cannabinoids, kief is known to be extremely potent. Kief is sometimes mistakenly referred to as pollen and is the primary ingredient in hashish production.

Kush

Kush refers to a line of cannabis plants that hail from the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Kush strains are indicas and have a unique aroma that have given them a large fan base. Specific breeds and plants are unique, but their aroma is generally described as “citrus or landrace refers to a local variety of cannabis that has adapted to the environment of its geographic location. This accounts for genetic variation between landrace strains, which have been crossbred to produce the cannabis variety we see today. Landrace strains are oftentimes named after their native region, like Thai, and cannabinoids that hold both their medicinal and psychoactive properties.

OG

OG is a term that’s now used to describe many strains, though the term originated to describe Southern California’s Ocean Grown Kush, which was quickly shortened to CBD-rich genetics. Unlike Cannabis indica, which use light cycles to flower, ruderalis is an “autoflowering” variety, meaning it flowers with age. Originating in Russia, ruderalis is a hardy plant that can survive harsh climates.

Sativa

cannabinoid in marijuana plants. THC is also the component in marijuana that is responsible for the psychoactive effects, or the “high.” Also known as delta-9-tetracannabinol, it was first isolated in 1964 and is thought to serve as a natural defense for the plant against pests. Research has shown THC to be an effective medical treatment for a range of conditions. There is no lethal dose of the compound in its natural form.

Tincture

A topical is a type of cannabis product where the active properties of the flowers have been extracted and added to a product such as a lotion or a cream that’s applied to the skin. The medicinal properties are absorbed through the skin and can be used to treat muscle aches, long term soreness, or ailments like dry skin.

Trichome

Trichomes are the resin production glands of the cannabis plant. In Greek the word means “growth of hair,” and while these sticky little protrusions can make plants appear a little hairy, they are not hairs, nor are they “crystals,” which is how they are often described. THC, CBD and other vaporizer is a device used to consume marijuana. It cannabinoid-laced vapor to inhale. Vaporizing is healthier than smoking since there is no smoke to ingest, but this method still produces near instant effects. With new, more compact models on the market, vaporizing is growing in popularity.

Wax

Wax is another form of concentrate.

Weed

Weed is a slang term for marijuana.

photo credit: Valentina_A via photopincc

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Rachel Chambers
Rachel Chambers
Rachel is a lifelong writer and ardent supporter of cannabis as medicine.
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