Glossary of cannabis

The following terms and definitions are not intended to constitute a comprehensive list. Florida Food & Farm is providing them as an an easy guide to many of the most common terms.

Glossary of cannabis/medical marijuana/ hemp terms

Cannabis: The genus Cannabis is a flowering plant that has three species: sativa, indica and ruderalis.


Cannabinoids: Chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant but not in other plants. Of the dozens of cannabinoids identified so far, the most common are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and (cannabidiol) CBD.

Cannabinol: A compound whose derivatives, which include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), are the active ingredients of cannabis.

Cannabidiol (CBD): Some scientific research has suggested that CBD is an effective anti-inflammatory that might have potential as a treatment for certain neurological conditions, including seizures. Because this form of medical marijuana is weak and doesn’t deliver the “high” that regular marijuana does, it was nicknamed “Hippie’s Disappointment.”

Charlotte’s Web: This variety is sometimes called “Hippie’s Disappointment” due to its failure to deliver the customary “high” associated with regular marijuana. But because of Charlotte’s Web’s ability to reduce or stop seizures, hundreds of families with epileptic children have, in recent years, moved to Colorado to try oil made from the Charlotte’s Web. This variety is named after a 5-year-old girl, Charlotte, whose seizures virtually halted after she began taking the product.

Controlled Substances Act (federal): Title 21 of the U.S. Code. The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) establishes five “schedules” – I through V – of controlled substances; those listed under Schedule I are considered as having the most potential for abuse. “Marihuana,” as the word is spelled in the CSA, is listed immediately after lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).

DEA Schedule I drug: Under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, (A) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse. (B) The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. (C) There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.
(Source: The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Office of Diversion Control website)

Endocannabinoid: The biological system within humans (and other animals) that serves as a cannabinoid receptor and allows them to feel the effects of marijuana.

Flower: The crystal-covered buds that are harvested, then dried, to be used as medication.

HB 307: On March 25, 2016, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed House Bill 307, which expanded the state’s medical-marijuana law.
The law already exempted, under certain conditions, a small group of patients from criminal laws for using marijuana that is low in THC (less than 0.8%) and high in cannabidiol (CBD). The expanded law allows patients to access other forms of medical cannabis – provided they are expected to die within a year without life-sustaining procedures. The new law, however, continues to impose excessive requirements on doctors and is not expected to help many people who are terminally ill.

Imported hemp: Products such as hemp granola and hemp shampoo violate, technically, federal drug laws. But such products are sold in some health-food stores because imported hemp has generally been permitted into the United States – as it contains less than 0.3 percent THC.

Industrial hemp: Cannabis, with less than 0.3 percent THC, whose fibers are very strong. Industrial hemp is grown for use in, say, paper, textiles and military applications.

Kief: Refers to the resin trichomes of cannabis that may accumulate in containers or that can be sifted from loose, dry cannabis flowers with a mesh screen or sieve.

Phytocannabinoids: Oxygen-containing compounds derived from the cannabis plant. Two phytocannabinoids have been extensively researched: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD  (cannabidiol). THC has anti-spasmodic, anti-tremor, anti-inflammatory and appetite-stimulating properties. CBD has anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsant, anti-psychotic and neuroprotective effects; and is not intoxicating.

Psychoactive constituent: Any substance that alters the user’s brain functions. THC is the principal psychoactive constituent in marijuana. The most widely consumed psychoactive substance is coffee.

Recreational marijuana: Commonly called “weed” or “pot,” recreational marijuana has a THC (tetrahydrocannabinol ) level of about 15 percent.

Rosin: A method that uses heat and a flat mechanism to “press” out terpene- and cannabinoid-rich resin from cured marijuana flowers.

“Seed to sale” tracking: Used by medical-marijuana dispensaries, growers and government agencies, this system tags and numbers plants. As each part of the cannabis plant is used – including the leaves, the stem and any waste – that part is given its own serial number. In states where medical marijuana is legal, some software systems send data, automatically, to the state government.

SFO (solventless flower oil) rosin: SFO is made directly from the flowers of the cannabis plant; the process preserves the flowers’ natural terpenes. These are the compounds that give each strain of cannabis its unique smell and taste.

Spice: Also known as “K2,” “spice” is a generic term for synthetic cannabis.

Supermajority: More than a simple majority. Florida had a medical marijuana initiative on the ballot in 2014, which narrowly lost, with 57.6% of the vote (a 60% supermajority is required by Florida law).

Synthetic cannabinoids: Man-made versions of cannabis that are, chemically, different from cannabis but that affect the same brain receptors as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). They include dronabinol and nabilone. Both are used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.

Terpenes: The natural oils secreted by trichomes (small glands on the flowers and main fan leaves of mature cannabis plants). Terpenes impart distinctive flavors (citrus, mint, etc.) to the cannabis.

THC: Tetrahydrocannabinol is the active ingredient in marijuana that, depending on its concentration, produces the effects.

Therapeutic hemp: Cannabis strains such as Charlotte’s Web that provide relief from, for example, seizures or nausea.

Tincture: A liquid extract that can be ingested orally.

Topical: A medicine that is applied directly to some part of the body.

Trichomes: Small glands on the flowers and main fan leaves of mature cannabis plants; trichomes consist mainly of a stalk and a head. Cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are produced in the heads.

This glossary of cannabis/medical marijuana/hemp terms was written in November 2016.