A beginner’s guide to cannabinoids

If you’ve recently received your Medical Document and are ready to begin your medical cannabis journey, it’s a great idea to familiarize yourself with the plant to better understand its unique properties. In this blog, we’re helping to debunk common cannabinoids to help you get the most out of your medicine.

What are cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds in the cannabis plant that interact with our bodies and produce different effects. You’ve likely heard of the two most widely-known cannabinoids, THC and CBD, but there are hundreds of others that may also affect the body [*]. 

Cannabinoids react with the endocannabinoid system, which is a system in the body that helps to maintain homeostasis, or balance [*]. There are two main endocannabinoid receptors that cannabinoids interact with: CB1 and CB2. 

CB1 mainly affects the brain and nervous system, whereas CB2 is more correlated with the immune system [*]. Without these receptors, we would not be able to feel the effects we feel. 

Here’s a breakdown of the most talked-about cannabinoids:


Tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly referred to as THC, is an intoxicating compound in the cannabis plant, or the compound that makes you feel ‘high’. This compound starts out as tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, known as THCA and is transformed into THC once heated [*], a process called decarboxylation. THC activates CB1 receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which can potentially produce therapeutic effects, such as pain management, and inflammation reduction.


Raw cannabis (meaning cannabis that hasn’t been decarboxylated) contains THCA, a non-intoxicating compound that’s been linked to helping potentially reduce inflammation and prevent nausea. An unheated, high THC flower will contain a higher amount of THCA than a low THC strain. 


Tetrahydrocannabivarin, or THCV, is a molecule very similar to THC in that it also has intoxicating properties. Discovered in 1970 [*], research shows that THCV is only 25% as potent as THC [*]. Studies have found that THCV may help to control appetite, balance THC intoxication, and balance blood sugar levels. To consume THCV, the flower must burn at a high temperature; try vaping at 220°C to reap its potential benefits. 


Cannabidiolic acid, or CBDA, is a chemical compound that turns into CBD upon heating. Studies show that CBDA may be helpful for those experiencing depression and anxiety, as well as epilepsy


Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, and the second-most prevalent compound in the cannabis plant [*]. Linked to helping to relieve pain, promote sleep, ease anxiety, lessen inflammation, and treat those suffering from epilepsy, this popular cannabinoid is on the rise and is being added to many different wellness products.


Cannabigerol, or CBG, is a lesser-known cannabinoid showing promise with its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Linked to helping to reduce anxiety and boost mood [*], this potent compound is only present in extremely small amounts in your cannabis strain. However, due to its recent popularity, cannabis producers are beginning to breed plants that can produce more CBG than is currently being offered [*]. 


Cannabinol, or CBN, is found in trace amounts in the cannabis plant. A byproduct of THC, this cannabinoid may subtly increase the effects of THC on both psychological and physiological processes [*]. THC will start to degrade into CBN after the plant’s trichomes, the resinous glands that sit on the flowers and leaves, have matured. Once trichomes start to turn into an amber colour, the THC is starting to degrade to CBN [*]. High temperatures, UV radiation, and oxygen can increase the degradation rate of THC to CBN [*], hence why you want to store your flower in an air tight, dark, and cool jar. 

Interested in shopping for cannabis from the comfort of your own home? Check out the widest selection of online medical cannabis in the country at CannMart. If you have more questions about cannabis before purchasing your strain, schedule a medical cannabis consultation with one of our healthcare practitioners. 

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