Cannabis Terminology

Cannabis Terminology: An Encyclopedia

If you are searching online for cannabis products, you likely run into many terms that you are unfamiliar with. From alternative cannabinoids to live resin, these terms can be confusing for people just starting their cannabis journey. Anyone online wants to know exactly what they are buying, so knowing cannabis terminology is essential for educated purchasing.

Also, learning cannabis terminology is essential for those interested in learning more about cannabis. With new, cutting-edge products constantly hitting the growing cannabis market, knowing terms can let you know when a new product is the real deal or not worth your time. Furthermore, when you are reading articles, essays, and scientific scholarship on cannabis, these terms make reading a breeze.

Here is a comprehensive list of every cannabis term you need to know to be an educated shopper and read cannabis scholarship.

Basic Terms

Here are a few cannabis terms everyone should know.


Cannabis is the basic term for the plant Cannabis Sativa. Any cannabis product is from the cannabis plant. However, there are several variations.


The most famous cannabis product, marijuana, is an ancient plant, existing for thousands of years. When one smokes marijuana, they are smoking the flower of the cannabis plant. Also, the cannabis flower can be converted into oils and mixed into other products, like gummies or drinks.


One of the more confusing cannabis terms, the hemp plant is identical to cannabis. Therefore, there is no scientific difference between hemp and cannabis plants. However, hemp is primarily a legal term, and it refers to cannabis that is low in THC.


Cannabinoids are natural chemical compounds in the cannabis plant. When one ingests cannabis, these organic compounds affect their body in a multitude of ways. Although several of these cannabinoids are well known, there are an estimated 200 cannabinoids in cannabis.


THC is the most abundant cannabinoid in cannabis and the most famous. The reason for its fame is because it causes the marijuana “high” that many people enjoy.


Another abundant cannabinoid, CBD is nearly as famous as THC. Unlike THC, CBD does not cause a high. People use CBD products to enjoy the benefits of cannabis without the high. Taking CBD helps with appetite, sleep, anxiety, and many other issues.


Psychoactive is the scientific term for a high. If a product says it is psychoactive, it will cause a marijuana-like high.

Alternative Cannabinoid Terminology

After laying the foundation for cannabis education with our basic terms, these terms apply to the alternative cannabinoid market, including products such as Delta 8, HHC, and THC-O.

Alternative Cannabinoids

Alternative cannabinoids is an umbrella term that refers to any cannabinoid that is not THC. Since THC is the most abundant and mainstream cannabinoid, the other cannabinoids are an “alternative” to THC. These alternative cannabinoids have a variety of qualities ranging from sober to highly psychoactive.

Delta 8

The most famous alternative cannabinoid, Delta 8 occurs in much smaller quantities in cannabis than THC and CBD. Delta 8 is less potent than THC (about 5x weaker) but it creates a very similar high to marijuana. There are a wide variety of Delta 8 products, such as gummies, vapes, and tinctures.

Delta 10

An alternative cannabinoid, Delta 10 is one of the rarest cannabinoids in cannabis. Therefore, one will typically see Delta 10 products infused with another cannabinoid for volume. Beware of pure Delta 10 products, as they are uncommon, and producers might lie about the Delta 10 content. Additionally, Delta 10 is known for its energetic, euphoric high, perfect for staying active.


An alternative cannabinoid growing in popularity, HHC is just as strong as typical marijuana. However, the high is slightly different. HHC causes a body high that keeps one very relaxed. Also, people do not usually experience paranoia when using HHC.


A partially-synthetic alternative cannabinoid, THC-O is created by adding an additional acetate ring to THC. This cannabinoid is not for the faint of heart, as it has an extraordinary psychedelic high that many compare to magic mushrooms. Additionally, THC-O causes a delayed high, as it does not work until about 30 minutes after ingesting.


The fastest-growing alternative cannabinoid product, THCa is nearly identical to THC. It is the unactivated state of THC, meaning if one activates THC, it turns into THC. Thankfully, activation is achieved by heating THCa, usually by burning, via a joint or bong, or cooking, via a dry vape.

Complex Cannabis Terminology

These terms are the most complex of the cannabis terminology; one will only come across them occasionally. However, these terms are essential for those who want to read scientific cannabis scholarship or want to stay on top of new cannabis products.


Terpenes are another organic compound found that occur cannabis and many other plants, and are responsible for causing smells. Cannabis possesses high quantities of terpenes, which cause the iconic smell when cannabis burns. Additionally, they can also change the high of cannabis, making it stronger or changing its psychoactive qualities.


Very similar to terpenes, flavonoids are responsible for flavor rather than smell. Much like terpenes, the amount of flavonoids in cannabis can affect the psychoactive high of cannabis.

Live Resin

Live resin is a popular new way to create cannabis oil. When cannabis is harvested, its terpenes and flavonoids start dissipating immediately, potentially weakening the high. To make live resin, producers freeze the cannabis flower after harvesting, preserving the terpenes and flavonoids. Therefore, many people claim that live resin oil causes a much stronger high than typical marijuana.

Oil Conversion

Converting cannabis to oil is essential for making vapes and gummies. Producers convert cannabis to oil by using a chemical process to strip cannabis of its cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. Then, producers remove the solvent, and the leftovers are pure cannabis oil.

Oil Extraction

In addition to converting cannabis to oil, producers obtain alternative cannabinoids by another extraction process. Producers introduce another solvent to the cannabis oil, which separates a specific cannabinoid from the oil. After the producers remove the solvent, pure alternative cannabinoid oil is left over.

Entourage Effect

The entourage effect is when a combination of different cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids cause a unique high. The combination of these organic chemicals serve to enhance each other, creating powerful and mellow highs alike.