Demystifying Cannabis Terminology

A Guide To Cannabis Terms

Cannabis terminology is evolving from the classic “mary jane” to more sophisticated and intricate jargon. Here’s a terminology guide for this increasingly popular industry.

Every industry has its own set of terminology, and cannabis is no different. From the classic “mary jane” and other slang terms for the plant to customers asking for “Q”, cannabis terminology is varied and can be downright confusing when it comes to terms for weed. Whether you’re working on the business side of cannabis, in an ancillary business, or just want to brush up on your “canna-vocab”, there are cannabis terms everyone should know.

A disclaimer: Despite the age of the plant, the full list of cannabis terminology is lengthy, ever-evolving, and up for debate. This list does not claim to be comprehensive of all possible cannabis terms.

Cannabis Terms Basics

Terms used regarding the cannabis plant itself quickly enter the realm of science class. From cannabinoids to trichomes, the basic cannabis terms are those that deal with the plant itself and consumption.

The Cannabis Plant


Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system. These can be produced in your body (endocannabinoid) or from the cannabis plant. The two best-known cannabinoids are THC and CBD. There are also synthetic cannabinoids that are created in a lab and often used for medications, like Dronabinol.


Also known as delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, THC is the most famous cannabinoid, known for its intoxicating effect.


Short for cannabidiol and is one of the most common cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. CBD is not intoxicating, is federally legal, and the main cannabinoid found in hemp plants.


A taller subspecies of cannabis with narrow leaves and a mind-altering effect. Cannabis Sativa is also the scientific name of the plant.


A shorter subspecies of cannabis with broad leaves that came from the Indian subcontinent. Typically high in THC with a body-sedating effect.


A cannabis strain with a mixed genetic profile of multiple subspecies. Most types of cannabis and cannabis products are hybrid.


A microscopic part of the cannabis plant, trichomes are produced on the flowers and contain the highest concentration of cannabinoids on the plant.


Aromatic chemical compounds found in nearly every plant in the world, including cannabis, that have quantifiable biological effects.

Entourage effect

The effect produced by all of the chemical components in cannabis working together, which is greater than the sum of the effects that cannabinoids and other chemicals produce individually.


A type of cannabis plant that is naturally low in THC levels and usually high in CBD levels. Typically grown for industrial purposes, such as fibers, textiles, paper, and construction materials.

Consumption Methods


A food or drink that has been infused with cannabis extracts.


A cannabis extract combined with a base for application on the skin. Topicals can include lotion, soap, balm, salve, and ointment. They provide local relief and are not absorbed into the bloodstream.


An alcohol-based cannabis extract that is dosed orally or sublingually (under the tongue.) Tinctures can also be added to food and drinks to create edibles.


A topical product formulated to absorb through the skin and into the bloodstream.


Heating cannabis flower through combustion to produce inhalable smoke.


Heating cannabis flower or concentrates without combustion to produce inhalable vapor. An alternative to smoking.


A method of consumption that uses cannabis extracts (called dabs) heated to produce thick vapor. Traditionally done with a dab rig, but today there are also electronic options.

Legal and Regulatory Terms

There are many rules, regulations, statutes, and other legal documents and terms surrounding the cannabis industry.

Legal Status


Also called adult use, a recreational cannabis program allows the plant and its products to be bought, consumed, and typically grown by people over 21 in a given state.


Decriminalization doesn’t legalize cannabis, but it does remove criminal penalties for the plant. Civil penalties (like a fine) may still exist.


Creating laws that allow for the use, possession, purchase, growing, and distribution of the cannabis plant.


Refers to the federal classification of cannabis and THC as a substance based on a ranking scale of one to five. Cannabis is currently a schedule one substance, the most restricted category.

Regulatory Terms


COA is short for certificate of analysis, a document that verifies the potency and purity of cannabis flower or a product based on testing done by a licensed lab.


The process of legally certifying a cannabis business to operate within a given state’s program.


A cannabis business that holds a state-issued license to do business in a certain vertical of the cannabis industry.

Testing Standards

Standards established by the governing agency in a legal state for testing cannabis products for potency and purity.

Safety Protocols

Rules, protocols, and best practices for creating and maintaining a safe working environment in all verticals of the cannabis industry.

The Business of Cannabis

The business of cannabis is just that — business. These terms may be more familiar to anyone who has worked in the business or insurance sector before, though there are still cannabis-specific terms.

Types of Businesses


The process of growing cannabis or hemp plants for consumption or processing. Faces challenges due to inclement weather, unexpected crop loss or theft.


A business that processes raw cannabis materials into cannabis products like edibles or topicals and faces risks of product quality, theft, and employee safety.


A licensed business that distributes cannabis flower or products from growers, extractors, or labs to dispensaries. These canna-businesses face challenges of employee safety, product quality, and general liability.


The process of separating the plant matter from the trichomes, cannabinoids, and other active compounds into a concentrated product of cannabinoids. There are many different extraction methods that produce a varying range of extracts. Extraction operations face risks of product quality, costly equipment, and general liability.


A licensed cannabis retailer without a physical location that brings products to consumers. Faces challenges of employee safety, product quality, and general liability.


A licensed retail shop that sells cannabis and cannabis products. Can be for registered medicinal patients only, anyone over 21, or both, depending on the state. Faces risks of theft, security, and employee safety.

Consumption Lounge

A business where cannabis enthusiasts can consume the plant on-site and faces risks of theft, security, and general liability.

Financial and Insurance Terms


The cost of your insurance policy


A document that establishes insurance coverage and protection for businesses against specific potential losses.


A part of a loss that you are responsible for paying outside of what your insurance covers after filing a claim.


The maximum amount that your insurance company will pay for a specific loss after filing a claim.


A formal request filed by the policyholder to the insurance company for coverage or compensation after a loss.

Cannabis Culture (terms for weed)

While many cannabis terms came from other sectors of business or the medical industry, there are just as many that evolved straight from cannabis consumers themselves.


A symbol of the cannabis community. Can reference time (4:20 pm), date (4/20), or indicates cannabis-friendliness.


A cannabis holiday that celebrates dabbing, concentrates, and oil. (710 spells oil upside down and backward.)


A dispensary worker who helps customers purchase cannabis flower, products, and accessories. A play on the word “bartender”.


A term used to indicate a high-quality flower or cannabis product.


A smokable cannabis flower


A smokable cannabis flower harvested from the top of the cannabis plant, usually considered premium.


A slang term for cannabis. Other slang terms include weed, ganja, mary jane, and grass.


Small cannabis flowers that were once part of larger buds. Used in pre-rolled joints and cheap bags of weed.

Cannabis and Health

Cannabis terminology used on the medical side of the industry, though these terms are important for all consumers and canna-professionals to know.

Endocannabinoid system

A complex biological system of neurotransmitters and cannabinoid receptors that exists in all mammals, including humans.

Endocannabinoid receptors

Receptors in the ECS that bind with cannabinoids. The most studied ECS receptors are CB1 and CB2.


A medical program allows people with a registered medical card to purchase certain cannabis products in certain amounts. A medical card usually requires a doctor certifying a patient has a state-determined qualifying condition.

Therapeutic Window

The range between the lowest effective dose to produce desired effects and a dose that produces negative side effects.


Building resistance to the effects of cannabis so that higher doses are needed to achieve the same results.

Side Effects

Intended and unintended effects of cannabis consumption. Can be positive, such as euphoria, appetite stimulation, and pain relief or negative like paranoia and increased heart rate.

Full spectrum

A type of cannabis extract that contains all or most of the active chemical compounds in the plant.

Broad spectrum

A type of cannabis extract that contains most of the active chemical compounds, excluding THC.


A type of cannabis extract that contains only one cannabinoid, such as THC or CBD.




These are just the start of the terms you need to know if you work in the cannabis industry. And to be sure, there’s a lot to cover! But with time, research, and patience, these terms will become second nature to anyone in the industry. Continued education throughout careers and exploration is a critical piece of the puzzle for anyone seeking success in the cannabis industry.



Protecting your cannabis company can seem confusing; however, we’re a full-service insurance brokerage working with carriers worldwide to offer you the best coverage possible. We’re here to help! Please reach out to us today by emailing [email protected] or calling 646-854-1093 for a customized letter of commitment or learning more about your cannabis insurance options.

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