Growers Network Staff

January 2, 2019 8 min read
January 2, 2019
8 min read

Common Terms in the Hemp and Marijuana Industries

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Have you ever been confused by some of the terms used by Cannabis experts? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Growers Network is here to help.

Every profession, industry, or hobby has its own technical jargon. This jargon can often confuse the general populace because it may use terms with entirely different meanings. For example, a scientific “theory” is completely different from the usage of “theory” in common parlance. A scientific theory is considered the most rigorous scientific understanding of a given subject, but in common usage it means what scientists would consider a hypothesis.

The Cannabis industry is no exception to this principle, and as such uses many terms that may be misconstrued or confusing to people who are not “in the know.” Because Growers Network is dedicated to educating both the Cannabis industry, we wanted to take this time to help educate the general public about these terms. All terms listed here are available in our glossary, or will be added to our glossary. If you would like to skip to any section, click on the links below:

  1. Biology
  2. Chemistry
  3. Consumption
  4. Cultivation
  5. Processing


    CB1 / CB2 Receptors

The CB1 and CB2 receptors are receptors found in the signalling pathways in the human body that are responsible for picking up different cannabinoids. CBD and THC often interact directly with these receptors.

    Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system is a signalling system found within most animals and is responsible for the regulation of a variety of different hormones and chemical signals. In humans, the endocannabinoid system is what Cannabis acts upon, altering its normal behavior.

    Indica / Sativa / Ruderalis / Hybrid

Indicas, Sativas, and Ruderalis refer to different subspecies of Cannabis, found natively in different regions of the world. Each type has its own unique properties associated with it. Hybrids are a combination of these different subspecies.

    Hemp / Marijuana / Cannabis

Each of these terms refers to the genus Cannabis. Hemp and marijuana are just different names for the same thing. Industrial hemp, however, refers to something specific. Industrial hemp is Cannabis that contains 0.3% THC or less, and thus cannot used for recreational purposes.



Cannabinoids are a group of compounds that can be found in Cannabis and in the human endocannabinoid system. There are a large number of different cannabinoids, and they are often written in their abbreviated form.

Note: Every single cannabinoid has an “acid” precursor form. These acid precursors are produced by the plant, and are converted into their non-acid form in a process known as decarboxylation, which we will describe later. Acid precursors have their abbreviation appended with an “-A” or “A.” (IE: THCA / THC-A, CBDA / CBD-A)

  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (Abbrev: THC)
    1. THC is the primary psychoactive compound in Cannabis.
  • Cannabidiol (Abbrev: CBD)
    1. CBD is valued for several medical properties, and is non-psychoactive.
  • Cannabinol (Abbrev: CBN)
  • Cannabigerol (Abbrev: CBG)
  • Cannabichromene (Abbrev: CBC)
  • Cannabicyclol (Abbrev: CBL)
  • Cannabivarin (Abbrev: CBV)
  • Cannabielsoin (Abbrev: CBE)
  • Cannabicitran (Abbrev: CBT)
  • Tetrahydrocannabivarin (Abbrev: THCV)

It is very likely more cannabinoids will be discovered in the feature, so keep an eye out for any abbreviation that begins with “CB.” There are also less-common cannabinoids which are isomers of other molecules, such as THC-8.

    Decarboxylation / Decarb

Decarboxylation is a chemical process that relies upon heat (often from smoking or cooking) to cause a carboxylic acid group to leave the cannabinoid. This is how the acid forms of cannabinoids are converted into their non-acid forms. For example, THCA is converted to THC by decarboxylation.


Terpenes are a group of chemical compounds found in nearly all plant life on Earth, with Cannabis being no exception. Terpenes are responsible for the wide variety of smells and flavors associated with different Cannabis strains.


    Bong / Bowl / Water Pipe

A bong or “water pipe” is one method of consumption that essentially acts like a hookah, but for Cannabis. Ground-up Cannabis is placed into a bowl, which is then heated and the smoke is pulled through the apparatus by the user’s lungs. Thus, it is sometimes called “smoking a bowl.”

    Dabbing and Nails

Dabbing is a consumption method for Cannabis that uses concentrates instead of flower. Dabbing uses a “dab rig” that appears similar to a bong, but with a few key differences:

  • A “nail” typically is composed of titanium, quartz, ceramics, or glass. Nails that are made of quartz are sometimes called “bangers”
  • A “cap” to allow the accumulation of smoke (sometimes called a “carb cap” because it acts like a carburetor)

Edibles are a large variety of different foods that are created using Cannabis concentrates. Generally edibles are made using infused sugar, infused oil, or infused butter. A small list of edibles includes:

  • Gummies / Lollipops / Taffy / Candy
  • Brownies / Baked Goods
  • Sodas / Drinks (such as Bhang)
  • Cannaoil or Cannabutter mixed in with other food items such as popcorn or salad dressing.
    Joint / Spliff / Doobie / Marijuana Cigarette

Possibly the oldest form of Cannabis consumption, a joint is simply ground-up Cannabis flower rolled with a rolling paper into the shape of a cigarette. The joint is then lit on the opposite end and inhaled.


Probably one of the oldest forms of consumption, besides a joint, is a good old pipe. Ground-up Cannabis is placed inside of it, and heated up. The user then inhales. Pipes are typically made of glass or ceramics, but can be made with other heat-resistant materials.


Tinctures is a term used to refer to cannabis extracts/concentrates that are typically delivered under the tongue (sublingually) or in a mucous membrane via an eyedropper. Tinctures are intended to be a fast delivery method without smoking.

    Topicals / Transdermals

Topicals and transdermals are consumption methods that use a lotion or patch to apply the cannabinoids to your skin. This delivery method is slower and less efficient than other delivery methods, but its effects are longer-lasting and subtler.

    Vape / Vaporizer / Vape Pen / Vape Cartridge

A vape, vaporizer, or vape pen is a convenient method of consumption that takes a vape cartridge full of concentrate or extract and heats it up with a small coil. The vaporized contents are then inhaled by the user.

This method of consumption is very common, due to the small size of vape pens and the ease of usage.



Aeroponics is a hydroponic cultivation method where the plant’s roots are suspended in air and sprayed regularly with a fine mist of nutrient solution. Unlike other hydroponic methods, aeroponically grown plants do not have their roots suspended in water.

    Buds / Nugg / Nugget / Flower

Buds and Nuggs are used to refer to the Cannabis flower. Unlike other flowering plants, Cannabis flowers are dense and concentrated, making them resemble little gold nuggets or chicken nuggets.

    ”Feminized” Seeds

Feminized seeds are female seeds that have been separated from male seeds. This can be done using genetic testing. Cannabis as a plant can be male, female, or both (sometimes called “herms”), and female plants are the most productive of the sexes. As a result, most growers seek out feminized seeds.


Flowering is a late stage in the life cycle of Cannabis. It is the stage where buds become dense, trichomes start appearing with greater frequency, and the Cannabis plant begins to prepare for reproduction. After flowering, Cannabis plants will die.


Geoponics, as opposed to hydroponics, is a conventional growing method using soil.


Hydroponics is a growing method that does not rely upon traditional soil. Plants can be grown in a variety of inert mediums (or media) and fed a steady diet of nutrient water. There are different methods to feed the plants, including ebb-and-flow, aeroponics, deep water culture, and more.

    Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Integrated Pest Management is a pest control strategy that focuses on preventative and proactive techniques, rather than reactive pest control. For example, a common problem in indoor and greenhouse grows is powdery mildew. Many growers will add fans and increase the airflow in the grow to prevent the formation of powdery mildew. This would be considered an IPM approach.


The “medium” is the substance in which the plants roots are held. This can be traditional soil, coco coir, rockwool, clay, sand, pebbles, or other solid media. Every growing media has its own perks and drawbacks, and many growers will have a preferred medium.

    ”Mother” Plants

Mother plants, known as stock plants in the horticultural world, are Cannabis plants that are kept permanently in a vegetative state in order for growers to take cuttings from them. These mother plants serve as the genetic basis for the clones in a growing facility.


The propagation phase of a grow is the phase in which plants are either cloned or grown from seed. This is the most delicate phase of the grow.


“Strains” is the current term used to refer to Cannabis cultivars. Each strain has a different set of traits and different chemical composition associated with it.

    Veg / Vegetative State

The vegetative state is the period in-between propagation and flowering. It is a period where the Cannabis plants have a sturdy root system and are growing steadily. The plants are not flowering during this period, and the plant is instead focusing on growth.



Some isolates can be converted into a “crystalline” form. The most common crystals you’ll hear about will generally be THC crystals or CBD crystals. These crystals have a very high intensity, and should be treated with caution.

    ”Full-Spectrum” Extract

This is a special term used to refer to extracts that contain more than just cannabinoids, but also the majority of the cannabis’ terpene content.

    Isolates / Distillates / Extracts / Concentrates

All the terms above describe products that are made via a chemical extraction process. Essentially, these products remove the compounds we are really after from the plant material. Cannabis, like most plants, produces a variety of different chemical compounds necessary to support its structure and support life. These compounds are largely irrelevant to consumers and patients, and isolates, extracts, concentrates, and distillates separate the relevant compounds from the irrelevant ones.

    Wax / Shatter / Live Resin / Cherry Oil / Honey Oil / Rick Simpson Oil / Butane Hash Oil / Hash / Crumble / Rosin / CO2 Oil / Dab / Kief

Whoooooa Nelly that’s a lot of terms!

All the terms listed above are different kinds of extracts and concentrates. Most of the names for these extracts describe the physical appearance and characteristics of the concentrate. Some also describe how the extract is produced.

There are many more terms that I haven’t even included in this list. Some of the naming schemes may also vary by locality and preference.

    Rosin Press / Closed-Loop Extractor / Subcritical or Supercritical CO2 Extraction / Short-Loop or Short-Path Distillation / Vacuum Oven

These terms refer to some of the equipment and methods used to create the extracts and concentrates we mentioned above. Every extract listed above is produced with a different method.

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About the Author

Hunter Wilson is a community builder with Growers Network. He graduated from the University of Arizona in 2011 with a Masters in Teaching and in 2007 with a Bachelors in Biology.