Enhancing the Common Cannabis Vernacular

cannabis terms

Most people know that cannabis goes by many names: pot, weed, ganja, mary jane, bud, and reefer, to name a few. But there are so many other words floating around the big wide world of weed, and many of them are simply not that common. As the cannabis industry expands, so do the terms used to describe the various types of extracts, plant classifications, and cultural lingo. So, we’ve put together a list of cannabis terms to expand your cannabis vernacular. 

Glossary of Cannabis Terms


Atomizer (Vape Component)

An atomizer is the heating element or coil inside a vape pen. It contains a wicking element that draws the oil onto a coil, where it is vaporized as the user inhales. 



Short for butane hash oil, this sticky type of crude oil is the beginning of many types of concentrates. Marijuana is soaked in butane and processed in a closed-loop extraction process to yield this high-THC oil. Depending on what happens in post-production, BHO may become badder, budder, shatter, live resin, or another type of extract.


Badder is a type of cannabis extract named for its consistency. To make badder, extraction technicians whip and fold the oil into a soft and creamy texture. 

Broad Spectrum

Broad spectrum is a type of extract containing no THC because it has been purposefully removed during extraction. Typically, broad spectrum is used to describe CBD oil. It’s a desirable option for anyone who must refrain from using any THC, but still wants to obtain the benefits of other cannabinoids and some terpenes. 


Buds are slang for cannabis flowers. Also referred to as nugs.


Budder is very similar to badder in that it has been whipped during post processing. The final product resembles a creamy, buttery spread perfect for dabbing. Unlike badder (which more closely resembles the texture of cake batter), budder has the consistency of a stick of butter.



Cannabis is the term used to describe both hemp and marijuana plants.


A cartridge is a small vessel containing cannabis concentrates. When attached to a battery, the cartridge is connected to a heating element that vaporizes the oil inside. 


Chemotype describes a plant’s chemical type. For example, there are three types of cannabis plants. Type 1 is considered high THC, Type 2 contains balanced ratios of THC:CBD, and Type 3 is considered high CBD.


Chemovars are similar to chemotypes, but with the addition of terpenes. For example, a specific chemovar may be a Type 1 chemotype with terpenes myrcene and linalool. Identifying cannabis plants by chemovar is a very specific way to categorize different cultivars.


Concentrates is a term referring to any type of product extracted from a cannabis plant. It’s often used as an umbrella term to describe concentrates and extracts like live resin, shatter, diamonds, budder, and more. 


Cultivar is another (more accurate) way to name a ‘strain’ of cannabis. OG Kush, Blue Dream, and Northern Lights are all examples of cannabis cultivars. 



Dabbing describes the process of vaporizing cannabis oil for inhalation. Instead of smoking – which requires plant matter and a flame to ignite it – dabbing requires a water bong (dab rig), nail (or banger), handheld torch, dab tool, and cannabis extract. The nail is heated with the torch before placing the extract onto it with a dab tool. Then, the user inhales the vapor through the mouthpiece of the dab rig. 


Decarboxylation is the process of heating a cannabinoid to activate its psychoactive properties. For example, raw cannabis does not produce psychoactive effects but once heated (like with a lighter before smoking), the acidic form of a cannabinoid becomes an activated form. 


Named for their appearance, THC (or CBD) diamonds look much like the prized gemstone. They also evoke a sense of luxury because of the time-intensive process to make them. Diamonds are crystalline in structure and contain very high levels of a desired cannabinoid.


A disposable vape cartridge is meant to be used for a limited amount of time. A container comes pre-filled with cannabis oil and is contained with the battery of the disposable pen. Once the user has vaped all of the oil, the vape pen is discarded. 


Cannabis distillate is a highly purified and very potent type of oil. A cannabis extract is distilled to remove all other material aside from the desired cannabinoid (usually THC) resulting in a clear liquid that contains up to 99% pure THC.


Emerald Triangle

The Emerald Triangle is a region in Northern California. It is composed of three counties: Trinity, Humboldt, and Mendocino. The Emerald Triangle is well-known for its cannabis culture and produces the highest quality cannabis in the world.


Endocannabinoids, or endogenous cannabinoids, are molecules produced within the human body. They interact with the cannabinoid receptors found within the endocannabinoid system. 

Endocannabinoid System

Also known as the ECS, the endocannabinoid system is a cell signaling network found in the human body. Along with endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids, it regulates several important bodily functions such as temperature control, hormones, mood, appetite, sleep, and many more. 

Entourage Effect

The entourage effect is a phenomenon that occurs when the full spectrum of a cannabis plant’s compounds work together synergistically. Essentially, the entourage effect suggests that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 


Also referred to as concentrates, cannabis extracts are a concentrated form of cannabis made from a type of extraction using heat, pressure, and a type of solvent. 



Cannabis flavonoids are phenolic compounds primarily responsible for giving a plant its color. They also contribute to the plant’s taste and aroma and play a role in the entourage effect. 

Full Spectrum

A full-spectrum cannabis extract contains highly concentrated amounts of all of the plant’s original compounds. Full-spectrum products are rich in cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids and offer a robust high due to the entourage effect.



Genotype is a term used to describe the possible genetic expressions of any individual cannabis plant. 



Hash, or hashish, is a cannabis concentrate made with the trichomes of a cannabis plant. When using ice water and agitation to remove the trichomes, it’s referred to as bubble hash, ice wax, or water hash. 

Humboldt County

One of three counties in the Emerald Triangle, Humboldt County is situated right in the middle. It is believed to hold the best natural terroir for cannabis cultivation. There is a rich cannabis culture in Humboldt County, and the quality of cannabis produced here is unrivaled worldwide.


All cannabis strains come from an original landrace strain. When an indica and sativa are crossbred, it produces a hybrid strain. Much of the strains on the market today are hybrids.


Hydrocarbons are used to wash cannabis plant material during extraction. Examples include medical-grade butane or propane. If produced with butane, the extract may be called BHO, or butane hash oil.



Indica is a species of landrace cannabis plant that generally grows short and fat with wide, broad leaves. Today, indica is often used as a marketing tool to indicate supposed effects like drowsiness, sedation, or full body high.


An isolate is a pure form of cannabis extract. The goal is to completely isolate the desired cannabinoid, removing all other cannabinoids, terpenes, waxes, fats, and other materials from the plant matter.




Kief is a collection of trichomes from cannabis plants. Once dried, the trichomes fall off and are collected into what we call kief, or pollen. They can also be shaken off of the buds with a pollen or sifter box. Kief can be dabbed, smoked, or turned into edibles. 



Landrace cannabis strains are the original strains of indica and sativa cannabis. Every strain on the market can be traced back to these original genetics. Examples include Hindu Kush, Mazar I Sharif, Thai Stick, and Columbian Gold.


Lipids are the fatty acids found in cannabis. They are naturally occurring plant waxes that aid the plant in energy creation. During extraction, the lipids are removed during a process called winterization

Live Resin

Live resin is a cannabis extract made with fresh cannabis flowers. Typically, the plants are cryogenically frozen right as they are harvested. This process preserves the plant’s full terpene and cannabinoid potential, which is apparent in the final product as very flavorful with a robust, long-lasting high. 

Live Rosin

Live rosin is a solventless concentrate made by pressing ice water hash with a rosin press. The end result is an extremely flavorful, connoisseur-grade concentrate. 

Low-Stress Training (LST)

LST is a method to maximize yield by increasing the number of flowering sites on cannabis plants. This method involves gently bending and tying down stems and branches. Not only will it encourage more bud development, but it will also allow for more airflow and access to sunlight. 



Marijuana is a female cannabis plant that produces flowers. These flowers contain high levels of psychoactive cannabinoids like THC. 


Short for “middle,” this term generally describes average cannabis. It is not high quality, nor is it low quality, but somewhere in the middle. 


Monoterpens contain up to 10 carbon atoms and 2 isoprene units. They are more volatile than sesquiterpenes and contribute more aroma. Examples of monoterpenes include myrcene, linalool, pinene, and limonene.



A nail, or banger, is comparable to a bowl of a bong. However, the nail is heated with a handheld torch to a high temperature so that a cannabis extract will vaporize as soon as it hits the nail. This is a key element of dabbing. 


Also called a bud, a nug is a trimmed portion of a cannabis flower. 


Onset Time

Onset time describes how long it takes for a cannabis product to take effect. For example, the onset time of smoking weed is approximately two minutes, while the onset time for a cannabis edible may be up to one hour. 



A phenotype is the physical expression of a genotype.


Phytocannabinoids like CBD, THC, CBN, and over 100 others are produced by cannabis plants. They interact with the cannabinoid receptors found within the endocannabinoid system. They are typically just called cannabinoids.




Cannabis resin is produced from the plant’s trichomes. When making rosin, it’s the plant’s resin that pours from between the heated plates. 


‘Rig’ is short for dab rig. This is the type of water bong used for taking dabs, or dabbing. 


Rosin is a type of solventless cannabis concentrate made by pressing dried cannabis flowers between two heated steel plates. The pressure and temperature squeeze the plant’s resinous trichomes onto a piece of parchment paper. Rosin is suitable for dabbing, vaping, or smoking.


Cannabis ruderalis is a low-THC species of cannabis. Its traits and genotypes are distinctly different from indica or sativa. 



Sativa is a species of landrace cannabis plant that generally grows tall and thin, with finger-like leaves. Today, sativa is often used as a marketing tool to indicate supposed effects like energy, productivity, or a clear mental high. 

Sea of Green (S.O.G.)

S.O.G. is a method of growing intended to maximize growing space. The idea is to tightly pack several small plants into one area instead of focusing on a few larger plants. The appearance of these close quarters looks like a sea of green without a break across the canopy. 


Sesquiterpenes are bulkier than monoterpenes and contain up to 15 carbon atoms and 3 isoprene units. Examples of sesquiterpenes are caryophyllene, humulene, germacrene, and longifolene.


Shatter is a type of cannabis extract named for its thin, glass-like appearance. During post processing, the oil is thinly spread across a sheet (often parchment) before purging in a vacuum oven. The oil bubbles, and when the bubbles pop, the shatter may resemble Swiss cheese with various holes across the extract. It’s a prized extract for its high THC content. 


Solvents are used in cannabis extraction. The most common types of solvents are butane, propane, ethanol, and CO2.


A strain is a type of cannabis. Headband, Zkittlez, Strawberry Cough, and Lemon Diesel are examples of strain names. The more appropriate term is cultivar. 

Sungrown Cannabis

For cannabis to be sungrown, it must be grown in open air without the use of a greenhouse, canopy, or any artificial lighting. 



Terpenes are volatile aromatic compounds found throughout the plant kingdom. They are common in many foods and herbs and found abundantly in cannabis where they help determine a plant’s taste and aroma. They are major contributors to the entourage effect. 


Trichomes are tiny, translucent structures that look like crystals with bulbous heads on the end. They coat the leaves and flowers of cannabis and hemp plants like appendages that grow directly out of the plant’s body. The trichomes contain much of the plant’s terpene and cannabinoid content. 

Top Shelf

Top shelf describes a highly prized selection of cannabis. It is the best of the best and deserves premier placement on the top shelf. 




Vape is short for vaporizer or vapor, although it also describes the action of vaping. Vape pens are a device allowing the user to vaporize cannabis extract (or flower), a process called vaping. The mechanics of vaping involve a battery that powers a heating element which in turn vaporizes a cannabis extract so that it may be inhaled. 


Whole Plant Extract

A whole plant extract is made with the plant’s flowers, leaves, stalks, and sometimes even roots. This type of extract results in an oil that is full of valuable cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes, vitamins, minerals, protein, and fatty acids. It is the fullest expression of a highly concentrated cannabis plant. 


Wax is a generic term for cannabis concentrates. Wax can also be called dabs, and shatter can also be called wax. It’s also short for sugar wax, which is a type of extract that resembles the crystals that form at the bottom of a jar of honey. 






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